Daily Devotional for Thursday December 11, 2003

Alcohol and the Christian

(Isaiah 5:11)

Alcohol and the Christian. Today is a special anniversary for me personally. One year ago today, I made the decision to stop drinking alcohol. I am asked daily about how a Christian should deal with alcohol. There is one school of thought that says it is OK to have a drink as long as you don't get drunk since the Bible does NOT say having a drink is a sin, only being drunk is. The other school of thought is complete abstinence. Ultimately, this is a personal choice each person must make for themselves.

For the first 4 years of my ministry, I chose to follow the path of complete abstinence. During the 10 years I was running from God, I drank, heavy at some times. I know what it is like to be drunk, drink so much you get sick, and have a hang over the next day. I have had all of these experiences. When I went into the ministry I made the decision that drinking was not something I could do if I was serious about serving the Lord.

However, starting in 1996, I decided having a drink once in a while was not that big of a deal, so usually 2-3 times a month I would have a snifter of Cognac after dinner. I never drank in public, only at home. I was never drunk. It was simply a choice I had made several times a month to have a drink.

I will never forget last December 10th. After dinner as I was relaxing, I went to get a drink and poured the last snifter out of a bottle of Remy Martin VSOP. As I sipped the last few drops I remember thinking to myself, drinking alcohol is something in my life that I would be better off not doing. I spent a few minutes in prayer and simply told God that I really didn't want to drink any more, and actually asked him to take the desire and taste away. One year later, I have not had a drop.

I quit drinking, not because I feared going to Hell, or that I was an embarrassment to God, but because it was simply the best choice for my life. I chose to quit drinking because I felt it was the best for me. For those of you who choose to have a drink, I am certainly not going to condemn you. I will say that as I have matured spiritually, it clearly does seem that abstinence is the best choice. However, that is something you and the Lord need to spend some quiet time chatting about.

Jesus drank wine. Fermented grapes, NOT grape juice. In that culture at that time, there was no Perrier, or even tap water. Wine was used in that day much like we use water today. Jewish scholars have reported that the day in day out wine drank in the days of Jesus had a very small alcoholic content.

I am not here to lay a guilt trip on anyone who has a glass of champagne on New Year's, or a glass of wine with dinner, or a beer every now and then. I have never been one to condemn people for the decisions they make, just try to point them to scripture and let the Holy Spirit deal with them. As I say so often, you cannot force someone to do something. It takes God moving on a person's heart to make someone change.

A scripture in the Bible that supports abstinence from alcohol I often use is 1 Corinthians 6:19. In context, this verse is dealing with our bodies in sexual matters, but it is also appropriate for use in the area of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Rather than preach to you on the issue of alcohol, let me refer you simply to that one verse and ask you if you feel it is right to pollute the temple of the Holy Spirit with something like alcohol that can be harmful to you and alters your state of mind.

I am going to let you pray on that question and work it out with the Lord. For Christians, alcohol also becomes a stumbling block for those in your life who are not saved. Not only is it harmful to your temple, but it can also be a bad witness to those people in your life that don't know the Lord. Never forget, your strongest testimony is how you live your life before others.

One of the big problems with alcohol is that it can end up being a bondage for many. Like any bondage, God is able to deliver you whenever you are serious about quitting and ready to let Him help you. I will be in prayer today for you or anyone you know who is in bondage to alcohol. GOD IS STILL IN THE DELIVERANCE BUSINESS!

I love you, and care about you so much. I will be praying for you today as you spend time with the Lord and seriously consider your choice in regard to drinking. God loves you so much, and only wants the best for your life. May the Holy Spirit guide you and lead you in your choice.

In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ, Bill Keller