SIPPING SAINTS

One of the questions I get asked more than many is; “Does the bible teach that drinking alcohol is a sin?”  Actually, it does not.  The drinking of wine is mentioned all the way through scripture. (Ecc 9:7, Ps. 104:14 & 15, Isa 55:1) Jesus himself would have drank wine at the last supper and we know that He was still sinless (Heb 4:15).

The bible specifically teaches that it is drunkenness that is the sin.  Gal 5:19-21 lists drunkenness amongst the very worst sins of the flesh.  Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness… drunkenness.   And 1 Cor 6:10  names it as a bit of an eternal deal breaker… nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

Christian homes in the past were typically dry, particularly after times of spiritual renewal where worldly pursuits melted away.  Today we are seeing more social drinking amongst believers than ever before.  I hear the theological justification similar to what I mentioned in the above.  “It is OK to drink as long as you don’t get drunk.”  Personally, I think that is a gross oversimplification. 

First off, where exactly is the line between sobriety and drunkenness?  Inebriation creeps up on people and they usually don’t recognize the line till after they have crossed it.

Secondly, what about the cultural aspects of drinking?  In bible days they had no refrigerators and often poor quality water.  Wine (fermented grape juice) was an excellent way to preserve your drink.  It was practical and not unhealthy in measured moderation. 

That is not why people drink today!  Drinking has become a huge social crutch.  Many find it impossible to entertain or party without the requisite social lubricant of alcohol.  Inhibitions come down and bad choices start to be made.  The stupid factor goes up exponentially with each drink. 

But for me the more important consideration is the inherent dangers of alcohol.  I was only 16 years old when I lost my first friend to alcohol.  Kevin, John and Bob were heading home after an evening of drinking.  Kevin wrapped his car around a light standard and John was killed on impact.  Bob suffered a severe brain injury and after he finally came out of the coma was actually a completely different person.  Kevin walked away from the crash but in many ways may be the most injured.  The emotional toll has been lifelong.  Ironically Bob might have fared the best as eventually he gave his heart to Christ and is a committed believer today living a very full life.

For every one story someone can tell me about the benefits of alcohol, I can tell you 100 more of these tragic stories.  I have lost way too many friends to alcohol…both figuratively and literally. The list of the dead, maimed, divorced, bankrupt, friendless, imprisoned, addicted, homeless, and sick from the effects of alcohol goes on and on. 

1Cor 6:12 says, All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful.  I have found these words very instructive for dealing with the many issues of life.  Even if drinking is not sinful, it has not been very helpful.  As Christians we are to avoid even the appearance of evil.  Imagine this scenario.  I am sitting in Tony Roma’s, I’m laughing, talking loudly, jumping to my feet to illustrate some story I am telling and generally acting a little loopy.  Why?  Because this is how I act in public…ask my kids.  Now all you need to do is put a Molson Canadian in front of me and the story now reads; “I saw Pastor Mark in Tony Roma’s last night and he was just hammered.”  All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful

Young people today have an immense peer pressure on them to drink.  Their culture more and more revolves around alcohol.  The jury is in on this one as to whether it is a hinderance or helpful.

We have never had alcohol in our home as we are holding up a higher standard to our children.  We do not forbid our of-age children from drinking.  Instead we challenge them to live to the same higher standard and to be confident with whom they are as individuals without having to resort to loser Kool-Aid as a means to having fun.  It is a standard to which I think all Christians could strive.  Our world would be a better place for it.

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42 Responses to SIPPING SAINTS

  1. Steve says:

    I agree with you Pastor Mark that we should probably just not drink at all. I know that before I became a Christian I used to drink alot(and in one sitting). After I became a Christian I totally stopped drinking any alchohol. Then I noticed people in the church would have a few drinks when they got together and even go to the bar. I felt uncomfortable going with them. For one thing, the only reason I ever went to the bar was to get totally bombed. I started to think I could have a beer every night. Then it was 2 beers every night and then 3. I was starting to drink again for the buzz. I wasn’t getting totally sloshed but I was starting to depend on that buzz every night. The more I did it, the more buzz I wanted to have. I soon realized that I just needed to leave all that beer alone. I will have a beer with someone if they offer me one, so as not to be rude, but I’m not going to fill my fridge with beer so I’ll be tempted to finish them all in a short amount of time. Anyways I just wanted to say that this story proves your theory about not having alchohol in the house. So party on dude! I mean, God bless you Pastor Mark.

  2. Ray says:

    Awesome! I agree 100%. I can’t even count the number of times I have wound up in a discussion about drinking alchohol with my Christian friends who argue “where does it say not to drink in the bible?” Thank you for the verse 1Cor 6:12, its the point I always tried to make, how is it helpful to drink.

    My wife and I grew up in households where social drinking was the norm at family gatherings and any occasion really. I have never had a drop of alchohol and when we married we promised each other we would keep a dry home, and it has remained that way for 6 years. Even with 90% of our Christian friends comfortable with the “responsible” drinking, the only excuse they have for me to try it, is well it tastes good like Coke, or Kool-Aid or Dr.Pepper. To that I just respond well I’ll simply have a Dr.Pepper then, because really whats the point in testing what you can really “handle” when there is such a grey line.

    Blessings Pastor Mark, I appreciate your blog!

  3. Jasmine says:

    Pastor Mark,

    Anybody who knows you would know that you wouldn’t give two hoots about the rumour going around about you being hammered. And they would also know that you’re naturally that goofy. That’s what we love about you. But I see your point about avoiding even the appearance of evil. This, I find, is very difficult to do because even if you have the best of intentions and are doing something completely innocent, people have a way of interpreting the situations they find you in into something that might not be so godly. Jesus was constantly misunderstood and accused of wrongdoing even though everything he did was completely righteous. No one can control what others will say about them, they can only defend themselves once they have been approached by someone requesting clarity on their intentions. And the sad fact is that most people will just jump to conclusions without even first trying to clarify what you were doing or meaning to do.

    About holding up a higher standard to our children, I grew up with a father who got drunk at every family gathering. And I used to watch in fear as my parents fought with each other after every family party, wondering if my dad would seriously injure or even kill my mother. Needless to say, it taught me a lot about the effects of alcohol and I never had the desire to try it. No amount of peer pressure was capable of making me take a drink during my teen years.

    When I turned nineteen, my aunt introduced me to my first glass of rum and coke. I enjoyed the taste of it but wasn’t really impressed by it. I do drink occasionally now but it is usually just one glass. The last drink I had was a rum and egg nog at Christmas. I don’t rely on alcohol to have a good time, but I do enjoy it once in a while because I like the taste of some of the mixed drinks.

    To me, it is the dependency on alcohol and getting drunk that is the sin. People sin against God when they use alcohol or drugs or food or anything else to try to make themselves feel better instead of depending on God to sustain them through their trials in life. It is our human nature to try to escape from our woes rather than accept them as the means to maturity. Most of us don’t understand that it is our suffering that helps us grow. And perhaps some don’t want to grow because it takes too much work.

    You’re right, our culture is revolving more and more around alcohol and our young people, no matter whether they come from a dry home or not, will be pressured to try it. Part of the problem is the “forbidden fruit” factor. If they know it’s off limits, they will probably try it without their parents knowing. This can be very dangerous. We, as parents, need to communicate openly to our children and educate them about the effects of alcohol and then hope that they make the responsible choice based on what they know the consequences would be.

    I, myself, will never forbid my kids to try alcohol because I know that they will just do it behind my back anyway. Rules don’t go over too well with teenagers so I would rather try to build some character in my kids by having them go through trial and error. If they feel they are “adult” enough to try alcohol and have made up their minds about trying it, nothing I say or do will stop them. Although I will do my best to convince them otherwise, ultimately I will let them make their own choices and then have them deal with the consequences no matter how much it hurts to watch, because this is something they might have to learn the hard way.

  4. Jim LeBlanc says:

    Pastor Mark,

    I heard a great perspective on this business about “does the Bible say it’s wrong”. A well known pastor and speaker’s podcast spoke to this exact question as he was being asked this question numerous times as well.
    He says alot of people these days are pushing the line, pushing up to the line but not wanting to cross the line just to appear to stay on the side of rigteousness. He had a better question.
    He said the better question to ask is “Is this the wise thing to do”?
    He stated a great way to look at any situation a person is contemplating is by this method.
    In light of my past experiences, my current circumstances and my future hopes and dreams “What is the wise thing to do”?
    Whether it is permissible or not whether it is a good idea or not the question is “What is the wise thing to do”?
    The Bible talks about wisdom over and over again. In fact the Bible tells us that wisdom is the princple thing and in all our getting we should get understanding.
    I think that this approach would serve us as the Christian community well not to mention the human race in general.
    This approach would serve us well in all decisions and in all arenas of life not just as it relates to the consumption of alcohol.
    The question would help not only to determine if any alcohol should be consumed but if the choice is made to consume alcohol it would help a person to determine what may be the wise amount to consume whether one is concerned about anothers perception or one’s own health.

  5. Gary D says:

    I would like to add some more to this as I have done quite the research study on this subject myself.

    First alcohol is a drug and the bible mentions they will not repent of their “pharmakya” or sorceries in end times. If we give validation to alcohol, what is stopping us from moving forward to giving approval to mairjuana and other narcotics? Marijuana is a much safer drug in comparison!

    Immediately when alcohol is induced into the body it immediately has an effect, whether noticeable or not. Alcohol is a product from death and decay and recently scientific studies have proven it to be a carcinogen linked to many cancers. Proverbs speaks much wisdom on wine and over basically says, if you are wise, stay away from it. Priests in the old testament were forbidden to consume it, as it was seen as unclean.

    Wine we have today is greatly different from wine 2000 years ago with the alcoholic percentages much lower. All this information is publicly available online for anyone to research for themselves.

    There are two more things I will bring up.

    First is the result of prohibition in the USA bringing forth the most profitable era in US History. Crime dropped to almost non-existence in some areas where not a single log was written in some police houses during the day. Medical submissions to the mental health department fell by one half, accidental death sharply declined, divorce fell, the families were strong. There are misconceptions that the black market bootleg thrived, which in reality during prohibition, only the wealthy could afford and had liquor. It was during this time booze was iconized as a luxury item of the rich. Soon through the power of persuasion by the power of the rich, they overturned the prohibition laws and the wine flowed freely. Immediately after the worst economic depression hit that country. Consumption of liquor went up and the country went into a very dark time. Suicides, divorce, poverty, crime, all the undesirable things came back and shot up astronomically.

    Secondly, today the stats speak for themselves. 140,000 people in the USA die pre-maturely every year as a result of alcohol. Say that number again, 140,000 people die every year. That’s staggering and very sobering and takes a bit to digest. 140,000 people have their lives ended by this substance. 9/11 was only around 3,200 people and they sent the army in for revenge. The alcoholic industry is a multi-billion dollar a year industry and the marketing engine behind it is second to none in target marketing to youth in presenting them with a life style of debauchery and objectifying women as sexual conquests that fornication is okay. Even economically speaking, the tax that is collected on alcohol comes nowhere close to covering the damage and clean up costs resulting from alcohol.

    These corporations have the blood of millions of people on their hands for the products that are so easily abused, and advertised to abuse, even if they try to cover their butts with the “Drink Responsible” ads. Money is made in the numbers of unit sold. Corporations exist only to make profits, nothing else.

    Ask yourself this now. As a Christian, who I dedicate my life to Jesus and the building of His coming Kingdom by reaching out to others about the gospel, can I support this? Am I okay with purchasing and drinking this beverage in which profits go into marketing a counter-lifestyle to the Christian life which is very destructive and causes so much pain and death?

    I feel strongly Christians should abstain from drinking. Not because it is a sin or not, but out of compliance with our mission to help the world. Helping the alcoholic corporations is in direct counter-productive nature to our purpose. Also not drinking is a great way to tell people you are Christian and engage into some quality purposeful conversation with non-believers.

    My Background: I grew up in a Christian household and gave my heart to Jesus when I was seven years old. I grew up and wondered away in my teenage years and started drinking when young because we were the “computer guys” and made the best fake ID of the time. Also it helped to have an asian friend who’s looked like his older brother and used his ID whenever we needed someone to buy. Got into the bar scene, got mixed up with worldly girls, fell into sexual sin, ended up hanging with one of the meanest toughest gangs of the city unknowingly. When I found out exactly where my life was, I repented and got out of all of it. I saw the inner workings of some bad stuff and realized that if I didn’t drink, I would have never ended up in that spot. Also it was sad to see so many people’s lives just ruined by addiction. I am glad God will only let you go so far before calling you back. But it was a great lesson and eye opener.

    We are in end times, it’s only going to get worst out there. We have to be on our guard and be prepared at all times.

    P.S. I always think of people that need to have alcohol to socialize as boring and dry people that need a bit of “GO” to be fake and interesting.

  6. Mark Hughes says:

    Thanks Gary. Some great additonal information on the subject.

  7. Lic David L Townsend says:

    Pastor Mark, i agree totally. Just because something is allowable does not mean it is helpful. advisable, or even sensable. I have seen so many families and lives ruined by alcohol, why would a Christian even want to drink, even if it was allowable. My area went through a great revival in the 1930s, where an area of drunken fishermen was transformed into a very changed spiritual area, even a lot of pastors have come out of that group. The group had an abstinence from alcohal policy. That revival would never have happened if solcial drinking was allowed, many of the families were alcoholics, if they were allowed to take one drink socially, they would have been right back into it. We ARE to abstain from the very appearance of evil, and we are accountable to others. I dont like going into a restarant and seeing a deacon taking a drink. Does everyone in thay restaurant know they are only taking one and are not over imbibing? Of course not, many would not even know the difference. There is no alcohol allowed in our home either. God bless and keep on preaching. God bless

  8. Sophie G says:

    Mark,

    I just wanted to say that your sermons, (and your blogs) are REALLY helping me. They seem to coincide with issues in my life and give me direction.

    Thank You,

    Sophie

  9. Tamara says:

    Hmmm…. well, I love Jesus, and I enjoy a little ‘loser-Koolaid’ with my dinner from time to time. And if I’m dry, boring, uninteresting, I haven’t noticed that alcohol improves that any. Still, last time I checked, it wasn’t a sin to be boring. Whew! I guess what I wonder about is where do we draw the line? If I give up my glass of wine with dinner because it offends your conscience, or because somebody wrapped themselves around a tree while they were drunk, or because somebody somewhere watching may think I appear to be a person with no self-control, lacking judgment and discretion… what else must I also be willing to give up? Do I give up my medium rare steak, and my television, and my hair dye, and my open-toed shoes… I am being completely serious. At what point are we free to say, ‘I’m sorry if this offends you, but I have freedom to do this. If you are stumbling because of it, then maybe you need to grow up.’ At what point am I simply putting back upon myself a yoke of slavery that says, ‘Don’t touch this! Don’t eat that!’ There are very good arguments to give up all manner of things… are we to give things up simply because somebody else is offended, or lacks self-control, or doesn’t understand? All things are lawful, not all things are profitable… I understand that. Can I say, because my brother died in an automobile accident, that nobody should drive automobiles… that they just kill and injure people, they polute the earth, make people lazy, give teenagers a place to fornicate, and most people simply can’t be responsible not to drive too fast on occasion, and thereby break the law… I think those are all true, valid reasons not to have a car. But you probably LIKE having a car, and though you could probably do without if you had to, and you don’t NEED it to survive, and you would undoubtedly feel some small compulsion to give it up if it was standing between someone and eternal salvation… you’d find it very irritating to be put in that position. Because, afterall, YOU’RE not being lazy, and YOU’RE not fornicating in the back seat, and YOU’RE not driving too fast… So, I just seriously wonder about that.

  10. Gord says:

    Tamara makes some good points. In the end, it’s about how responsible we are for our behavior. Most people who have a problem with alcohol are aware of it, despite their outward denials. They need to abstain, and they know it. If they get too far out of control, society does it’s best to subdue and or punish them.

    It seems obvious that wine was a part of a good meal in Jesus’s time. It was present at the Last Supper, but I doubt anyone was unduly influenced by it. I have 2 bottles of wine in my cupboard. My Dad made them, and I’ve had them for at least 3 years. I just don’t see the need to drink them, but I reserve the right to enjoy them responsibly at some point. There have been lots of medical studies over the years that suggest small amounts of wine (especially red) are actually good for you.

  11. Teresa says:

    I am so happy to hear the voice of reason that Tamara denotes.
    I am a home wine-making hobbiest and often partake of the fruits of my labour at dinner-time. I have tried my best to impart true Biblical values to my children and feel that my husband & I set good and prudent standards. It is my belief that if kids never see safe and moderate consumption of alcohol they are more likely to be tempted by their peers to drink foolishly and dangerously. We have always taught and modelled that having a glass of wine or a cold beer is fine (once you’ve reached the legal age, that is); but that “getting drunk” is stupid, dangerous and a sin.
    And the point that some Christians make about deciding to live by a “higher standard” is totally lost on me. Who among us hopes to live by a higher standard than Jesus. Even he was wrongfully accused of being a drunkard, yet He refused to alter His behavior to appease the critics.
    I made a vow to use Christ as my role model. Pastors always preach that we should seek a personal relationship with Jesus and to avoid a legalistic “religious” lifestyle.
    Sometimes our leaders get off in a ditch on one side or the other. I believe that this is one of those times. Our leaders are human, our Savior: Divine. When in doubt, I’ll follow Jesus.

  12. Tamara says:

    I would like to be clear, that I COMPLETELY agree that my liberty is not licence and that ultimately love trumps all. If there is someone who is vulnerable to alcohol, or if it just is simply not appropriate for the situation, I absolutely abstain. For example, I would NEVER drink in front of my grandma. (For her, I would also go so far as to put on a pair of panty hose with my dress, much as I hate THAT). There are people I love who struggle with alcohol, and for this reason we chose not to serve alcohol at our wedding, even though many of our friends would have expected it. I guess it’s just the ‘never ever’ part of abstaining that I have a problem with. We have this tendency to make rules where God doesn’t make them. This is the same reason why most Jews don’t eat cheeseburgers, by the way. The bible says not to boil a kid in it’s mother’s milk… so to avoid the remotest possibility that you may transgress this law, you simply don’t ever eat meat and dairy together. You love God, you don’t want to transgress, you don’t want to even MAYBE accidentally sin. So you don’t put meat and cheese on your plate together. You will even have two separate fridges, so that they don’t ever touch… one for meat, one for dairy. The INTENTION is to be obedient to the law… but is that reflective at all of the spirit of the law? We are saved by grace, gifted with the Holy Spirit, no longer under the law but free men and women. Why is it so difficult for us to ‘walk in the Spirit’? Why do we always have to draw little boxes and lines around everything?

  13. Mark Hughes says:

    Actually, I think there just might be a higher standard. It is called the vow of the Nazerite and is found in Numbers 6. Nazerites consecrated themselves to Lord to the point where they abstained from any alcohol whatsoever including wine. There had to be a reason for it.
    Nevertheless, there is no legalism involved if one chooses to live a certain way by their own will and volition. John the Baptist chose the path of a Nazerite for himself but never imposed it on anybody else.
    But don’t miss the real point that our culture has gone over the edge with the consumption of alcohol and way too many Christians have bought right in!

  14. Steve says:

    I used to have a problem with alchohol as I have said earlier. I can drink a beer without going on a binge, but I’d like to ask a question. Why is it so important to have alchohol at home? Why do we want it? Is it just for the taste? Are we trying to show people that aren’t Christians that we are cool? I’ve been around Christians who say they drink socially, but they always seem to have a little more than I would call a social drink. In fact they start to say things that I’m sure they will feel stupid for the next day. I also notice that every single one of their children seems to like alchohol even more than they do.
    Let’s face it , what is alchohol for? It’s either for getting a buzz or for getting drunk. Why do we want it? Because it makes us feel better for a short amount of time. Let’s stop pretending we don’t want it for this reason.
    When I’ve had alchohol as a Christian I wasn’t drinking it for the sake of being a connaseur(I have no idea if that’s how you spell that), I was drinking it because it made me feel better for that moment. And why did I do that? Because I wasn’t close enough to God to get what I needed from Him. Let’s face it, alchohol is an escape. An escape from what? An escape from the hole in us that we haven’t filled with God. Why drink alchohol when God has what we need? We just need to trust Him a little more and take some of the pain this world dishes out. Don’t worry God will fill that hole up in no time.

  15. Karen says:

    Pastor Mark this was written for me.This is so a God thing,my heart is racing right now!
    AMEN to everything you said on this subject.Just today my husband and I decided we would visit your church tommorow as we have been praying about looking for a new church or not.I have had this conversation so many times in the past weeks because drinking has become so prevalent in our church.I came across a picture on a website of our Pastor with a beer in front of him.Now we have known alot of the leadership drink,him as well but this has confirmed it that its time to leave.I was NOT raised like that or in a church like that and just can not believe how much alcohol has invaded christians lives.It RUINES lives so why do we as believers want anywhere near it.My husband used to have a problem with alcohol and he has been to CHRISTIAN functions and had it so in his face..what are we doing to our fellow believers!??!!I am so passionate about this subject…its an addictive substance Tamara(comment above)asked if she would have to give up her open toed shoes next…HELLOOOO..do they hold you captive?Are you addicted to them?You can not compair the two!
    Well,all I wanted to say is through clicking on your Blog tonight gave me the confermation I needed and that YES there is other believers out there still who believe as I do.I am done with compromising for conveniece sake(our church is close to home).
    Thank you and I look forward to visiting your church tommorrow!

  16. Brent C says:

    Pastor Mark….I agree fully with the “higher calling”….although I have met and know many Christian friends through my life journey who have chosen to allow moderate consumption — I know I am “free” to abstain without ever feeling like I am “missing out” on anything this life has to offer.

    I accepted Christ at an early age….grew up in a Christian home and had opportunity at any time (as we all do) to make the “choice”…however, I chose to stay away from even the “testing” of alcohol….I have never drank, smoked or done drugs yet I believe I have enjoyed life to the full.

    It was interesting during my last years of high school, while participating in a high school private party related to the cast and crew of the annual drama….while “joking and laughing” with my school mates…..that I had numerous people make the comment – Gosh, YOU must be hammered”….I found this amusing considering I had not tasted a drop of beer that was abundantly accessable…..it suddenly struck me that most of my friends are unable to “be loose and happy” without the use of alcohol…..yet, because of God’s grace and Peace….I walk and enjoy life all the time without the help of alcohol…..

    I also learned in my early twenties that we are not under the law….but, rather….we are free to walk in a way that is not bound to our own selfish interests or desires….that we gain a quality of self control …rather, we have God’s strength to walk in a way that is not motivated by our flesh, but rather the Spirit…..

    I don’t judge my brother’s in Christ who have chosen to allow alcohol into their lifestyle….but, I also know for myself as with any appetite….it can get out of control….we all need to rely on God’s help to stay focused on our daily choices whether they be drinking alcohol, the food we eat….exercise….we all need balance to keep our perspective, spirit and body in “good health”.

    God help us all to “build one another up” in the walk and faith ….giving honor to one another and helping us each grow stronger in Him and less on convenient or socially acceptable options which can cause confusion or a stumbling block for others…yes, Others matter in God’s perspective. God Bless…and keep Bloggin’ Mark.

  17. Tamara says:

    Hi Karen. I’m excited for you that God is speaking to you right where you’re at! He’s the great Encourager. I just want to clarify, with regard to open-toed shoes: there are parts of the world where women can be beaten for showing their ankles to a man who is not their husband… This is what I had in mind when I made that comment, and I was completely sincere in my (as yet unanswered) question. My mother was taught, and grew up believing in her soul that she would go to hell if she cut her hair. People believe different things, and we have to acknowledge that sometimes there are GREAT differences between what one person feels in their deepest soul to be sin, and what another person finds a virtual non-issue. I have myself been greatly surprised, on more than one occasion, to discover where God people gives freedom that I don’t have.

  18. Steve says:

    I would like to say that what I said earlier was probably directed more at people who have drinks every day. I don’t think a drink every now and then is wrong. I just think depending on alchohol in anyway is wrong and I’m pretty sure for me that me and alchohol are a bad combo.
    Also I have seen a trend in churches where people are going to the bars and having drinks and dancing(Christians I’m talking about). I don’t see the Bible stick up for that kind of behavior anywhere. Believe me, I don’t think that I am perfect in any sense. I just like to look at things clearly and make sure that the enemy isn’t deluding me in any way. The Bible tells us that even some of the elect will be deluded in the end. I sure don’t want that to be me. God bless.

  19. Tamara says:

    I don’t want to get sidetracked from the original point… and I believe I understand the point, and I agree with it. As Christians, we are to be set apart: we are to be ‘in’ the world, not ‘of’ it, and we are failing badly at that. Misuse of alcohol is just one example of many where we have failed to behave in a matter befitting of God’s elect.

    All issues of alcohol aside, I feel I must speak to an earlier comment made by Pastor Mark, in response to Teresa’s comment. I was wishing someone else would address it, but I guess it’s going to be me. I’m wondering if Pastor Mark could clarify? Teresa said she was choosing to live by the standard Jesus set, and said that there was no higher standard than that. Then you said that actually you thought there might be a higher standard than what Jesus set, and that was the Nazerite vow. Perhaps I completely misunderstood, but that is how I read that exchange.

    If you are indeed saying that the Nazerite vow represents a higher standard than the standard that Jesus lived by, could you please say a little more about what you mean by ‘standard’? Standard of righteousness? Purity? I’m not sure what you meant. It is God’s intention, God’s design, God’s desire… for us to be indwelled by the Holy Spirit, and to have so intimate a relationship with Him that we are able to live our lives knowing and empowered to do what God desires in each and every situation of our lives. That is what Jesus did, and that is the standard that He set. To my mind, that is an infinately higher standard than vowing not to eat the fruit of the vine, cut your hair, etc. For me, this speaks to the heart of the gospel; if righteousness can at all come from obedience to a set of rules, then Jesus death was in vain. I would think you would not want to be misunderstood on that one, so I’m wondering if you could please clarify what you meant?

  20. Mark Hughes says:

    Some scholars believe that Jesus also took the vow of a Nazerite. That is a little hard to prove in light of the Last Supper. In all likelihood Jesus did drink the fruit of the vine with His disciples and yet we know He remained completely sinless.
    However to assume Jesus example is the ‘totality’ of how a Christian should live is to over-simplify the Christian life. We have the rest of the New Testament and all the teachings of the epistles not to mention the Old Testament. Paul said many things about Christian living that we will not figure out by wearing a bracelet that says WWJD. If I am looking for a career do I have to choose carpentry because Jesus was a carpenter? Plumbing is a ‘higher calling’ because they get paid more. LOL
    There was no one more righteous than Jesus. No arguement there. But I do believe the vow of a Nazerite was a ‘higher standard’ of consecration to the Lord, just like Paul says that remaining unmarried could be as well, since more time can be given to pleasing the Lord instead of a wife. Is it unrighteous to get married? No. Paul said he was free to marry, but chose not to. I have to believe Jesus was free to marry, but chose not to as well. If someone is going to tell me that they are only going to follow Jesus example then they should stay unmarried as well…but I guess they are free to drink wine!!!
    WWJD? I am sorry, there is more to it than that.
    I would never impose abstaining from alcohol on anyone. However, in a culture like ours where abuse is rampant, yes I would hold it up as a higher standard. WWJD? I’m not sure.

  21. Tamara says:

    It’s just funny to me when you say John the Baptist had a higher standard of consecration to the Lord… and Jesus WAS the Lord. I’m not into the WWJD. I think that kind of puts Jesus back in the grave. We serve a risen Lord, and we need to ask ourselves ‘What does Jesus want to do’? I see your point, but I still think it detracts from the truth Jesus was expressing. Consecrate your heart. God does not care about things like grapes and festivals and sacrifices. He is not pleased with them. They do not impress Him. They are shadows of things that we do not yet understand. Jesus embodied the highest consecration. He was body, mind, soul, spirit set apart for Divine purpose. That is what consecration means, isn’t it?

  22. Tamara says:

    Obviously, by saying God is not pleased with sacrifices, I mean with OUR sacrifices. He was well pleased with the sacrifice He made for us.

  23. Mark Hughes says:

    Nope. That is way to one dimensional. Any consecration to the Lord on the inside will manifest itself outwardly. OT was from the outside in. NT is from the inside out.
    1 Cor 9:25 – 27 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
    1 Pet 2:11-16 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men–– as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.

  24. Tamara says:

    Nope? Nope to what? Is there anything in what I said that suggested I did not believe that giving your life to God would require a change in outward behaviour? Did I not say that we are to always, in everything, operate out of love and obedience to God, to walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the desires of the flesh? Did I not say Jesus was consecrated body, mind, soul, spirit? What did I leave out? You said that Jesus was less consecrated than John the Baptist, and I’m still trying to figure out why nobody else seems to have a problem with that.

  25. Tamara says:

    I will have to assume that you and I are thinking very different things when we use the word ‘consecration’. I am sure we share the same heart for God, and so this is likely a matter of semantics? Here’s the verses I had in mind… maybe you could explain how they would relate to this?

    Colossians 2:16-23
    “Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day – things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.

    If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as ‘Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!’ (which all refer to things destined to perish with the using) – in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.”

  26. Mark Hughes says:

    They probably don’t have a problem because they realize that comparing the consecration of John and Jesus is not my point. The Nazerite vow was a ‘higher standard’ that’s all. Take it for what it is worth. Paul said the single life was a ‘higher standard’. Not something I aspire to. But in a culture like ours…the abstaining from drinking thing makes sense for lot of people. If it doesn’t work for you, then fine. I’m not going to engage in a polemic on it. Talk amongst yourselves, I’m signing off here.

  27. Tamara says:

    Fair enough

  28. Barb says:

    Wonderful blog!!
    I totally agree with all your points, Pastor Mark.
    Something that I’ve always considered is, why would I want that drink? To relax? To feel good? To forget the stressful day I’ve had? To feel part of the group?
    These, and other reasons like them are why we should turn to the Lord, not alcohol. We don’t have to have a problem with alcohol to use the above reasons to have the occasional drink. But that doesn’t make it the right decision, either.

  29. Tanya says:

    I agree with Pastor Mark. How many times have I heard the excuse from my husband, “I only drink socially”. Well because of his ” harmless social” he drinking, he has walked out on his family and openly admits to putting his friends first. He unfortunatley is not the same man that I married. But God will give us strength and courage to go forward and I pray that many more will not fall into this trap.

  30. Xtine says:

    Winnipeg is very much a “party city”, and the more you look into the church.. it’s rare to find someone that doesn’t have a drink here or there. Not that they are drinking too much, but I disagree with even having one. For me, I could never have one, it always ended in ten. I guess I associate drinking with just “getting drunk”, because that’s all I knew with alcohol.

    It seems that kids raised in the church don’t get into drinking until they graduate highschool, and are older… and see nothing wrong with it. I kind of see it becoming more of a problem. It’s frustrating. Not that you SHOULD go through it when your younger… because it’s definitely not a “stage” for everyone, and not everyone “grows” out of it.

    We’re supposed to be set apart, and though friends may go hang out at the pub… it still doesn’t give off the right impression to even be there. I used to find myself when I saw someone I knew in those places thinking.., “Wasn’t s/he just in bible college” or “Wasn’t s/he just in church!?” It’s the image that it leaves others…

    It often takes a hard lesson for people to learn there’s more than drinking… and there’s more aspects to the issue than just “not getting drunk” Unfortunately.

  31. Kelly says:

    Some say God is a huge social crutch.

    It’s laughable that people take anything in the bible seriously. While it’s bad to be drunk, God thought to was honorable for Lot to give up his own daughters to be raped.

    Jesus did say “you can not follow me unless you hate your mother and your father” , and what the prosperity gospel…… ” It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven ” ……when the young prince asked what he needed to do , Jesus replied ” sell all your possesions and give everything to the poor and follow me “.

    Have you Christians done that yet ? If not , I guess you can forget about heaven . And if you check out Acts 4 , the believers ” lived in common, sharing everything” , and those couple people who didn’t lay everything at the elders feet died.

  32. Kelly says:

    Oh, one more thing. It’s bad to be drunk , but it’s OK for God to kill everyone on earth in a giant flood holocaust . Christians scare me, wishing for the end of our planet. Sounds like terrorism to me.

  33. Steve says:

    Lot’s daughters took advantage of their father when he was passed out drunk they weren’t raped. Jesus meant by saying hate that we were to put God first. Did you ever notice Him say love your brother as you would love yourself. He never said you wouldn’t go to heaven unless you gave all your possesions away. The people that died in Acts didn’t die because they didn’t lay everything at the elders feet they died because they thought they could lie to God. They could have said I don’t want to give everything and that would have been fine but they wanted to pretend they were really generous when they were greedy. That kind of behavior from supposed Christians is probably what made you mad at God in the first place. And believe me you can’t be mad at something that doesn’t exist.
    Why did you go to church and then stop? You must have been drawn there by something. And I’m taking it that something must have happened that turned you off. Now you are convinced there is no God because of something you didn’t like not because you have come to a greater understanding about life. If there’s no God and we’re all idiots you should feel sorry for us and care about us because we’re so stupid and decieved.
    A real Christian doesn’t treat people like dirt or incite hate or wish for the end of the planet. A real Christian treats people with respect, doesn’t glory in their high position, blesses people when they are cursed, loves when they are hated, but tells the truth even if it doesn’t sit right with everyone else. A real Christian would never decieve other people with false doctrine like the prosperity gospel either. And if they aren’t very good at the above mentioned they ask God to help them with it so they can become like that.
    You must have been looking for something in the church and didn’t find it. All I can say is seek and you will find if you look hard enough. God is real and He loves you Kelly.

  34. Steve says:

    Sorry I got the story about lots daghters mixed up there. You’re right, it was disgraceful what Lot did but it never said that God saw it as honorable. C’mon you just made that up.

  35. Jasmine says:

    What do you think of a Christian waitress working in a pub? As Christians we are to avoid even the appearance of evil, but what if her heart is to save the lost and hurting and she aims to do that by reaching out to them in the very place they go to escape from the reality of their lives? Would serving them alcohol be a stumbling block for them? Or would being there for them as a caring friend who gives them a listening ear and helps them work through their confusion be more like what our Lord would be pleased with? Isn’t this what Paul did in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23? “Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”

    Isn’t this what being missional is all about? And wouldn’t it be unfortunate if someone from her church judged what’s in her heart just by witnessing her work in a pub?

  36. Steve says:

    Why would a Christian have to work in a pub? I used to go to the bar all the time. I know how drunken men treat waitresses in the bar. She would have to put up with being looked at as an object most of the time. Besides, the bar owner wouldn’t even want her there if she was always witnessing. I can just see it,”Do you know that Jesus loves you? By the way here’s your 16th beer Fred. And could you look at my face when I’m talking to you.”
    I’m sorry but Jesus wouldn’t have worked in a porn shop. He might have been kind to someone who worked there and befriended them. To me it sounds like that person doesn’t trust God enough to totally abandone their old life. She can reach out to them outside of the bar if she really cares about them.

  37. Jasmine says:

    Steve,

    You’re comparing apples to oranges; alcohol is socially acceptable whereas porn is not so widely accepted. Sexual immorality is a whole other subject about which Pastor Mark might want to consider posting another blog. But you have proved my point that Christians are too quick in judging others. You have made assumptions about this person without knowing any facts about her at all. I would suggest that you “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…” Proverbs 3:5

    I will tell you one thing about her though; she is a pastor’s daughter and she was raised in the Word. I know her well because I was her youth leader when she was in her teens and she took this job in the pub when she was in her early twenties, so there is no “old life” that she doesn’t trust God enough to totally abandon. She is about as pure as someone can get on this side of heaven.

    She has made it her life mission to go out into the world and reach the lost and hurting right where they are. What a novel idea! Why didn’t Jesus think of this? Oh, but wait–He did! And this girl really is making a difference in her little corner of the world. She is doing exactly what Paul said he did in 1 Corinthians 9:22 “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” And many Christians have suffered much more horrific hardship than what she is suffering for the sake of the gospel.

    I know that you have some experience in these matters, but you can’t judge based on your own knowledge and experience. You have no idea how the power of the Holy Spirit is working through her to reach God’s lost children. God’s friendship is with people who know their poverty, and these people know there is something wrong in their lives–that’s why they’re there.

    This is something that all Christians need to be careful of: “No one can make himself pure by obeying laws. Jesus Christ does not give us rules and regulations–He gives us His teachings which are truths that can only be interpreted by His nature which He places within us.” by Oswald Chambers in My Utmost For His Highest.

    Jesus challenges the thinking of the religious people because they are so set in their rules. He would like all of us to learn to think outside the box. Can you imagine the possibilities if we all did that?

    One more thing, this is from Proverbs 9:1-6: “Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars. She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table. She has sent out her maids, and she calls from the highest point of the city. “Let all who are simple come in here!” she says to those who lack judgment. “Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding.”

    So my question which still hasn’t been addressed is: “Is she creating a stumbling block for these people by serving them alcohol? Or is this a means to accomplish a greater good by giving the Spirit of Jesus an opportunity to touch the hearts of these people?”

  38. Mark Hughes says:

    Jesus was accused of being a winebibber, so He must have been around those who were. He also turned the water into wine, which one could argue contributed to the drunkenness of the evening. Even so, I would not want my (pastor’s) daughter to serve alcohol in a bar. I would not want her making a living by encouraging others to get drunk and stupid. It is hard to argue that that is not what goes on in a bar.
    I have a neice that is a bartender and her boss told her that her goal is to extract as much money from the patrons as is possible. Making a living should also be about purpose and that is not a very noble cause.
    As far as being missional, I question the effectiveness of sharing the gospel with people under the influence. If she is trying to share the gospel with them that is honorable, but I wonder if it is a mixed message in that she is peddling two different ‘spirits’.
    More imortantly, I would not encourage anyone to venture into ‘enemy territory’ alone. Missions in these kind of places are best when Christians can go together and have support and accountablity. Jesus sent His disciples out two by two for a reason. In the entire book of Acts you almost never see Christians alone as they are penetrating a fallen world. I believe anyone (and particularily a single woman) is somewhat vulnerable in this setting. Far from judging her, I think the risk/reward ratio is just too high.

  39. Steve says:

    Maybe I could have said that a little nicer. I apologise. I don’t know anything about this person and maybe her intent is good. Yes , she could be a stumbling block for people. Isn’t that enough to even have to ask that question?
    I am not legalistic. I don’t tell people a bunch of rules they need to follow in order to get to heaven. I walk with people who swear constantly and talk like they were born in the zoo. After all I used to sound just like them. I will tell them that Christ died because of our sins and that in order to believe in Christ we need to turn away from that old way of life because of what Christ did for us on the cross. And they know that I don’t do everything perfect. It is our desire to good and our admitting that God’s law is good that God wants.
    God does have rules for us though. We need to forgive, love our neighbour, stuff like that. And we need to be careful that we are examining ourselves through scripture, not just through some feeling we think is right.
    Sounds like you might be judging me a little without knowing anything about me either.

  40. Jasmine says:

    Pastor Mark,

    I agree with you in that I wouldn’t want my daughter to serve alcohol in a bar and it is dangerous to venture into ‘enemy territory’ alone, but she is not alone; her boyfriend of two years works alongside her and being 7 feet tall, I think he would be in a good position to support her if she needed his help. And I’m not even going to try to argue the fact that people do get drunk and stupid in bars, but think of how much could be gained from having a Christian in their midst. I think that if she is trying to advance the kingdom of God, even if it is in a way that we feel might not be the noblest profession, then more power to her. In the words of John Wesley, “Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, to all the souls you can, in every place you can, at all the times you can, with all the zeal you can, as long as ever you can.”

    Steve,

    I apologize if I sounded like I might be judging you. I was speaking to all Christians when I mentioned that we need to be careful about looking for the intent in people’s hearts before holding them up to the law. I hope you’ll forgive me if you felt any judgment coming from me.

  41. Steve says:

    Jasmine’
    I’m just glad people can get their opinions out and not be too hurt by each other to see the other’s point. I sometimes have a blunt way of putting things and there’s no hard feelings.

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