The above headline from today's Times (read the article here) regards an issue being discussed widely in Britain today as the latest official guidelines on drinking have been released:
Men and women should limit their alcohol intake to less than a bottle-and-a-half of wine across three days a week to minimise health risks, the first official guidance for 20 years has declared. For the first time, the advice says there is no such thing as safe drinking, with every regular sip of alcohol increasing the risk of cancer.
Below is a short sermon I preached a few years ago on Temperance Sunday
....Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,....
Gen 9:20-25 & Prov 23:29-35
Today is Temperance Sunday, a day when we encourage our people to live alcohol- and drug-free lives. I know it’s a thorny issue and becomes tied up with ideas like, is it a sin to drink, is smoking wrong, surely my recreational drug use in the privacy of my home over weekends is my business……and what about things like moderation and frequency……I only get drunk once in a while, I’m not as “bad” as the person who gets drunk or high every week or every day.
The two most deadly and destructive drugs in South Africa (and many other Western countries), based on cause of death and cost to the economy, are quite freely available……alcohol and nicotine. No other drugs come even close to the destruction of these two, and on Temperance Sunday we encourage our people, our children, to commit to a lifestyle of total abstinence, we encourage those who recreationally use these drugs to consider stopping and to those in the addictive grip of these things we offer the power of the Holy Spirit to become overcomers.
Our reading from the Old Testament takes us back to the first vineyard, the first drunk, and the first of many families to be torn apart by alcohol.
The story of Noah is a tragic one because this is the last we hear of Noah – paralitically drunk, passed out naked in his tent for all to see, then waking with a huge babbelas (that is South African for a hangover), cursing Canaan, the son of the son who had seen him naked and passed out (does that make sense?) ....and the affects of that curse continue to play out in the Land of Canaan (the modern Middle East) today!!!
The first mention we have of alcohol in the Bible makes it clear that it is a destructive substance with the ability to destroy the individual......destroy families.........and to become a generational curse.
The next time alcohol is mentioned in the Bible is in Genesis 19 when two desperate daughters have sex with their father when he is too drunk to notice who he is sleeping with, in order to have children.....not a pretty picture.
Many Christian churches encourage abstinence……an alcohol-free lifestyle.
Many encourage their pastors to abstain……not all do.
Many encourage their members to abstain……not all do.
As part of their commitment to an alcohol-free lifestyle, many never use alcoholic wine for communion – only grape juice.
Now, it is true to say that Scripture does not condemn alcohol per se, but it does in no uncertain terms condemn drunkenness (Ephesians 5:15-20) and nowhere in Scripture is alcohol ever mentioned as an essential element of the born-again lifestyle, hence our encouragement to stay away from it all together: abstinence.
Of course we offer Christ, the true and only source of comfort, joy and peace. Nothing and no-one else can give what Jesus freely gives……no-one.
So if alcohol has you in its grip, please know that Jesus has conquered all things that enslave us and in Him can be found the strength we need to be overcomers……cling to this truth from Scripture:
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
Maybe alcohol doesn’t have you in its grip (yet) but you’d like to stop or cut down. Please know that you can ask Jesus to help you.
Maybe alcohol isn’t a part of your lifestyle but it’s a problem for someone you love. Please know that there is strength for you in Christ and know that you can pray and pray and pray for them.
There is hope in Christ for all of us.