Don’t Get Drunk, Be Filled with the Holy Spirit
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Ephesians 5:17–20 ESV Read More
Remember that this whole section is about living for the Lord, in light of what great things He has done for us and in light of the world watching us to see if what we say is true.
At the last supper, Jesus said that He no longer calls His disciples servants but friends because He has let them in on God’s plan. We have been shown and told what God’s will is and we’ve even been given His Spirit to empower us to do it. With the knowledge, the time, and the equipment, we are ready to do God’s will. To be foolish, then, would be to scrap all of that and to live like idiots that don’t know what’s going on.
It would be a horrendous miss to read this section and come away saying “Ok, we can’t drink any alcohol.” There are plenty of good reasons to abstain from alcohol, but this verse isn’t one of them. Paul would have had to invent the refrigerator in the first century to abstain from wine because all grape juice would be wine. You could only drink grape juice for about a day during the grape harvest. After that, you’d have your choice of wine or diarrhea. Sorry, but that’s science.
C.S. Lewis has a great statement about us and our rules about abstaining from alcohol:
“One great piece of mischief has been done by the modern restriction of the word Temperance to the question of drink. It helps people forget that you can be just as intemperate about lots of other things. A man who makes his golf or his motor-bicycle the centre of his life, or a woman who devotes all her thoughts to clothes or bridge or her dog, is being just as ‘intemperate’ as someone who gets drunk every evening. Of course, it does not show on the outside so easily: bridge-mania or golf-mania do not make you fall down in the middle of the road. But God is not deceived by externals. (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, HarperCollins, 1977, pp. 72–3)
If you are going to submit to outside influences (like wine) you do much better to submit yourself to the Holy Spirit. The symptoms are different! Don’t be deceived by movements that make Holy Spirit drunkenness look like wine drunkenness, that is not what they meant on Pentecost. (the one person that said that was corrected by Peter) The Holy Spirit brings out thankfulness, encouragement, and life to those all around. As we are freed from our inhibitions and are led by the Spirit, we are more likely to befriend the unlikable and go into places we once thought dangerous to proclaim the Gospel. The Holy Spirit makes us brave, makes us wise, and fills us with God’s purpose to save the world.
Let us not be foolish and miss it through any distraction, wine or otherwise.
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