One for the Road?

Some mornings I am just blank. Nothing has happened in the past day or so to give me an inspiration, nothing in my prayers comes up that I feel is a message worth sharing, and worse than all that: this morning the comics section (with the crossword) was missing and I have to wait an hour before I can even call them and complain.

When these “brain-fart” days occur, I go into my “God Stuff” folder and look for things that I have done over the years to see if I can find a message in there God wants me to share. Please don’t think I mean God talks to me all the time, but I do believe He is guiding me when I write, and I usually find something in there I sense I should share. That’s how it is this morning.

I reviewed one of the chapters in my book (my blog’s Home page has links to the book- it’s not expensive and comes in digital form) and want to share something I believe is timely, and also a little controversial (Lord forbid I shouldn’t stir up the hornets nest now and then.)  🙂

With the holiday season full upon us, turkey still be used for leftovers and Christmas light season officially started,  one of the things that happens so much during this season is…no, I am not going to say good will abounds and people start to act like they should (although sometimes we see that)…people drink alcohol more than they usually do.

Here is an excerpt from my book, from the chapter about drinking:

Before we even get started I need you to know that I agree with anyone who says that drunkenness is a sin, and the Manual tells us this is so. It represents laziness, lack of self-control (two Fruits of the Spirit already missing), and under the influence we all do the wrong things. We act foolishly, we sometimes become mean and cruel to others, we sometimes act in sexually inappropriate ways, and many other activities that are a sin against God and others.

   It’s also just as important to remember that a sin against someone else is always and foremost a sin against God. David knew this when he wrote Psalm 51. In it he said (to God) that it was against Him that he sinned, Him and no one else. He wasn’t ignoring what he did to Uriah and Bathsheba. He was emphasizing the importance of knowing that sinning is always against God, no matter who it is directed at. Yeshua confirms this when He tells us that what we do to the least of His brothers we do to Him.

   There are some Christian sects that will not allow drinking at all. This is not a biblical commandment; at least I have not found anywhere in the Manual where it tells us to drink intoxicating liquids is a sin. It does tell us in more than one place about the sinfulness of drinking to excess; however, I haven’t found any commandment against having a martini.

As you can see, I do not believe that drinking, in and of itself, is a sin. I also did not find anything in the Bible that says drinking is a sin. There are, however, more than one or two places where we see drinking to excess is a sin. So where is the line drawn?

I don’t want to give away everything, or you won’t ever buy the book, but I will say this: in my opinion it comes down to your intentions when you take the first drink, and your self-control with regards to the next one.

In AA they say one drink is too many, and two drinks aren’t enough (or something to that effect), which is a strict mantra for people who have a serious problem with stopping when they start. I have not had any problems stopping, although I have (more than once) drank enough to get myself in trouble.  Not legal issues, or anything substantial, but socially damaging.

I don’t believe drinking is a sin. After all, if it was sinful to drink alcohol, why did Yeshua turn water into wine? Oh, yes, there are those that argue the “wine” was grape juice and there are those that can interpret the original Greek and say sometimes “wine” is a fermented drink and other time “wine” can be interpreted as a juice drink without fermentation. I do not doubt they are correct, as they are scholars, they can speak Greek and Hebrew, and they are trying to interpret in a way that glorifies God.

I don’t think it really matters, because my belief is that what we do when we sin is the lesser part of that sin because to God it is our intentions that matter.  I justify this belief by pointing to the Beatitudes (Matityahu 5), where Yeshua told us that what we do or don’t do isn’t all there is to it; it is also what we think and feel that matters. We should not commit adultery but if we lust, we have; we should not commit murder but if we hate in our heart, we have. These are clear statements that God is looking at our intentions, at our heart, to see the origin of the sin we commit. I don’t think anyone will argue that the Bible is rife with references to how God doesn’t see us as we see each other, but that He “sees the heart” and knows what we are thinking and feeling.

Therefore, it isn’t having a drink that is a sin, but what you want to happen when you take that drink. If you drink with control and responsibility, you are not committing any sin against God. If you drink with the intention of getting so totally wasted that you won’t be able to lie on the floor without help, you are sinning because a Believer that is that far out of control is not glorifying God in any way, whatsoever. If you want to have a social drink and it hits you before you know it, and you act a fool, your intentions were OK but you still sinned because of what you did. Not wanting to sin is good, but if you sin anyway, it’s still a sin. Remember that the sacrificial system includes a sacrifice for the sin we didn’t even know we committed. Clearly God doesn’t like sin, whether by volition or accident. A sin is a sin, period.

Intending to sin is a sin, even if you don’t end up doing the sin. King David asked God to create a clean heart in him, and renew a right spirit within him.  He also asked that God make the words of his mouth and the meditations of his heart acceptable at all times. Yeshua verified this as a proper attitude when He told us that it is what comes out of the mouth, which comes from the heart, that makes us clean or unclean.

Look to your heart and call upon the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to guide not just your actions, but your intentions. We need to fill ourselves with the Ruach, constantly becoming more like Yeshua and less like ourselves. When we are spirit led, we don’t lose who we are. I haven’t lost who I am- all that nastiness and sinful desire is still there. I have learned to repress it, and to get rid of some of it. All this through the Spirit. Not by me, but by us- God and me.

Letting God and the Ruach rule over your thoughts (and thereby, your actions) doesn’t mean you have to lose who you are; you’re still you, just a better you.

So, as the TV commercials say, drink responsibly. Actually, as Believers, let’s take it a step further- if you drink, do so with the proper intentions, and maintain the proper control. Don’t drink to get drunk, and when you start to hear the beehive in your head, put the glass down and grab a coffee. Use Godly discernment, don’t drink on an empty stomach, and for the love of God, make sure there is a designated driver. Enjoy this season, enjoy the company parties and the get-togethers. Be appropriate, be of good cheer, and have good intentions followed up with self-control. That way you will not only have a good time, but will be a good example to others.

The greatest joy we can feel doesn’t come from a holiday, or a sale, or a bottle- it comes from Yeshua ha Mashiach, it comes from the Ruach HaKodesh, and it comes from God.


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