Galatians 5:19-21, “19 The acts of the flesh are obvious… debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft… 21 drunkenness… and the like, I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Substance abuse has been a major problem from the beginning of time.  The Bible speaks primarily of alcohol abuse as the main cause of addiction and defilement for God’s people.  Even such godly people as Noah (Genesis 9:21) and Solomon (Ecclesiastes 2:3) were said to have abused alcohol at different times in their lives.

Proverbs 23:29-30 warns, “29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? 30 Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.”  Therefore, it is clear from the Bible that drunkenness and alcoholism is a sin.  Sadly, 18 million adults, around 30%, have abused alcohol at some time in their life.  Though the Bible allows the Christian to either drink alcohol in moderation or to totally abstain (Colossians 2:16 & Romans 14:17), the truth of the matter is alcohol abuse should always be taken very serious in both in the church and in society, Proverbs 20:1.

At the same time, the Bible doesn’t just warn against alcohol abuse it also warns against illicit drug use.  The Greek word Paul uses for “witchcraft” in the above passage is, “pharmakeia,” which is where we get the English word “pharmaceuticals” from. In the time of Jesus the word meant, “casting spells or using drugs.”  As a result, the Bible calls all drug use outside of safe medical usage to be like the sin of sorcery and witchcraft.

I believe “pharmakeia” is used this way in the Bible because drugs change one’s understanding of reality and open their soul to demonic powers.  Many practices in witchcraft involve taking drug-based potions to produce “spiritual effects.”  For example, some native American Indians in the southwest use peyote for its mescaline to induce hallucinations and “transcendence” into the spirit world.  However, both Galatians 5:20 and Revelation 22:15 are very clear that those who abuse drugs will not receive God’s Kingdom but rather will be cast into the lake of fire.

Therefore, we should stand against alcohol and drug abuse in the following ways: (1) Warn all those who drink alcohol that if they get drunk they are sinning against God; (2) Teach the truth about illicit drug use from the Bible that it is considered “sorcery and witchcraft” and thus it must be totally abstained from; and lastly, (3) Encourage everyone to not seek worldly pleasure for spiritual fulfillment in life, but rather seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 5:18.


Are you free from drug and alcohol abuse?


  1. Explain from the Bible why alcohol and drug abuse is sinful.
  2. Pray that God will use you to reach out to those who either are drunkards or drug users.
  3. For more information regarding standing against substance abuse read the following books, “Addiction and Grace,” by Gerald May and The Twelve Steps for Christians,” by Friends in Recovery.