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 since the beginning of time. The Bible speaks primarily of alcohol abuse and depicts people’s real struggle with it; even people like Noah in Genesis 9:21 and Solomon in Ecclesiastes 2:3 were said to have abused alcohol at different times in their lives. Everyone can be lead astray be addiction if they don’t guard their heart and stay close to Jesus.
The sinful flesh is like a bucket with a giant hole in it- no matter what you give it, it will never be full, because it can’t be satisfied without God’s Spirit to fill it.
King Solomon himself warned in Proverbs 23:29-30 the problems associated with alcohol abuse, “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.” On one hand, it’s clear from the Bible that drunkenness and alcoholism is a sin. Still, around eighteen million adults (30%), have abused alcohol at some time in their life. On the other hand, the Bible allows Christians to drink alcohol in moderation if they want to (Colossians 2:16 & Romans 14:17). If you choose to drink in moderation remember the warnings found in Proverbs 20:1 and do so in holiness with the fear of the Lord.
The Bible doesn’t just warn against alcohol abuse, it also warns against illicit drug use. The Greek word for “witchcraft” in today’s passage is, “pharmakeia,” which is where we get the English word, “pharmaceuticals.” 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. Many practices in witchcraft involve taking drug-based potions to produce “spiritual” effects. For example, some Native Americans in the Southwest used peyote for its mescaline to induce hallucinations to enter the “spirit” world.
Pharmakeia is warned against in the Bible because drugs change one’s understanding of reality and open our soul to demonic powers. That is why the Bible commands disciples to always be of a sober mind. Both alcohol and drug abuse intoxicate the mind to such an extent that the devil can tempt people to do things that they wouldn’t normally do. Peter wrote, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Therefore, we should stand against alcohol and drug abuse in the following ways; (1) Warn those who drink alcohol that if they get drunk they are sinning against God. (2) Teach that recreational drug use is considered sorcery and witchcraft in the Bible. (3) Encourage everyone to not seek worldly pleasure for spiritual fulfillment in life, but rather seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit as Paul taught in Ephesians 5:18.
Are you free from drug and alcohol abuse?
- Explain from the Bible why alcohol and drug abuse is sinful.
- Pray that God will use you to bring freedom to the addicted. The ole’ timers used to say, “There ain’t no high like the Most High!”
- Resources: “Addiction and Grace,” by Gerald May & “The Twelve Steps for Christians,” by Friends in Recovery.
One Year Reading Plan
Jonah 1:1-4-11, Revelation 5:1-14, Psalm 133:1-3, & Proverbs 29:26-27. Click here to read online.