As Christmas season draws in, Christians are faced with questions from the world regarding the consumption of alcohol during celebrations. This week Pastor Priji converses with Pastor Vijay Belola about what the relationship of the Christian with alcohol must be, and how the only One Who could truly guide in wisdom and Godliness is the Holy Spirit.
Pastor Priji: What do you think about the consumption of alcohol as a Christian, especially as we enter into the Christmas season?
Pastor Vijay: There are a lot of conflicting opinions on this subject even among professing Christians. While some believe in total abstinence from alcohol, others believe it alright to indulge in it in moderation.
However, to make the conflict easier, instead of asking whether the act right, one must ask why the act must be indulged in at all.
Pastor Priji: Asking “why” answers the hidden motives of the heart than asking “can I?”. God judges us more for the motives than the actions itself. When on the last day many come and say they’ve done a lot of things for the Lord, the Lord tells them to depart as workers of iniquity because He does not just see the work done but for the reason it was done. Matthew 7:22-23
A complete teetotaler can go too far on their side to the point of restricting conversation with alcoholics, not being present in a place where there is alcohol present, and being extremely judgmental of those who have anything to do with alcohol.
It is important for the Christian to not judge according to what is just seen on the surface, but do righteous judgment by judging the heart behind it. John 7:24
On the other hand there are those who not only admit alcohol, but indulge in it to the point of endangering their walk with God, their families, and people close to them. One can never know with alcohol where to draw the line or when the line is being crossed.
Alcohol can become a crutch replacing relationships and priorities.
Christians need wisdom to not fall into any of the aforementioned categories. One must lean on God and His Word to know His will.
What do you believe the Bible has to say regarding the subject?
Pastor Vijay: The Bible has various references with regards to alcohol consumption. In Ephesians Paul says that one should not be drunk but instead be filled with the Holy Spirit, whereas he tells Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach. Jesus Himself turned water into wine in the wedding at Cana John 2:1-10. One must look at these verses with a spritual, cultural, and evangelistic perspective.
Talking of culture, wine was a sign of celebration for the Jews. In the West, today, it is a custom to include or serve alcohol at homes. However, in India, it is not so.
On the other hand, as mentioned, there are people who take it to the extreme to strictly ostracizing anything or anyone who can be even remotely associated with alcohol. A Christian must not be so, because it does not represent God in truth. Jesus sat with drunkards, the outcast and the sinners. He knew that it was the sick who need the Doctor Mark 2:15-17 . Be in the world and not of it like Jesus was.
Thirdly, from the spiritual perspective, alcohol can become an idol. In the Bible it is seen that prophets like Samson were commissioned to be totally set apart from alcoholic drinks for the sake of ministering to God. Is it so that nothing has a hold on the person like God. Men of God have lost their ministry, their walk with God, because of a degenerative habit that only started as a social thing.
Among friends of mine, a Muslim tells me how alcohol is haram or forbidden, and a Hindu tells me how on prominent days they abstain. They both question why Christians think it proper to indulge in it even on special days like Christmas. It is easy for the believer to put the blame on certain denominations, but the world does not see it that way. To the unbeliever, all fall under the banner of Christianity and Christians have failed to truly represent the Holy God.
Represent Christ well.
What one does not dare do in public, one must not do in private.
Guard the conscience and guard the testimony of Christ’s work of salvation.
Pastor Priji: If alcoholism has been a bane to a culture, it being associated with a Christian can be a problem. However one cannot say being associated with alcohol is sin because that misrepresents the scripture as well. The Bible clearly says that one must not be drunk with alcohol because that act will lead to corruption Ephesians 5:18. Let nothing besides God take control of the believer’s senses.
A Christian must also be careful about the reaction of the people in the circle of their influence when it come to yielding to alcohol. Romans 14:21.
Be neither tempted nor judgmental. Jesus was gracious and loving but He did not degrade Himself to please the people he was surrounded by.
Pastor Vijay: It is not a sin to rarely indulge in an alcoholic beverage, but it must not be a lifestyle. If it is possible to abstain from it, abstain. If there is the slightest possibility of going deep, do not go near it. Christians must protect themselves.
Pastor Priji: Let not alcoholism or any addiction become a stronghold in a believer’s life.
Find a healthier social group of friends who will draw a person closer to God instead of they who draw away.
The Holy Spirit’s understanding of the Word of God is needed in life to make wise decisions and live a Godly lifestyle.
To connect with Pastor Vijay Belola do visit the following links:
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