What does the Bible say about drugs and alcohol?

25 years ago I searched the Bible for direction concerning alcohol and drugs. I was a new believer and determined not to allow some pastor or church person tell me I can or can’t drink or have fun anymore. Here’s what I found.

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What the Bible says about alcohol

Jesus’ first miracle was to turn approximately 140 gallons of water into 140 gallons of wine at a wedding party. By His act, I have to assume that alcohol is acceptable for mankind. It was used at celebrations and occasions (John 2:9). It was even an acceptable drink for the last supper. Jesus refers to the wine as His blood, and bread as His body.  He told His disciples to take and drink (Matthew 26:26).  Apostle Timothy discusses the use of a little wine as being good for the body (1 Timothy 5:23), but warns that one can become addicted to it (1 Timothy 3:8). Evidently, it was used like a medication for the many ailments people experienced.  Following (in no particular order) are Biblical references to alcohol and the behavior associated with them.

The Holy Spirit and wine – Jesus was always talking in terms of stories (parables) so that the people could relate to what He was trying to teach. Throughout scripture, the Holy Spirit is used in symbolism and referred to as wine and/or oil.

New wine and renewed wineskin – Jesus uses the parable of the new wine and renewed wineskin. It was a reference of the renewed wineskin as to our bodies being renewed by the Holy Spirit (salvation). The old wineskin was restored by rubbing oil on it. This must first be done to restore it to like new condition, so that the new wine won’t leak out and be ruined. The new wine is representative of the Holy Spirit entering our body after salvation, previously ruined by the fall of man (Matthew 9:17).  The Apostle Paul instructs us to be filled with the Holy Spirit as opposed to wine.  I will discuss that further below.

Drunkenness and scriptural references – In Matthew 24:36-51, Jesus tells a parable relating to His return. He refers to those who are faithful and wise as the ones who live according to God’s ways, but those that live in corruption and parties with drunkards will pay the price in eternity.  The Apostle Paul referenced in Ephesians 5:18, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the spirit, …”

Alcohol can impact our judgment – Drunkenness inhibits self control – In 1st Peter, chapter 4, there is a theme of not being drunk like the non-believers   We are to show self-control and be sober-minded in our behavior. Again, that we might live by the spirit; the way God does.

What the Bible says about drugs

Respect the drug laws of the land – Finding specific reference to drugs in the Word of God is difficult.  However, the effects from illegal drugs and abuse of prescription medication is obviously against the law of man. It is illegal, therefore, as Christians and citizens, we are to respect the laws of the land. God has put people in government positions to make choices for the better of mankind (remains to be determined if man has done a good job or not).

Altering our minds – We also know that in several places throughout the Bible we are warned of the foolishness of altering our minds by way of alcohol. In 1 Peter 2:11, we are to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against our soul. Therefore, anything that causes us to destroy ourselves, obviously should be avoided. This could be interpreted as drugs, alcohol, sexual immorality, gluttony, etc.

Self discovery and moments of truth

What I discovered about myself was that I drank/did drugs to get high. Period. I didn’t use to distract, runaway, or alleviate stress. I loved the feeling of being out of control and extremely silly. After becoming a Christian I realized getting stoned was not pleasing to God, so for me the decision was simple. I needed to stop allowing myself from becoming addicted to any substance and begin living the lifestyle God planned for me.

We all face moments of truths during our lifetime. I realized I was chasing extreme happiness by consuming substances that were destroying my body. I agree the Word of God does not oppose drinking of alcohol – within limits. It is the drunkenness that God warns against. Since the drunkenness is what I chased, I decided I needed to stop for myself, my family, and for my God.

What do you think?  Where are you in your relationship with drugs and alcohol?  We invite you to write to us, ask questions, or even ramble  below.  We’re here to help.

About the author
Dr. Jackson received his Doctorate in Christian Counseling from Omega Bible Institute and Seminary in 2009. He developed the Christian recovery treatment programs for Calvary Rehab Center and the Genesis Center for Recovery. He has trained and practiced Christian Counseling in all areas of drug/alcohol/gambling/sex and relationship addictions. He currently has his own web based online program called 12 Day Rehab Systems, designed for those who can work on recovery while maintaining career and family obligations. Dr. Jackson has been clean and sober since 1984. Learn more about Recovery with Dr. Steve.
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