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Total Abstinence Society is the Only Remedy

Updated: Feb 18, 2022

Our rule of conduct must by the Word of God alone, and Scripture is abundantly clear that alcoholic drinks should have no part in our lives. Strong drink intoxicates and God says: “Be not deceived . . . neither fornicators, nor idolatrous, . . . nor drunkards, . . . shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10).

"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." (Ti. 2:11-14)

Consider the following reasons why the Bible teaches the total abstinence from all alcoholic (intoxicating) drinks:

1. Alcohol leads to shameful situations: such as the case for Noah and Lot (Gen. 9:21-25, 32-36). Drunkenness brought sorrow to Noah and a curse upon the offspring of Ham, his son. This is the first recorded instance of the use of strong drink and it should give us a clear warning to leave it alone.

2. Alcohol inflames, mocks and deceives: “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” (Pr. 20:1). Alcohol has the ability to deceive and corrupt. One can never know if he will control it or it will control him. The instruction here in Proverbs tells me that the wise man leaves it entirely alone.

3. Alcohol leads to poverty: “He that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich” (Pr. 21:17). "For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags." (Pr. 23:21)

4. Alcohol brings sorrow, distress (woe) and serious problems in this life: “Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine” (Pr. 23:29-30). "Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink: that continue until night, till wine inflame them! Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink." (Is. 5:11, 22).

5. Alcohol reduces moral resistance and leads to sin: “Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things” (Pr. 23:33); "Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh" (Pr. 23:20)

6. Alcohol leads to a non-sober mind, which is contrary to scripture where the Christian is commanded to be sober at all times (1 Th. 5:6, 8; 1 Tim. 3:2, 11; 1:8; 2:2, 4, 6; 1 Pet. 1:13; 4:7; 5:8). If for no other reason, we must reject alcohol on this basis alone. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).

7. Alcohol is even forbidden to be drank as a social beverage: “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder” (Pr. 23:31). Regardless of how weak the alcoholic content, it will bite as a serpent and sting as an adder. Yes, tolerant levels increase, but for all drinkers there was a first drink.

8. Alcohol impairs judgment: “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment” (Pr. 31:4-5). "Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast." (Pr. 23:33-34).

9. Alcohol is against the kinghood and priesthood of the believer: It is not for kings to "drink wine" or "strong drink" (Pr. 31:4) and it is not for priests to "drink wine" or "strong drink" (Lev. 10:8-9). Therefore we know that the Lord Jesus Christ never touched (or created for that matter — Jn. 2) a single drop of alcohol because He is the "High Priest" (Heb. 3:1; 4:14-15; 5:1-10; 6:20; 7:26-28; 8:1-2; 9:11-28; 10:21-22) and the "King of kings and Lord of lords" (Rev. 17:14; 19:16). From the time of our new birth, the Lord Jesus Christ "hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth" (Rev. 5:10), which reign will occur during the millennial kingdom. "Unto him ["Jesus Christ"] that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." (Rev. 1:5b-6). Every believer becomes an heir of Gods royal kinghood and royal priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5, 9; Heb. 12:28; Jam. 2:5) and that is another important reason why alcohol must be abstained from.

10. Alcohol is a drug and should only be used medicinally: “Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts” (Pr. 31:6; 1 Tim. 5:23). “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.” (1 Tim 5:23).

11. Alcohol is highly addictive: “Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and to morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant” (Is. 56:12). "They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again." (Pr. 23:35).

12. Alcohol can cause Christians to stumble, and God says: “It is good neither to eat flesh (offered to idols), nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak” (Rom. 14:21).

13. Alcohol drinkers are to be separated from; how much the more then from the drink itself. "Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags." (Pr. 23:20-21).

Alcohol may have many defenders but it has no defence! Biblical Examples of Total Abstainers

• The Rechabites were total abstainers. "…Rechab our father commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever." (Jer. 35:6)

• Daniel refused to drink. "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank” (Dan. 1:8)

• John the Baptist was a total abstainer. "For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink" (Lk 1:15).

Do the Biblical References to Wine Always Refer to Alcohol?

Wine in the Bible is a generic term. Sometimes it refers to fermented wine (alcoholic) and sometimes non-fermented (non-alcoholic). What the meaning is can typically be found in the context the word is used.

1. It can mean the natural juice of the grape (Pr. 3:10; Is. 65:8). Sometimes labeled as "fruit of the vine" or "cup" and often as "wine.” The word "wine" in the OT is translated from twelve different Hebrew words, which have as many different meanings.

2. It can also mean man-made alcoholic wine (Pr. 20:1; 23:20-21, 29-35). Alcohol is not a natural substance, contrary to the false belief of some. It requires proper temperature, sugar, water content, etc. The process must be controlled. It is a man-made substance.

3. In Ti 2:3 for example (the aged women "not given to much wine"), Paul was referring to the exceedingly weak wine of those days and not to the wine and beer of our day. The following quotes by Norman Geisler and Robert Stein are from the Focus in Missions, Sept 1986: “Many wine-drinking Christians today mistakenly assume that what the New Testament meant by wine is identical to wine used today. This, however, is false. In fact, today’s wine is by biblical definition strong drink, and hence is forbidden in the Bible [Pr. 20:1; 23:29-35]. ... Therefore, Christians ought not to drink wine, beer or other alcoholic beverages for they are actually strong drink and are forbidden in Scripture. Even ancient pagans did not drink what some Christians drink today” (Geisler). “…to consume the amount of alcohol that is in two martinis today, by drinking wine containing three parts water to one part wine (the biblical ratio), a person would have to drink over 22 glasses” (Stein).


1. While it is true that the Israelites were allowed to drink alcoholic wine and strong drink on occasions (e.g. De 14:26), this does not mean that it is God’s will for His people to do so today. (Furthermore, the alcohol content was much different in that day— see notes above). The NT believer has a higher standard of living because they have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The law of Moses made provision for polygamy, for example, but the NT nowhere makes such a provision but speaks of one husband and one wife which reflects the church and the Lord (Eph 5). The same applies to alcohol, with clear warnings that drunkards will not inherit Gods Kingdom (1 Cor 6:10).

2. There is no need for a Christian to drink alcoholic beverages. It adds nothing of value to his life and he has Someone much greater Who gives him continually the fruit of the Spirit, that of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18-20), so he doesn’t need some kind of temporary euphoria that removes his sober mine.

3. We live in a world filled with spiritual and moral danger (1 Pet 5:18). We have great spiritual enemies: the world, the flesh, and the devil. It is wise to avoid anything that would produce spiritual weakness and put us in harm’s way.

4. We live an hour of great apostasy (2 Tim 3:1-9; 4:3-4. The reason modern professing Christians love to drink is that they boast of liberty and live according to their own lusts in fulfillment of Paul’s prophecy. It is foolish to follow this example and this example is of a people that profess “a form of godliness“ but their, their actions and behaviour, “denies the power thereof” (2 Tim 3:5). That means they are unsaved. They capitulate to the lusts of their flesh, while saved people do not for they are no longer “the servants of sin” but rather “the servants of righteousness.” (Rom 6:20-22).

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Tim 4:3-4).

Consider the following wise warning on alcohol from John G. Paton, Missionary to the New Hebrides (1891): "From observation, at an early age I became convinced that mere Temperance Societies were a failure, and that Total Abstinence, by the grace of God, was the only sure preventive as well as remedy. What was temperance in one man was drunkenness in another; and all the drunkards came, not from those who practised total abstinence, but from those who practised or tried to practise temperance. I had seen temperance men drinking wine in the presence of others who drank to excess, and never could see how they felt themselves clear of blame; and I had known Ministers and others, once strong temperance advocates, fall through this so-called moderation, and become drunkards. Therefore it has all my life appeared to me beyond dispute, in reference to intoxicants of every kind, that the only rational temperance is Total Abstinence from them as beverages, and the use of them exclusively as drugs, and then only with extreme caution, as they are deceptive and deleterious poisons of the most debasing and demoralizing kind."

"A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident." (Pr. 14:16).

See here for reading on whether Jesus Turned Water into Alcoholic Wine

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