I have come to realize the biblical concept of practical sanctification, at least in the United States, is dead. Scholasticism, recreation, and prosperity are the culprits. They were aided by a church that was either unwilling or unable to promote a Godly lifestyle. The church actually loves scholasticism, recreation, and prosperity. With few exceptions, the church in America has become Sardian- dead. It doesn’t know it’s dead because it is still using biblical vocabulary and meets on Sundays like Rotary club. Its heart is still beating only because it’s on life support. This dead church is running on fumes, and the fumes are running out! It’s having an out of body experience. When the church-going zombies are in church, they think they are Christian. All the other times their lives say they are not. They dress-up for the part on Sundays (hypocrites-actors) because they know if they go to church the way they look, talk and act Monday through Saturday, they would be found out. After a while, they just drop out. When the church loses the sanctification fight, it loses a church member. They leave the church which is why church attendance in America is dropping fast.

Sanctification has been taking a beating the last several centuries.  The world has made big inroads in the church, and the church has encouraged and enjoyed the relationship. The millennial generation is one of the big drivers of this phenomenon, at least in our lifetime.

To be honest, sanctification has always been a war, just look at Roman 7. Except now it’s not even defended by the church. It’s not even a goal. We’ve given up. Capitulation has defeated sanctification.

Make no mistake, there are some magnificent and Godly teaching churches in America. But even good teaching churches are going soft on sanctification. They can’t handle the name calling- legalist, intolerant, divisive, etc. They need money to support large campuses and staff. This didn’t happen overnight. We slid into it(worldliness) or more truthfully, we slid out of it (sanctification)- maybe both. The absence of the pursuit of sanctification created a vacuum. Vacuums always suck something towards it because voids must be filled. A vacuum’s nature is to ingest not expel. In this case worldliness has filled that vacuum.  Poorly taught Christians don’t have the discipline to resist or using Biblical terms it’s hard to “kick against the goads” (Acts 26:14).

What’s happening? Solid teaching churches are being converted into “big tent” ones. Listen- sanctification is directly related to doctrine that is well taught. Weak doctrinal teaching leads to weak sanctification. Result? Useless churches and these create spiritual vacuums. This has contributed to our losing the abortion and homosexual battles. We are losing the alcohol, drugs and cussing battle too. What can be done? First, let’s look at…..

What happened to sanctification? 

Worldliness killed it. Worldliness is not easy to see or quantify.  It creeps and moves under the carpet, comes in the back door at night or wears sheep’s clothing. You wake up, and it’s there. Once in it’s hard to eradicate because those affected like it.  Worldliness is the old man’s suit that he used to wear that feels so comfortable because it’s all broken in, like your favorite glove or shoe. You are reminded how fun that used to be before all the rules were foisted on you by do-gooding legalists. They expected a restrained lifestyle, but you have been emancipated as you are being taught that worldliness and the church can get along perfectly if they don’t get in each other’s jurisdictions. Libertinism is grace on steroids. It’s a freak. Frankenstein grace- where CHINO’s (Christians in name only) piece together Bible verses to support a worldly lifestyle. Real grace leads to separation not cooperation with the world. Congregations sit in churches with a sign on them-don’t tell me what to do. That’s not everyone, but it sure feels like it.

What is sanctification?

The generic meaning of sanctification is “the state of proper functioning.” To sanctify someone or something is to set that person or thing apart for the use intended by its designer. A pen is “sanctified” when used to write.

In the theological sense, things are sanctified when they are used for the purpose God intended. A human being is sanctified, therefore, when he or she lives according to God’s design and purpose.

The Greek word translated “sanctification” (hagiasmos) means “holiness.” To sanctify, therefore, means “to make holy.” God calls human beings to be holy as holy as He is holy (Lev 11:44; Matt 5:48; 1 Peter 1:15-16). Another word for a holy person is “saint” (hagios), meaning a sanctified one. The opposite of sanctified is “profane” (Lev 10:10).

God calls his own to set themselves apart. Sanctify, therefore, became a synonym for “trust and obey” (Isa 29:23). Another name for this action is “consecration.” Human beings ultimately cannot sanctify themselves. The triune God sanctifies. The Father sanctifies (1 Cor 1:30) by the Spirit (2 Thess 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2 ) and in the name of Christ (1 Cor 6:11).

Human beings are “made holy” through Christ’s work. The blood of Jesus Christ sanctifies (Heb 13:12) because his substitutionary atonement reversed all of the dysfunctional, as well as legal (i.e., guilt), effects of sin. Human beings are progressively sanctified now through faith in Christ and by the indwelling Spirit (2 Cor 3:18) while awaiting full sanctification at the resurrection.

Jesus Christ: The Sanctifier and Model of Sanctification. The singular means of God’s sanctifying grace is Jesus Christ: “We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb 10:10).

Sanctification is applied justification. By its very nature justification does not have a progressive character. Sanctification continues until it will be consummated when Jesus Christ returns. For then we will be like him (1 John 3:2) perfect and complete. Sanctification, therefore, has an initial, progressive, and final phase. A believer’s present preoccupation is with progressive sanctification (2 Cor 3:18).

The sanctified life is victorious (Rom 8:37), though it is lived out in the context of temptation and suffering. God promises the “overcomers” in Revelation 2 and 3 to restore all that was lost in the fall (Romans 2:7 Romans 2:11 Romans 2:17 Romans 2:26; Romans 3:5 Romans 3:12). In sanctification, the believer is simply applying the implications of his or her justification.

The Holy Spirit is the dynamic of sanctification. Jesus said that he had to go away so that the Holy Spirit would indwell believers (John 14:16-20 ).

The Spirit that inspired the Word of God now uses it to sanctify. Faith includes repentance identifying and forsaking everything that characterizes the “old man.” Faith also includes trust,  living in the light of everything that characterizes the “new man,” even if it doesn’t “feel” right. All of this is done in hope, or forward-looking faith confidence that God will carry out his sanctifying purposes to the end.

Sanctification has a negative and positive orientation. Negatively, sanctification is removal. It is the cleansing or purifying from sin (Isa 66:17; 1 Cor 6:11; Eph 5:26; Titus 3:5-6; Heb 9:13). It is a lifestyle of self-denial (Matt 16:24), not asceticism but placing the interests of God before the interests of self. Desires are rooted in our nature. How we live can demonstrate our true nature.

Positively, sanctification is the growth in righteous attitudes and behavior. Good deeds (Eph 2:10), godliness (1 Peter 1:15), Christ-likeness (1 Peter 2:21) transforms us from a worldly perspective and lifestyle by renewing our minds (Rom 12:2). Professing believers “pursue” sanctification (Heb 12:14). Apart from God’s sanctifying work in human beings, “no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14). God will judge any person claiming identification with Christ not engaged in pursuing sanctification (Matt 7:21-23 ). John bases assurance on sanctification (1 John 2:3-6; 5:2-4).

Why is it that drugs or alcohol tempt so many of us? Why are so many of us are committing adultery? Why are so many of us chasing the almighty dollar? Why are so many of us are into alternative forms of spirituality, such as the occult and or the New Age movement?

Why? Some are looking for one thing –for that “high” that will make them “feel good.”

Chasing after drugs, alcohol, or illicit sexual encounters –looking for immediate gratification of physical, mental, or sexual pleasures- they want to feel good right now, and they will do anything to get there. When that high starts to wane, they again look for that next big thing.

Christians have become more attached to this world than to God and the things that He wants us to get involved in. As a result, Christians are no happier or fulfilled than many non-believers.

Once saved God wants to start to build us up in Him by following God’s perfect will and plan for our lives found in His Word.

Sanctification can be unbiblically enforced.  It is called…….

Legalism

It is determining our spirituality based on what we do or don’t do.

The word “legalism” does not occur in the Bible. It is a term Christians use to describe a doctrinal position emphasizing a system of rules and regulations for achieving both salvation and spiritual growth. Legalists believe in and demand a strict literal adherence to rules and regulations. Doctrinally, it is a position fundamentally opposed to grace.

Even true believers can be legalistic. Warnings:

“Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters” (Romans 14:1).

Colossians 2:20-23: “Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: ‘Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!’? These are all destined to perish with use because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.”

“Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master, he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:4).

“You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat” (Romans 14:10).

There are those who feel to be spiritual one must simply avoid tobacco, alcoholic beverages, dancing, movies, etc. The truth is that avoiding these things is no guarantee of spirituality and doing or using them is no proof they are going to hell.

Legalism threatens our sanctification. In short, legalism is substituting law for grace, achievement for faith. It is legalism when one obeys to glorify self before God or others (John 5:44).

Worldliness

We said worldliness killed sanctification. How?

“Do not love the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.  For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.  The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:15-17).

How do we identify and resist sinful cravings, lusts of the eye, and empty boastings? How do we pursue godliness and live in a fallen world without being conformed to it?

What does it mean for Christians—for us—to not love the world? How can we evangelize the world if we don’t relate to it? How do we know if we’re guilty of the sin of worldliness?

A love for the world begins in the heart. It’s subtle, not always apparent to others, and often undetected by the people who are slowly succumbing to its lies. If we focus exclusively on externals, we’ve missed the point of worldliness. Worldliness does not consist in outward behavior (although our actions can indeed be evidence of worldliness!). The real location of worldliness is internal; it resides in our hearts.

World love is forbidden love because it is arrogant and self-sufficient seeking to exist apart from God and living in opposition to God. It gratifies and exalts oneself to the exclusion of God.

What are your goals? The world draws the heart away from God, and the more the love of the world prevails, the more the love of God decays. The world competes for the love of Christians and we cannot both love it and the Father at the same time. Love for the world is incompatible with love for God. “Friendship with the world is hatred toward God. Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God” (James 4:4)

From all outward appearances, we’re anything but worldly—a solid member of our church, an exemplary Christian who worships on Sunday and faithfully attends a small group. We’ve never committed a scandalous sin. Maybe because of our age, or our position in the church, or our reputation for godliness, we think we’re immune to worldliness. So often we’re ignorant of the signs and symptoms of worldliness. We can attend church, sing praise songs, listen to sermons, and yet still be worldly. It wants too much of the things of this fallen world.

Although Christians have new hearts, our sinful flesh still produces cravings that compete for God’s love and supremacy in our lives. It resists loving God and your neighbor- the supreme law.

The world won’t deliver as advertised. It will deceive you. One too many drinks could leave you dead, somebody else dead or in someone else’s bed.  It can lead to cancer, divorce or prison. Booze is a mocker. With every drink, it laughs at the Christian fool proudly defending his rights. I can quit any time I want to. Most never want to.

Every moment of every day we make choices—between love for a world that opposes God and love for the risen Christ. If we have succumbed to worldliness, sin does not grieve us like it once did. We aren’t living in grace we’re swallowing it.

James tells us how to overcome worldliness: “Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God, and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:7–10).

Paul also provides advice on how to overcome worldliness “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —His good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

I will admit resisting worldliness requires effort. It’s an inside problem, and serious heart-work is needed to cut it out effectively.

The antidote to worldliness is the cross of Christ. Only through the power of Christ can we successfully resist worldliness. When we fill our hearts with love for the risen Christ, we will find there is no room for the world.

Explicit versus implicit commands

When reading the Bible, we must let the explicit passages of Scripture clarify the implicit ones. A doctrine that we infer from a text cannot be true if it contradicts the explicit teaching of another text. In all instances, the explicits form the framework to understand the implicits and never the other way around.

Commands in the Bible are explicit and implicit. Explicit means “fully revealed or expressed without vagueness, implication, or ambiguity: leaving no question as to meaning or intent.” Explicit commands are straight up “thou shalt not do.” They are black and white, dogmatic and clear. It is precisely and clearly expressed or readily observable; leaving nothing to implication. Implicit means “capable of being understood from something else though unexpressed.” It is implied though not directly expressed; inherent in the nature of something.The Scriptures are a mix of explicit commandments and instructions together with explicit and implicit teachings. The key is to know and understand what is genuinely implicit without adding your ideas to twist these records to say something that it didn’t say. For the implicit do not overrule the explicit and the explicit is a framework to understand the implied.

I am going to use alcohol as an example of lost sanctification. Friends, I could have just as easily used money, fame, power, gambling, sports, modesty, nutrition, physical fitness, vanity, gluttony, climate change, class, race, status, titles, education and the list never ends.

I use alcohol because it is a doorway to worldliness.  The Bible has a lot to say about it. It can lead to hell. It alters one’s sense of right and wrong.  It is readily available as opposed to fame or power. I’ve never heard of anyone getting a DUI for fame. Let’s delve into one of those vacuums…..

Sanctification and wine (alcohol)

Based on the explicit and implicit teachings of the Bible my views concerning alcohol are:

First, I don’t drink because God always condemns drunkenness in any form. I want to avoid encouraging others in what God condemns.

Second, I don’t drink because God commanded priests who came before Him in the Tabernacle or Temple was not to drink. Alcohol kept priests from being able to distinguish between holy & unholy, and clean & unclean (Lev. 10:9-10). So I never want to confuse what God calls holy and unholy.

Third, I don’t drink because God said those who lead His people are not to drink when they make decisions. Alcohol diminishes a leader’s ability to lead wisely (Pr. 31:4-5).

Fourth, I don’t drink because God led Paul to say that he would limit his freedom, and never eat meat or drink alcohol (Rom. 14:21) if it caused any believer to veer off God’s path. I do not want my choices to encourage any weak believer veer off God’s way.

Fifth, I don’t drink because God contrasts alcohol with the Spirit in Ephesians 5:18. I want to be known as a man that seeks the influence of the Holy Spirit, not alcohol.

Sixth, I don’t drink because God said that elders have a higher standard than deacons or others in the church. Non-office holding believers are never to get drunk, and deacons are not to be drawn or given to wine; but elders are called to not stand near wine in I Timothy 3:3. The way to interpret what Paul meant was seen in his best friend Timothy’s life. Paul had to plead with him to use a little wine medicinally in I Timothy 5:23 because Timothy also wanted to obey God and not be near wine. I am not an elder, but I am a leader. I put myself in this category with the same obligations.

Finally, I don’t drink because our whole beer drinking, bar hopping, clubbing society portrays alcohol with accompanying things that displease God, I do not want to walk, talk or act like those who sit and mock God (Psalm 1). The language of drinking speaks from the heart. Alcohol is a truth serum that loosens the real man inside. Out of the heart, the mouth speaks.

Alcohol is portrayed in God’s Word like many other things: both positively and negatively. Like a river, it must be kept within God’s boundaries.

Galatians 5:19-21 (NKJV): Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

There are many areas of life that concern sanctification, but I wish to confine this blog edition to drinking alcohol as it is such a controversial topic and so pervasive and destructive in our culture. Also, the Bible speaks a lot about it as drunkenness is a cause of going to hell.

Let’s get one thing off the table- the Bible does not say drinking wine is prohibited-only drunkenness. Strong drink, which includes liquor and today’s wines, are prohibited. I’m not going to get into the whole body of teaching on wines, alcohol or the culture of Jesus’ time. That’s too big for this topic.

Also, let me say alcohol is a drug.  You drink-you use drugs. The whole category opens up like marijuana, opioids, etc. Big time hypocrisy comes into play here, but I will not deal with that either.

What does the Bible say about drunkenness?

What is drunkenness? (raweh, shikkaron, shethi; methe)

The state of an individual whose mind is affected by the consumption of alcohol.

In medical jurisprudence. The condition of a man whose mind is affected by the immediate use of intoxicating drinks; the state of one who is “drunk.”

Its Symptoms and Effects:

These are most vividly portrayed:

(1) some of its physical symptoms (Job 12:25; Psalms 107:27; Proverbs 23:29; Isaiah 19:14; 28:8; 29:9; Jeremiah 25:16);

(2) its mental effects: exhilaration (Genesis 43:34), jollity and mirth (1 Esdras 3:20), forgetfulness (1 Esdras 3:20), loss of understanding and balance of judgment (Isaiah 28:7; Hosea 4:11);

(3) its effects on man’s happiness and prosperity: its immediate effect is to make one oblivious of his misery; but ultimately it “biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder,” and leads to woe and sorrow (Proverbs 23:29-32) and to poverty (Proverbs 23:21; compare Proverbs 21:17; Ecclesiasticus 19:1); hence, wine is called a “mocker” deceiving the unwise (Proverbs 20:1);

(4) Its moral and spiritual effects: it leads to a maladministration of justice (Proverbs 31:5; Isaiah 5:23), provokes anger and a contentious, brawling spirit (Proverbs 20:1; 23:29; 1 Esdras 3:22; Ecclesiasticus 31:26,29 f), and conduces to a profligate life (Ephesians 5:18; “riot,” literally, profligacy). It is allied with gambling and licentiousness (Joel 3:3), and indecency (Genesis 9:21). Above all, it deadens the spiritual sensibilities, produces a callous indifference to religious influences and destroys all serious thought (Isaiah 5:12).

Regarding alcohol, perhaps it is best to start with the obvious. All Bible-believing Christians agree that drunkenness is a sin.

The Bible is abundantly clear that drunkenness is a sin (Deuteronomy 21:20; Ecclesiastes 10:17; Matthew 24:29; Luke 12:45; 21:34; Romans 13:13; I Corinthians 5:11; Ephesians 5:18; I Peter 4:3).

The matter is so serious that no priest was to drink alcohol while performing his duties (Leviticus 10:9; Ezra 44:21), though he could consume while not working (Numbers 18:12, 27, 30). Additionally, no king was to drink while judging law (Proverbs 31:4-5), an elder/pastor cannot be a drunkard (I Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7), and no drunkard can inherit the kingdom of God (I Corinthians 6:10; Galatians 5:21).

Sins associated with drunkenness include incest (Genesis 19:32-35), violence (Proverbs 4:17), adultery (Revelations 17:2), mockery and brawling (Proverbs 20:1), poverty (Proverbs 21:17), late night and early morning drinking (Isaiah 5:11-12), hallucinations (Isaiah 28:7), legendary antics (Isaiah 5:22), murder (2 Samuel 11:13), gluttony and poverty (Proverbs 23:20-21), vomiting (Jeremiah 25:27, 48:26; Isaiah 19:14), staggering (Jeremiah 25:27; Psalm 107:27; Job 12:25), madness (Jeremiah 51:7), loudness combined with laughter and then prolonged sleep (Jeremiah 51:39), nakedness (Habakkuk 2:15; Lam. 4:21), sloth (Joel 1:5), escapism (Hosea 4:11), depression (Luke 21:34), and staying up all night (I Thessalonians 5:7).

Why should you not drink? If you never take the first drink, you’ll never become addicted. If you don’t drink, even if you could handle it, you won’t be a stumbling block to those who can’t resist it (and I believe Paul said something about not causing your brother to stumble). And if you don’t drink, you won’t be supporting an industry that has created untold heartache for millions of people. If you never take the first drink, you will never be enslaved by it. Are you enslavable?

Let all things be done in moderation and all things for the glory of God. Baloney! Some things should not be done at all!

In Summary

#1: God’s Word always condemns drunkenness. Drunkenness and ongoing enslavement to intoxication are consistently condemned in God’s Word as a mark of pagans, lost and foolish people, and deserving of eternal destruction.

Drunkenness is always associated with tragedy:

  • Noah became drunk and in his nakedness acted shamelessly (Gen. 9:21);
  • Lot became drunk, and his daughters committed incest with him (Gen. 19:30-36);
  • Nabal became drunk, and at a crucial time God took his life (1 Sam. 25:36-37);
  • Elah became drunk, and he was murdered by Zimri (1 Kings 16:9-10);
  • Ben-hadad and all of his allied kings became drunk, and all were slaughtered except Ben-hadad who escaped (1 Kings 20:16-21);
  • Belshazzar became drunk and had his kingdom ripped right out from under him (Dan. 5); the
  • Corinthians became drunk at the Lord’s table, and the Lord made some of them sick and some He executed (1 Cor. 11:21-34). Drunkenness in the Bibles is always associated with terrible things – unrestrained living, immorality, dissolute behavior, and reckless, wild behavior.

#2: God’s Word teaches that drunkenness disqualifies a man from spiritual service. Drunkenness is always described as a sin, and any tendencies towards that sin, are disqualifiers from spiritual services.

Nadab & Abihu in Leviticus 10, made a statute for priests from then on. They offered the sacrifices “under the influence,” did so “strangely,” and God struck them dead.

#3: God’s Word teaches that drunkenness is not a part of a citizen of heaven while on earth.

 First, God says that if someone claims to be a believer and is a drunkard, expel them from the fellowship of the Church in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13: I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case, you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”

Second, God says that drunkenness is a sign of lostness and a life heading to eternal destruction in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11: Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Third, drunkenness (or alcoholism) is never to be a part of the life of a citizen of Heaven. In fact, in Galatians 5:19-21 says: “shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.” So is drunkenness (alcoholism) a sickness or disease, or is it a sin? It is a sin that leads to physical deterioration and dependence. But God can save and change you. Galatians 5:19-21 (NKJV): Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Finally, God’s Word speaks of drunkenness in a believer’s life as being in the past tense in 1 Peter 4:3: For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.

The conclusion from these passages: drunkenness is a disqualifying sin and a damning lifestyle.

#4: Recreational drinking with lost people who drink to intoxication is not what pleases God in our lives.

Should drinking alcohol have a place in our lives?

Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.

Proverbs 23:20-21: Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, 21 for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.

Proverbs 23:29-35: 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. 31 Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup when it goes down smoothly! 32 In the end, it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper. 33 Your eyes will see strange sights, and your mind imagine confusing things. 34 You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, lying on top of the rigging. 35 “They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt! They beat me, but I don’t feel it! When will I wake up so I can find another drink?”

Proverbs 31:4-7: “It is not for kings, O Lemuel—not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, five lest they drink and forget what the law decrees, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights. 6 Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish; 7 let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.

John MacArthur’s gray area checklist:

Expediency: Is this activity one that profits me for eternity or just for a moment? “All things are lawful for me,” Paul says, “but not all things are profitable,” or expedient (1 Cor. 6:12). Is what I want to do helpful and useful, or only desirable?

Edification: Will this activity strengthen or weaken my spiritual life? Will I be built up and matured in Christ; will I become spiritually stronger? “All things are lawful, but not all things edify” (1 Cor. 10:23).

Exaltation: Is this activity clearly described as a pathway to magnifying God? Will the Lord be lifted up and glorified in what I do? God’s glory and exaltation should be the supreme purpose behind everything we do. “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).

Evangelism: Will this activity increase my evangelistic ability or decrease it? Is my testimony going to be helped or hindered? Will unbelievers be drawn to Christ or turned away from Him by what I am doing? Will it help me conduct myself “with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity” (Col. 4:5)?

Example: Will others who seek to follow my example be helped or hindered by this activity? Are we setting the right model for others, especially for weaker brothers and sisters? If we emulate Christ, others will be able to emulate us, to follow our example (1 Tim. 4:12).

Excess: Is this activity a weight that can trip me up that needs to be laid aside? Is the activity or habit necessary, or is it merely an extra that is not important? Is it perhaps only an encumbrance that we should willingly give up (Heb. 12:1)?

Emulation: Is this activity something that Jesus would do or not do? “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6). If we are doing what Christ would do, our action not only is permissible but good and right.

The Means of Sanctification in This Life

God (especially the Holy Spirit) is the one Who sanctifies us.

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24: “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”
  • Ephesians 5:25-27: “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

Christians are given many commands hey must obey to be sanctified – this obedience increases our sanctification.

  • Romans 6:19: “I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.”
  • Romans 6:22: “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.”

There are no “quick-fixes” to sanctification. We need to use the tools God has given us to be sanctified.

If sanctification is dead in your life, the Holy Spirit can revive it. How? Pray, repent, and separate.Repeat as often as necessary.

Keys: Self-discipline, self-control, self-sacrifice

Articles for further study:

Christians and Alcohol by John MacArthur

Excerpt from: Interrogating Alcohol by John MacArthur

Total Abstinence and Church Membership by John Piper

What Kind of Wine Did Jesus Drink?  By  Scott J Shifferd

Reconsider the Biblical Concept of Drunkenness by Scott J Shifferd

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