A guest post from The Saxophone Player. Feel free to comment, or leave questions. He will be glad to respond.
THE QUESTION OF AUTHORITY
by Doug Gregan
The most astounding thing about the subject of Christians drinking alcohol is the narrow focus that both sides of the discussion tend to stay on.
The spiritual root of drinking is one of authority, and friendship with the world; neither of which do I ever hear discussed. The very nature of an intimate relationship with God is one of increased presence, resulting in increased holiness. This question of whether or not a Christian should drink, or if drinking is sin, is shallow and weak. The real question should be:
“Why aren’t Christians more Christ-like?”
We are called out from among them, to be separate. Friendship with the world is enmity with God, and brings us under the authority of the world and its spirit. The spirit that drives alcohol is undeniably of the world, and under the authority of Satan. There is no man or woman alive who can tell me of a time when drinking brought them into a greater intimacy with Christ, drove them to love God more, or brought them into greater holiness and sanctification.
Does not the scripture tell us from beginning to the end that He is calling us out and unto Himself? Consider Romans 6:18-22:
“You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves.
“Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.
“When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!
“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” (Romans 6:18-22, NIV)
This is the key to the whole issue, whether it be drinking, watching anything that exalts the flesh, gluttonous eating, dressing like the world, or engaging in any behavior that opens the door for the flesh to be strengthened.
“What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!” (Romans 6:21, NIV)
And, it does result in death.
Complacency, laziness, a lack of sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, a lack of compassion towards those who don’t, can’t, or won’t “handle” the same things you can—it is all death. It produces a self-righteous, self-centered attitude evidenced by the countless defensive comments that come up in these type of discussions.
Then, there is the subtle, but incredible importance of spiritual authority mentioned in verse 16:
“Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey, whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16, NIV)
Those who drink are yielding a measure of their spiritual authority to the flesh and to the Devil. Alcohol, by it’s very nature, deadens sensitivity to Holy Spirit and weakens our ability to control the flesh as we should.
The angry man is more susceptible to anger.
The lustful man is more vulnerable to lust.
The proud man is prone towards pride.
The depressed man more inclined toto be depressed.
The jealous man more easily made jealous.
And, on it goes….
This all takes place when one “walks in his freedom to drink.”
I’ve served in prison ministry for fourteen years and cannot begin to tell of the devastation and carnage left in the wake of alcohol. This includes Christians, men and women becoming casual with drinking, declaring their freedom to do so. I have yet to have a drug addict tell me that their addiction was not preceded by alcohol use.
Yet, we proudly demand and defend our right to drink. It is sad and shameful. The Devil mocks and laughs at the impotence of the Church to touch our generation with Christ-like love, life, and POWER. We would do well to heed the call of James 4. After exposing the Lord’s attitude towards worldliness, James says in 4:7-10:
“Submit yourselves, then, 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, NIV)
I understand fully the emptiness of imposing restrictions and not trusting in the transforming work of the Spirit to bring about abundant life, balance, and control. The emphasis of my sharing is on the yoking of ourselves to spiritual forces and influences we have no business being in agreement with. Light has no agreement wih darkness. Consider 1 Corinthians 6:12:
“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” (1 Corinthians 6:12, KJV)
We interact with this verse only on the level of the substance or behavior in question, but it transcends that. It speaks to every spiritual dynamic that is associated with those elements.
Where are those who are broken, weeping between the porch and altar, for the souls of those bound and enslaved? One can defend the biblical right to eat and drink. I get that. But, who can show me a man who is ministering in power and authority, yet allows himself to be brought under the authority of the spiritual forces connected to these worldly elements? They are not profitable. We will never step into the realm of darkness, addiction, and brokenness with any authority to bring genuine deliverance, if we are yoked to these things.
Should this be the shining prize I declare to the addicted and their broken family? “One day, you’ll be able to drink in freedom, like I do.”
I am deeply concerned by the absence of genuine discipleship that prepares God’s people to be ambassadors of reconciliation, walking in the power of God to bring the lost, broken, and hurting into freedom. Please, take a few minutes to read Ephesians 4:11-27, and prayerfully consider the life you are living today.
I welcome your comments and questions.