Will God Punish Me for Drinking?

The Question:
“Will God punish me for drinking if I’m an adult and I don’t abuse it?”

The Answer:

This question has a two part answer.

Part one:
If you are a Christian, if you are really, really a follower of Christ, God does not punish you; He disciplines you.  There is an enormous difference between “punishment” and “discipline” and as Christians, we MUST understand the difference.  It affects the way we view our great God!

Punishment is motivated by anger.  Discipline is motivated by love.  The purpose of punishment is to isolate someone – to push them away, push them down.  The purpose of discipline is to RESTORE someone – to bring them back, to correct them and restore them to a healthy relationship.  Do you see?  Punishment = anger and isolation.  Discipline = love and restoration.

“ My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do no lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.  Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons.  For what son is not disciplined by his father? … No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”  [Hebrews 12: 5-11]

God chastens those he loves.  If you are a Christian, the point of God’s discipline is to correct you, to bring you back to what is BEST for you.  He wants to be in close relationship with you because He loves you.  If you think of God as an angry punisher who will spitefully throw lightning bolts at you when you make a mistake – you have TOTALLY missed the loving heart of God.

Part Two:
About alcohol:  Christians everywhere are split on this issue, so I will do little more than offer you some verses of scripture for you to study.  (Since the Bible is God’s word, the only book God ever wrote, it is ABSOLUTE TRUTH.  Because it is absolutely true and wise, it is our authority for living.)  I believe the Bible tells us EVERYTHING we need to know; it is sufficient.  In case the Bible is still a little confusing for you to read, I will write a little blurb about what I think these verses are telling us.  But again, I encourage you to study the verses themselves.  It isn’t what I say, but what God says that matters

  1. “As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself.  But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean.  If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died.  Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil.  For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” [Romans 14:14-17]
  2. “What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.’” [Matthew 15: 11]
  3. “’Everything is permissible for me’” – but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible for me’ – but I will not be mastered by anything.” [1 Corinthians 6: 12]
  4. “Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags. …Who has woe?  Who has sorrow?  Who has strife?  Who has complaints?  Who has needless bruises?  Who has bloodshot eyes?  Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.  Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly!  In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper.  Your eyes will see strange sights and your mind imagine confusing things.  You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, lying on top of the rigging.  ‘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 23: 20, 21, 29-35]

Here is my understanding of these verses.  The first two (in Romans and Matthew) are saying that Christianity is not about “rules,” or “legalism;” it’s about loving God.  So it isn’t what you drink that makes you unclean.  No food or drink (including alcohol) in itself is “sinful.” 

But the third verse (in 1 Corinthians) says that:  While we’re technically allowed to do anything, NOT EVERYTHING is good for us.  Not everything is wise.  This verse also says, “I will not be mastered by anything.”  That means that nothing should ever have control over your body or mind except for God.  Not your own desires, not your sexual appetite, not pride, not alcohol.  If you ever drink to the point of drunkenness, (to any degree!) you are no longer in full control of your body.  You’re a little looser, a little more comfortable, a little more outgoing, a little more WHATEVER – the point is that you are under the influence of something that isn’t God! As a believer, the Holy Spirit is the only thing that should have control over your body or mind.

And speaking of wise, read the list of consequences/results of drinking in Proverbs 23 and ask yourself honestly: does this sound like a wise choice?
-poverty
-drowsiness
-woe, sorrow, strife (trouble), complaints
-needless bruises
-bloodshot eyes
-it poisons like venom from a viper
-your eyes will see strange things (blurred vision)
-your mind will imagine confusing things
-you will be like one sleeping on the high seas (nausea)
-“’They hit me,’ you will say, ‘but I’m not hurt…’” (lowered inhibitions, violence)
-“When will I wake up so I can have another drink?” (addiction, being controlled)

Try to think of things not as “right or wrong,” but as “wise or unwise.”  Is it BEST for you?

Another point to consider:
All of Romans 14 speaks to making tough choices, like drinking.  It says over and over again in these verses, even if you don’t feel drinking is “wrong” for you, if it causes a brother (another Christian) to stumble or be tempted – it’s wrong.  If you do something knowing that someone else will struggle because of your actions, you are no longer acting in love – you are being selfish and it is sin.  It also says that if anyone will see your behavior and call it “evil,” it’s sin.  That just means that as a Christian, our job is to represent Christ to the world – so if someone sees you drinking and it gives Jesus a bad name?  That’s wrong!  We should draw people closer to Christ, not push them away.

IN CONCLUSION:  When it comes to drinking (or any other tough choice), here is a list of questions to ask yourself before you act.  Write these down, they will help you make wise choices!!

  1. Acceptance:  Am I accepting all believers graciously despite their conclusions and convictions on controversial issues?  (Are you judging someone for their opinion on this issue?  It is DEFINITELY not our place to judge.)
  2. Accountability: Do I know that I will have to answer to Christ for this action?
  3. Approval: Am I fully persuaded (have complete faith) that this is okay?  Or am I violating my conscience?
  4. Adoration: Is the activity compatible with the adoration of God in all my actions? Can I honestly thank God for this activity?
  5. Agape: Is this action loving to others? Is it causing anyone to stumble?
  6. Authorities: Does the action submit to God-given authorities? (example: no matter what you conclude about drinking, you should NEVER drink if you are under the legal age.  Breaking the law is sin.  You should also never drink if your parents forbid it, since the government and your parents are both God-given authorities in your life.)

Answer these questions honestly to yourself, and then make whatever choice is right for you.

And my final parting thought!  (This is a long answer, but an important one to a great question.)

This is “mature Christianity.”  Romans 14 (where we read that no food is sinful) comes AFTER Romans 12 in the Bible.  We are not ready for the truths and freedoms found in Romans 14 until we have mastered Romans 12 – which calls for a daily giving my WHOLE SELF as a sacrifice to God.

Study the word, and make wise choices!   Jesus loves you extravagantly, and He only disciplines those he loves!

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One Response to “Will God Punish Me for Drinking?”

  1. G.S. May 28, 2011 at 6:09 am #

    This is a nice post. Thanks.

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