Do Not Get Drunk with Wine But Be Filled with the Spirit
June 23, 2019
Paul loved the church. And his love for the church shines brightly throughout this letter to the Ephesians. Paul remembered them in his prayers. He was a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of them. He suffered for them. But he asked them not to lose heart over what he suffered for them. He was just happy that they believed in Jesus.
I take time to begin with Paul because I want you to remember that there is a real human being behind Ephesians 5:18. There is a real tenderness and warmth and care behind the command against drunkenness.
Paul knew that the city of Ephesus flowed with wine and drunkenness. It was a city of vineyards. And it was a city that worshipped the goddess Artemis with sex and drink. Paul knew this darkness. And it was his hope to remind the sheep of the Good Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ, that they were children of light.
But let us not just remember the human being that is behind today’s command. Let us remember the one who is behind that human being. The one who saved Paul from his sins. The one who saved you from yours.
Dear Highland, the Lord Jesus Christ loves you so much. And it is ultimately his tenderness, his warmth and his care behind today’s command. Should you ever fall into the darkness of drunkenness, remember that you belong to Jesus, that Jesus lived for you and died for you, that his kingdom is one of holiness and royalty, and that you are greatly loved by him. It is a sad thing for a child of light to forfeit the joy of salvation for the joy of intoxication.
Drunkenness is sin. And there are many parts of Scripture that clearly state this. According to Romans 13:13, we are to walk properly and not take part in drunkenness. According to Galatians 5:19-21, drunkenness is lumped together with - and is just as serious as - sins such as sexual immorality, idolatry, sorcery, jealousy, fits of anger, divisions, envy and orgies. According to 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, drunkards will not inherit the kingdom of God. According to Isaiah 29:9-10, drunkenness is a profound picture and metaphor for God’s judgment.
This is quite remarkable, especially when we compare the word of the Lord with the word of the world that we live in. Most people today do not believe that drunkenness is a sin. Many believe that as long as your drunkenness does not hurt others, it is okay. And some even think that drunkenness can sometimes be good or necessary. Good for parties. God for being cool. Good for plot development in Korean dramas. Necessary for loneliness. Necessary for coping with stress. Necessary for cultural compliance in Korean workplaces. For so many people on this old and fading earth, drunkenness is no big deal.
But drunkenness is a big deal to God. God does not take drunkenness lightly.
Why is drunkenness such a sad and terrible thing? There are two reasons why. Drunkenness is a fundamental denial of the big picture and the world that is to come. And drunkenness is a fundamental rejection of the Holy Spirit and the work that he does in our lives.
First, drunkenness is a fundamental denial of the big picture and the world that is to come. According to today’s Scripture text, drunkenness is debauchery. This is an important word to understand. Debauchery is defined as excessive indulgence of sensual pleasure. This means that drunkenness is a happiness and an enjoyment that is based on the things of this world. When you are drunk, you are basically saying that this world is the best. But that is wrong. This world is not the best. The world that is to come, the kingdom of God in the new heavens and new earth - that world is the best. Not this world. Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us these words in Luke 21:34-36, “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation (a synonym for debauchery) and drunkenness and cares of this life….” This is the first reason why drunkenness is such a sad and terrible thing.
Second, drunkenness is a fundamental rejection of the Holy Spirit and the work that he does in our lives. It is quite profound that in today’s Scripture text, the sin of drunkenness is directly set in contrast with being filled with the Spirit. This is an important idea to understand. Being filled with the Spirit is defined as living under the influence and control and power of the Holy Spirit’s work. And the Spirit’s work is to glorify our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and declare his salvation (John 16:14). The Spirit’s work is to grow you and change you as you read, hear and learn the written word of the Lord (1 Corinthians 2:13; Ephesians 6:17). The Spirit’s work is to fill you with the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13). The Spirit’s work is to have you know the greatness of God’s love (Romans 5:5). This is what it means to be filled with the Spirit. And just as we are to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly (Colossians 3:16), so also are we to let the work of the Spirit happen in us richly. Thus, when you are drunk, you are basically showing that you are under the influence of something or someone other than the Holy Spirit and his work. This is the second reason why drunkenness is such a sad and terrible thing.
Dear brothers and sisters, I therefore command you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is your King, and I command you in the power of the Holy Spirit, who is at work in you, to not get drunk on wine or any other kind of drink.
If you struggle with drunkenness, be warned and be encouraged by God’s word in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Please open your Bibles to that text. There’s something I really want you to see.
Be warned by the words of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. “Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” Brothers and sisters, be warned.
But also be encouraged. Look at the beautiful words that come next. “And such were some of you. 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.”
Praise the Lord! If you struggle with drunkenness, know that you are not a drunkard. Because that was your old self. You are now putting that off. And the Holy Spirit helps you to do just that. You are not a drunkard anymore. You were washed. You were sanctified. You were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. Such were some of you. But not anymore. Jesus loves you so much. Behind his command is perfect tenderness and warmth and care. Should you ever fall into the darkness of drunkenness, remember that you belong to Jesus, that Jesus lived for you and died for you, that his kingdom is one of holiness and royalty, and that you are a child of the light. May the darkness of drunkenness die in the light of Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria