By David Dann
The book of Proverbs teaches us that, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” (Prov. 20:1). In addition to this passage, the Bible issues many other warnings and admonitions against the consumption of alcoholic beverages (see Gen. 9:21; Prov. 23:31-35; Isa. 28:7-8; Rom. 13:13; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:18; 1 Pet. 4:3).
However, even after all of the warnings and admonitions against alcohol with which we are furnished throughout the Scriptures, many Christians do not see the harm in “having a drink or two every now and then.” Most brethren will concede that outright drunkenness is always a sin, but these same brethren will defend a person’s right to have a glass of alcoholic wine with dinner. The prevailing idea seems to be that wine is only sinful if used to get drunk, and therefore the occasional social drink is perfectly acceptable for the Christian. Since the Scriptures enable the man of God to be “thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:17), we ought to be able to understand what the Bible teaches about alcoholic wine and the Christian.
Wine Is A Mocker
Since the inspired writer of Proverbs says “wine is a mocker,” it is imperative that we understand what is meant by the word “wine.”
1. Wine in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament the Hebrew word yayin is the word that is translated into English as “wine.” According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary, “yayin includes wine at any stage” (289). In other words, “wine” as it appears in the Old Testament may refer to anything from fresh grape juice to intoxicating alcoholic wine. Therefore, the word “wine” does not always refer to alcohol in the Old Testament. However, the wine that is called a “mocker” is obviously intoxicating since it is spoken of in a negative sense.
2. Wine in the New Testament. Similarly in the New Testament, the Greek word oinos is translated as “wine.” Oinos can also refer to anything from fresh grape juice to intoxicating alcoholic wine. So, the word “wine” does not always refer to alcohol in the New Testament. It is, therefore, largely up to the context of the passage to determine whether or not the wine under discussion is alcoholic wine. Obviously, alcoholic wine is the wine that is warned against in passages such as Ephesians 5:18 wherein Paul says, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess.” However, we are forced to conclude that other passages mentioning wine refer to harmless, non-alcoholic wine. For example, in John 2 we are told that Jesus miraculously made about 180 gallons of wine for the guests at the wedding feast to drink (John 2:1-11). The fact that the Son of God would not have made 180 gallons of alcohol for those who had already had their fill of “wine” leads us to conclude that the wine at the wedding feast was unfermented grape juice. Those who contend otherwise would have Jesus encouraging drunkenness. Such could never be.
Wine Is A Mocker
A “mocker” is one who ridicules, deceives, and acts defiantly. Wine is personified as this type of person in Proverbs 20:1 because alcoholic wine causes the intoxicated person to behave in a mocking, defiant manner. For this very reason, the Bible says, “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things” (Prov. 23:31-33). Alcoholic wine is also a mocker in the sense that it is an addictive substance that destroys a person’s ability to think and act rationally. Wine mockingly lures in the unsuspecting victim, who is convinced that one harmless drink now and then will not hurt them.
Wine Is A Mocker
Let us not forget that the Bible teaches that alcoholic wine is a mocker.
1. Alcoholic wine is always a mocker. It is not sometimes a mocker, or only a mocker if taken in excess. It just plain is a mocker. Nearly anything can be harmful if used in excess. Food can be harmful if a person eats excessively. However, the Bible does not say, “food is a mocker.” Food has its proper use. However, alcoholic wine does not have any proper use in the life of a Christian. Therefore, it is always a mocker, constantly inviting us to let our guard down.
2. Christians are commanded to be sober. Peter says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). Some social drinkers say that they have no intention of ever getting drunk, but they enjoy the feeling of relaxation brought on by a glass of wine. To what point shall we dull our senses before we are no longer able to be sober and vigilant in our fight against the devil? Alcoholic wine has no place in the life of a Christian.
“For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine . . .” (1 Pet. 4:3). Do not be deceived, alcoholic wine is always a mocker.
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