1 Peter 4:1-5 – Narcotics

By Thomas Bunting

I see on the smoking ads that smoking is “hazardous to your health.” There is presently a cowl case charging the tobacco company with causing loss of health. But I wonder why I see no such warnings about alcohol? I have yet to hear of a case against the brewery for destroying one’s health. It is common knowledge that alcohol is hazardous to one’s health. It is common and confirmed knowledge that it causes death and is often the cause of liver disease, heart disease and cancer.

None of today’s narcotics is directly named in the Bible, nor are any of today’s liquors or beers named. Alcohol is a narcotic, it is a toxin! Wine is named in the Bible, but it is not the same as the wines of our time. The point is that since none of these are named in the Bible, it is necessary to use Bible principles to decide if it is right or wrong for us to use them. There is good reason for concern when one understands the chemical ingredients in the plants and drinks (that which people eat, smoke, and drink).

One cannot open the Bible to a Scripture which says “marijuana is sin.” Can I participate in a hashish party (marijuana party)? Can I smoke a little marijuana at home now and then? (Marijuana has both short lived and long lasting consequences.) One must use Bible principles to decide right and wrong.

The Bible names two drinks, wine and strong drink. There are many that wonder what “strong drink” could have been. I do not believe that any-one knows exactly what it was, but it could have been some kind of strong narcotics which had been in existence for a long time. No matter what it was I believe that everyone agrees that we must not use “strong drink.”

The majority of those who try to de-fend their drinking habits point to the Bible word “wine.” Here one needs to be honest with himself and with Bible teaching. In the Bible the word, wine, did not always contain narcotics (alcohol). Sometimes it referred only to grape juice, but other times it did contain alcohol. (There was no alcohol when the word, wine, was used in these verses: Isa. 65:8; 16:10; 27:2; :Jer. 40:10, 12.) In the Bible when wine contained alcohol it happened by natural process and cannot compare with the today’s wines and their alcohol content.

Distilling was first discovered about A.D. 1000 to 1100. Distilling is a method of increasing the alcohol content in drinks. As soon as it became common practice in the Catholic church (the major church in Europe at that time) to use alcoholic wine in the communion the consumption of alcohol increased significantly. (The word “wine” is never used in connection with the communion, Lord’s supper, in the Bible.) Keep in mind that when you read “wine” in the Bible you are reading about something completely different from today’s wine.

Be careful about what your view is regarding such common expressions as: “drunk,” “drunkenness,” “alcohol problem,” “misuse of alcohol,” “abuse of alcohol.” Is your view built on what the Bible teaches and on Bible principles, or is it based on societies’ traditions (customs)?

What is “drunkenness”? Is one drunk when he cannot walk? When it is difficult to walk? He can walk, but can’t see very well? He talks too much? He acts extremely happy? etc.

What does “has an alcohol problem” mean? Does that mean he is an alcoholic? Or is always drunk? he drinks regularly? Always has wine with his meals? Drinks every Saturday? Every evening? Drinks at all important meetings?

What is abuse of alcohol? Does that mean he drinks too much? Drinks a little? Drinks it but not as medicine? Refrains from all use of alcohol? What is your view regarding these expressions and is your view built upon Bible principles or societies’ traditions?

Everyone is surely already aware of the consequences of alcohol on society. I quote from a few Norwegian and English papers and magazines.

..alcohol ruins lives, destroys families, kills thousands on highways.”

“Alcohol is the most common cause for accidents, both in the home and outside the home, two of three accidental deaths happens in connection with alcohol.”

“Alcohol is by far the most devastating of drugs  wrecking families, imparting health, filling jails, hospitals and morgues. In 1990 it cost the American society 136 billion dollars and more than 65,000 lives. These damages do not lie entirely on severely afflicted but much on moderate drinking  where drink merges into dependence is blurry..

“A pregnant woman takes a drink and within minutes her fetus has the same drink”

“Alcohol is one of the leading causes of mental retardation.”

“Violence and alcohol go together. One cannot talk about violence and crime with out recognizing that it is very often a result of alcohol.”

“Sixty-six percent of those who murder have been drinking alcohol” (or other narcotics).

“America and Europe have for a long time been am-bivalent (attracted) towards alcohol. So much so that the “war” on drugs, attacking cocaine, heroin and other contraband  omits inquiry into one of the most prevalent drugs in the world” (National Geographic).


1. Not many alcoholics in France because they drink wine. “They have the highest rate of alcohol-related problems, with twice the death rate by liver cirrhosis.”

2. No danger of being dependent for I drink beer. “Most alcoholics in Britain are beer drinkers.” “Beer is the major man killer. Half of the alcohol consumed in Norway is beer.”

3. Teach young people to drink to avoid problems later in life. “The earlier in life young people are introduced to alcohol the greater the problems with alcohol will be later.”

4. Teach your children at home and it will go fine. “It most often goes all wrong. Children experience this as acceptance.”

Alcohol Like All the Other Narcotics

Affects the Brain

“The mind-bending effects of alcohol begin soon after it hits the blood stream. Within minutes alcohol enters the brain, numbing nerve cells and slowing messages to the body, heart It isn’t a question of how many glasses or bottles before it begins to happen. The brain is affected with the first bit. “If drinking continues, alcohol builds in the blood stream and the nerve center in the brain governing speech, vision, balance and judgment go haywire.” Alcohol “combined with soda moves it more rapidly to all vital organs.”

Alcohol is described in the Bible as a sedative. It dulls the brain. It makes it lazy and slow. It is a part of the lifestyle that belonged to the “old man” (man of sin), and some try to bring it with them into the new life.

What Alcohol Does

1. It effects your judgment (narcosis, sedative, Prov. 31:4-7).

2. It is not for kings and judges (Prov. 31:4-5).

3. It is a mocker (Prov. 20:1).

4. It gets a person to do things he ordinarily would not do (Prov. 23:29-35).

Alcohol and Bible Principles

We should take care of our body for it is the temple of God (1 Cor. 3:16-17). There is no question but that narcotics (alcohol is one of them) are harmful to the physical body. When you consider the number of people, alcohol is the world’s worst narcotic. It is not necessary to drink a lot every time but rather moderate drinking through one’s life is enough to destroy the heart, liver, brain, etc.

The use of alcohol will often find you in the wrong company (1 Cor. 15:33). Of course it is possible to drink alone. There are many alcoholics who drink at home. There are many that do nearly all their drinking at home. But before one has gone so far, it is most often that one does his drinking out. You are with your friends at a disco or bar, or you are with friends at a party and you want to keep these friend-ships. Generally alcohol leads you into the wrong company.

Alcohol most always is associated with evil (1 Thess. 5:22). What kind of a picture does one most often get regarding the use of alcohol in the society? Is one’s fast thoughts, “There is a Christian, see how much he can drink?” Can you picture Christ waiting to be served at the bar or disco? Alcohol is often present when all kinds of evil are happening.

The use of alcohol can cause others to fall or sin (1 Cor. 10:32; Rom. 14:13). Because of its nature all use of alcohol is a bad example for others. It is a bad example for other Christians and it is bad example for those who are not Christians. It is an especially bad example for children. Statistics say that one out of ten who drinks will be seriously injured and one out of 20 will have a serious alcohol problem. Would you let your children play Russian roulette since only one of the ten pistols is loaded? How can you encourage your child to drink knowing that one out of ten is going to be seriously affected? Having alcohol in your home is extremely bad influence on your children. Its presence in your home says to the children, “accept” (approval). It suggests to the child “a satisfying experience.” They are supported in these attitudes by their own parents. Such messages should not be advanced by a Christian.

Sins With the Use of Alcohol

1. 1 Peter 4:3: There are three words used in this passage: (1) otvouytats  excess of wine, the same meaning as the word in Gal. 5:21 (peeum drunken), (2) Kt3110ts  revellings (a real party, loud, boisterous, just having fun, a good time), (3) rrorotg banqueting, actually the word is “drinking” (before the noise starts, before others begin to notice, not a lot of drinking, but still sin).

The above are included in a list of sins. They all belong to the life before you were a Christian. This is what people do who live after the desire of man (will of Gentiles). Such things belong to the old man described in Ephesians 4:17-24. Peter says that they used to do these things, but now it is different. The life has changed. Your former friends will notice that you are no longer with them (1 Pet. 4:4). Have your friends noticed a change, or are you still with them?

2. 1 Peter 4:7: In this verse we find the word “sober minded” (sober). This word means to be free of narcotics, a clear mind. It is not a question of how many drinks or how many bottles, for with the first drink the mind is affected. The word is certainly not limited to alcohol, but refers to anything that causes us not to keep a clear mind, anything that hinders our having control of our mental capacity. It is used in 1 Thessalonians 5:6; 1 Timothy 3:2, 11; Titus 2:2, 1 Peter 1:13; 4:7. It takes very little alcohol before it be-gins to affect our mind such that it does not function clearly. If your body is not free of narcotics (including alcohol), then you are on the first step (not sober), no longer clear, the mind is affected.

I believe that Christians should keep themselves away from all use of alcohol just as all other narcotics. I am convinced from these Bible principles that it is sinful to drink alcohol even on a social basis. We must never act in a way that seems to encourage or support the use of alcohol. We must never suggest the thought that maybe God approves! It is especially important that our message is clear when the use of alcohol and other narcotics is so common in today’s society.

Guardian of Truth XLI: 13 p. 11-13
July 3, 1997