By John Isaac Edwards
Our nation is at war! It is called the drug and alcohol war. The problem of drugs and alcohol is real! A few years ago we heard of such problems only rarely, and then they were confined to large metropolitan areas. But now it has reached even our small rural communities, and a bright young high school or junior high school student may be as involved in the problem as the long-haired drifter.
I have chosen to reject drugs and alcohol! But, let me begin by saying that I do not reject all drug and alcohol use. So that you will understand exactly what I do and do not reject, let us begin with a definition of terms.
Alcohol “the byproduct of yeast fermentation of fruits or grains; the active ingredient in beer, wine, and liquor; the most widely abused depressant drug” (A Healthier You 246).
Drugs By drugs I mean illicit drugs or legal drugs used improperly. I do not reject all drug use! I do not oppose the proper use of drugs prescribed by a competent and qualified physician to correct an imbalance of a person’s body chemistry which affects his or her health, or to give protection against disease, tensions, fatigue, or pain. However, I do reject drug abuse, which would be defined as the use of drugs (legal or illegal) for non-medical reasons in an attempt to influence the mind and body, alter the emotions, change the senses, or to escape from reality.
Reject “to refuse to accept; to cast or set aside” (The New Webster’s Dictionary). In Hebrews 12:1, the Hebrew writer said, “… let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” I have chosen to “lay aside” drugs and alcohol.
I is understood.
Why “for what reason, cause, or purpose” (The New Webster’s Dictionary). This word suggests that there are some reasons why I reject drugs and alcohol.
I reject drugs and alcohol, and you should too, because:
They Harm The Body And Mind
The Scriptures teach that the child of God must properly honor and use his body. As Paul wrote letters to various people, he many times stressed the importance of properly honoring and using the physical body. The apostle Paul taught the Corinthians, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). In writing to the young man Timothy, Paul exhorted him saying, . . . keep thyself pure” (1 Tim. 5:22). It is recorded in Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reason-able service.” God has given us our bodies only temporarily. Let us glorify God by keeping them pure from the contamination of drugs and alcohol!
Not only is it essential that we properly use our bodies, but we must also take care of our minds. The mind, the Bible heart, is important because it is that which the Lord looks upon (1 Sam. 16:7). The wise man, Solomon, said, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he . . .” (Prov. 23:7). Paul urged the Philippian Christians to possess the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5). How can one possess the mind of Christ when he is under the influence of drugs and alcohol? He cannot! Paul revealed, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7). In writing to the young man Titus, Paul spoke of some whose “mind and conscience is defiled” (Tit. 1:15). In Philippians 4:8 there is a list of several things we need to think on. How have you been using your mind?
When drugs and alcohol are abused intentionally used for non-medical purposes they harm the body and mind! “Using any street drug in any amount abuses your nervous system by forcing it either to do something which is not normal for it to do or to not do something which is a normal function. Alcohol starves the brain by blocking the use of glucose. Barbiturates block the message trans-missions in the brain, causing depression. Hallucinogens stimulate uncontrolled brain impulses. Narcotics block receptors for transmitters in nerves and thus effectively shut down impulses. Research shows that those who are concerned about their well-being are least likely to harm their bodies and minds by using drugs” (A Healthier You 207).
Insurance companies recognize that drug and alcohol abuse has a harmful effect on the body and mind. Many insurance companies offer discounts on insurance premiums to non-smokers and non-drinkers. Evidently they see some merit in rejecting drugs and alcohol.
The Bible speaks of the harm that drugs and alcohol inflict to the body and mind. Notice the following description of a drinker of alcoholic beverages:
Who bath woe? Who bath sorrow? Who bath contentions? Who hath babbling? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long .at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. 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 per-verse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again (Prov. 23:29-35).
You cannot read the above description from Proverbs 23:29-35 without recognizing the harmful effects of alcohol and other drugs upon the body and mind. Whenever an individual is under the influence of drugs and alcohol he loses control of his body and mind. The Psalmist penned, “They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end” (Psa. 107:27). The Bible teaches the importance of temperance, or self-control. If we are going to receive the incorruptible crown at the end of life’s race, we must be “temperate in all things” (1 Cor. 9:25). Temperance, in this verse, means to exercise self-control. May we all be able to say, as Paul said, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Cor. 9:27). How can a person who i s under the influence of drugs and alcohol exercise self-control? He cannot! God revealed through his prophet Isaiah, “But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment” (Isa. 28:7). Drugs and alcohol cause one to wander “out of the way,” “err in vision,” and “stumble in judgment.” Thus, I reject drugs and alcohol!
They Inflict Harm To Others
The abuse of drugs and alcohol affects the health of the user and may cause behavior that threatens the safety of others. Some will argue, “It is my body and I will do with my body what I please.” Have you stopped to consider the harm that drugs and alcohol bring to the innocent victim? What about the family who is hit head-on in an automobile accident by a drunken driver, killing the parents and leaving behind the young children? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, some-body in the United States dies every 27 minutes in an automobile accident which is caused by speeding, running red lights, unsafe passing, or other reckless driving of thinking drivers. What about the individual who is murdered by a drug addict who has built up such a tolerance to a specific drug that he has to commit crime and violence to pay for his habit? Dear reader, we need to be concerned about others! Paul said, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Phil. 2:4). Jesus laid down a golden rule when he said, “There-fore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets” (Matt. 7:12).
They Bring Premature Death
The toll of substance abuse can be measured in lives. “Each year, there are more deaths and disabilities from substance abuse than from any other preventable cause. Of the 2 million U.S. deaths each year, 1 in 4 is attributable to alcohol, illicit drug or tobacco use: More than 400,000 people die due to tobacco; 100,000 people die as a result of alcohol; illicit drug abuse and related AIDS deaths account for at least 19,000 deaths” (Substance Abuse Report, Oct., 1993). The same report goes on to say, “A person dying from alcohol-related causes loses, on aver-age, 26 years off the normal life span; drug-related causes, over 37 years; and smoking related causes, about 20 years.” I would like to call to your attention the story of a young man named Sean Marsee.
The Sean Marsee Story
Sean Marsee, a high school senior, had won twenty-eight medals for his athletic feats. Because he wanted to remain healthy and fit, he avoided cigarettes; however, as an alternative, he began dipping snuff, which he saw professional baseball players using with no obvious ill effects. Others involved in sports with Sean also used snuff. Eventually Sean was using three fourths of a can of snuff every day. He did not realize the harm he was doing to his body until an ugly red spot appeared on his tongue. The doctor was concerned and took a biopsy, removing a small amount of tissue which was immediately tested for abnormal cells. The sore was cancerous.
After removing part of Sean’s tongue, the doctor discovered that the cancer had spread to his neck. Another operation had to be performed, this time leaving an ugly scar from Sean’s ear to his breastbone. Radiation treatments followed, but they did not halt the cancer. Part of Sean’s jawbone then had to be removed. By this time his face was so disfigured that a friend who came to visit him fainted.
Less than a year after Sean discovered the red spot in his mouth, he was dead. Sean lost his ability to speak, but he wrote two messages before he died. One of these was a warning to young people not to dip snuff.
“One American dies every 1’hminutes from the effects of tobacco” (A Healthier You 186). I fail to see the difference between suicide and drug and alcohol abuse! Drug and alcohol abuse is slow suicide!
The Bible teaches the brevity of life. James compared life to “a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (Jas. 4:14). Job said, “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not” (Job 14:1-2). The Psalmist expressed the brevity of life in these words: “For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told. The days of our years are three-score years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away” (Psa. 90:9-10). “So teach us to number our days” (Psa. 90:12). Life at its longest is brief! Why would you want to shorten your life by drugs and alcohol? I do not, and so I reject them!
They Were Never Used
by the Lord
Many of the decisions that I make are made on the basis of whether or not the Lord would do it if he was here. Can you see Jesus walking among people of the earth with tobacco couched in his lip or a cigarette hanging from his mouth? Can you see Jesus smoking “pot” or snorting crack and cocaine? Can you see Jesus building up such a tolerance to a specific drug that he commits crime and violence to continue the sinful habit? If your answer to these questions is no, then what gives you the right to engage in such activity? The Christian is to be like Christ. Jesus himself said, “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you” (John 13:15). The apostle Peter recorded, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (1 Pet. 2:21). Friend, Jesus has given us an example to follow, let’s follow it!
They Are Illegal
According to the definition before, we are discussing illegal drugs and legal drugs used improperly or illegally. Arrests for drug violations are increasing, and the number of drug offenders in federal prisons grew from 5,000 in 1980 to 30,000 in 1991 and in state prisons from 17,500 in 1979 to 150,000 in 1991. The Bible teaches that we are bound by the laws of God and the ordinances of man. Paul instructed the Romans, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation” (Rom. 13:1-2). The Holy Spirit directed Peter to say, “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king” (1 Pet. 2:13-17). It is the will of God that individuals submit to the “powers that be” by rejecting illegal drugs and alcohol.
They Are Surrounded
The abuse of drugs and alcohol is surrounded by evil, crime, immorality, and degradation. Illicit drugs and alcohol are partners in crime: One half to two-thirds of homicides and serious assaults involve alcohol. About half of men arrested for homicide and assault test positive for illicit drugs. The need for larger and larger doses of a drug often provokes drug abusers to commit crimes in order to purchase more drugs. Evidently there was a problem with this in the days of Joel the prophet. God said, “And they have cast lots for my people; and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink” (Joel 3:3). We are taught to discern between good and evil (Heb. 5:13-14; Isa. 5:20; 7:15; Amos 5:14). Paul admonished the Thessalonians to “abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thess. 5:22). If you want to “see good days,” “eschew evil, and do good” (1 Pet. 3:11). “Beloved follow not that which is evil, but that which is good” (3 John 11).
They Destroy One’s Influence For Good
As a young man, I have been taught to show myself “a pattern of good works” (Tit. 2:6-7) and to be an example of the believers (1 Tim. 4:12). As Jesus proclaimed the sermon on the mount he spoke of the Christian’s influence, when he said, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candles tick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:13-16). Philippians 2:15 says, “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” How can I show myself a pattern of good works, be an example of the believers, and let my light shine before men while I am piping drugs and alcohol into my body? I cannot! Thus, I reject drugs and alcohol!
They Are Not the Answer to
Happiness and Fulfillment
As a “big-time” athlete, Darrell Porter, a star of the Cardinal baseball team, could afford to buy cocaine. He spent thousands of dollars for the pleasure and excitement this drug seemed to offer. When telling his story, he stressed that “drugs are a lie and a cheat, because they tell you there is a quick, chemical shortcut to happiness and fulfillment. It just isn’t true. I tried them, and I know.”
Drugs and alcohol are not the answer to happiness and fulfillment. The Lord Jesus Christ is the secret to true happiness! The peace that keeps our hearts and minds and joy that is found in the Lord are available to all. Paul wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus … I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:4-7, 13).
They Are Addicting
Drugs and alcohol are addicting! The regular use of drugs causes psychological dependence or addiction. The body of the user who is addicted to a drug (physically dependent on the drug) can no longer function properly without the drug. If a drug causing physical dependence is suddenly withdrawn, the body goes through a painful and sometimes deadly withdrawal sickness which may last for a few hours or for many days.
I would like for you to read a letter written to Ann Landers. This letter was first published in 1976 in response to a letter from a mother whose 17-year-old daughter was hooked on cigarettes.
Letter To Ann Landers
This letter reflects my own feelings about cigarettes after 24 years of smoking. I’m ashamed to admit I’m still at it. I doubt that this letter will have the slightest impact on the heavily addicted. For me, all the words in the world will not take the place of that first cigarette in the morning. I’d rather address myself to your readers who are 17, as I once was, with a set of healthy lungs, white teeth, clean blood coursing through my veins and in my pocket my first package of cigarettes.
How was Ito know that 24 years later I’d be so hooked that any thought of quitting would be out of the question? How could I know, at 17, that I’d be waking up each morning with a mouth that tastes like the bottom of a bird cage? How could I know my teeth would be stained and my chest would feel as if it were filled with cement? All I knew was that smoking was the cool thing to do. It made me feel grown up.
Although I’ve never seen my lungs, I know how they must look. My uncle, who is a surgeon, once showed me some before and after pictures. “Sit in on an autopsy one of these days,” he said. “You’ll see that the nonsmoker’s lungs are a bright pink. When I open up the chest cavity of a smoker, the entire respiratory system is nearly black, depending on how long he has smoked.”
Still I continue the filthy habit, going half crazy on mornings when I’m out of cigarettes. I go digging through ashtrays and wastebaskets for a butt to satisfy my craving. I pace the floor like a hungry lion, waiting for the store to open. Then I hurry, unshaven, and hand over another 55 cents for a package of suicide. (That was the price in 1976. Now a package of suicide is more like $.95).
With that first puff I realize nothing about it tastes good. Those ads are a lot of baloney. But the people that sell cigarettes don’t care about you. You’re hooked and they love it. Their sexy adds tell you to “C’mon.” But don’t be fooled, Seventeen, it’s not a bandwagon you’ll be hopping on. It’s a hearse.
If I could write cigarette ads, I’d show pictures of myself, coughing my head off, gargling away a rotten taste that keeps returning, spending money I can’t afford. Stupid me, sucking on a little white pacifier.
Then I’d show you pictures of the clothes I’ve burned, and the people I’ve offended with my breath, my smoke, my ashes, my matches and my butts.
This is me, Seventeen, a rasping, spitting, foggy-brained addict who has let the habit consume me. I’m a “can’t quitter” who creates his own air pollution, who prefers carbon monoxide to oxygen, whose sinuses are constantly draining. Me, with the yellow fingers and the foul breath, smoking more and enjoying it less telling you that I wish to God someone had wised me up when I was 17.
As Paul addressed the Corinthians, he said, “… I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Cor. 6:12). Instead of addicting ourselves to drugs and alcohol, we need to be “addicted to the ministry” (1 Cor. 16:15).
They Keep One From Being Sober Minded
We are exhorted to be sober minded. Paul said, “let us watch and be sober” (1 Thess. 5:6). He also said, “But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation” (1 Thess. 5:8). The apostle Peter taught about girding up the loins of your mind, saying, “be sober” (1 Pet. 1:13). The word “sober” or “sober-minded” means that quality to be calm, even tempered, cautious, circumspect, and wise in the full use of the mind and body under all circumstances to the point that good sense is shown in all judgment, reason, and understanding. The abuse of thugs and alcohol keep one from being sober minded! Young women and aged women, as well as, aged men and young men are to be sober-minded (Tit. 2:2-6). You cannot abuse drugs or be under the influence of alcohol and be 100% sober! Paul said, “we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Tit. 2:12).
They Keep One From Going to Heaven
Finally, I reject drugs and alcohol because I want to go to Heaven. As John the revelator spoke of Heaven, he said, “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev. 21:27). The apostle Paul taught that some will not go to Heaven (Gal. 5:19-21). The word that is translated in your Bible “witchcraft” in Galatians 5:20 (KJV) is from the Greek word pharmakeia meaning, “drugging, or the abuse of drugs.” Hence, those who are guilty of drug abuse “shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Further, Paul teaches that those who are guilty of drunkenness “shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
The LSD user sometimes experiences a good trip, where he sees beautiful sights and hears wonderful sounds; however, without warning, the trip can change to a bad trip, exchanging the pleasant feeling for a terrifying experience of fear and anxiety. Do you think an LSD trip is worth the risk you take and the damage it can cause? There is a better way to see beautiful sights and hear wonderful sounds! There are good sounds that come from hearing the Word of God. The Bible tells us, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Cor. 2:9). Paul speaks of being caught up into the third heaven where he heard things too wonderful to speak about
(2 Cor. 12:4). There is glory ahead of the Christian when he will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. There is no possibility of that trip being a bad one.
Why don’t you purpose in your heart to refuse to defile yourself with drugs and alcohol that you may be able to go to Heaven?
The “Drug Addict’s Twenty-third Psalm” was discovered in Reidsville, North Dakota, in a closed car alongside a dead heroin addict. The addict, only 23-years-old, had committed suicide by inhaling carbon monoxide from her car. The “Drug Addict’s Twenty-third Psalm” says,
King heroin is my shepherd; I shall always want. He maketh me to lie down in the gutters:
He leadeth me beside the troubled waters.
He destroyeth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of wickedness.
Yea, I shall walk through the valley of poverty I will fear no evil:
For thou, Heroin, art with me;
Thy needle and thy capsule they comfort me.
Thou strippest the table of groceries in the presence of my family:
Thou robbest my head of reason;
My cup of sorrow runneth over.
Surely heroin addiction shall stalk me all the days of my life:
And I will dwell in the house of the damned forever.
Also found in the car with the dead woman was this written message, “Jail didn’t cure me. Nor did hospitalization help me for long. The doctor told my family it would have been better, and indeed kinder, if the person who got me hooked on dope had taken a gun and blown my brains out. And I wish to God he had. My God, how I wish it!”
Won’t you join with me in rejecting drugs and alcohol and join with me in choosing to follow and serve the Lord, where you can find true peace and happiness?
Guardian of Truth XXXIX: 9 p. 17-21
May 4, 1995