SPIRITUAL DRUNKENNESS – IS IT A BIBLICAL PRACTICE FOR CHRISTIANS?

Under the Law, the priests were forbidden from entering the presence of God in a drunken stupor, and the penalty for doing so was death.

And the Lord spake unto Aaron, saying, Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations: And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean… ~ Leviticus 10:8-10

During the time of Isaiah, judgement was pronounced because of the drunkenness of the priests and prophets.

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. For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean. ~ Isaiah 28:7-8

In the New Testament we read of John the Baptist, who was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb. John was a prophet and of priestly descent. When the angel Gabriel appeared to his father Zacharias, who was ministering in his priestly office, he said to Zacharias concerning John,“He shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink…” ~ Luke 1:15.

Doctrinally, drunkenness is condemned throughout the scriptures. In the New Testament, drunkenness is revealed as a work of the flesh, and is listed alongside of sins such as adultery, witchcraft, and murder.

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. ~ Galatians 5:19-21

These works of the flesh which include drunkenness, are mentioned in contrast to the fruit of the Spirit, among which peace and self-control are mentioned ~ Galatians 5:22-23

According to 1 Corinthians 6, drunkenness is a characteristic of the unregenerate life of sin from which Christ has redeemed us.

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

The question we must ask, is this: Would God, who has called us to be holy, take that which is “naturally” unholy in his sight, and sanctify that very thing, causing his people who are called to be holy to act “spiritually” in the manner he condemns naturally?

If we allow the scriptures to set the precedent, we will discover that those things which are condemned as sins in the flesh, when applied spiritually, are also condemned.

For example, adulterywhich is condemned in Galatians 5:19 as a work of the flesh is spiritualized in James 4:4 where it is condemned as friendship with the world and being an enemy with God.

In both the Old Testament, and in the New, drunkenness is spoken of metaphorically as a description of God’s judgement (Old TestamentJeremiah 13:1-14; 23:9; 25:27; 46:10; 51:7, 57; New TestamentRevelation 17:2, 6).

Even though the Bible condemns drunkenness, both naturally and spiritually, many Christians have been taught that there is a holy drunkenness that is a spiritual blessing. This is often referred to as being drunk in the spirit.

There are prominent ministers who teach that “spiritual drunkenness” is a blessing from God. This is ironic, especially in view of the fact that the Biblical qualifications for ministers is the complete opposite, because ministers are called to be sober.

A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous… 1 Timothy 3:2-3

For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate (self controlled)Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. ~ Titus 1:7-9

Notice that Titus 1:7-9 (above) mentions among other things, soberness, self control, and sound doctrine as qualifications for ministers. 

Those who argue for “spiritual drunkenness” often cite Acts 2 to support their position. However, Acts 2 does not support “acting drunk” as a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2, the disciples of the Lord who were filled with the Holy Spirit began to speak with other tongues. There is no mention of them acting drunk. The manifestation of the Spirit was “speaking in tongues.”

There were thousands of Jews gathered at Jerusalem that day, and they heard the 120 disciples, who were filled with the Holy Spirit, speaking in their native languages about the mighty works of God. This is what got the people’s attention: we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. ~ v. 11

Later, in Acts 10, Peter preached to the household of Cornelius. Peter, along with the Jews who came with him, knew that the Gentiles had received the Holy Spirit because they heard them speak with tongues. Then, in Acts 11, Peter described what happened at Cornelius’ house.

And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? ~ Acts 11:15-17

Peter and the Jews with him, knew that the Gentiles had received the Holy Spirit because of the gift of tongues, and not because the Gentiles acted drunk. And Peter likened what happened at Cornelius’s house to that which had happened in the beginning in Acts 2, on the Day of Pentecost.

When the 120 were first filled with the Holy Spirit, they were mocked by some in the crowd, who accused them of being drunk.

And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, these men are full of new wine. ~ Acts 2:12-13

Mockery in Acts 2, does not establish that the disciples were “acting drunk,” just as the accusation by Festus doesn’t establishes that Paul had lost his mind.

And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee madBut he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. ~ Acts 26:24-25

In the Old Testament, we have the testimony of Hannah, who in her grief cried out to the Lord because she was childless. Yet Eli, the Priest, made the assumption that she was drunk, even though she was in anguish and pouring her heart out before God. 

And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept soreAnd she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head. And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli marked her mouthNow Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunkenAnd Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee. And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord~ 1 Samuel 1:10-15

Like Paul, who answered Festus’ false charge against him, and like Hannah who defended herself against the false assumption made by Eli, Peter also responded to the false accusation of those who mocked the disciples.

Peter emphatically says,For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.” ~Acts 2:15

Peter did not say, “they’re drunk, but not the way you are thinking, they are drunk in the spirit.” Yet is exactly how this text is sometimes interpreted by those who teach spiritual drunkenness. Peter was not affirming the accusations of the mockers, he was refuting it.

Why is it that those who display themselves as “spiritually drunk” fail, in their inebriated condition, to proclaim the gospel with power, clarity, and conviction as Peter did when he stood up and answered those who had mocked? The gospel message that brings conviction and repentance is not a fruit of those who display themselves in an inebriated state of being.

Peter did not stand up in a drunken stupor and address the people with slurred speech as he stumbled like a drunk man. Instead, Peter stood up with the other apostles and boldly declared the gospel with power!

The 120 disciples had been filled with the Holy Spirit, and by God’s power they spoke with clarity of the wonderful and works of God in the native languages of many of those in the crowd. They were not displaying themselves in and inebriated stupor.

Being drunk is not of God, but having true joy with a sound mind, and self control is of God.

The joy which comes from God when a person is filled with the Holy Spirit, is clean, holy, and pure. The fruit of being filled with the Spirit is holiness and power. It is not acting drunk. There is absolutely no precedent in scripture that supports “acting drunk” when one is filled with God’s Spirit. The Bible does not teach that God toys with us, causing us to act drunk and intoxicated, for this is contrary to how God commands us to behave daily.

Believers in Jesus Christ are a holy priesthood who are to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:5). If we believe this involves acting drunk or displaying ourselves in an intoxicated manner in our church services, then we have embraced a doctrine that is contrary to the precedent given in the scriptures.

God desires that we be filled with joy, and peace, and purity (righteousness). He does not want us acting like the world.

Finally, you will not find a single text in all of the New Testament that speaks of believers being “spiritually drunk.” The Bible speaks of being filled with the Spirit, and gives us many examples of those who were filled with the Holy Spirit. However, there is not a single text which speaks of any believer being spiritually drunk, nor are there any such instructions for believers.

In Ephesians 5, we are instructed to be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit… ~ v.18

Notice that this text does NOT say, “be drunk in the Spirit.” Instead, it says, “be filled with the Spirit.” Paul is not instructing the Ephesians to get “spiritually drunk.” Instead, Paul instructs the believers to be filled with the Spirit so as to live a holy life.

Paul is not making a comparison between being drunk with wine and being filled with the Spirit. Paul is making a distinction or contrast between the two. He is instructing the believers to be the complete opposite of those who are drunk or intoxicated.

This is easily understood when the context of Ephesians 5 is taken into account. Consider verses 8-21:

For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:

(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)

10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.

11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.

13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.

14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,

16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. ~ Ephesians 5:8-21

There is absolutely nothing within the context that implies that we are to act as “spiritually drunk” people. On the contrary, we are instructed to walk as children of light, and to be wise because the days are evil.

Being spiritually drunk is not a Biblical practice. Being filled with the Holy Spirit is!

 

 

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