22. ARE YOU SPIRITUALLY SOBER OR INTOXICATED?

(The Information & Edification Series)

The Bible is filled with admonitions to the Christian, to avoid getting intoxicated or drunk by strong drink.

For example, Ephesians 5:18 states: “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” Proverbs 20:1 states that “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” Isaiah 5:11 also consistently states: “Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!”

When a person is drunk with a strong, alcoholic drink like wine or rum, we say that he is intoxicated. He is not sober, as, due to the influence of the alcohol in his system, his sense of logic, reasoning and the ability to process what is happening around him is significantly impeded, to the point where it is not uncommon to see him displaying the actions of a madman, characteristic of his drunken stupor.

When a person is under such an intoxicating influence, he can’t think straight and his sense of reality is distorted because the alcohol has messed with his ability to control his faculties. Such a person is no good to himself or to others, so long as he remains intoxicated.

He may experience a false sense of excitement, euphoria and elation, not according to the reality of his situation but due to the false and temporary security that being drunk affords. Indeed, this is why some resort to alcohol consumption and to the point of inebriation. They do not wish to deal with the reality of their situation, whether it be financial issues, issues in the home, issues at work, issues with themselves like feelings of inadequacy or otherwise and so they think that intoxication will afford them a happy escape. However, this is short-lived, as intoxication does not provide sustained happiness or joy.

Intoxication due to alcohol is not the only type of intoxication the Bible warns about. For, it is possible for a person who is seeking to follow the Lord, to become intoxicated and get carried away by things that appeal to their own lusts like activities of which God does not approve, false doctrines, philosophies and even music, that, like alcohol, distort reality and undermine truth.

To prevent spiritual intoxication, the Bible admonishes those who profess to know Christ as Lord and Saviour, to be sober and alert. This is the exact opposite of drunkenness, which lulls one into a state of lackadaisical stupor.

Just as too much alcohol is not good for one’s health, can damage one’s organs and shorten one’s life, so it is with these spiritual intoxicating influences. To be drunk and in a state of lull or stupor when it comes to spiritual matters is dangerous and can seriously affect a person’s spiritual walk with Christ.

A Christian is therefore urged in the scriptures to be on guard against these influences, to remain alert, watchful and maintain sobriety at all times. In particular, 1 Peter 5:8 warns: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”

Additionally, other verses echo the same admonition as follows: –

  • “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13)
  • “Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:12)
  • “Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded” (Titus 2:6)
  • “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.” (1 Peter 4:7)
  • “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3)
  • “That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.” (Titus 2:2)
  • “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach.” (1 Timothy 3:2)

The only way that a Christian can remain sober in this world with its madly intoxicating influences which appeal to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life is to remain grounded in the truth of God’s Word, the Bible. Once a person moves away from the Word which is light, truth and which has the ability to purify and keep one sober, he or she is bound to fall prone to the dark, intoxicating, mindless and damaging influences of the world.

Some intoxicating influences which the Christian needs to guard against today are as follows: –

  1. Preoccupation with making money, being ‘financially free’ and obtaining riches;
  2. Preoccupation with getting ahead, career, promotion and self-advancement;
  3. Preoccupation with making a name for one’s self and becoming popular;
  4. Preoccupation with politics, power, pre-eminence and position;
  5. Preoccupation with getting a husband and ending up in a love relationship;
  6. Preoccupation with looks, vanity, health, self-attention and physical appearance;
  7. Preoccupation with life’s pleasures like sex, partying, revelry and ungodly forms of entertainment;
  8. Preoccupation with Movements that are not supported in the Word of God.

To allow intoxicating influences to affect us, can be dangerous to our spiritual health and success. Indeed, it has already caused many, in their spiritually drunken stupor, to make shipwreck of their faith (1 Timothy 1:19)

Sad to say, in these modern times, these intoxicating influences have infiltrated many Churches, messed with the gospel message and led many away from the truth of God’s Word, down the slippery slope of deception.

For example, there is less focus today in many Churches on doctrine (what the Word of God says about the gospel, what we should believe and how we should live) which we need in order to be victorious in Jesus Christ. Instead, the focus is on things that cannot profit us spiritually, like entertainment, getting rich, manifestations of ‘power’, getting a love relationship, how beautiful we look, getting a house, a car, a promotion and things, which is materialism.

These intoxicating influences which have become prevalent in many Churches that have gone completely off course is not what Christianity is about but is about the exaltation of self, giving self what self wants and pleasing self how self wants to be pleased.

There is a difference between what we see being promoted as Christian ‘entertainment’ today, for example, (where the main purpose is to make people feel good and to gain popularity on the so-called Christian charts) and genuine praise and worship to God the Father and Jesus Christ His Son, which emanate from the heart.

The latter does not take cues from the world and sound like the world but is different, set apart, sober and reverential, in words, tone and sound, unlike most of the garbage we hear today, trying to pass itself off as gospel music.

There is also a difference between a genuine miracle of God and the so-called manifestations of ‘power’ we see today in certain ‘churches’ (which is all about show and falsely giving people assurances of breakthrough and promotion and money and earthly success, according to the lusts of the people, whose itching ears only want to hear how self can benefit).

When Jesus Christ founded his Church, the focus of Christianity was never to be about getting a love relationship or to pursue after materialism. If God wills it, he is able to put his children into love relationships, not for themselves really but for His Ministry.

If he wills it, he is able to cause his blessings (financial and otherwise) to overtake those who put his Kingdom business (which is about the gospel of Jesus Christ) and his righteousness first, so much so, that they don’t need to go out looking for it or to pursue madly after it, like some desperate, alcohol-crazed drunkard. They need only pursue Christ and if he wills them to receive a particular blessing, they will, in the time that He has appointed.

However, many who claim to have professed Christ, have gone running after these senseless things which intoxicate the soul and in their drunken stupor, the gospel message and the Church’s edification, according to the Word of God, have been put on the back-burner, considered to no longer be as important as these worldly, intoxicating pursuits.

It is not possible to be drunk and sober at the same time. In the same way, in pursuing after riches, fame, getting a spouse, materialism, name, ungodly entertainment and music called ‘gospel’ music but really inspired by the devil, many who profess themselves to be Christians, walk around every day, looking normal but are in a drunken or intoxicated state.

They have rejected the admonition to be sober and have therefore gone the way of the world and its madness. In their inebriated state, the truth has become a blur and they have been lulled into a state of complacency and false security, not even realizing how far down they have gone the slippery slope and that they are in fact standing on dangerous ground.

(Written on 19th February, 2020, expanded on 03rd July, 2020)

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