In most churches, we are encouraged to stop drinking and smoking. The wine drinker, however, insists that the Bible only says not to get drunk, it does not say not to drink at all.
Further, he says that Jesus also made wine and drank it too. Maybe he is referring to the case of marriage in Cana in John Chapter 2. Some people try to defend Jesus by saying, what He made was not wine but grape juice.
Although we can understand their loyalty to protect Him, it is a tough controversy. Because the guests said in John 2:10: “Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.” What Jesus made at the banquet, was real good wine, not grape juice. Obviously, Jesus drank wine (Luk 7:34).
Anyway, it is sad that the Scripture, which is given to us to show the way to salvation, is used as a guidebook for eating and drinking in this sinful world. All the words in the Scripture including not to be drunk or not to eat the flesh of swine relate to the salvation of people. Wine does not mean whiskey or beer, as the flesh of swine does not indicate edible pork.
17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but under-standing 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.
The Structure of This Word
Let us look at the text. If we understand the wine as alcohol, we will make a resolution as follows: “I will not drink, but I will be filled with the Holy Spirit! I will try to give thanks in everything, and I will submit myself one to another. Also, I will speak in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in my heart to the Lord!” Good resolution! May it all be yours!
However, if you think that way, you are already drunk with wine. Since you are drunk, you understand this word as a legalistic com-mandment to do something. If you have read this word on sober re-flection, you would not have understood it in that way. This word has two parts: first, be not drunk with wine, and sec-ond, be filled with the Spirit.
In detail, the first part is; be not unwise, be not a man who can-not understand what the will of the Lord is, and be not drunk with wine. All these are referring to one and the same thing, the state of man who has not been born again.
The second part is; be filled with the Spirit, speak to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. Give thanks for all things to God, and submit yourselves one to another. Also, all these are referring to one and the same thing: the state of man who is born again.
See the illustration below.
I emphasize it once again that the above descriptions are not commandments. It shows the way to heaven, in other word, the way to become a born again man. Therefore, in order for us to know and understand the will of the Lord, we should be the men who are not drunk with wine first, and in order to speak to ourselves in psalms and hymns, we should be the men who are filled with the Spirit first. Now I will explain who the drunken man is and who the one filled with the Holy Spirit is.
He Who Got Drunk
What is Wine?
The words in the Bible can be interpreted in two ways: one is a commandment, which is the law, and the other is the spirit that quickens within us. The commandments, the legalistic meaning of the Bible, look like the words of God, but they are the teachings of men.
But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
The teachings of men derived from the Scripture are likened to wine here. We can find the word of wine many times in the Scripture, and it is used to indicate the teachings of men as follows:
Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!
Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine;
Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink:
[1 Corinthians 6:10]
Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor ex-tortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
He who teaches the commandments of men is the man who gives his neighbor drink, and they who learn such teaching are drunkards. Knowing how most believers read the Bible, you will realize that most of them are drunk. Naturally, they cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1Co 6:10).
How About Alcoholic Wine?
Now it is clear that the wine in the Scripture is not the alcoholic drink we generally know. So now we know that the Scripture does not prescribe to us whether to drink wine or not. Nevertheless, the Lord is not pleased with our drinking wine. The consistent testimonies of those who have experienced God prove it. Ignore someone who says that a little wine will do you good. Only hear what the living Lord says to you.
We will not drink alcohol and smoke, not because it is written so in the Scripture, but because of the leadership of the living Lord who is walking with us. Walking with Him is one of the two major pillars in our steps to growing in faith, together with the word of God. We should not neglect one of them.
In this world, if a person gets drunk, he will be easily excited, he will be bold to say anything, which he normally would not do, and he will talk utter nonsense. It is the state of being drunk. Peter before the day of Pentecost tended to speak recklessly: “I will die with you,” “Though all men will be offended because of You, I will never be offended,” “Why cannot I not love?” and “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” and many more. In fact, all of his sayings tended towards the reckless.
All that he said proved empty promises. He spoke that way, being ‘drunk’ and knowing nothing clearly. He received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost after Jesus had risen, and then he came out of the state of the drunken man.
In Ephesians 5:18, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess,” the Greek word translated into ‘excess’ is asotia, which is a compound of a, a negative particle and sotia a derivative of sozo (to save).
This word has the same structure and meaning as a+sotos that is translated into ‘riotous’ in the parable of the prodigal son (Luk 15:13). Both words mean ‘state of unsaved.’
So, if translated literally, in accord with the original Greek meaning, the verse 18 will be as follows: “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is the state of unsaved.”
Paul refers to the unsaved as drunkards. They are unwise, do not understand what the will of the Lord is, are unsaved, and are out of the kingdom of God. Therefore, if we think of this as a commandment and pledge our-selves to speak in psalms and give thanks always to God, it reveals that we are drunken men. It is because we haughtily try to do something that is completely impossible. We ought to meet and follow Jesus first to become such a man.
Man Filled With the Holy Spirit
Paul links the unsaved state to ‘being drunk,’ and the saved state to ‘being filled with the Holy Spirit.’ In fact, when Peter and his friends were filled with the Holy Spirit at the Pentecost, the crowd said that these men were drunk.
13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine. 14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: 15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.
Being filled with the Holy Spirit indicates baptism by the Holy Spirit. If you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit, you should meet the real Jesus and be healed by Him. After that, you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit at your own personal Pentecost. Thus, you are freed from the state of being a drunkard, and you become a man filled with the Holy Spirit.
This way, the text of Eph 5:19-21 quoted at the beginning is achieved in (or by) you. That is, you will speak to yourself in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. You will give thanks always for all things to God and the father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Also, you will submit yourself one to another in the fear of God. This is what you have been dreaming about for several decades as a believer.
When we believe in Jesus under the law, we are drunk, and when under grace, we are filled with the Spirit.
How do we know we are drunk? Very simple. If the word ‘drunk’ in the Scripture reads to us as drunk by alcoholic wine, we are drunk. How do we get out of a drunken state? Also very simple. Follow the real Jesus according to the true meanings of the Scripture, and be saved. Thus, we will get out of the drunken state, and will be filled with the Spirit. No more drunken believing, please!
*Taken from the book “Fresh Eyes to Read the Bible II – The Real Jesus”