And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
This scripture is often taken and added to Acts 2:13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”
From this is brought a theology that we should seek to get drunk on the Holy Spirit. But is this a reasonable teaching to draw from these two verses.
Let me give a few bullet points to shed doubt on the teaching of drunkenness and then expand a little.
1. Jesus never got drunk on the Holy Spirit and He is our example.
2. We have two and only two verses to support the teaching.
3. Rom 12:3 tells us to think with SOBER judgement – that you cannot do when drunk.
4. 1 Thess 5:6-8 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober…
5. So we have two scriptures for being drunk and two for sober. The second sober scripture expressly says that we are of the day and do not get drunk. Here Paul could have done what John Crowder would definitely do and encourage what he calls Holy Spirit drunkenness. BUT Paul does not.
So, what can we conclude. Well, in Acts it was only the mockers who accused them of drinking. So not a credible witness group. Peter then says in verse 15 that they are NOT drunk. Again, Crowder and others would be shouting to Peter – TELL THEM ABOUT BEING DRUNK IN THE SPIRIT. But Peter was silent on this. I think it only reasonable to conclude that Peter did not say it because he did not believe or practice it!
In fact, if you compare a video of one of these drunken preachers in action with Peter, it is clear that there is no comparison. Peter was not drunk on anything. He was sober and rational. He spoke clearly with logic and argument and by the power of the Spirit.
So this first scripture clearly disowns the holy drunken teaching.
Then look at Eph 5:18. On examination it becomes clear that the sentence started in verse 18 does not end there. It goes on all the way to verse 21.
Verses 19-21 explain the behaviour Paul is instructing as an ALTERNATIVE to going out to get hammered. It is clear to an impartial reader that this is an ALTERNATIVE not an EQUIVALENT.
To clarify, I could say to my teenage son – don’t go out on the piss tonight – go to the football game. Or go get a nice meal and take in a movie.
I am not telling him to get drunk on football or food. Not even to get drunk on a movie! I am clearly giving him alternatives. Alternatives that will give him pleasure fulfilment and satisfaction. At the football match he may even act in some ways similar to drunkenness. Showing excitement and strong emotion. But it is altogether different.
In the same way, being filled with the Spirit of God is altogether different from getting drunk.
Two people can go out for an evening. One to get bladdered/hammered/pissed/slaughtered etc. The other to enjoy a few beers or maybe some good wine.
For the one the alcohol really doesn’t matter. It’s just a means to the end of getting drunk. To the other the alcohol is everything and if they happen to get drunk, it is just a side effect not a goal.
This travesty of ‘Christian’ teaching, encouraging ‘drunken’ behaviour, is doing the former. It makes the pleasure of being drunk the goal and the means to it just something to be used. It places all the emphasis on the effect, not the Effector. That in itself should make us suspicious.
Now, why did Jesus have the Holy Spirit. Acts 10:38 says the result of God being with Jesus was that he went around doing good healing all oppressed of the devil. It fails to mention that Jesus was in a drunken stupor whilst doing it!
Luke 4:18-19 tells why the Spirit was upon Jesus. In essence to do good to people. It does NOT say that the Spirit was on Jesus do he could dance around and have a drunken party.
We should be like Jesus and use the gift of God the same way Jesus did. Sure we’ll get excited sometimes. We’ll laugh and cry and rejoice. We may even act a bit wild or exuberant sometimes. But these are a symptom of the joy inside us at seeing God’s Kingdom come on earth.
I suggest that if Jesus intended us to enjoy drunkenness as a key value, then it would have warranted a short phrase in the Lord’s Prayer. This covers all the key issues of our lives, but is silent on this doctrine. NO this is not the linchpin of my argument – just a minor addition bit of evidence.
The 1 Thess 5:6-8 should be the final nail in the coffin of this teaching as it takes the issue of drunkenness, exactly as Eph 5:18 does – and shows clearly that we are not of those, as drunkenness is of the night and we are of the day – so be SOBER. Again, were this teaching true, Paul would have not told us to be SOBER but to be DRUNK on the christian equivalent of booze.
Now, if we remember that one of the names for the devil is Leviathan, which is the twisting serpent and that the first time we meet this serpent in the bible it twists the words of God, we will be on the lookout always for religious teachings – teachings that have the appearance of being good – but are actually twistings of the bible. And this will SCREAM out to us as a twisting.
Why? Well, drunkenness is listed by Paul in Gal 5:19-21 as one of the works of the flesh. Something which wil prevent those who practice it from inheriting the Kingdom of Heaven.
So, let’s see how many of the works of the flesh can be substituted into Eph 5:18 and sound good.
Do not be sexually immoral, but enjoy sexual relations with the Holy Spirit.
Do not gossip, but gossip with the Holy Spirit.
Do not be debauched, but get debauched on the Holy Spirit.
Do not envy, but envy in the Holy Spirit.
Do not have orgies, but have Holy Spirit orgies.
Do not have dissensions, but have dissensions with the Holy Spirit.
Avoid sorcery, but enjoy Holy Spirit sorcery.
Avoid impurity, but be impure with the Holy Spirit.
Does this make the point? You cannot take works of the flesh and make them ‘good’.