Do not get drunk with wine – NOR with the Holy Spirit.

Eph 5:18-21
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’.













5 Responses to “Do not get drunk with wine – NOR with the Holy Spirit.”

  1. John David Says:

    Hi Jeremy, I read your blog on ‘Do not get drunk with wine – NOR with the Holy Spirit’ a couple of times. I found it very interesting as I found myself ‘drunk’, for the first time, two weekends ago in Edinburgh at a weekend with John Crowder.

    I spent the first 30 years of my life deceived by two ‘christian’ cults and am very cautious about receiving anything new although I am open to learning and believe in testing and proving all things as the bible instructs. I do this by asking the Lord to reveal the truth about a thing and when He does, not that often I must admit, it usually comes with a great peace and agrees wiith the word and a witness in my spirit.

    In March I was at a meeting with Godfrey Birtill and Dave Vaughan on the Wirral where I live and I have never seen such outrageous joy in my life in a meeting, of which ive been to over 30,000 of them. I wanted to know what the source of joy was and when I enquired it was explained that it was rooted in drinking in the union we have with the Father through the finished work of the cross where we were co-crucified with Christ and the old identity died and I am now a new creation in union with God.
    I have to say also that the person giving the message was acting very very drunk and in all my years and thousands of meetings ive been to I dont remember the gospel ever being preached more clearly and with words that thrilled me.

    As I drove away that night I asked the Lord to reveal the truth to me about that night and a week later I realised that I had been seeing myself as a new creation and my old desires for sin had gone! i realised that my identity was in Christ alone and the old sinful nature was dead and buried forever!

    I want to point out here that I don’t have loyalties to men and their ministries, Ive been deceived enough in the past, I require only Jesus to be my Teacher and Guide.

    So I went to Edinburgh only wanting to hear from the Lord and to learn whatever He wanted me to know and experience including hopefully to learn more about the finished work at the cross. I was jealous to guard myself from emotion for the sake of it. I only wanted the Holy Spirit to move me if there was going to be any movement that was.

    With regard to the above blog on being ‘drunk’ here are my observations:

    1: The weekend with John Crowder speaking was all built and all pointed towards Christ crucified and therefore being filled with the Holy Spirit.

    2: I asked John personally about should everyone be loud and wild and act drunk when thus filled by the Spirit and he said no, we are all different, some are loud some people are quiet, people are affected in different ways.

    3: Being ‘drunk in the Spirit’ is not in itself the goal, being filled with the Spirit continually is though by abiding in Him, abiding in the awareness of his presence.

    4: The evening I got ‘drunk’ for the first time, it was when I got a revelation on God’s love for me and how He had always loved me. That’s all! I just drank it in deep and carried on only focusing on His love and as I did it seemed to permeate me and my life where I had often thought God wasn’t pleased with me and had scowled at me and despised me. In that hour or so i just seemed to imbibe this revelation and it so filled me with love for Him I didnt want to do anything but focus on Him. I was ‘hammered drunk’.
    I can’t really explain this in words except to say that I recognise in the past, instead of ‘drinking deep’ a revelation, I would look at it, examine it, rejoice in it, walk round it, assimilate it into my understanding, talk about it but not ‘drink’ it. I recognise that my Englishness didnt allow that. I was too self/people/ettiquate/’church’/tradition/customs conscious so never allowed myself to really ‘drink’.

    5: The weekend in Edinburgh left me with the desire to know Jesus more, not just in word but also in experience, not just in my head but throughout my whole being including my emotions and to grow in the awareness of his presence and love and grace and the ‘unbelievable without His faith’ gospel of grace.

    The above blog debates the scriptures regarding being ‘drunk’.

    the first two are:- quote
    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.

    Firstly, how do you know Jesus never got ‘drunk’ on the Holy Spirit? Secondly, i can see many scriptures that allude to being ‘drunk’.

    quote:- 3. Rom 12:3 tells us to think with SOBER judgement – that you cannot do when drunk.

    This is true when drunk with alcohol but being filled/drunk with the Holy Spirit is to be led by the Spirit /the mind of Christ which is infinitely more accurate with judgment that out own ability and intellect. the issue is, who is in control? on the day of Pentecost the Spirit was in control and 3000 got saved!

    Test this. The mockers in Acts 2 were mocking the drunken behaviour not the tongues miraculously spoke in their own recognised languages. That was a miracle and drunken foreign people can’t speak your language fluently. They ‘supposed’ they were drunk. Peter didnt say they were ‘drunk’ he told them they were filled with the poured out Holy Spirit as Joel said they would. That came across as being drunk.
    Critics who judge Christians who appear ‘drunk’ are also going on the outward appearance. I did for years under the religious cults I was in.

    quote:- Eph 5:18 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.

    It could be a METAPHOR.

    My conclusion at the moment is that the enemy does not want the joy of the Lord (our strength) at all costs. This joy is not ‘English’ joy. It is New Creation fruit of the Spirit joy, far exceeding our understanding.

    Dry religion looks at, talks about and thinks about God’s ‘wonderful things’ but doesn’t drink and would never get drunk as it’s not the tradition of man.

    I reckon I’ve quenched the Spirit throughout my life by keeping my emotions intact and cause i thought it was inapproriate to really imbibe and express His love for me. On the occasions I have been floored and overwhelmed by His love for me and His presence on a few occasions, I have fought to maintain my ‘dignity’.

    In Edinburgh i ‘let it all out’ allowed Him to penetrate my whole being, I couldn’t care less what any were thinking, His love was too sweet to refuse and quench, I drank deep and was helpless except to worship Him and adore Him and want only Him. the goal is Jesus, His presence, Him only.

    These are a few scattered thoughts. Theology can’t compete with experience. What I am convinced about is this. Ask Jesus to reveal the truth and don’t go by just interpretations of the bible. They have caused 1000s of denominations. there is one God.

    May we all seek Jesus and move towards unity in the One Body as He alone reveals.


    • jeremypenwarden Says:

      John. I appreciate your comments and am pleased that you are growing in faith. I do have an issue with some of what you have said.

      First, it all seems to be about your experiences in church meetings. Or in your personal worship times. As i have shown Jesus said the Spirit was on Him to do Luke 4:18-19 or Acts 10:38. Jesus never suggested that the Spirit was given to provide what Crowder teaches.

      I don’t think you’ve noticed my comment on how drunkenness is listed by Paul as a work of the flesh and one cannot spiritualise works of the flesh. To say ‘I have just had a great Holy Spirit witchcraft session’ would be unthinkable. So how can we credibly use the concept of drunkenness as a positive?

      I say in my comment that times of elation will happen and are good. But they are not the GOAL.

  2. Gabe Says:

    Good post, Jeremy. To add one more point, the fruit of the Spirit is self-control. Why Christians go out-of-control and called it being Spirit-led has always baffled me.

  3. Mathetes Says:

    Sorry, but your exegesis leaves something to be desired.

    If you believe all those passages on drunkeness mean that ALL forms of euphoria are off limits in the name of “self-control”, then you cannot be exhuberant at a football, NOR CAN YOU HAVE SEX WITH YOUR WIFE. Proverbs 5:19 clearly talks about being intoxicated with you wife. There are powerful physiological changes and altered sates of mood when sex occurs. You have to ask yourself why God created sex if he was dead set against euphoria as you make him out to be. You have to ask yourself what the orgasm is tell us about how God views euphoria, pleasure, and esctasy. What does the orgasm tell us about God’s nature? About man and woman as a symbol of heavenly realities? Come on, ask yourself those questions!

    By a fortori inference, we can deduce that your prooftexts are not prima facie proof against religious esctasy. Really, if we follow your logic through than the earthly bond between man and wife is more exciting, affectionate, intimate etc. than the bond between man and God. Do you really believe that or have your fallen for the ascetic, neo-platonic, Manichean Gnosticism that hates the body, hates pleasure, makes God out to be some distant statue figure like Zeus, etc. who is detached from mankind? Is a biblical framework really informing your thinking after all? I don’t see religious ecstasy anywhere listed as a “work of the flesh” but I’ll tell you what a “work of the flesh” is – hatred, jealousy, divisiveness, factiousness, and strife. And religious people are the masters of that.

    • jeremypenwarden Says:

      Sorry but your response leaves EVERYTHING to be desired. I was very tempted to just stick in the trash, but let’s give you a chance to redeem yourself.

      You start by misrepresenting my position and then go on to trash that which I have not said. Namely:

      If you believe all those passages on drunkeness mean that ALL forms of euphoria are off limits…..

      Well, I have NOT said that. So how about you respond to what I HAVE said? Since it is clear that you have just spouted your attack without bothering to read my note, let me remind you of part of it:

      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.

      Oops – so I am not saying all forms of euphoria are off limits – but the opposite!

      You then use the lazy argument saying that I am using ‘proof texts’. I resent that statement and the implication that I have formed a position and am seeking to justify an a priori position from such proofs. I have done no such thing.

      You very helpfully tell me your opinion of what works of the flesh are – when in my comment I have already stated from scripture what they are. So stop being such a smart ass and interact with the intelligence implied by you fatuous use of latin.

      So how about you delete the crap you wrote and address my post, not some figment of your imagination.

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