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Summary: What are the long term ramifications of the recreational, pleasure use of alcohol as a beverage. What will that first drink mean for you in your future and the future of others?

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Today is the last Sunday of 2012. How has the year flown past so quickly?

If you can remember way back to November we started taking a look at the Covenant of Christian Conduct which a person agrees to honor when they join the Church of The Nazarene and become members.

Initially we took a look at how we covenant to avoid engaging in entertainment which is detrimental to living a holy life and degrades the spiritual authority of God in your life.

Then we took a look at the devastation caused in our society and in individual families and lives by addition to gambling. Therefore we covenant to refrain from gambling in all of its forms in order to cut off the chance of addiction and the devastation it causes it individuals, families, companies and the nation as a whole and to present a pure witness to the world, a world which is watching carefully to see if we walk the talk or if we just talk the talk of holiness.

After that I was planning on working through the rest of the Covenant of Christian Conduct but was afraid that it would seem as if it was just a list of “we don’t do this because we’re Nazarene’s” sort of a thing.

Instead, what we’re really looking for in this sermon series is the answer to this question; Do we follow make a promise to live within the Covenant of Christian Conduct because of a desire to obey a legalistic code of conduct or are we making this covenant because it is a natural behavior for those who love God with all of their hearts and who love others as they love themselves?

For comparison let’s take another look at a form of legalism.

Jim Peterson in his book Living Proof gives us a clear example of legalism.

A young man once asked, “What must I forsake (to be saved)?”

This is the answer he was given:

"Colored clothes for one thing. Get rid of everything in your wardrobe that is not white. Stop sleeping on a soft pillow. Sell your musical instruments and don't eat any more white bread. You cannot, if you are sincere about obeying Christ, take warm baths or shave your beard. To shave is to lie against Him who created us, to attempt to improve on His work."

On the other hand, Abraham Lincoln said this - “When any church will inscribe over its altar, as its sole qualification for membership, the Savior's condensed statement of the substance of both law and Gospel, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and thy neighbor as thyself’ that church will I join with all my heart and all my soul.”

So, which is it that we see in the Covenant of Christian Conduct? Do we see a list of man-made rules with no basis in the Holy Scriptures or do we see the natural outflow of a life sold out to Christ and His work in the world?

As a Scriptural basis for this part of the Covenant of Christian Conduct we will be using Proverbs 22:3 (NASB)

“The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, but the naive go on, and are punished for it.”

Or, as it is stated in the NIV,

“A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”

So, what will we be looking at today? Here are a couple of hints …

There is an activity that many people engage in which is totally, totally, totally unnecessary for a full, healthy, peaceful and prosperous life. At the same time this voluntary activity carries with it tremendous probability of danger not only to the individual who engages in the activity but also has the potential to endanger those around them.

Billions of dollars are spent each year by this industry with an emphasis on targeting 12 - 20 year olds in order to entice them into taking this dangerous path. What is this path?

It is the path of the recreational use of the drug called alcohol. It is the use of alcohol for pleasure and not for medical purposes.

Alcohol is the only legally available recreational drug in most of America. Check it out. Go stand in the grocery store during the time of the commute back home on a Friday afternoon and take a look at what is piled high in the shopping carts.

So, what does the Covenant of Christian Conduct say about the use of alcohol as a beverage?

In light of the Holy Scriptures and human experience concerning

the ruinous consequences of the use of alcohol as a beverage, and in light of the findings of medical science regarding the detrimental effect of alcohol to the body and mind, as a community of faith committed to the pursuit of a holy life, our position and practice is abstinence rather than moderation. Holy Scripture teaches that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. With loving regard for ourselves and others, we call our people to total abstinence from all intoxicants.

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