Summary: The temptation to alcohol abuse is prevalent in our culture. God speaks to us and clearly shows us the way.
Ephesians 5:15-20: 15 Be very careful, then, how you live —not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
This morning, we're especially going to focus on the last passage I just read, where God the Holy Spirit says to us, "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit." Have you ever been faced with the temptation to get drunk? If you haven't yet, you will. Underage drinking, binge drinking - all these sins are lying in front of you as you travel the path of life. Are you ready to face and defeat this temptation?
We live in a culture that promotes drunkenness. Really, it's OK to get drunk, our culture says, as long as you don't drive a car or hurt anyone. God disagrees. Don't be foolish, the Bible says, but understand what the Lord's will is. What is the Lord's will? The Lord's will is that we obey our parents - honor your father and mother, God tells us, and God's will is that we obey the government: "submit yourself to the governing authorities." And so if God's representatives tell us that the drinking age is 21, then we submit to that, and we honor our father and mother. That's God's will. And when we finally are able to drink alcohol, then what is God's will? He tells us right here: "Do not get drunk." That's pretty black and white.
Why would you disobey God's will when it comes to alcohol use? Sometimes it's curiosity - what's all the excitement about alcohol anyway, that the world so heavily promotes. Sometimes it's the desire to fit in - everyone else seems to be messing around with alcohol, and so maybe if I do that, I'll finally be accepted into a group of friends. Sometimes it's stress - I need something to help me deal with all of the problems in my life, and you are tempted to turn to alcohol, the most commonly abused drug in America. "Do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit."
God's will is that we fill ourselves up, not with alcohol, but with the Holy Spirit. How can you fill yourself up with the Holy Spirit? It doesn't happen by eating and drinking. It happens by listening and reading and thinking about God's Word. When you do that, you are filling yourself up with the Spirit.
And as we do that, we learn about Jesus, who filled himself with something else that no one else wanted. Jesus filled himself up with our sins. Do you remember that moment when Jesus prayed, "Father if it is possible, take this cup from me." There in the Garden of Gethsemane, right before he died on that cross, Jesus looked into the cup of suffering that he was about to drink - and he saw all of our sins in that cup, and it wasn't a pretty sight. "If there's any other way…" Jesus prayed. But there wasn't. And so Jesus willingly drank down all of our sins and then died for them on the cross for you and me. That was God's will. Isn't that good news? God wants us to fill ourselves up with that good news.
And so, if you've ever fallen into a sin related to alcohol use - Jesus has taken that sin away from you. Because of Jesus, you are completely forgiven and loved by God. Fill yourself up with that good news. Because of Jesus, you don't have to become an underage drinker to fit in with other people. You already fit in. You already with the only clique that really matters, and that is the church of Jesus Christ. You already are valuable to someone, and that is to God the Father, and his Son, and the angels, and all the millions of believers who have gone into heaven or who are almost there. You already fit in with them. Fill yourself up with that good news. God's will is that you would know these things, and believe them, change your life because of them:
15 Be very careful, then, how you live —not as unwise but as wise… do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
We pray: Dear Lord Jesus, we thank you for blessing us with your Word today. Help us to fight and defeat every temptation that comes our way, including all the sins related to alcohol use. Fill us with your Holy Spirit, and strengthen to love you more than anything else. Amen.