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Summary: Sunday, March 16, 1997 is Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Sunday. It is biblical to abstain from using alcohol and drugs. Alcohol and drug abuse has reached a frightening level. Recent statistics indicate 105,000 Americans die each year in alcohol re

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Sunday, March 16, 1997 is Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Sunday. It is biblical to abstain from using alcohol and drugs. Alcohol and drug abuse has reached a frightening level. Recent statistics indicate 105,000 Americans die each year in alcohol related deaths. It is also estimated that 18 million Americans are either alcohol dependent or suffer from alcohol abuse. The cost of alcohol and drug abuse to families, business, and society in general is measured in terms of billions of dollars and millions of lives every year.

Listen to this quote from Good News for the Chemically Dependent and Those Who Love Them: "Alcohol is a drug. It is the most abused, most deadly, and most underestimated of all the chemicals used in our society. To feel the weight of this last statement consider this: Imagine that a 747 airliner full of passengers crashed every week and everyone aboard died. That is how many people die weekly in alcohol-related traffic accidents. Sixty percent of all violent crimes are alcohol-related. If alcohol were discovered in a laboratory today, it would be classified as a controlled substance, which means that it would only be available via a doctor’s prescription."

In the light of so much sorrow, pain and destruction it is necessary for us to see what God’s words says regarding the fleshly lusts of alcohol and other drugs. Therefore, listen to these wonderful verses in 1 Peter 2:11-12:

"11. Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul. 12. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may on account of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation."

In verse 11, Peter urges his readers to "abstain from fleshly lusts." A.T. Robertson comments that the word "abstain" means "to hold back from”. Simply put, It means "don’t do it." Peter urges his readers not to engage in the lusts of the flesh. Since alcohol and drug use feeds on the desire of the flesh, anything Peter would have to say about abstaining from fleshly lusts would be applicable to alcohol and drug use. As we look at Peter’s comments in verses 11-12, we see that Peter shares four reasons why abstinence from alcohol and drug use is the biblical choice.

First, WE SHOULD ABSTAIN BECAUSE WE ARE GOD’S BELOVED CHILDREN. Listen again to verse 11: "Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul." Eight times Peter reminded his followers in his epistle of God’s love for them (1 Pet. 2:11; 4:12; 2 Pet. 1:7; 3:1,8, 14-15, 17). As incredible as it sounds, because of our faith in Jesus Christ we are "accepted in the beloved" (Eph. 1:6). Our love relationship to Jesus Christ ought to be motivation enough for us to live godly lives in this godless world. Remember the words of Christ in John 14:15: "If ye love Me, keep My commandments." The difference here is an obedience out of devotion to the Lord rather than an obedience out of duty to the Lord. Jesus said, "If a man loves Me, he will keep my words." (John 14:23)

Second, verse 11 tells us WE SHOULD ABSTAIN BECAUSE WE ARE ALIENS. Peter certainly didn’t endorse the saying, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." In essence, Peter tells us "While in this world, do what is appropriate to your spiritual heritage." Peter makes it clear in this passage that Christians are not part of this world. The two descriptive terms that he uses make this obvious. He calls us "strangers" (paroikous) and "pilgrims" (parepidemous). In his commentary on 1 Peter, Paige Patterson notes that "paroikous" refers to "residence that is not intended to be permanent," and that "parepidemous" indicates "a relationship to the people themselves."

Peter is saying that Christians live in a land that is not their own and they live among a people who are not their own. Given this reality, it makes sense that we would not fit in, nor should we. As strangers and pilgrims we should reflect the values of our homeland, the kingdom of God, not the values of the place where we are spending our sojourn. We can only abstain from fleshly lusts as we live as sojourners and pilgrims, as those who recognize that this world is not our home, and that we have a home and a citizenship in heaven.

Let me illustrate this point. When I take my children somewhere, I expect them to conduct themselves in a manner that reflects the values my wife and I have taught them. We do not expect them to adopt the customs and practices of those around them. If they do not behave in an appropriate manner, they are an embarrassment to us. In the same way, we as God’s children are expected by God to conduct ourselves in a manner that properly represents Him. This certainly has application when we consider our response to alcohol and drug use. Oftentimes we hear people, especially teenagers, say that they drink and take drugs in order to fit in. The businessman often feels compelled to have drinks with another business associate. The salesman feels obligated to take his clients out drinking. But God would call us to do what is right, not advantageous. God expects us to live our lives by His standards, and His attitude toward alcohol, and other drugs is clear. God says that abstinence is the best choice. Listen to Proverbs 20:1: "Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise," or

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