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Can a Christian drink wine?

The custom of Jews in Jesus day was to drink wine (though it was not as strong as we may have today) we see in Jn.2 Jesus filled the containers with the best wine at the wedding celebration.  Jesus did not condemn drinking the wine in his culture and used it numerous times for illustration in his teachings. Luke 5:38-39 “But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved.  And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, 'The old is better.”

We are allowed to drink as long as it does not stumble others (Rom.14:21). What we are not to do is make it a habit or get drunk.

1 Pet 2:16 “as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.” (we are set free to serve the Lord and do His will). Gal 5:13 “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

 There was a contrast with John the baptizer and Jesus during his time of ministry, Luke 1:15 "For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb." As for Jesus  Luke 7:33-34 "For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, 'He has a demon.'   "The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, 'Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!'

We see that Jesus, as customary for all the Jews of his day, drank wine when he sat down to eat a meal with others.

What about leadership in the church? there are numerous qualifications, one of them is to not drink wine. 1 Tim. 3:2-3  "A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous."  It is the same for the older women (Titus 2:3) who teach the younger women in the church. They are held to a higher standard and are to be sober, always ready to minister if something were to come up. To have any drink was prohibited to Jews that would engage in the service of God (Lev. 10:9) in the old Testament and this carries over in the New Testament.

 The further one gets away from leadership the more permissible it becomes. 1 Tim. 3:8 "Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine,” much- Gr. pollus- meaning not to large or common practice, total abstinence is not required as it is for an elder. That attitude leads to over-indulgence (from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament)

1 Corinthians 11:21-22 When they came together to eat the Lord's Supper. V.21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? Clearly Paul was saying they could have a drink at home (not condoning being drunk), they were not to make the communion a party but keep it sanctified, different than other times they met to fellowship.

In reference to eating food as an example Paul makes it clear “But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak”(1 Cor. 8:9) Yet Paul says in Col. 2:16 “So let no one judge you in food or in drink”   Paul even recommended to Timothy when he was sick "No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach's sake and your frequent infirmities" (1 Tim. 5:23).

We have a principle to live by even though we have freedom in Christ.

1 Cor. 6:12 “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” He then repeats himself 10:23-24: “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being.”  This is the principle laid out for us in grace; will we make others stumble by our freedom?  Is what we are doing a wing or a weight in our walk?  Apart from doing those things that are clearly forbidden, are we practicing something that is not helpful and can eventually harm us or others.

Paul also used this in a spiritual sense to illustrate how we are not to be like the world. 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8 "Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.  For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober."

There is no command I know of forbidding a drink with meals for those not in leadership. However we need to keep in mind those around us and not abuse our freedom that would affect our testimony to others.

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