When is a Drinker Drunk?

That drunkenness is sinful appears to be at least one thing to which all who respect God’s will agree. We should agree out of respect for the word of God. “And be not drunken with wine, wherein is riot, but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). Warnings against it are also found in 1 Thess 5:7; Rom. 13:13; 1 Pet. 4:3 and 1 Cor. 6:10. The sin of drunkenness is one of the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:21).

 Paul says do not be drunk with wine because there is riot and excess in the intoxicating wine one drinks. Paul identifies the intoxicating properties of wine, and all other beverages that produce inebriation. Intoxicating wine has within it that which produces riot and excess. Solomon also described the inherent properties of wine. “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler; And whosoever erreth thereby is not wise” (Prov. 20:1). To drink it will make one drunk.

The word for “riot” is from a term that “implies the gravest moral censure.” (J.O.F. Murray, Cambridge Greek N.T. for Schools and Colleges). It is defined by Edward Robinson as, “debauchery.” In the New Testament it is associated often with revelry.

As one drinks intoxicating beverages just when is that person drunk? Is there a standard by which to know when one starts getting drunk? Nothing is said in any warning about drunkenness as to “how drunk” one is before he sins. It is just “drunkenness” and it is sin. It is not possible for one who is drinking alcoholic beverages to know the point at which soberness crosses into inebriation.

Consider a Bible principle. The Lord spoke a parable on preparedness to his disciples and said, “Be ye also ready: for in an hour that ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Luke 12:40). Peter asked him if the parable was to the apostles or to all. Jesus intimated this was to those he would leave as authorities in his church. Those in a position of leadership in the church should set a sober example to those they lead. The Lord then gave this application.

He said there was this servant who thought his master would not be coming soon and he began “to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken” (verse 45). This is one instance in scripture that deals with when drunkenness begins.

If the servant began beating other servants, would we not assume the beating began with the first blow? He began to eat and drink. When do people normally begin eating -- with the first bite or much later?

The servant began to drink “and be drunken.” The word for “be drunken” is the Greek word, derived from methuo. When did he do to “be drunk”? By the same token, it is when he began to drink --with the first sip.

To those who drink intoxicants moderately, how do you do not meet the biblical criteria for being drunk after the first swig? DRS

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