“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit…” Ephesians 5:18
Upon the New Years (Happy 2012 by the way, I can still hear the fireworks outside my window), I decided to renew a nazirite commitment I had made to the Lord. I’m not really wanting to say I rushed into the first one but the plans I assumed He had set before me were misunderstood and it was time to fix an uncommissioned- though not unrewarding- promise to God. All of that aside, my devotional study (Ephesians 5:15-21) has become the basis of my now more generalized consecration. Usually, I take scripture in bulk and apply that way, but this is one of the rare times the details provided for a much greater revelation of the Lord than I first anticipated when sitting down with my Bible.
The fact that the Bible specifically mentions wine as something leading to dissipation is no less true than it is amusing (amusing like a lot of Proverbs… or maybe I have a weird sense of humor). Still, without looking at the drunkenness’ stark contrast with ‘being filled with the Holy Spirit’, there evades us a deeper meaning behind the word ‘drunk’. Wine is obviously not an antithesis to the Holy Ghost. Not to mention, why would a counter to the Holy Spirit’s works be narrowed down to something as specific as an overabundance of alcohol in the bloodstream?
I myself have never been drunk. Actually I’ve never tasted wine or any other alcoholic beverage besides a shot of NyQuil on a sniffly day. But I still have come to understand some of the more conversationally appropriate side effects of drunkenness: impaired judgment, impaired coordination, blurred sight, confusion, and deep sleep (and in worse cases a coma). It sets the person in a state of unrealness… and contentment in such a state!!! I’ve never heard of a person in a drunken state furiously and desperately trying to sober themselves up. It is usually the result of a another doing it on their behalf.
More than actual wine, more than drunkenness of the flesh (since this is the New Covenant talk after all, our foundation is a more spiritual one), the scripture is referring to drunkenness on the world and the age of unrealness. Obviously, the contrast of the Kingdom is the world… you can only be in one or the other. If we stayed in the best of both worlds, we would be called “lukewarm” and- as it was said by Him personally- Jesus would rather “throw up”. To be “for Him” or “against Him”, to “love Him” or to “hate Him”; this has been the so often ignored issue since the birth of Christ on this earth. But let’s stay on topic. Drunkenness in the world… what does that mean? It means that there is such a satisfaction with our lifestyles distracted from the Kingdom by the pumps of the humanity that it leads to dissipation, or, useless activity. There is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying the legitimate pleasures that God has blessed us with in this world no matter how upside-down the world has become. There is nothing wrong with movies, video games, football (especially down here in Texas), fashion, ect… as long as these things do not influence us in a negative way according to God’s definition of good and bad…. Especially since, as Pastor Bill Johnson once said, “What entertains you, enters you.” It is when the things of the world become the dominants of our thoughts that it becomes an issue with God. To become drunk on the world blinds us from the spiritual realities that either we have lost track of or God wants to introduce us to. We are spiritual beings and that fact comes first. Everything in the physical is a representation of what goes on in the spiritual. When people become drunk on the world, as the Ephesians clearly says by use of contrast, they are not able to be filled with the Holy Spirit and cannot carry out any such acts that have consequences on behalf of the Kingdom…. nor can their acts have any consequences of true value in their own life.
The solution to being stuck in a lifestyle of drunkenness can be summed up as such: prayer and fasting. Simple, yes. True, oh yes.
What I am talking about is not abstinence from the world. We cannot separate ourselves from the world and expect God to be able to work through us. Though such dedication to the Lord is admirable, it is not actually desired by Him because we limit ourselves to a place where He cannot pour through us into a world in desperate need of love. We are His hands and feet as the Word says. The Holy Spirit dwells within us but we cannot keep Him in the corner with us. No, what I’m talking about is finding a lifestyle where God is the dominance in our life- in fact, to where God is the basis for everything we do, whether it be music or fellowship or charity or sports or academics or relaxation and rest or prayer or loving on people. Let God be our everything so that nothing in this world is left untouched by His beautiful presence. We live in an age filled so many distractions and placing so much value on the temporary and not enough value on the One we were created to be with. Such lifestyles will lead us to idleness and idolatry and, worst of all, missing out on an amazing life in the presence and works of the Creator. It’s never too late but it’s no less an issue.
God is that friend trying to get us sober again so that we can fight the war going on within ourselves for the Kingdom’s dominance. But many are comfortably asleep because of misunderstanding and misplaced value. Pray for awakening.