Is it wrong for a Christian to take alcohol for medicinal purposes? Is it ever okay for Christians to drink? Where do we find the balance?
First let’s let’s give the answer we do know. It is always wrong and sinful to get drunk, period.
Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (NKJV)
Ephesians 5:18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, (NKJV)
So that leaves us with the age-old question of whether or not it is WRONG for a Christian to drink. Like most things in the Christian life this boils down to many variables that have to do with the condition of a person’s heart, not one specific act.
I know that I will be hammered for stating this so matter-of-factly, but here goes: there is nothing innately or inherently sinful about a Christian who takes a drink of alcohol, even on a routine basis. Now remember, I’m speaking of the actual physical act, not the motives, not the condition of the person’s heart, and not whether or not they are being a “stumbling block”.
So when is it a sin to drink alcohol? It is a sin if you get drunk (Ephesians 5:18). It is a sin if you violate your conscience (Romans 14:1-23). It is a sin if you cause a weaker brother to stumble (Romans 14:21; 1 Corinthians 8:9). It is a sin if in any way it shames Christ, if it robs God of glory or if it brings reproach on the church.
We have to be very careful about making a list of times, places and circumstances in which taking a drink of alcohol is okay or wrong because there are many considerations of the heart that have to be taken into account. It depends on the person’s motivation, their use of liberty, their conscience, and their spiritual state at the time. The minute we make a checklist, it becomes legalist and we sinful humans ALWAYS find the loopholes.
Given that, I think it is a wise admonition that to avoid alcohol is probably the smart thing to do, but we cannot definitively call something “sin”, when the Bible does not call it such. The Bible has many warnings about alcohol use, and that is another good reason to consider it the wiser choice to severely limit or abstain from its use:
Lev. 10:9; Num. 6:3; Judg. 13:4; Prov. 20:1; Prov. 21:17; Prov. 23:29–32; Prov. 31:4, 5; Isa. 5:11, 22; Isa. 24:9; Isa. 28:1, 3, 7; Jer. 23:9; Jer. 35:2–10, 14, 18, 19; Ezek. 44:21; Hos. 4:11; Luke 1:15; Rom. 14:21; Eph. 5:18; Tit. 2:3
To close, let me give my favorite advice for these types of questions. Instead of asking “what can I do, and it not be wrong?”; try asking “what can I do to bring the most glory to Christ?”
That will answer most questions of this nature for the honest seeker.