I am trying not to drink alcohol because I believe that it keeps me from being closer to the Lord and being obedient to Him also. If I slip up does that mean that I am not a Christian and that I am going to go to hell forever? I want to be closer to the Lord but I still find myself wanting to take a drink once in awhile. I know that the Lord does not want Christians to drink so does the Lord forgive when I slip up? I want to please the Lord and follow Him so I can have a deeper relationship with Him and live a happier life? What is your advice?
I seem to be on record pace for answering controversial questions this week, so why stop now?
You ask many questions within your question and while at first glance the answers may appear to be simple, they are not all as black-and-white as they may appear. That’s not because I’m wishy-washy or have a liberal view of Scripture; but rather it is because I want to be dogmatic where the Bible is dogmatic, be black-and-white where the Bible is black-and-white, and not overstate, over emphasize or exaggerate Scripture to fit my personal opinions.
So let me break down your question into a series of mini-answers, giving you, to the best of my ability, what the Scripture says about each and where appropriate offering an opinion from my experience.
Question/comment: I am trying not to drink alcohol because I believe that it keeps me from being closer to the Lord.
Before we get to the question of whether the Lord commands us not to drink, you should know by your own statement that it is wrong for you to drink because your conscience tells you that it keeps you from being close to the Lord. It does not matter whether it’s drinking or recreation or spending money, if your Spirit-led conscience tells you that a certain activity is wrong because it keeps you from being all that the Lord would have you to be or keeps you from being as close to the Lord as you could be, then for you that activity is wrong, period.
1 Corinthians 10:27-33 If any of those who do not believe invites you to dinner, and you desire to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no question for conscience’ sake. But if anyone says to you, “This was offered to idols,” do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience’ sake; for “the earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness.” “Conscience,” I say, not your own, but that of the other. For why is my liberty judged by another man’s conscience? But if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for the food over which I give thanks? Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. (NKJV)
Question/comment: If I slip up does that mean that I am not a Christian and that I am going to go to hell forever?
Regardless of one’s opinion about the issue of “eternal security”, few would argue that the Bible teaches a Christian is doomed to hell forever for committing one sin. This is of course not true. As Christians, because Christ died on the cross to pay for our sins, we can confess our sins and God is faithful and just to forgive them. So the answer is No, if you “slip up” one time, it does not mean that you are automatically going to hell forever.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (NKJV)
However, as Christians we should constantly evaluate the authenticity of our salvation which is evidenced by our obedience. “Slipping up” is just another way of saying disobedience, which is sin. We should constantly evaluate the sin in our life and make sure that we are doing everything that God through the Holy Spirit can empower us to do to rid our lives of sin. When sin does occur we must immediately repent of it, ask God’s forgiveness and diligently seek to never allow it to happen again.
Question/comment: I want to be closer to the Lord but I still find myself wanting to take a drink once in awhile.
This is to be expected. Even the Apostle Paul himself struggled with his flesh wanting to do the things that he should not do. This is not an excuse for allowing ourselves to do it, nor does it keep us from being closer to the Lord. To the contrary, the great temptations that we have should drive us into the arms of the Lord for protection and comfort.
Romans 7:15-20 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.
If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. (NKJV)
Question/comment: I know that the Lord does not want Christians to drink so does the Lord forgive when I slip up?
Here is where I have to correct a misconception that will get me a lot of e-mail. We cannot make a blanket statement and say “the Lord does not want Christians to drink”. We can have that opinion. We can have that personal conviction. We can teach that it is better not to drink for many reasons. We can teach that we believe that God is more glorified by total abstinence from alcohol. But we cannot dogmatically say “the Lord does not want Christians to drink” because the plain fact is the Bible does not say that.
The Bible says that Christians should not get drunk and should not drink if it causes a weaker brother to stumble (Rom 14.21; Eph 5.18). It is a sin to get drunk. But there is no Biblical command for all Christians declaring that a Christian should never take a drink and it is a sin to do so. If the Bible does not declare that plainly, then we cannot declare it plainly. We can certainly decide to have this conviction for ourselves and for our families; and we can also decide that we want to teach it as the principal or standard that we have chosen to adhere to. But again, we cannot declare God to be definitive about any matter or subject that He Himself has not been definitive about.
From what you have told me, the Lord does not want YOU to drink at all; so you should not drink at all. You do not have to worry about “slipping up” if you do not put yourself in a place where there is alcohol in a glass or bottle near your hand that can be put to your mouth. The only way that you can “slip up” would be if you stumbled and fell and your face accidentally landed in a puddle of alcohol which you inadvertently had splashed up into your mouth. Otherwise, there is no slip up, there is only personal choice.
Question/comment: I want to please the Lord and follow Him so I can have a deeper relationship with Him and live a happier life? What is your advice?
- Read the Bible every day
- Pray every day
- Set aside time to think about and meditate about God every day
- Never violate your conscience which is directed by the Holy Spirit
- When you make a decision asked the question “what decision can I make that will most glorify God?”
That is my advice on how to have a deeper relationship with God and a happy life.