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The Battle of the Bottle
Voting Our Values
The Battle of the Bottle
Proverbs 23
Beginning this morning and through the month of October, I want to address some of the upcoming issues upon which we will be voting.  In addition to the offices and judge retention issues, there are seven state questions and at least three of those deal with moral and ethical issues. 
Four of those questions deal with sales tax for education, limiting legislation on agriculture and the classification of certain drug offenses.
The other three deal with broadening the availability of liquor by expanding where and when it can be sold, the administration of the death penalty and the use of state funds for religious purposes. 
We have included for you a summary of those questions and of the other issues and elections that are before us.  In addition to the information in the summary, I want to deal with a couple of the moral issues and then spend a couple of weeks exploring what the Bible says about national leaders. 
SQ 792 would amend the Oklahoma constitution to allow grocery and convenience stores to sell wine and high-point beer. Currently these stores are prohibited from selling beer containing above
3.2 percent alcohol by volume, as well as all wine and all liquor.
If approved, this legislation would also allow Oklahoma liquor stores to sell refrigerated beer and alcohol accessories. 
You’ve probably already seen some of the ads in support of this measure that are based on the ease and availability and convenience it will bring to the good people of Oklahoma. 
As with all other alcohol legislation we’ve been presented in the last few years, at its core, it is designed to make alcohol more available and easier to access. 
And for that reason, I would like to suggest some reasons why Christians who vote their values will want to oppose this measure. 
Listen to what we read in
Proverbs 20:1
Proverbs 23:29-35
The most dangerous drug in America is beverage alcohol.  It is dangerous, number one, because of its availability. It is dangerous, number two, because of its acceptance. And it is dangerous, number three, because of the horrible effects that it has on those who drink it and those who are affected by those who drink it.
It is causing homes to unravel and come apart at the seams. It is crushing lives and hopes and hearts. It is bringing spiritual, moral, mental and physical disaster.
And yet, the most recent figures I saw tell us that the alcohol industry spend over $2 billion dollars advertising their product in 2013.   And they are the most sophisticated and slick advertisements you will ever see, all designed to convince you to drink. 
They will fill the halls of Congress with lobbyists seeking to influence legislation and law. They have invaded the television and the movies to portray the glamour of a social drink.  And from every side of our society today, we are told we ought to drink.
And it’s working! According to statistics, 67% of Americans drink.  That means only 3 out of 10 are teetotalers.  And of those that drink, the highest percentages are found among those who are under 50, make over $75,000 a year, are college graduates and seldom or never go to church. 
And it seems as though everywhere we look, we see the stuff.  Sporting events at the college and professional level are permeated. From festivals and fund-raisers to celebrations and parties, it has become a normal and accepted part of the society in which we live. It is all around us in every form.
And now, the cry is being made for more availability and easier access.  Listen to the proponents and they will tell you Oklahoma is behind the times.  Our current laws root back to Prohibition.  Forty-five other states have already approved similar measures. 
And if it weren’t such a serious issue, I’d find it amusing that these educated, smart individuals are using the same argument they used to use when they were teenagers.  “Everyone else is doing it!”
Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean it’s right and it’s certainly not right for the Christian who seeks to live and vote the values of the Bible. 
So what I want to do this morning is help us see what the Bible says about the use of alcohol. In a moment, I want to give you three points in the message, but before I do that, I want to share with you some general information regarding the Biblical references to wine and alcohol. 
Now obviously, when we refer to alcohol or liquor, we’re talking about intoxicating wine, beer or whiskey. The proposed legislation specifically deals with those products. 
Currently, under Oklahoma law, liquor stores can sell full-strength, unrefrigerated beer but cannot sell cold beer or chilled wine. Liquor stores can sell wine and spirits but no other items. Grocery and convenience stores can sell cold low-point beer (3.2 percent alcohol by weight) but not spirits, wine, or high-point beer.
What is being proposed would change the current alcohol laws to allow grocery, convenience, and drug
stores to sell cold, high-point beer (up to 8.99 percent alcohol by volume) and wine (up to 15 percent alcohol by volume).
By the way, 3.2 beer has the same alcohol content as a shot of whiskey, and now we are considering allowing cold beer that has three times that content and wine with almost 5 times that content. 
Now one of the primary references to alcohol that we find in Scripture is to wine and we need to understand that not every reference to wine in the Bible is a reference to that which is intoxicating. And if you don’t understand those distinctions, you will come away very confused. 
Look again in our text here, in Proverbs 23:31 and notice the distinction that is placed upon the wine. 
Notice, it “sparkles and swirls”. Those are references to fermented wine.  And in regard to fermented wine, the counsel of Scripture is to leave it alone.  In fact, verse 31 says we aren’t to even look at it or give ourselves the opportunity to be enticed by it. Don't desire it, don't crave it, don't lust after it. Why? Because that kind of wine will do you great harm. 
By the way, there are several different words that are used in the Bible to mention drinks, wine, and strong drink. In this passage, the word is “yayin”.   It is spelled “y-a-y- i-n” in the English and is the word most frequently translated as wine in the Old Testament. 
And it may mean that which is intoxicating or that which is not intoxicating, very much like we use the word “drink” today. And the usage of the word determines the meaning.  If we’re traveling together and I say, “Let’s stop and get something to drink”, you know I probably mean a diet Dr. Pepper.
But with other people, it would mean a stop of the Dew Drop Inn for something much stronger and the menaing of the word is determined by its use. 
Such is the case with “yayin”. Therefore, whenever we read the word “wine” in the Bible, we have to look at the circumstances surrounding it and determine what is meant. 
In these verses in Proverbs 23, obviously, we are dealing with a “wine” that is dangerous and destructive. We see it again in Proverbs 20:1 where we read, “Yayin is a mocker and she is raging.”
There is another word used in the Old Testament and that is the word shekar, (s-h-e-k-a-r).  It is a Hebrew word that is translated in our English Bible as “strong drink”.
Way back around 400 A.D., a historian named Jerome, wrote of this word by saying, “Shekar is in the Hebrew tongue and means every kind of drink which can intoxicate, whether made from grain or from the juice of apples or when honeycombs are boiled down into a sweet and strange drink and the food of the palm is pressed into liquor.”
Proverbs 20:1:  Wine (yayin) is a mocker, but strong drink (shekar) is a brawler and whoever is led astray by it is not wise. 
The Bible always condemns the use of shekar, with one exception and that is found in Proverbs 31:6 where those who are at the point of death could be given strong drink as a narcotic. 
Very much like we would use morphine or some other narcotic, they would use something to dull the senses and ease the pain. 
As a matter of fact, they offered strong drink to Jesus when he was on the cross and He refused it. 
By the way, whiel we are here in Proverbs 31, notice
verses 4-5
There we see that specifically persons in leadership positions were not to use strong drink because their judgment and rationality would be affected.  That explains a lot about why we can’t get stricter laws passed by our legislators. 
Thirdly, there is the word “tirosh, (t-i-r-o-s-h) and that is simply grape juice and yet it is translated in the Bible, in particular in the King James Version as wine. 
Other versions call it "new wine" or “fruit of the vine”. But it just refers to grape juice. We see that usage in Proverbs 3:10 where we read, “My presses shall burst forth with new wine." That’s what you get when you squeeze a grape and you're not going to get drunk on that. 
Now that distinction needs to be made because some people think if you just leave grape juice around, it will eventually ferment and turn into wine.  No it won’t, not without some interference and additives.  What you get from a grape is tirosh, new wine.
So in the Old Testament we have yayin, shekar and tirosh.  Then we come to the New Testament and there we find another word translated wine and that one is the Greek word “oinos”.
“Oinos” is the Greek equivalent of either yayin or tirosh. It may mean that which is intoxicating or it may mean that which is not intoxicating. And you will see it translated in the New Testament, simply as “wine”. 
Every so often, someone will try to say Jesus drank fermented wine and the water turned into wine at the marriage feast was intoxicating.  Here’s my question:  Why would Jesus do what Scripture forbids?  Did He not know what the Old Testament taught?  Did He not know, for instance, that Habakkuk said in 2:15 about not giving your neighbor anything to drink that would make him drunk? 
Don't you think Jesus knew that? Don't you think that Jesus knew what Solomon said when he said, "Do not look on the wine when it is red as it sparkles and swirls in the cup”?  Did Jesus just ignore those verses or have a momentary lapse of memory? 
Don't you think that the Lord Jesus Christ was going to obey the word of God?  Of course he obeyed the word of God. Nowhere in the Bible does it teach that Jesus made people drunk or that Jesus turned water into that which would make people drunk. He turned water into oinos, the fruit of the vine.
People have the idea that Jesus served wine at the last supper. That’s not true.  As a matter of fact, if you search the Bible, you’ll discover the word “wine” is not even used there. He references what is identified as “the cup”. 
Jesus said, “This cup is the New Testament in my blood”.  Now that is an interesting choice of words because the Old Testament called grape juice “the is called the blood of the grape”.
As early as Genesis 49:11 we find that phrase referencing grape juice.  Now think about this:  The account of the Lord’s Supper tells us they ate unleavened bread. Why unleavened bread? It was and is because leavened bread has yeast or leaven in it.  Leaven is always a symbol of sin in the Bible. 
So what is it that causes the fermentation process in alcohol?  It is yeast, leaven if you will.  So why, on the one hand, would Jesus say, “Leave the leaven out” with the bread, then use a leavened wine on the other hand?  It makes no sense. 
And by the way, do you really think rotten, fermented grape juice is an appropriate symbol of the pure, untainted blood of the Lord Jesus Christ? Of course not!
When the Lord Jesus was on the cross, Matthew tells us they tried to give Him wine mixed with myrrh, but He refused it.  Why do you suppose He refused it?   I'll tell you why. Better yet, I’ll let Isaiah tell you. 
Isaiah 5:22
A woe is pronounced upon those that use and abuse wine and strong mixed drink and that's exactly what they tried to give Him and he refused it. Even though the use of it was nto forbidden by God if someone was dying, Jesus still refused it.  He didn’t want His senses to be dulled and His judgment affected when He was dying for your sins!
So no, I don't believe that our Lord served an intoxicating beverage at the Lord's Supper. I don’t think He provided it through the first miracle for people to drink at the wedding feast. 
I don’t think He drank it Himself.  I don’t think He intends for you and me to drink it either. And it think He intends that His people would take a stand against it. So in the time we have left, let me give you three reasons for opposing the increased availability of alcohol. 
First, think about
1. The Misery
Look again here at our text in Proverbs 23:29
Notice the first question:  “Who has woe?”  A good translation of woe is misery. In fact, the woe is described with the second question: “Who has sorrow?”
Misery and sorrow and suffering always go hand in hand.  Alcohol has brought to this world unparalleled suffering. Alcohol will cause a man to lie to those he loves. It will cause a man to beat his wife. It will cause a man to deprive his children. It will cause an otherwise, virtuous woman to forget her marriage vows and act like a slut. It will turn obedient children into rebels against parents, against society and against God. Sorrow and suffering always follows the trail of alcohol. 
There is the sorrow factor. There's also the contention factor.
Verse 29
The word “contentions” means warfare, disagreement, strife, enmity. Strife comes from the bottle.
Arguments come from the bottle. Violence comes from the bottle. Murder comes from the bottle. As a matter of fact, statistics tell us that 80% of all crime involves alcohol. One-half of all murders are alcohol related.
Then there's the anxiety factor.
verse 29 – complaints
There is an anxiousness that leads to complaining and life filled with trouble.  The drunk doesn’t have enough sense to realize he’s brought it on himself.  He just gripes and complains. 
Then there’s the death factor. Look in verse 29. "Who has wounds without cause?"
Nearly 90,000 people per year die from alcohol-related causes.  It is the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the United States. 
When you factor in the additional accidents and diseases that are related to alcohol, the numbers become staggering!
Now you think for a moment. In WW2, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan claimed 80,000 lives.   In Nagasaki, anther 35,000 died. We are now approaching the equivalent of one Hiroshima and Nagasaki every year in America.  And we promote it and encourage it and want to expand it! 
In the nine years of the Viet Nam war, tragically,  we lost 57,000 American lives, every one of them precious to God and precious to us.
And yet at today’s rate, in the same period of time over 800,000 people have died as a result of alcohol and we’re still waiting for Jane Fonda to speak out against it!
If this were anything else other than abortion that were taking so many lives we’d have telethons and campaigns and protests and sit-ins. Politicians would run on a platform to do something against it.  And yet, we don’t do anything about it!  In fact, we want to expand it!  The liquor industry has sold us a bill of goods!
Read these verses and Solomon describes the society in which we live.  There is weeping and sorrow and complaints and redness of eyes.  And ironically, those who drink do it in the name of having a good time, never realizing the high cost they pay to accomplish what they will never have.  Instead of a good time they wind up with a black liver, red eyes, a yellow streak and a blue outlook! 
No wonder we find the counsel of verses 31 and 32 telling us to not even look at it because when it has completed its course, it bites like a serpent and stings like a viper. 
In other words, it’s nothing but poison.  By the way, did you ever think about the word “intoxicating”?  
At its very core it is “toxic”.  That means it is just as the Bible describes it is poison!   If a person is intoxicated, he is poisoned. 
People who use alcohol are poisoning themselves!  . Have you ever thought why a man throws up when he gets drunk?  He’s got poison in his system and the body is trying to get rid of it.
A throwing up drunk has more sense in his stomach than he has in his head. We could go on and look at the impact on health and immorality and loss of judgment and the high costs of addiction that are found in the following verses, but you get the picture.   
It is a national disgrace.  That's the misery of it.  Quickly, think about  
2.  The Mockery
Proverbs 20:1
Alcohol is a deceiver.  It has mocked this nation and it mocks the lives of those who use it. It promises much but it gives little. We drink for happiness and became unhappy. We drank for joy and became miserable. We drank for sociability and became argumentative. We drank for sophistication and became obnoxious.
We drank for friendship and made enemies. We drank for sleep and awakened without rest. We drank for strength and were made weak. We drank for health and became sick. We drank for relaxation and got the shakes. We drank for bravery and became afraid. We drank for confidence and became doubtful. We drank to make our conversation easier and then slurred our speech.
We drank to feel heavenly and ended up feeling hellish. We drank to forget and were forever haunted. We drank for freedom and became slaves. We drank to erase problems and saw them multiply. We drank to cope with life and invited death. Alcohol is a mocker, it is a deceiver, it does not live up to its promises.
Nobody wants to talk about the finished product of the brewer’s art. They like to show you the bikinis and the babes and the sports figures and the hot shots. 
Nobody ever show you the bums on skid row or the jails filled with the abusers. Several years ago, the local paper ran a story celebrating the anniversary of a beer joint around the corner from the church. I wrote to them to provide the rest of the story.  
I reminded them of the deprived children and abused wives, of the groceries and medicines that families went without because daddy drank up the money at this wonderful establishment they celebrated. 
Nobody wants to see that side of the liquor industry.  But I will remind you every product they put on the shelf is brewed with tears, thickened with blood and flavored with death!  It is a mockery to everything that is good and wholesome. 
Let me tell you how wine will mock us. God will bless a man with a precious baby and to celebrate, he’ll go out drinking with his friends never realizing the same bottle with which he celebrates my very well become the source of division in his family a few years down the road. 
One of the greatest venues for liquor is athletics.  And yet, the very thing that is designed to lead us to better health and being in shape is tainted by the flow from the spicket as multiplied thousands gather to watch their heroes compete.  As far as I can tell, getting drunk has nothgin to do with being a good athlete! Yet how many boys and girls have been introduced to the bottle because some sports hero endorsed it?  It is a mockery!
Is it not ironic that one of the biggest seasons for the sale of alcohol is the time of year when we celebrate the birth of our Savior? If that's not mockery I don't know what is!
They love to talk about how much taxes they put and the contributions they make. But nobody wants to talk about the dollars that are spent on rehabilitation and hospital costs and time away from work and social relief. It’s a mockery!
They don't tell you about the billions that are taken out of the economy!  They don’t tell you about the money that is spend on booze that ought to be spent on clothing and food and housing!  They don’t tell you about the hospital costs for alcohol treatment! 
They don't tell you about the misery and the heartache of those who are hurt in the highways and the byways of our lives!  It is a mockery! 

But let's just suppose that it did pay. Let’s just suppose that in spite of the crime, and the murder and the automobile accidents and the high costs of alcoholism, let's just say that it did pay economically.
Are we so cruel? Are we so crass? Are we so materialistic that we would sell a boy, a girl, a life, a soul for material gain?
But the truth of the matter is it doesn’t pay,.  It is a mockery. For every dollar that is received by the government from the liquor industry, four dollars and forty one cents are spent cleaning up the mess!  No wonder Solomon said, “Wine is a mocker, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise!”
Now, let me talk to you finally about
3.  The Mastery
So what should be our position as Christians regarding alcohol?  I believe there is only one position that is defensible Scripturally and that is total abstention.  We are to have one and only one Master. 
We find it right there is the text we’ve been studying. 
Proverbs 23:31
Don’t look at it. Don’t lust after it, don't desire it, don’t drink it. Just simply leave it alone and if you’re around people who won’t leave it alone then leave them alone. 
Verse 20
You show me the crowd you run with and I'll show you the kind of a person you are or you will soon become. 
That doesn't mean we're not to witness to them, it doesn't mean we're not to be civil to them, it doesn't mean we're not to love them, it means we're not to run with them and we are not to be under the control of alcohol.
If you want a New Testament perspective on what that means, then listen to
Ephesians 5:18
It couldn’t be more clear. As a Christian, I am to have one and only one source of control in the my life and that is the Holy Spirit of God.
See, getting drunk is the devil's substitute for being filled with the Spirit. Everybody needs something to motivate and stimulate.  As a Christian, I find everything I need in Jesus.  No whiskey bottle ever sweated blood for me in the Garden of Gethsemane.  No liquor dealer is going to go with me down through the dark valley when it comes my time to die. Only the Lord Jesus can satisfy the deepest longings of your life.
Plus, I have a responsibility to those around me to represent the Lord.  That’s why Paul said to the Romans,
Romans 14:21
Here we are being told how to live as a Christian.  In particular Paul wants them to learn how to love people the way Christ loved them and if I’m going to love people as I’m supposed to, then I must be under the control of the Holy Spirit. 
And here we find perhaps the highest and greatest reasons we shouldn’t drink. You see, the great question is not, “Will it hurt me?” So many people say, “Well, you know, I can take a little drink, it doesn't hurt me”, and to be honest with you, you may be one of those rare individuals that it will not hurt.
You may be able to get away with it. You say, “I have a few cans of beer in the refrigerator to relax me when I come home. I like a glass of wine with a good meal.  It doesn't hurt me and frankly, I've never had a desire to drink too much so this doesn't pertain to me.”
But that's where you're dead wrong.  In far too many cases, moderation is not the answer to the liquor problem.  It is the cause of it.  Surely you’re smart enough to see that. 
It is the moderate drinker who can handle his alcohol that encourages other people to drink. And the issue is not, “does it hurt you”, but “will it hurt someone else”?  Is it going to cause somebody else to stumble?
And you and I as Christians are bound to love one another and love our neighbors and not do anything that would cause them to stumble or miss God. You say, “I don't buy that argument.”
No, because you don’t have the kind of love that Paul was talking about here. If you did, you’d realize that what you do has an impact on others and because you love them, you’d never do anything to bring them harm. Paul is talking about the law of love and it may hurt somebody that you might be surprised about.
I heard the story several years ago of a man who received the telephone call that every momma or day dreads.  The at the other end said are you Mr. So and so? Yes. Do you have a daughter about thus and such an age? Yes. Does she drive thus and such a car? Yes, what is it? Get to the point.
Well, sir, this is the highway patrol.  There's been an accident. Is my daughter hurt? Sir, a young woman has been killed in a car accident and we need to try and make an identification of the body. Well, he said it's not my daughter. The officer said, “It may not be your daughter, but we think it bery possibly is
This man went as quickly as he could to the hospital.  Someone led him to the morgue. They pulled open a certain drawer and pulled back the sheet to reveal the face of that young lady.  And even though she was mutilated and scarred and slashed, he knew it was his daughter. He identified the remains as his daughter and asked what happened. 
The officer said, Sir, we don't know how it happened.  Somehow there was a curve they didn't make, but we can tell you there was whiskey bottle in the car.”
He said, “A whiskey bottle? They're just children; she's just a little girl!  You mean somebody sold those kids liquor?” And for a moment the man forgot his grief as it turned to a raging anger!  He said, “If could find the scum that sold my baby girl that liquor, with my bare hands I'd take him apart.”
He went home, his life a mixture of grief and fierce anger. He was shaking and trembling.  When he got home he wanted something to steady his nerves. He went to his liquor cabinet, opened the door to get his bottle, but it wasn't there.  Instead, all he found was a note that said, “Daddy, we wanted to celebrate so we borrowed your bottle.  We'll pay you back daddy, I promise.  Hope you don't mind.”
You say, pastor, you think that really happened? I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.  But whether it did or didn't, the point I'm making is you might be surprised to discover how you hurt with your ability to hold your liquor.  That’s why Paul said, “Don’t do anything to mess up somebody else’s life.”  Don’t drink!
Let me tell you why total abstinence is the best. Are you ready?
·       Number one, it has no harmful effects.
·       Number two, total abstinence does not murder innocent people.
·       Number three, total abstinence causes no lost to industry.
·       Number four, total abstinence will not destroy families.
·       Number five, there will be no loss of health with total abstinence.
·       Number six, total abstinence is not contrary to the law of love.
·       Number seven, total abstinence will not harm the one who practices it, or anybody else.
Bring you’re life under the control of the Holy Spirit and you’ll never have to worry about being out of control from alcohol and you won’t have to worry about damaging someone else.
If you don't drink, don't start.  I’ve managed to live almost 55 years without ever tasting alcohol and to be honest with you, I’ve missed out on a whole lot in life.  I’ve missed being too drunk to remember what I did the night before. I’ve missed disappointing my parents and causing grief to my family. I’ve missed having to explain to God why I needed something besides Him to get me through life. I’ve missed a whole lot, and I’m so glad I did! If you don’t drink, don’t start and don’t help anybody else to start! 
If you do, give it up before it takes control of your life.  And if it's already established a hold on your life, I want you to know Jesus can deliver you from it’s power. 
The Jesus I preach and serve is the Christ of miracles.  He is the Christ who, not only can forgive but who can and will deliver and if Jesus Christ cannot save you from sin, he can't save you from hell.  He came, the Bible says, to save His people from their sin. Missing hell is just the by product of being saved from your sins.
And I want you to know there is power in the Lord Jesus Christ to save.  If you're here today in the grip of alcoholism, turn the reigns over to him.  There may be a process, you may stumble, you may falter, you may fail, but he will not fail you.  Come to him and say, “Lord Jesus, here I am.  As much as in me is, weak as I am, stumbling as I am, I give my heart, my all to you.”
May God help us to do all we can to stand against the evils of alcohol and help others to avoid its dangerous effects.  May God help us to protect our great state from any expansion of its sales, and instead share the wonderful, life-changing message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 
Let’s pray. 
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