Wine or the Holy Spirit

April 19, 2019

Good Morning Fellow Travelers,

Read: Acts 2:1-21


“And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit” Ephesians 5:18


I lived in a village in Ukraine for a couple of years as a missionary. One evening I heard a group of men just up the street from our house. They were singing and laughing loudly and it sounded like they did not really care if anyone heard. I soon realized that whenever I heard this unabashed singing I could be almost certain that someone was drunk.

I also recall as a teenager working on a jobsite and hearing some young men singing without fear. These young men were singing gospel hymns as they worked. But on this occasion, it wasn’t wine that was causing the fearless expression but rather the Holy Spirit.

In the Old Testament, we see a man who walked with God and being called by God to build an ark to save his house. After the flood was over and the earth was dry again Noah and his three sons and their wives built an altar of gratitude and worship to the God who had saved them. Then Noah began to work the soil and planted a vineyard; hence a production of wine. Now the same man who had been called by God and who and been used in this mighty and special way, became drunk with wine. Even though he repented of his deed, he and his family have this blight on their record as we see in the account in Genesis.

In the New Testament at the day of Pentecost, we read the story of the promised Holy Spirit. As the disciples of Jesus waited for the promise and prayed for the fulfillment of prophecy, it happened just as the prophets had foretold. When the Holy Spirit filled the new believers, they became excited and joyous to the point that onlookers thought they were drunk. They were bold. They were fearless. They proclaimed loudly and with great gladness the story of Jesus.

As I pondered these four accounts above I decided to look up the word intoxicated to see if there was a similarity of being ‘drunk with wine’ and being ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’. The first definition defined being drunk with wine as… affected by alcohol…especially to the point where physical and mental control is markedly diminished; especially: drunk. The second definition was more inclined toward being filled with God’s Spirit… emotionally excited, elated, or exhilarated (as by great joy or extreme pleasure).

Our key scripture verse says…And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the (Holy) Spirit. Also, an Old Testament proverb writer was inspired by God to write it this way…Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his color in the cup, when it moves itself aright. At the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like an adder.(Pro 23:31-32). Another scripture verse says… Be not deceived, No drunkard will inherit the kingdom of God(I Thess 6:9-10).

Both drinking wine and being filled with Holy Spirit brings pleasure. The pleasure of wine takes us away from reality and God’s Presence while the pleasure of God’s Spirit invites not only God’s Presence with us but also His grace and mercy.

The take away today is that strong drink leads us downward and perhaps eventually to destruction. Being filled with God’s Spirit assures us of a place in God’s heart and a home in heaven.   

–Harold Troyer

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