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FIRST-PERSON: Total abstinence

PLANO, Texas (BP)–Millions of dollars are spent every year on advertisements by the alcohol industry in soliciting us constantly to invest in alcohol. As a result of their efforts, there are millions of alcoholics in the United States who spend $185 billion each year for alcoholic beverages. Statistics show that there are far more victims of alcohol than any other drug in this nation.

Seventy percent of those alcoholics began drinking when they were teenagers. Is this a problem among young people? Absolutely! There’s a tremendous amount of peer pressure on our young people to use alcohol. Many times, the pressure comes from their families and out of the refrigerators in their own homes.

In the Old Testament Proverbs, there is a warning portrayed from father to son:

— “Do not mix with winebibbers … for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe a man with rags. Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding” (Proverbs 23:19-23).

— “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long at the wine, those who go in search of mixed wine” (Proverbs 23:29-30).

— “Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse things. Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, Or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: ‘They have struck me, but I was not hurt; they have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?’” (Proverbs 23:33-35).

Think about the consequences of alcohol today: poverty, gluttony, immorality and laziness. Families are being torn apart and people are being destroyed because of alcohol. And it seems that our nation is blind to the cost of it.

Unfortunately, the dependency upon alcohol has increased tremendously over the years. And one group that is struggling with dependency is teens. Approximately 11 million teenagers under the age of 21 drink alcohol, and most of them drink to excess, according to the American Medical Association.

The AMA has reported that alcohol is used most by high school seniors and usage continues to increase. Young men usually try alcohol for the first time at just 11 years old, and the average girl has her first drink at 13. Our nation’s youth are flirting with danger and learning that alcohol should be simply another common pattern in their ritualistic lives.

It’s time to learn the facts. Alcohol is not a stimulant; it is a narcotic and therefore causes one to lose control. When alcohol enters the bloodstream, one’s inhibitions are loosened. It causes people to lie, physically and emotionally abuse their loved ones, deprive their families, commit adultery, and cause destruction — even death.

We need to get back to the place where we know that drunkenness is sin and realize that alcohol creates instability physically, emotionally and spiritually.

It brings misery and sorrow. People drink for happiness, but they’re still unhappy. They drink for sociability, but become argumentative. They drink for sophistication, but become obnoxious. They drink for confidence, but become doubtful.

There is an old Japanese proverb that says, “First the man takes the drink, and then the drink takes the man.” That statement couldn’t be truer, and we need to learn to take a stand and not associate with this deadly business because the consequences are severe.

In my estimation, there is only one cure for this problem we have and it is not moderation. The only answer is total abstinence. Scripture says, “Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper” (Proverbs 23:31-32).

Many people will disagree with me on this and excuse their drinking by saying, “People drank wine in the Bible.” But the Bible talks of two different kinds of wines — one that is permissible and another that is not; one that is similar to grape juice before fermentation and another that is intoxicating. When intoxicating wine is presented in the Bible, it is strongly condemned.

The Apostle Paul said, “[D]o you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19).

The Word of God is clear. Remain totally abstinent of all things that are displeasing to Him. Christians who are concerned about their neighbors, friends and family should always ask before they decide to take a drink: Will this offend others? Will it cause someone else to stumble? (see Romans 14:21).

I once heard about a group of preachers at a restaurant. The waitress came to the table and said, “Would you all like a drink?” One of the men said, “No, I had a drink 30 years ago that has satisfied me to this day.”

Her eyes got big and he said, “Have you ever heard of a drink like that?

The waitress replied, “No, sir.”

The preacher exclaimed, “It’s the drink of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.”

Jesus is that drink. Why settle for substitutes? He can satisfy every desire and quench one’s thirst for God, life, peace and meaning. What is the answer for prevention of more problems with alcohol in America? Proverbs 23:31. Make a commitment — leave it alone. Practice total abstinence. That’s the answer. What is the cure for the issue of alcohol in our world and nation? Jesus is the answer.
For more information on Jack Graham, visit www.jackgraham.org. The website contains Graham’s sermons in audio and video format, as well as an online store with resources. Visitors also can sign up for “A Daily Word from Pastor Graham.”

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  • Jack Graham