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Why Don't Believers Drink Alcohol?

Carey Simonson, Tapio Holma | The Voice of Zion August 2018, Translated from Päivämies, no. 3, 2000 --

Carey Simonson

In each generation God’s grace working through the Holy Spirit has taught His children to deny ungodliness and worldly lust in order to live soberly, righteously, and godly (Titus 2:11-12). Already in the first NT congregational meeting the believers discussed an important matter concluding that the decision “seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us” (Acts 15:28).

During our period of visitation, God’s children have been guided by the Holy Spirit to abstain from drinking alcohol. They have understood that alcohol leads to a wounded conscience, causes sorrow and harm to others, and has led many to a lifelong battle with addiction.

Sober Living Is a Part of Christian Morality

The LLC position statement, adopted in 2006, concisely states why believers don’t drink alcohol.

Sober living has always been part of Christian morality. The Scripture warns of the dangers of alcohol and other intoxicants. It teaches that the power of alcohol wars against the will and power of God (Is. 5:11, 12; 1 Cor. 6:10; Eph. 5:18).

The use of intoxicants causes immeasurable suffering and hardship in our society, affecting not only the user, but also others around them. Individuals in the public eye, including elected officials, civil servants, and educators, can teach the value of a positive, unimpaired lifestyle by providing an example of sober living in their own lives.

Instruction from Scripture

The Bible contains much instruction about the dangers of alcohol and reveals drunkenness as a work of the flesh and sin.

  • Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise. (Prov. 20:1)

  • Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine… At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things… (Prov. 23:29-35)

  • Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal. 5:19-21)

Laestadius’ Experiences with Alcohol

In the mid 1800’s, Pastor Lars Levi Laestadius battled against the strong effects of alcohol (“the devil’s drink”) in northern Sweden and Finland. He witnessed the destructive forces of alcohol in the lives of those around him and personally experienced how the spirit of alcohol made the Holy Spirit within him sorrowful. This occurred shortly after his conversion when he participated in a farewell toast with a group of pastors. He related that he felt “extremely bad, and for that reason I know from my own experience that the filthy spirit of alcohol makes the Holy Spirit sorrowful when the latter spirit has begun its work in the heart of a person.” [1] He noted that drinking the punch gave him a troubled conscience and stated that “the filthy spirit of alcohol drives the Holy Spirit away from the heart of a person.” [2]

Blessing in Sobriety

Sobriety and abstinence from alcohol has been and still is a good path. God’s children have been preserved from the destructive force of alcohol and enjoyed the blessings of an unimpaired lifestyle.


[1] Holma, Tapio, 2000. Why Do I Abstain?, Päivämies, no. 3, p. 2. (English translation on this page)

[2] Lohi, Seppo, 2000. So Laestadius taught, Siionin Lähetyslehti, no. 3, p. 3.

Why Do I Abstain?

To many people in our time talk of “the horrors of alcohol” seems like an exaggeration. Nowadays people usually wish to approach the alcohol problem through enlightened discussion. The usual theory has been that the problem of alcohol in Finland stems from Finnish people’s poor drinking customs, e.g. drinking until intoxication. Therefore, Finnish people should learn better drinking customs, by using milder alcoholic beverages as people do further south in Europe. According to this viewpoint, advocating unconditional sobriety is useless fanaticism.

Laestadius’ Experiences

From the beginning, Lars Levi Laestadius, in his pastoral duties, had to battle against the destructive effects of alcohol or distilled liquor among the Lapps. Poverty, crude customs, arguments, fights, and children’s suffering demanded a change. However, temperance work did not seem to progress at first.

Laestadius first stopped using strong alcoholic beverages himself to show an example. But when he heard that those opposed to the temperance movement insinuated that the pastor himself drank wine at weddings, he decided to also stop using wine and also promised to stop drinking beer, “if this bothers the consciences of those opposed to the temperance movement.” In this way, unconditional sobriety became a method of battling against the wrong use of alcohol.

The Holy Spirit Becomes Sorrowful

On the other hand, information has been preserved in Laestadius’ own notes that, to him, unconditional sobriety wasn’t only a method of battling against the destructive effects of alcohol.

During his inspection trip in January 1844, when he found living faith in Asele, Sweden, he once took part in a clergyman’s farewell drink. He relates that the glass of punch made him feel “extremely bad, and for that reason I know from my own experience that the filthy spirit of alcohol makes the Holy Spirit sorrowful when the latter spirit has begun its work in the heart of a person.”

In Behalf of a Good Life

During this time of visitation, complete temperance has been practically a general agreement in the believer’s battle in behalf of a good life. A certain important viewpoint is yet connected to this. An alcoholic, even though he would like to live soberly, has had a change in his body system, which means that even a small amount of alcohol can cause an unquenchable desire for alcohol and cause him to start drinking again. Therefore, he can’t take even a small amount of alcohol. Unconditional sobriety, therefore, is also a support to those who are recovering alcoholics. It shows love, which helps the one who needs it.

From Fake Experiences into True Joy

Through alcohol, as through other drugs, people seek a new world of experiences when their perceived world brings disappointment, has no meaning or is dull. Others have experienced that alcohol is the only way to ease the suffering that results from depression or anxiety. Experiences acquired through intoxication can, nonetheless, only be compared to dreams; they are fake. In seeking experiences or in easing suffering, there is the danger of “getting hooked,” or becoming the slave of alcohol or drugs. Therefore, there is no reason to give your little finger to evil.

God’s children have their own world of experiences, which the children of the world can’t know. It is joy which the Holy Spirit brings and the peace of faith. Why give yourself up to the danger of exchanging it away?

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