♣ Beyond Mere Abstinence

Ruled by God

“…do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

THE HOLY SPIRIT is consistent in dealing with all sin, not just in some areas; He is never partial but thorough in His conviction. Some pay too much attention to the outward things at the expense of the imperative: “don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t chew tobacco…” thinking that all these substances are what actually abuse the temple of the Holy Spirit (it is interesting to note that sexual immorality is the only sin against one’s own body – 1 Corinthians 6:18), but why on earth are we not beside ourselves when our thoughts (that no other person sees while God does) are of the most foul manner; when jealousy reigns, when bitterness and hate consume us, when pride exalts us, when lust overtakes us, when we are unforgiving, when slander and gossip rules our tongue? These are the very things that grieve the Spirit of God. It is not what goes into our bodies, but what comes out of us that make us unclean: “Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from the outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach and is expelled?…What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:18-23). It is the pre-corrupt (depraved) condition of our heart that leads us to destruction and unless we have personally encountered the power of Christ’s redemption – no matter how moral we may feel – sin will always have the better of us. Sin is either to have no regard for God or that He takes second place in our lives.

Is it not incongruous how some people who abstain from alcoholeat excessively and frown upon those who drink in moderation and with self-control? Gluttony is as repulsive as drunkenness; it is excess. Many will also condemn smoking as abusing the temple of the Holy Spirit, while the accusers consume a high cholesterol diet, which, in some places of the world, is medically proven to be more fatal.

This, nevertheless, is not to condone or promote the consumption of alcohol (excessively) or tobacco; the point of the matter is that Christianity deals with more than just outward transformation; it is a reformation of the heart and that change never comes by our own volition (John 1:13); it is the supernatural work of God. If all that Christianity has done is to wean us off these ‘harmful’ substances and immoral ways of living (Galatians 5:19-21), while no inward change takes place, we are no better off than the cults that refrain from such uses and lifestyles. It does not necessitate one to be a Christian in order to overcome addiction to smoking or alcohol; I have known a few people that have recovered just fine without professing Christ and they are among some of the most positive people you can meet. It is rare but does happen, likewise with those who are moral and upright yet refuse to acknowledge the Son of God as Lord and Saviour.

“Be not drunk with wine” the Scriptures state (Ephesians 5:18), but never do they assert that to drink is a sin. In my early Christian years I refrained from alcohol having been misinformed that it was wrong. I deserved the ridicule when I pointed out to others (non-Christian), who questioned why I didn’t drink, that it was sinful. Thankfully, wisdom was gained after having searched the Word of God diligently, that when asked some years later if I drink, my reply surprised them, especially knowing that I was a Christian. They were curious to know if I ever get drunk. Instead of just stating that it was a sin to do so, I replied, “I prefer to be in control, not waking up the morning after unable to remember what I did the night before, suffering a head-splitting hangover with the heavy regret for having spent ridiculous amounts of money to lose cognisance.” The Bible is not just full of wisdom, it is wisdom! Let us reason and converse intelligently with all the soundness of mind God has endued us with and let us still pray for more wisdom in how we are to represent Christ in this world rather than bring dishonour to His name.

God is not in the business of depriving us of things that bring us joy; He has given us all things to enjoy especially when God is central in our lives; we then enjoy good things in their purest form. His restrictions are there to safeguard us from harming ourselves. The devil has taken what God has gifted man with and used it to ruin humanity and then has the audacity to say that God is a killjoy.

We may abstain from the obvious ‘sins of the flesh’, of our carnal appetites, but what is the nature of our thoughts; what do we truly desire? What are the attitudes of our heart like? Do we use our time for the glory of God? Do we commit our moments to God? Do we present every faculty of our bodies to live sacrificially for Him? We sin also with our minds (let us not forget that), but do we realise that here too is where the Holy Spirit resides? Is our thinking welcoming for the Holy Spirit to make known His presence? Do we bring every thought into submission to Christ? Is Christ’s mind being formed in us?

Whatever we do, it either draws us away or nearer to God; whatever habits we may form and have, they either hinder or further the work and purposes of God in and through us.

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Posted on January 6, 2014, in ♣ Devotional and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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