Passage 1 Tim 3:3 / 1 Corinthians 10:1-11:1
Other passages Psalm 104:14-15, Deuteronomy 14:26,
Background 1 Timothy 3’s list of qualifications for a church leader, which tells us
what a mature disciple should be like.
“Not a drinker” – a controversial subject
Synopsis of the passage A mature disciple is not a heavy drinker
Message Outline Drink is a good gift which can be abused giving rise to sins of
commission and omission. Churches have different attitudes to alcohol.
Often Paul’s teaching in 1 Cor 8-10 is used to address the issue of
We are free to drink, but should be careful to not fall into temptation
and sin, nor to cause others to stumble or slander Christ
Finally, our attitude should be to restrict our freedom as necessary in
order to do good to all people, particularly to make them disciples.
This is in tension with not giving offense and avoiding a bad reputation.
But we are commanded to imitate Paul as he imitates Jesus, preferring
the honor from God over honor from people.
Application To imitate Paul in his attitude towards freedom and the good of others.
Title Maturity – Not a drinker
1 Tim 3:3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
● We have been going through the qualifications for church leaders in 1 Tim 3. We are also taking these
as markers of mature discipleship.
● The next qualification in the list is “not a drinker”
● Some motivating questions
○ What role does alcohol play in our lives?
○ What about church attitudes towards alcohol?
○ How should we think about alcohol personally?
2.Alcohol and its abuse in the bible
● So what does the bible say about alcohol? A lot, and so we will just sample some representative
● Alcohol is a gift from God:
○ Psalm 104: He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate—
bringing forth food from the earth: 15 wine that gladdens human hearts, oil to make their
faces shine, and bread that sustains their hearts.
○ God made wine as a gift to us
● Alcohol as Celebration
○ Deut 14:26 You may spend the money (from your tithe) for whatever your heart desires: for
oxen, or sheep, or wine, or strong drink, or whatever your heart desires; and there you
shall eat in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household.”
○ Alcohol can be enjoyed in celebration, even in the holy presence of God.
● Alcohol as Offering (Numbers 15)
○ Temple sacrifices were accompanied by a offering of wine to God.
● Misuse/abuse of
○ But we have many examples in the Bible of alcohol being abused, and that is condemned.
■ Noah, who with his family, was the only human to be spared the flood, got drunk and fell
asleep naked, and was disgraced. (Gen 9:20-23)
■ Lot’s daughters got their father blind drunk and raped him. (Gen 19:30-38)
○ But this is more common:
■ Isaiah 5:11 Woe to those who rise early in the morning that they may pursue strong
drink, Who stay up late in the evening that wine may inflame them! 12 Their
banquets are accompanied by lyre and harp, by tambourine and flute, and by wine;
but they do not pay attention to the deeds of the Lord, Nor do they consider the
work of His hands.
13 Therefore My people go into exile for their lack of knowledge; and their
honorable men are famished, and their multitude is parched with thirst. 14
Therefore Sheol has enlarged its throat and opened its mouth without measure;
And Jerusalem’s splendor, her multitude, her din of revelry and the jubilant within
her, descend into it.
■ Israel was being judged, but the leaders were in permanent party mode.
■ releases inhibitions
■ distracts us from our responsibilities.
○ Which is fine for a brief time, in moderation.
■ But at the wrong time and in excess, it leads to ruin, both individually and corporately.
○ And we know the problems that alcohol abuse brings:
■ a large percentage of DV, sexual assault, and other physical violence happens when
people are drinking.
■ Especially, in people who don’t consider results of their actions, alcohol makes them even
more reckless and aggressive.
3.Freedom, caution, avoiding offense
● Because of societal problems around alcohol abuse, some churches historically have discouraged or
prohibited their members from drinking alcohol.
○ In other words, some people feel drinking is wrong, but some don’t.
○ So how do we figure out what to do personally?
● Paul dealt with a similar issue over food (and wine) offered to idols, in the book of 1 Corinthians.
○ He talks about this in both chapter 8 and 10, but today I will concentrate on chapter 10.
○ Ch 8 says basically the same, but I encourage you to check by yourself.
3.1. Freedom to eat and drink
● 10:25-27 Meat (and wine) being sold in the marketplace had often been first used in a sacrifice.
● But Paul says we are free to eat and drink anyway.
○ Because everything is God’s.
3.2. But do not sin, and beware temptation
● So we are free, but not everything is beneficial.Specifically, somethings may be an occasion to fall
● So considering the connection of food and drink with idols, we remember that the Corinthians were
from a pagan culture, and were surrounded by a pagan culture. They had the risk of compromising
with their surrounding friends, society, etc.
○ In particular, Paul is concerned about them being sucked into joining the usual celebrations in
● (Picture of Rider and Elephant, and surrounding tempting influences)
● 10:11 (judgement for idolatry and pagan practices) happened to (the Jews) as examples and were
written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12 So, if
you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has
overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be
tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out
so that you can endure it. 14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak to
sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say.
● We are to mindful of what we are doing, what it means to us and to others, and where it might lead
● God will judge us if we dishonor him, if we fall into sin.
● So: We must preserve our freedom by resisting temptation, and fleeing what would bring us back
into slavery to sin.
3.3. Consider others’ consciences
● 10:28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for
the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. 29 I am referring to the other
person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience?
30 If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank
● This passage is often used to say don’t drink because it will offend others who think drinking is evil.
○ This passage is not about drinking alcohol.
■ But this attitude applies to the question of alcohol.
○ When someone, who thinks drinking is wrong or who has a history of problems with alcohol, sees
us drinking it can be a problem for them.
○ If that is the case, we should refrain from drinking around them.
■ It can hurt their conscience, and lead them into stumbling
■ It can cause them to think badly of us, and the Christ we serve.
4.The disciple’s attitude (3 min)
● So we should consider other people’s consciences and our own reputation, and how it reflects on Christ.
● But consider Jesus:
● Luke 7:34 “ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at this glutton and
drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and of sinners!’”
○ Now Jesus was not eating food and drinking wine offered to idols.
○ But he was feasting with bad people, and was called a drunkard.
● Why was Jesus willing to offend some people’s consciences? Why was Jesus willing to sacrifice his
reputation as a respectable Rabbi, and take on the shame of others?
○ Doesn’t this contradict Paul when he says not to offend other people?
● Let’s look again at Paul, as he concludes his teaching on this subject.
1 Cor 10:33
○ First he reiterates what he has said before
■ Whatever we do, is to be in the context of giving God glory.
■ Do not cause anyone to stumble, in the church or outside.
● ‘Try to please everybody in every way’
● That may not always be possible, but we should try.
○ Then finally, he gives the motivation and attitude that underlies all of this:
■ Seeking the good of many, so that they might be saved
○ So the reason behind all of these instructions is Jesus’ command to go and make disciples
● 11:1 In this he is following the example of Christ.
○ This was Jesus’ goal, to save.
○ For this he would sacrifice his comfort, and his reputation.
● People would shame Paul, as they did Jesus.
○ But Jesus and Paul’s overarching purpose was to save people
○ And they endured criticism and shame, because they knew God would honor them.
○ OTOH, would avoiding the criticism of the Jewish leaders have brought them to faith?
■ But satisfying the offended leaders would have killed the gospel.
● Finally, this way of life Paul that learned from Jesus, he calls us to do the same.
○ To do no harm, but to do good, the ultimate good of leading people to become disciples of Jesus.
○ To go into uncomfortable places and deal with difficult people, in order that God might save them.
○ This is the Great Commission that Jesus gave to us.
5.Questions for discussion
1. What have you been brought up or taught to think about drinking alcohol, at home, in church, by friends,
company culture, etc.?
2. What role does alcohol play in your life, celebration or detrimental distraction? Besides alcohol, are
there other things in your life that you might be misusing?
3. Are there activities or places that may be dangerous for you personally in regards to your faith, character
and walk? How do you deal with them?
4. In what ways could you follow the model of Paul and of Jesus, of (1) considering the good of others
above your rights, (2) and doing what is necessary, even going into uncomfortable situations and
relationships, ‘so that many may be saved’?
● Alcohol is
○ A blessing in moderation, but its misuse is a curse.
○ We must not use alcohol (or other things) to make us forget responsibilities that we have or
issues we need to face. We need to face our responsibilities and difficulties together with God.
● We are free, but we must not think we are stronger than we are.
○ If we are tempted by alcohol, or by certain environments, we should avoid them.
● If we are strong, we must not lead weaker people into stumbling.
● Jesus and Paul are models for disciples:
○ We always consider not just our rights, but the good of others, esp. their salvation.
○ We do what is necessary to engage with others, even if it is uncomfortable or criticized by some.
○ More than social shame, God’s glory, and the honor that comes from him, is what is important.
Let us pray.