One of the strangest ideas there is in the Christian world is the idea of "getting drunk in the spirit". "Drunk in the Spirit" usually involves: religious exercise, people dancing frantically, speaking in tongues and a general wildness in worship. Is this idea Biblical? Could it be something all Christians should strive for? "Drunk with the Spirit" is not completly Biblical. Just because someone believes in spiritual drunkenness, or practices it, does not mean a person is evil, unsaved, or in any way unusual.
Getting drunk in the spirit is an interesting concept. First of all, drunk implies mindlessness or an inability to think for yourself. God never asked people to stop thinking for themselves. God gave people free will, and he gave it completely. Even when we are filled with the Spirit, we still should be able to think. The Spirit guides us, comforts us, and helps people do what is right, but it doesn't "take over" a person the way an evil spirit might. The devil does not like people to think. One of his methods of to make people completely under his control, so that even their words are not their own. There is nowhere in the Bible, where the Holy Spirit took control of anyone.
A Christian should always worship God in everything they do (Eph 8:20-21). Be a living sacrifice to God, the creator through praise (Heb 12:1). the apostle Paul said, "Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: rejoice!" (Phil 4:4). In the Old Testament it says, "worship the Lord with Gladness" (Ps 100:2). Praising God calmly in everything you do is more pleasing to God than praising Him with all your heart once a week. The Israelites tried to please God without changing their sinful liveing. They burned sacrifices as the law commanded, but God was displeased because they lived in sin, pretending God didn't exist always except on the Sabbath. (Malachi)
When Paul said in Ephesians 5:18, "Do not get drunk in wine which leads to debauchery. Instead be filled with the spirit." he was not promoting "getting drunk with the spirit." The Apostle Paul often used contrast to make a point. For example in Ephesians 5:8, Paul says, "for you were once darkness but now you are light in the Lord". Clearly this is a contrast, and it is the same tone in which he says, "do not be drunk with wine, but be filled with the spirit." The Greek word "filled" is plhrów (plEroO), which mean being completed, or "present in its fullness."1 This word has absolutely nothing to do with drunkenness or excitement. It is simply a reminder for the Christian, that the Spirit helps us from being drunk. He completes us and makes a person whole. He gives Christians the strength to be steadfast in Christ.
In New Testament times, people often used alcohol in fertility cults to worship. The alcohol would make them go into a trance or make them feel excited. Excitement is the same as worship in most fertility cults. "People often claim that being spiritual includes, speaking in tongues, self-denial, mysticism, or religious exercises, this text points to singing, thankfulness, and Christ-like submission."2 Paul tells the people that with Jesus, alcohol is not needed to worship God. God wants true worship, from the heart, mind and soul (Mt.22:37; Mk.12:30; Lk.10:27)
Paul continues in Eph 5 to say, "Speak to one another with Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ."(Eph 5:19-20). "To ask us to be filled with the spirit does not point to repeated charismatic experiences, as some claim. It is to ask us to focus our attention on Christ and His presence in us, to open ourselves to the continual transforming work of the Spirit so that the presence of Christ empowers and shapes our lives. The Spirit is to be the dominating influence for all Christians." 3 Worship should be a continuing part of a Christian life.
The Apostle Paul wrote that we should be continually filled with the spirit (Eph 5:18). This clearly means that the Spirit should always be filling you, not just getting it all at once as drunkenness implies. The Spirit should be in you always, but not to a point where you lose control. The apostle Paul told the Corinthians many times that they should have self-control.
The Corinthians were know to be wild. They loved to get drunk with communion wine, they loved to speak in tongues, they loved to do theses things so much, that it disrupted God's work. It made Christianity look the same as the other cults around town. Speaking in tongues was done in fertility cults, as was wildness and drunkenness, so a non-believer going to the Corinthian Church might not understand how it was any different from anything else.
The Apostle Paul said that self-control is one of the fruits of the spirit. (Gal 5:2-23) Being drunk in the Spirit is almost a contradiction to what Paul said. Drunkenness is a state achieved by someone who lacks self control, or the ability to stop at the right time. So telling people to be "drunk with the Spirit" is almost like saying that people with the Spirit don't need self-control. They can say, "Because I'm drunk with the Spirit, whatever I do is the Spirit's fault." It seems that this is very close to what the Corinthians were saying, which is why the apostle Paul told them to have self-control, and to be careful not to make others stumble.
The word "drunk" is usually used to describe a person who has alcohol in their blood. The intoxicated person feels good, but that good feeling is only an illusion. Anyone who looks at a drunk will see exactly opposite of what the drunk feels. The witnesses see a sick, uncoordinated, brainless person who thinks he is great. Directly applied; drunk in the spirit could mean that one feels excited, and full of the God's power, but are actually sick and crazed. Too much emotion has been proven to reduce the ability to make intelligent divisions. Jesus said "love the LORD your God with all your heart soul and mind" (Mt.22:37; Mk.12:30; Lk.10:27). So when you worship, be careful to let God guide you, don't let mindlessness ruin your ability to praise God completely. The apostle Paul said, "Do everything in love"(1 Cor. 16:14). This means that not only should worship and love people sometimes, but always.
It doesn't matter how people worship, as long as it's sincere. Jesus, and the apostles were always trying to tell people, that what really matters is love. It makes no difference to God if people run or jump, as long as it is with love; pure, true love for Him who created the universe. It makes no difference to God if someone doesn't sing. If they have love in their heart, soul, and mind, God is happy, they are praising him.
1. Goodrick, Edward W. & John R. Kohlenberger III The N I V Exhaustive Concordance. (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan. 1990. (p 1777)
2. Snodgrass, Klyne, The NIV Application Commentary (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan. 1996.) p 310
3. Snodgrass, Klyne, The NIV Application Commentary (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan. 1996.)p 309
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