"Who hath wounds without cause?"
The Scourge Of The Ages
By Cliff Goodwin
The Preacher of old penned by inspiration of God's Spirit,
"Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have
sought out many inventions" (Ecclesiastes 7:29). Indeed, man was
created in the divine image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), having the volition
and moral capability to do good, but sadly he has often veered from the
paths of right into schemes of sin and iniquity. In departing from
God and his fellowship, man has traveled countless avenues. In ancient
times it was quite common for man to forsake the true and the living God
for dumb idols of wood and gold. A myriad of human souls have turned
away from Jehovah in search of carnal fulfillment in fleshly lusts.
But always lurking in the human background, even from ancient times, is
the evil companion modern science has termed "alcohol." In the great
expanse of eternity many a soul will be forever lost due to alcohol and
its surrounding sins.
Alcohol may be truly called "the scourge of the ages,"
for drunkenness is recorded in God's Word as early as the postdiluvian
life of Noah (Genesis 9:20-24). The menace of this sin can be traced
throughout Old Testament history, and it is condemned in the New Testament
as well. "Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and
drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying"
(Romans 13:13). "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but
be filled with the Spirit;" (Ephesians 5:18). Sadly, however, the
day has not come in which man has become wise to alcohol and its both damaging
as well as damning effects. The proverb writer recorded, "Wine is
a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is
not wise" (Proverbs 20:1).
Also in the book of Proverbs is preserved an inspired
description of alcohol as detailed in 23:29-35. A more vivid and
even "sobering" elaboration of alcohol would be hard to find in all of
God's Word. In this passage one is presented with the reality of
alcohol's evils. For example, its bite and sting are compared to
those of the serpent and adder respectively (Proverbs 23:32). In
keeping with such a portrayal, one may discern at least three points from
the text at hand pertaining to alcohol.
Alcohol is an ANTAGONISTIC substance. This
is to say that alcohol actually opposes its very partaker. It is
true that a sparkling cup may promise some comfort--some little excursion
of the mind for a while, but ultimately no solace is found. The inebriated
state will soon pass only to leave the drinker as dejected as before, only
afterward the unhappiness is almost always worse. Alcohol's stairway
may be depicted as one which spirals continually downward, only plummeting
the drinker deeper and deeper into darkness and despair. Note from
Proverbs 23:29-30 that wine brings not comfort or solace, but rather woe,
sorrow and contentions. It renders one to such a state that he cannot
recall the origin of wounds on his own body. Yes, alcohol is an antagonist
indeed, regardless of any false hope or comfort it may offer.
Alcohol is an ALTERING substance. One only
has to witness another person in a drunken state to know that alcohol alters
both the body and mind. Because alcohol is not broken down in digestion,
it is absorbed immediately into the bloodstream and carried to the brain
and other major organs. In these tissues and organs its effects are
devastating. A person's speech is often reduced to babbling and his
eyes become red and bloodshot (Proverbs 23:29). But even more, alcohol
tears down one's inhibitions. While drunken a person will do things
that he would never do while sober. The text reveals that the drunken
will behold strange women, and their hearts will utter perverse things
(Proverbs 23:33). Acts of lasciviousness, fornication and even
adultery are often committed by those who have kneeled at the fount of
inebriation. In the drunken state marriage vows are broken, vain
promises are made and rash statements are uttered. Does anyone really
want an inanimate substance to have dominant control of one's own life?
Alcohol is an ADDICTIVE substance. The closing
lines of the given text read, ". . . when shall I awake? I will seek it
yet again" (Proverbs 23:35). Though the hand alcohol deals to the
drinker is always a losing one, he seems powerless to refuse when it is
time for the next hand. This is the addictive nature of the substance.
Alcohol is a drug, and like other drugs, it is often not finished with
a person when he would long have been finished with it. Illustrated
here would be the digressive nature of sin--sin left alone only worsens
and worsens. Likewise, alcohol depicts the spiraling stairway mentioned
above which descends and descends until there is no hope.
The fact that alcohol may be described as "the scourge
of the ages" is no excuse for anyone to be under its evil influence today
to any degree. This would include the "social" drinker as well as
the alcoholic. The evils of alcohol are plainly set forth in Proverbs
23:29-35 as well as numerous other passages. Romans 12:9 reads, "Let
love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that
which is good." If one is to abhor that which is evil, such as drunkenness
and such like (Galatians 5:21), then he must abstain from alcohol, the
only exception being for medicinal purposes (1 Timothy 5:23).