Commentary on Ephesians, 5:18 (1 of 2)

Ephesians 5:18

“18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is riot, but be filled with the Spirit;”

“riot”  (Gr. asotia – 810)

Profligacy, dissipation, debauchery, dissoluteness, riotous living, reckless behavior, waste.


“in which state is profligacy”

Profligacy:  Shamelessly immoral or debauched. Indifferent to moral restraints. Given to immoral or improper conduct.

Drunkenness is characterized by riotous living, reckless behavior, and a lack of moral restraint. Thinking becomes impaired, and bodily control is lost. Thus when someone is in a drunken state, bad things can and do happen.

For a Christian to be drunk is not only shameful, but is a serious sin. Not only is it sinful in itself, but typically leads to other sins. Drunkenness places a Christian in weakened and helpless state. They become slaves to the alcohol within them. When a Christian is in this state, they’re no longer sensitive to the voice of God, and unable to walk in the power of the Spirit. 

Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19), and so when we become drunk we defile this holy temple. Our bodies are to be a pure dwelling place for the Holy Spirit, and under His control. In a drunken state, both our mind and body is effected, and we are at that point no longer under the control of the Spirit of God….and not able to be. We must remain sharp mentally and physically in order to walk in obedience to God. There’s simply no way we can fulfill the will of God when we’re drunk. It’s a destructive enemy; it literally destroys our spiritual life. 

If drunkenness becomes a practice, something that characterizes the life of a Christian, then it’s a demonstration of an absence of true faith. It shows they’ve wandered into unbelief. For now instead of finding their fulfillment in Jesus, they’re finding their fulfillment in alcohol. Or perhaps they’re now looking to alcohol to deal with the problems in their life, rather than to God. When a professing Christian gets to this point, it’s a sure indication they’ve lost their way and have lost their faith. True faith in Christ would never manifest itself in this way. What we’re now actually seeing is idolatry. Idolatry occurs whenever anything takes the place of God in our lives. Thus one can easily see how serious and dangerous this sin really is.

The question that is normally asked, is it a sin to drink wine as long as it does not result in drunkenness? In this verse Paul does not say, “do not drink wine,” but “do not be drunk with wine.” Therefore, I personally don’t believe the Bible prohibits drinking wine in small amounts. As long as it doesn’t have any effect on our mind or body, I don’t believe there is any sin involved. I think as long as there is no effect at all, it’s like any other drink. The same might be said about beer.

However, we need to be extremely careful about this. Those who already have a history of drinking, surely know what they can drink before it begins to effect them. In their case, they know where they need to stop. For those who have no history of drinking, they will be more susceptible to its influence. So in their case, it’s wise to limit drinking wine to a very small amount. If they discover that even that is too much, then perhaps they need to consider abstaining altogether. Personally, I think that’s the most wise choice for Christians anyway. However, this is a decision that each of us must make before the Lord.

There is also the question about hard liquor. For the Christian, I believe it should be completely avoided. Wine is one thing with it’s low alcoholic content, but the alcoholic content of hard liquor is much higher, and only takes a small amount to get drunk.

“but be filled with the Spirit”

I want to discuss this at length, so I will save this for the next post.