Drunk with Wine v. Filled with the Spirit — Have We Thought about this Contrast?

Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.

Ephesians 5:18 NLT

In the legal field we call it being on opposite sides of the V.  When a case is put into a lawsuit, the Court lists the two opposing parties of the dispute on opposites of the abbreviation for versus so the case reads Kramer v. Kramer or Bush v. Gore or Turner v. Hooch, though that last one is less well known.

The indication is that the two named individuals listed are clashing with one another and will litigate the issues presented until one or the other is pronounced the winner by a jury. Being on opposites sides of the case means that it is only possible that one side wins.

Have you ever noticed that Ephesians 5:18 is written kind of like that?  How there is a marked opposition presented between the effects of wine on one’s life and the effects of the Spirit.  On one side is wine and its effects on your life —  too much will ruin your life and by implication of the contrast will prevent the Holy Spirit from filling you.  On the other is the Holy Spirit, God himself who is willing to fill you every day to overflowing and share Himself with you but will not compete with drunkenness.  You are under the influence of wine or the Spirit, never both.  Only one side can win.

If I am a Christian seeking God above all things, do I want to have anything to do with something on the opposite of the v. as the Holy Spirit?


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7 thoughts on “Drunk with Wine v. Filled with the Spirit — Have We Thought about this Contrast?
  1. This is exactly where I found myself when I came to faith. As long as I continued to drink (I’m an addict), the Holy Spirit would not do its work within me. For me, I could have my daily buzz from alcohol, or I could have ‘the counselor’, but not both. God will not compete for our attention.

  2. Thanks, Tom. I came from a fundamentalist background in which drinking any alcoholic beverage in any amount was condemned. Drinking was one of the most prominent “sins” mentioned from the pulpit. I left that church long ago and after reading through the entire Bible many times my understanding of drinking has changed. I don’t believe taking a single drink is a sin but allowing oneself to become intoxicated obviously is. I recognize many would disagree with me so each believer needs to follow what the Lord would have them do.

    1. Hi Tom – if I did not say it here sorry – I don’t think it is a sin either. But in the world today with all of the damage done by booze and it being of no value to the kingdom of God it doesn’t seem to be profitable – plus the apparent opposition present in the Ephesians verses. Freedom in Christ is true freedom so if you disagree with me its all good👍

      1. Hi Tom. Thanks. There are enough verses seeming to allow modest imbibing to convince me otherwise but I respect those who take a different view. The church I came from made any amount of drinking sin #1 or #2 which was not defensible.

      1. Thanks, Tom. I understand your viewpoint completely and I’m happy for you that you were able to deal with your addiction. I come from a background where my parents had a single drink at a party or get together and I’ve followed the same course. On the other hand, I have a very good Christian friend who comes from a family background of heavy alcohol consumption and addiction. Good times and drunkeness were inextricably linked. Despite some health scares, swearing off alcohol, and even counseling sessions, the person is drifting back to the same destructive patterns.

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