Eh 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, (ESV)
For many who have been around or grown up in Christian Religion they cringe when they see a verse like this one. Maybe you look back to your younger days sitting on one of those hard pews waiting to get out of your “Sunday best” so you could go have fun with your friends. Maybe you are older and are a little bleary eyed from the previous nights events (wink wink) and now here comes the guilt trip. Maybe you are past your years of exploration and you have wisdom now from all your experiences so you are jumping up and down in excitement because this will surely get the attention of those “youngins” so they will stay out of the bars. I actually doubt there are any type 3 people reading this post but use your imagination. Regardless you have probably heard this verse as an introduction to a verbal beating about not drinking alcohol. Am I right? Maybe there is more here to “see.”
There is a ton of wisdom I could impart about the damaging effects of alcohol on a human body when it becomes an idol, a crutch, a habit, an obsession, a dependency, self-medication and all that. It does more damage to the human body than any other “substance” used in excess. To detox from alcohol can kill you. To detox from other drugs can make you really sick but won’t kill you. OK, enough of the negative waves Moriarty…
This word debauchery in the Greek is asōtia. I don’t know how many are versed in Greek (if you are don’t tell your friends) but the word is a combination of words. The root words are alpha and sozo. I hope you recognize the word sozo. It is the word that is most often translated as “saved.” If you have been reading these posts for any period of time hopefully you have learned that “being saved” is not a destination proclamation. Being saved is what Jesus has done and is doing and will continue doing in our lives now, here, on planet Earth, in our natural existence, in our pre-death experience. Being saved is being made whole. Jesus saves us from all our junk that comes from a fallen condition, the abuse of the devil and a broken world filled with broken people. He takes all the “sin” stuff and consumes it on the cross. He is our mercy seat that we look into to see the reflection of our true self. So in Eph 5:18 the drinking isn’t an issue. The wine isn’t an issue. The “leads to anti-making-whole” is the problem. It has nothing to do with “hell after death” but everything to do with hell on Earth. OK, that is way too much on the negative stuff. I just wanted to show you that salvation is a NOW concept through a negative contrast.
There is another word in this verse that is fun to look at and will likely bring some revelation. The word “filled” is plērousthe which comes from the word pléroó. Here is what the helps says about this word:
plēróō (from plērēs, “be full,” see 4130 /plḗthō) – properly, fill to individual capacity, i.e. to the extent it is “meet” (appropriate). See 4130 (plēthō).
and its cousin:
plḗthō (or pimplēmi) – properly, fill to the maximum (full extent), “the limit” (CBL). 4130 /plḗthō (“full”) implies “filled to one’s (individual) capacity.” [This root (plē-) expresses totality, and implies full quantity (“up to the max”). DNTT (1,733) notes its cognates (plērēs, plēroō, plērōma) all come from the root (plē-/plēthō) meaning “full in quantity.” Thus 4130 /plḗthō (“to fill or complete”) refers to “that which is complete in itself because of plentitude, entire number or quantity. . . . the whole aggregate,” WS, 395,96).
Too much Greek? OK, the word can be translated as fulfill and complete as well as “filled.” As a matter of fact it is most often translated as fulfilled or fulfill. Now lets see that verse in a new light, shall we?
Don’t be intoxicated on wine that can hurt you instead of making you whole but be fulfilled and completed from the inside with the Holy Spirit (LLT)
It is no accident that Paul uses intoxication in this contrast. Check out this passage from the day of Pentecost:
Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance…13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.” (ESV)
Some translations say “they were drunk on strong wine.” The same word is used here for “filled” which can mean fulfilled or completed. They were all fulfilled, engorged, completed, satisfied…intoxicated with and in the Holy Spirit. They were intoxicated with the presence, person, experience of God Himself as the Holy Spirit. They were fulfilled with Love Himself. Can you see it?
Jesus’ first “miracle” or “sign” was to turn 180 gallons of water into wine.
John 2:10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. (ESV)
The word “freely” here can be translated intoxicated and is the same root word as in the Eph verse about “drunk.” It says this sign “manifested His glory.” His glory is His goodness. His goodness brings joy. His goodness, specifically in this “sign,” brings intoxication.
Maybe this messes with your head a bit. Maybe this is too far on the other side of your past experiences. Maybe you have been tortured with the “moral absolutes” of religion. I am sorry for that. I was one of those too. The truth is God is good, Jesus is God, Jesus reveals a good God, and to be with Him is awesome…no it is more than that…it is intoxicating.
Imagine that first kiss, that first crush, that first love. There you are swimming, intoxicated in love. You can’t even tie your shoes because you are so messed up in love. Now you are one with LOVE Himself. You are filled with LOVE. You are made for LOVE. You are made for HIM. You are swimming in LOVE. It is expected that you should be intoxicated with His love which is Him.
It is no accident that the last supper includes wine. Not only is it an important symbol to the Jewish religion and a sign of covenant but it is His “blood.” His blood is His life essence. The wine is symbolic of the Holy Spirit Himself. We “drink” Him in and are intoxicated by His presence in our lives. Here is the best part… We aren’t waiting to be filled up but are agreeing with our fulfillment. We aren’t waiting for more of the Holy Spirit but are coming into agreement with our completeness in Him. We aren’t seeking intoxication from Him but are living in intoxication with Him in us. We are one with the Holy Spirit. That union should be intoxicating. God is that good. To be joined with Him should be ecstasy itself. We are in an intoxicating union.
I’ll leave you with The Message translation:
Eph 5:18-20 Don’t drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs! Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ. (The Message)