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Tuesday, August 9, 2011 | Comments (218)

by John MacArthur

If everything you know about Christian living came from blogs and websites in the young-and-restless district of the Reformed community, you might have the impression that beer is the principal symbol of Christian liberty.

For some who self-identify as "Young, Restless, and Reformed," it seems beer is a more popular topic for study and discussion than the doctrine of predestination. They devote whole websites to the celebration of brewed beverages. They earnestly assure one another "that most good theological discussion has historically been done in pubs and drinking places." They therefore love to meet for "open dialog on faith and culture" wherever beer is served—or better yet, right at the brewery. The connoisseurs among them serve their own brands and even offer lessons in how to make home brew.

It's clear that beer-loving passion is a prominent badge of identity for many in the YRR movement. Apparently beer is also an essential element in the missional strategy. Mixing booze with ministry is often touted as a necessary means of penetrating western youth culture, and conversely, abstinence is deemed a "sin" to be repented of.

After all, in a culture where cool is everything, what could be a better lubricant for one's testimony than a frosty pint?

Of course, beer is by no means the only token of cultural savvy frequently associated with young-and-restless religion. All kinds of activities deemed vices by mothers everywhere have been adopted as badges of Calvinist identity and thus "redeemed": tobacco, tattoos, gambling, mixed martial arts, profane language, and lots of explicit talk about sex.

Cast a disapproving eye at any of those activities, and you are likely to be swarmed by restless reformers denouncing legalism and wanting to debate whether it’s a “sin” to drink wine or smoke a cigar. But without even raising the question of whether this or that specific activity is acceptable, indifferent, or out-and-out evil, we surely ought to be able to say that controlled substances and other symbols of secular society's seamy side are not what the church of Jesus Christ ought to wish to be known for. In fact, until fairly recently, no credible believer in the entire church age would ever have suggested that so many features evoking the ambiance of a pool hall or a casino could also be suitable insignia for the people of God.

It is puerile and irresponsible for any pastor to encourage the recreational use of intoxicants—especially in church-sponsored activities. The ravages of alcoholism and drug abuse in our culture are too well known, and no symbol of sin’s bondage is more seductive or more oppressive than booze. I have ministered to hundreds of people over the years who have been delivered from alcohol addiction. Many of them wage a daily battle with fleshly desires made a thousand times more potent because of that addiction. The last thing I would ever want to do is be the cause of stumbling for one of them.

Besides, deliberately cultivating an appetite for beer or a reputation for loving liquor is not merely bad missional strategy and a bad testimony; it is fraught with deadly spiritual dangers. The damage is clearly evident in places where the strategy has been touted. Darrin Patrick, who helped pioneer “Theology at the Bottleworks,” acknowledges the gravity of the problem:

As I coach and mentor church planters and pastors, I am shocked at the number of them who are either addicted or headed toward addiction to alcohol. Increasingly, the same is true with prescription drugs. One pastor I know could not relax without several beers after work and could not sleep without the aid of a sleeping pill. [Church Planter (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010), 51]

In biblical times, wine was necessary for health reasons. The risk of amoebae and parasites in drinking water could be significantly reduced or eliminated by mixing the water with a little wine (1 Timothy 5:23). The result was a greatly diluted wine that had virtually no potential for making anyone drunk. Purified tap water and refrigeration make even that use of wine unnecessary today.

Contrary to the current mythology, abstinence is no sin—least of all for someone devoted to ministry (Leviticus 10:9; Proverbs 31:4; Luke 1:15). It is, of course, a sin to give one’s mind over to the influence of alcohol or to bedeck one’s reputation with deliberate symbols of debauchery. As a matter of fact, drunkenness and debauchery are the very antithesis of Spirit-filled sanctification (Ephesians 5:18)—and men who indulge in them are not qualified to be spiritual leaders.

Yes, I realize Jesus Himself was referred to by His enemies as "a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners" (Matthew 11:19). But He was none of the things that expression implied—nor did He seek such a reputation.

He was indeed "a friend of tax collectors and sinners" in the sense that He specialized in lifting them up out of the miry clay and setting their feet on a rock. But He did not adopt or encourage their lifestyle. He did not embrace their values or employ expletives borrowed from their vocabulary in order to win their admiration or gain membership in their fraternity. He confronted their wickedness and rebuked their sins as boldly as He preached against the errors of the Pharisees (Matthew 18:7-9).

Note, too, that He ate and drank with Pharisees (Luke 7:36) as readily as He ate and drank with publicans. The only significant difference was that the typical tax collector was more inclined to confess his own desperate need for divine forgiveness than the average self-righteous Pharisee (Mark 2:16-17; Luke 18:1-14).

But there is no suggestion in Scripture that Jesus purposely assumed the look and lifestyle of a publican in order to gain acceptance in a godless subculture. He didn't.

This tendency to emblazon oneself with symbols of carnal indulgence as if they were valid badges of spiritual identity is one of the more troubling aspects of the YRR movement's trademark restlessness. It is wrong-headed, carnal, and immature to imagine that bad-boy behavior makes good missional strategy. The image of beer-drinking Bohemianism does nothing to advance the cause of Christ's kingdom.

Slapping the label “incarnational” on strategies such as this doesn’t alter their true nature. They have more in common with Lot, who pitched his tent toward Sodom, than with Jesus, who is “holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens” (Hebrews 7:26).

Real Christian liberty is not about flouting taboos and offending conventional notions of propriety. The liberty in which we stand begins with full indemnity from the law's threats and condemnation—meaning we are at peace with God (Romans 5:1; 8:1). Christian liberty also removes the restrictions of the law's ceremonial commandments (Colossians 2:16-17)—freeing us from asceticism, superstition, sensuality, and "human precepts and teachings" (Colossians 2:18-23).

But sober-minded self-control and maturity are virtues commanded and commended by Scripture; these are not manmade rules or legalistic standards. As a matter of fact, one of the main qualifications for both deacons and elders in the church is that they cannot be given to much wine. In other words, they are to be known for their sobriety, not for their consumption of beer.

It should not take a doctor of divinity to notice that Scripture consistently celebrates virtues such as self-control, sober-mindedness, purity of heart, the restraint of our fleshly lusts, and similar fruits of the Holy Spirit's sanctifying work in our lives. Surely these are what we ought hold in highest esteem, model in our daily lives, and honor on our websites, rather than trying so hard to impress the world with unfettered indulgence in the very things that hold so many unbelievers in bondage.

John MacArthur


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#1  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 2:24 PM

OH, WOW! Pastor John, tell it like it is!

I have had trouble lately with church groups that wear special vests and tattoos in order to go where they claim others would not be allowed. All done to share the gospel, they say. Even the women that go along are dressed for the part including tattoo's known as sleeves.

So it got me to thinking. What if God called them to do missionary work in a country, with a tribe where tattoos would get them killed and all those with them? Why don't they see that their permanent tattoos excludes others they might have been able to witness to?

Why don't they care that when they get on an elevator with their tattoos and rings in their lips and ears that some lady with her four year old daughter might be frightened enough to want to get off? Don't they count? There goes a missed opportunity to spread the Gospel.

Why don't they dress in a way that boldly speaks about who they are? Why don't they think that the "group" they want to infiltrate won't think more highly of them, won't see them more courageous if they go dressed more benign, more conservatively? Why aren't they concerned that the "group" will think they are mocking them? Why don't they depend on God to make a way and depend on Him for protection like all the other missionaries do? Why don't they think the "group" will see Jesus as weak, a conformist?

I don't recall Jesus changing His style, His dress, His speech, His delivery of the Gospel in order to gain entrance anywhere. In fact, I think it got Him more attention....His nerve to go as He truly was, where no other man dare go.

Here I go offending some but it appears to me that some use the Gospel as a way to dress and live a rebellious lifestyle. It has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with manners or customs and doing what the "natives" do. This has nothing to do with taking your shoes off before you enter a home. This is living so you "blend" in with the others. Jesus stood out. He did not blend in.

#2  Posted by Jerry Vines  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 2:29 PM

Dear John. Thank you so much for this article. I'm glad you have addressed this issue. This kind of thing has become an issue in our SBC life. I shudder to think of the young pastors who will influence thousands, and perhaps themselves and their own children, toward alcohol. You and I have seen a lifetime of the terrible results of playing with that adder. Keep up the good work. Your friend, Jerry Vines

#3  Posted by Sena Gbesemete  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 2:33 PM

Thank you ever so much for this. I have always upheld all your points but i have one question. I have read this question before and noone has answered it. Paul circumsized Timothy in order to reach the Jews right? Does that not relate to culture identity? I could find theologically the answer to why Paul asked the women to cover their heads but with the circumsicion one......i am slighty confused. I know he did it to prevent the lack of it from becoming a stumbling block to present the gospel. I reckon that if he didnt, the door wouldnt have been opened. So his mind was definately on presenting the gospel but in order to do this, he had to identify with the jews culturally. Any feedback on how this situation differs from fitting in to present the gospel? This does not negate that i totally accept everything you have said as my point of view but this one scripture has had me in a dilemma.

Thanks Pastor John for your unwavering serving of God in presenting the truth.

#4  Posted by Amanda Thompson  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 2:35 PM

Thank you so much for writing this series! It has addressed many issues and questions that are SO important for us to consider. THANK YOU for providing a solid, Biblical voice on these matters. I so look forward to the rest of the series.

#5  Posted by Leah Laessig  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 2:40 PM

It is such sad thing when a man is so surrendered to the pride of his “Christian Liberty” that it has such complete rule over his heart, and he can no longer surrender to the Lordship of his Savior.

#7  Posted by Alexander Jordan  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 3:04 PM

Thank you Pastor MacArthur, for this wise counsel and corrective. Christian liberty should be used carefully so we are sober-minded and ready to take on our appointed tasks. I know in my flesh I am very weak and I have struggled with addictive behavior. So I agree it is foolish to flirt with a behavior known to shipwreck the lives of both unbelievers and believers. Also, so long as we're courting favor with the world (in the name of liberty), we're being sidetracked from our true mission-- proclaiming the gospel and adorning it with a pure lifestyle.

#8  Posted by Josué Morissette  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 3:05 PM

This is a very good issue to discuss, because even older pastor, even though they don't do it themselves, they don't see anything wrong with the public drinking of wine and beer by Church leaders.

My wife and I decided that we had to leave a Church, when we received a less than satisfying answer from the pastor when we asked him why one of the Church ministry was using a "wine and cheese" and a "poker night" to raise funds. It just so happens that the person in charge of that ministry was never shy about the fact that he drinks beer. In fact he put pictures on a popular social website of him and other men drinking beer at his 2 year old daugther's birthday party. This was a little much for us and the pastor of the Church didn't seem to see anything wrong with all this.

We were thinking what kind of testimony is that? Talk about giving people a reason to criticize the Church. This is beyond Christian liberty, what about your weaker brother, someone whose just came out of alcoholism or gambling.

I'm not sure that these people are ready to let go of somethings. They don't mind adding on Christ to their lives instead of replacing everything by Him. I think it's not only to impress others or to attract people to Jesus that they do all this. It might just be that these people just really like do to all these things and they found the perfect avenue to excuse themselves. From seeing all the talk about these things, it almost looks like these things have become idols. Like those who use grace as a license, they use liberty as a way to excuse all those behaviors.

Thanks pastor John for a really good insight on the subject.

#9  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 3:22 PM

I have a brother who is a pastor, he drinks a can a beer 4 times a week. If I visit him, what advice do you have? If I drink, I may encourage him. I don't want to be at fault? I don't even like the taste of beer myself. I have a allergy reaction to it. It makes my face break out in a rash.. True..

#10  Posted by Trent Whalin  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 3:25 PM

I have a question, kind of lengthy but bear with me:

Is martial arts a sin? I got out of it 8 years ago, but almost become a black belt. I transferred a McDojo (basically where one pays for a black belt in a couple years) for the last year and dropped out for that reason. I would like to get back to a true martial arts system, mostly for self-defense and conditioning.

Is that a sin? Now as for the cage-fighting mixed martial arts junk, again it's self defense and conditioning sometimes. But in tournaments and stuff like that, it's wrong. Even Bruce Lee and great martial arts masters see that fighting as a joke and not what true martial arts is about.

Now granted, these people practiced it as a religion mixing it with Buddhism and Taoism. That's wrong I know.

I remember back in the day when I used to watch the 700 Club, Robertson said that if you can punch someone through a brick wall it's demonic. That is also wrong, I have studied the body and what strength is, it's possible without demonic help and only pure strength. Of course people should refrain from doing it anyway.

I am giving out the background for you guys to see whether or not it is a sin. It's very misconstrued in the Christian community.

#11  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 3:31 PM

#3, Sena. God Bless Timothy for going along with it. There was a time, circumcision was required. Then, no longer were we under The Law. But that didn't mean that it was an altogether wrong practice, is my best guess?

And consider that Timothy could go anywhere and it was not obvious to others nor had it ever been a custom that was offensive to other people groups, not a stumbling block as far as I know. To endure such a procedure, Timothy must have truly wanted to not offend (which is very different than conforming)and truly had compassion on a people that were stuck in the Old Law.

I don't know if that is a right answer but all that could come up with at this time. Good question!

#12  Posted by Chris Lemi  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 3:35 PM

Where do we draw the line at smug, Pharisee-like self rightousness just because a Christian decides to be a teetotaler? If you have a drinking problem, and your drinking brings dishonor to Jesus Christ, then you should NOT drink.

#13  Posted by Steve Bauer  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 3:57 PM

Dr. MacArthur, I want to start by saying that I am very grateful for your ministry and teachings. I do not agree 100% with what you teach, although I would put it somewhere around 90%! On the other hand, issues like this one need not cause divisions between brethren, so I hope what I am about to say will be taken in that spirit.

While I agree that modern alcohol (mass produced for profit off of those who are drunkards) has become a scourge and I also agree that we should not be "of the world" (getting drunk to reach drunks...), I do not see alcohol as evil. Alcohol is inherently amoral (without morals). I have had several great conversations on Scripture and the Gospel with a good microbrew in my hand. On the other hand, drunkeness is something we are told to have no part of.

The key for this is really in "moderation." I know that if I have more than one beer, I will get light headed. So, I do not have more than one beer. No problem. The Scripture does not say that beer, wine, cigars, or anything else we can eat or drink that people get upset over, is "deceitfully wicked above all things...who can know it?" It is the human heart that holds that award.

I consume about the equivalent of 6-8 beers in a calendar year. Does that make me evil or unsaved? I don't try to force others to drink it with me, nor do I confront someone who has a beer. I will confront drunkeness, however.

Jesus drank wine - diluted or not. If it is poison, diluting it does not make it less poisonous. Jesus created wine for the wedding at Cana. And wedding parties resulted in huge consuming of wine. So, Scripturally speaking, the issue at hand is drunkeness, not imbibing in alcohol.

One last thing, if I know that a person has a weakness for indulging in the sin of drunkeness, I will not drink around them. I do not want to have a hand in making another stumble.

Thank you again for your obedience in ministry and look forward to more if I survive the scorching from your readers I am about to receive! :)

#15  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 4:02 PM

Thanks for the post. It's important to know. It's good for a pastor not to get drunk on beer. Amen. Sorry if my posts got mixed up. Sorry.

Seems to me it's a macho thing to do to drink beer.. but with Christ it's different for Christ has no sin. Amen.

#16  Posted by Mark Cooper  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 5:52 PM

Thank you Pastor John! It wasn't until 2 years ago that I understood what Paul meant by being "all things to all people". You explained it in terms that even this thick skulled guy could understand. Having said that: We've gotta be able to let things go even if they are not sinful to us or listed in the Bible as sinful. We must be careful to not have our brother or sister in Christ fall because of a host of things, including: Alcohol, cigarettes/cigars, tattoos, music, movie choices...etc. Music, for me, can become my god very easily. Having said that, if my listening to secular music would cause someone to fall....Them I've got to be willing to turn it off or pitch it all together. We've always gotta be aware of idols in our lives....These, so-called, Christian liberties, can become out idols in a heartbeat if we're not careful. Of course, let's not be plastic and false...but, let's remember what's most important: A growing relationship with our Saviour Jesus Christ and leading others to him. Let's not spend every moment trying to fit into this world....Let's be counter cultural and have people ask what in the world makes us so different and so at peace in this crazy ol' world. Let's raise the bar a little and not settle for what the TV feeds us as being cool and hip. I think as we dig in the Word our priorities shift and morph. Put the beer down and pick your brother up! God bless you all and God bless Pastor John and GTY for guiding us deeper into God's Word.

#17  Posted by Greg Moering, Jr.  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 5:53 PM

I must say that if someone is using their Christian liberty to pursue a life of anything but holiness they are in direct opposition to the sacrifice of our Lord. As I've said before, I'm 25 and I am greatly concerned about living pure. Do I always live this way? No. But thank God that He is merciful and is willing and able to cleanse me from my sin. I don't drink alcohol for two reasons: I don't like alcohol and I'm afraid of causing someone to stumble. Personally, I don't find that consumption of alcohol to be in and of itself to be sinful; however, as a Christian in the States I find it to be an unwise decision to make because of the cultural stigma that has been given it here in the USA. And as a Christian if we are going to boast we are to boast in the Lord (Jeremiah 9:23) not in the things we consume. As a younger person I don't see this as a hill to die on in the name of "Christian" liberty. If it means forgoing a beverage to keep a brother or sister from stumbling back into sin or stumbling into sin, then I'll stick to sweet tea (besides sweet tea tastes better :) ). I believe that a great principle in this matter is found in 1 Corinthians 10:23-33. Once more, our liberty is given to serve the Lord, not to pursue our own selfish desires (1 Peter 2:16). We are to be seeking unity in holiness, not trying parade our "liberty" by engaging in debauchery or ignoring the conscience of other believers. Christians are to display holiness (1 Peter 1:16). I thank God for not just permitting me to stay the way I was or just letting me do things my own way. I thank God that He has given a standard and that He empowers me in my pursuit of Him. I hope that I haven't sounded like I'm rambling on.

In Christ,



My wife and I really enjoy and are built up through the ministry of "Grace to You." We thank God for men that are willing to stand up for truth. May God continue to bless "Grace to You" and like ministries.

#18  Posted by John Mickelson  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 6:06 PM

Where do we draw the line at smug, Pharisee-like self rightousness just because a Christian decides to have a drink?

#19  Posted by Jeremy Notchick  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 6:12 PM

@Rebecca Schwem,

I understand where you are coming from but I have to tell you that as a fellow brother in Christ you have hurt me by what you have wrote. The fact is that I serve the same Christ that you serve. I have tattoos and piercings and I ride a motorcycle. I belong to a motorcycle ministry and wear a patch proudly on the back of my vest. I understand there are many false converts who give people like me a bad name, but let me assure you, we are loving people and would not ever want to scare anyone. When I am out and about I usually try to go out of my way to be extra nice so that I am approachable even with how I look. I love the Lord and I love to share the Gospel. I work for Living Waters/Way of the Master and my number one goal is to see the lost brought to Christ. We even do ministries to kids at hospital s and minister to them. If there are those that outwardly scare people than maybe they simply are not of the faith to begin with. I would ask you to take the time to examine what you say more carefully before you say it. I know personally that it hurt me, but I didn't want to write back in any type of anger, but instead to try to help you understand so that maybe I can erase some of the accusations you have made about people like me. Anyway, I think it has more to do with people being scared or guarded when it comes to people who are different than them. If you want to, go ahead and add me on Facebook. You will clearly see that not all people that have tattoos and piercings are evil. I would love you to take sometime and look into the matter a little further. Thanks and God Bless

#20  Posted by John Mickelson  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 6:28 PM

@Jeremy Notchick

Well stated Jeremy.

#21  Posted by Chris Yarzab  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 6:38 PM

For me. I am a recovering alcoholic who was raised by a functioning alcoholic father. My relationship with my father has been pretty much all but been destroyed because of alcohol consumption and now I watch my father suffering and dying because of his choice early in life to not listen to the pleading of his wife and children when he was still in good health. I play the "what if" game in my head of how things could have been. I shouldn't think in such a manner as I'm now a follower of Christ but it lingers.

#22  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 7:24 PM

#19 Jeremy, you assume I did not think first. I've been thinking abut it for several years. You also assume I have no personal experience with this or right to speak up about it. I do. I am not at liberty right now to name those associations but can tell you I had and have every reason to want to believe their dress is for authentic Christianity. It would serve me well to be able to believe so and be a tremendous comfort to me personally.

I have observed and been tolerant and never really spoken out loud about it until now. John MacArthur has given me the courage to do so. I am as gracious to those that are different from myself as I am to those that I feel compatible with. I have 10 children...been through the teen years ten times and I have 25 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. I've seen it all and nothing surprises me. I don't live under a rock.

I am being honest. I'm not a person out to hurt anyone feelings. But if I tip toe around, then you might not know how some of us feel. I don't want to be a proud people. I wear nothing proudly. I'm not even proud of my becoming Christian because, as you know, I did nothing to earn that. Christ picked me. He did it all. I should be going to hell!

Consider this Jeremy. When I was younger, if I dressed like a stripper in order to get other strippers to talk to me, few would consider that wise or God honoring. I believe the power is in God's Word. I don't believe I need to conform. Now you can consider that offensive or you can consider it wisdom.

I'm sorry your feelings are hurt. I'm glad you are a brother in Christ. But you might want to consider my heart and my concerns at the very least. I don't wear tattoos or piercings, I don't wear a vest. So my experience is very different from yours. I have not walked in your shoes and I dare say nor have you walked in mine.I'm not sure we force certain things to be right or fit. We can only do the right thing.

I work very hard now days to make sure I am not a distraction to the Word of God. I think modesty in all things is God honoring. And yet, the culture has changed so, even among Christians, that more Christians are persecuted today for their modesty than those that conform. Doing what you do is far more popular than how I feel.

James 4:17 Romans 12:2

#23  Posted by Steve Friedrich  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 7:36 PM

Dear Pastor MacArthur,

Fellow Christians are not the enemy. I know and fellowship with very many Christians who occasionally tipple. They are very, very mature and Godly believers that have a somewhat different perspective on this issue than you.

Please remember, our distinctives are just that. Our purpose, however, is the same; to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Yes, sometimes other Christians do justify actions and practices that are not ultimately justifiable. Let us patiently, kindly and lovingly instruct them and make sure that we do not go beyond that which is written.

Please be kind and generous toward your fellow believers.

Don't forget the words of Luther himself, "Do not suppose that abuses are eliminated by destroying the object which is abused. Men can go wrong with wine and women. Shall we then prohibit and abolish women? The sun, the moon, and the stars have been worshiped. Shall we then pluck them out of the sky?

…see how much he [God] has been able to accomplish through me, though I did no more than pray and preach. The Word did it all. Had I wished I might have started a conflagration at Worms. But while I sat still and drank beer with Philip and Amsdorf, God dealt the papacy a mighty blow."



#24  Posted by Steve Storage  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 7:38 PM

Are you saying it's wrong for a Christian to drink a beer?

#25  Posted by Chris Lemi  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 7:48 PM

#18, John Mickelson.

That is what I meant to say. Too bad there is no edit feature on this thing.

#26  Posted by Jennifer Salisbury  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 7:56 PM

First of all, I can not thank you enough for this ministry. As I child I grew up penecostal and charismatic. To discover this ministry and the life changing TRUTHS of the Word has been more than I can ever express. On to my question, I will try to be brief. My current church has rapidly within the last six months ventured into the "culture assimilation". "All things to all people" (1 Corinthians 9:19) has been preached lately. We have undergone a huge building transformation complete with attractive lighting and a friendly coffee bar. I know what this smacks of and so my husband and I sat down with our pastor the other night. We explained we were unsettled by some of the changes. He was gracious in explaining to us how we got where we are. He admitted that we are in dangerous territory (as a church) and that we can't take our Christian liberty too far. BUT, there is a whole generation of 18-25 year olds that he just doesn't know how to reach. I countered with Acts and that adding to the the body is the work of the Lord we must just preach the uncompromised Gospel. I truly believe the Word of God is not culturally irrelevant. It is a superficial argument to them (we mustn't make them dress like us, but we must go to them not make them come to us.) I think he is walking a tight rope biblically and I'm concerned. He stated that God gives us alot of liberity in how we present the Gospel. I'm confused by this statement. I know we are graciously given liberity (1 Corinthinans 10:23) but how does this fit within the area of evangelizing? I just don't see Jesus or the apostles pandering to the culture. What are the boundaries for how far you can go in trying to reach the lost?

#27  Posted by Chris Lemi  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 8:00 PM

There's too much fingerpointing at how others live and not enough concern for our own personal walk with the Lord. If someone is a Christian and believe that it is best for them not to drink, then that is fine, but the legalists (yes it is legalism), want to insist their own beliefs upon others, and teetotalling just isn't Biblical. Scripture condemns drunkenness and excess, not alcohol usage. But on the flip side of that, I don't believe in the bravado like promotion of Alcohol usage that you find with certain Christian denominations. Obviously, a lot of people cannot responsibly use alcohol and Christians should always proceed with discernment in this area.

#28  Posted by Micah Marchewitz  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 8:43 PM

#18 John, are you stating that Macarthur's article is smug and pharissee like or am I misunderstanding it?

I myself don't drink. I have not had anything harder to drink then a cup of coffee in almost 15 years. I got clean when I was 18 from all sorts of chemicals including alcohol. Since I have been a Christian I have been called smug and legalistic by other Christians because of the fact I don't drink and don't allow it in my home. I have a very closed minded opinion about anyone drinking alcohol. Not just Christians.

As far as the tatoo's and piercings go, I am heavily tatooed (no piercings though) All my tatoo's I got prior to my conversion. I deeply regret my tatoo's for a number of reasons, some of which Rebecca mentioned in post #1. There have been times where it has stood as a barrier to people I could be presenting the gospel to. My tatoo's were all about looking a certain way and maintaing a certain image and attracted a certain crowd. In my experience tatoo's are all about pleasing the flesh and have nothing to do with glorifying our Lord and Savior.

Thank you for this series GTY. God bless!! Micah

#29  Posted by Kerry Halpin  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 9:06 PM

#19 (Jeremy)

I'm sorry but I have to agree mostly with Rebecca on this, but let's make sure we are clear, I would agree that getting tattoos and piercings is sinful. However, I think the rebuking of a brother in Christ regarding such things only applies to tattoos and such received after conversion. Certainly we are all sinners saved by grace and have utterly sinful pasts, but to continue in sin after conversion is contrary to scripture. In 1 Peter 1:14, Peter tells us that to continue in our former sins after conversion is due to ignorance of God's Word. Leviticus 19:28 specifically prohibits tattooing and piercings, and more generally prohibits following the practices of the heathens (unbelievers). 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 confirms that those practices we did before being saved are no longer to be done.

In 1 Corinthians 6:12, Paul states that any indulgence of a Christian is technically lawful, as Christ has forgiven for all of our sins once and for all, but let's expand upon this a bit. Clearly we are not to continue in sin as is made clearly throughout all scripture, Romans 6:1-2. Since obvious sins (explicit breaking of God's laws) are just that, obvious, there was no need for Paul to say "that's bad". Paul here, IMO, is speaking about the "gray area" so many Christians take advantage of in the name of Christian liberty, both sins not defined in Scripture, and certain acts of the law that Christ gave permission to the apostles to declare no longer necessary (circumcision/foods etc.).

Certainly we all still commit sin, and will continue until Christ's return (but surely with less frequency as we mature in Christ). So, as 1 Peter 4:15 makes clear, it is not proper to judge a brother based on a single sin (also Romans 14:10,13), for only God knows our hearts. Also, the rest of Romans 14 actually re-emphasizes Christian liberty, stating that where two believers differ, over debatable conduct, the more liberal is not to condemn the more conservative, and the more conservative is not to judge the more liberal, but Romans 14:20-21 does put the burden of concession on the more liberal believer.

All that being said, I think tattoos and piercings fall under explicit sin as defined in Leviticus 19:28, so yes, it is sinful to continue in such practices after being saved.

#30  Posted by Kerry Halpin  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 9:25 PM

#23 (Steve) & #25 (Chris)

While I'm not specifically speaking about you're posts, you both have mentioned sentiments that I have heard on this site and elsewhere that I think needs to be addressed.

I hear a lot of "there's too much concern with what other professed believers are doing and we should focus on reaching the lost". I'm failing to understand how those two efforts are conflicting. All believers should be concerned with maintaining the truth of the Word, and I have yet to see once instance where being concerned with the behavior of the church interferes with reaching the lost. Remember Jesus overturning the tables? Remember Paul rebuking Peter? Certainly maintaining a pure and distinct identitiy separate from sinners should be the goal of the church and is tantamount in our testimony to the world.

Statements like that seem to me to be a deflection response to conviction.

#31  Posted by Jeremy Notchick  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 9:54 PM

#22 @Rebecca Schwem,

I totally understand what you were saying. And yes, I praise God as well that He chose me when I was incapable of choosing Him. How undeserving we all are.

You didn't hurt me with you being outspoken about this, but rather that most of your comment was geared toward one thing... tattoos, piercings, and vests with patches. From what I gather you too, as I have, had your fair share of run ins with false converts who say they are Christians and dress like that but yet have a "tough guy" attitude and don't even share their faith. I am not afraid to name names and I have mostly experienced this from Bikers For Christ M/M. I have been hurt by that world to.

Also, if I had offended you or made you feel like I was implying you have been "living under a rock" please forgive me. That is not at all what I had meant. Trust me, I had a background in immodesty, an addiction to pornography and I am so grateful for modest Christian women. My wife is extremely modest compared to other women her age and it is more attractive than showing to much. I think that modesty brings glory to God.

I get what you are saying by the stripper thing, but I think it is not a valid point because I do not dress like this or have tattoos to "fit in." I don't even go to biker events or anything. I only dress like this for me personally. I am a firm believer that the Gospel does not need any help. I don't need to look a certain way and fit in to preach the Gospel. In the same way, I don't need to dress or look a certain way to be a true convert and follower of our Savior. Just look at John the Baptist. He was a wild man, ate locusts and honey and wore camel hair and a leather belt. He probably scared some people away to, but that didn't stop him from being one of the best examples we have of an open air preacher. He also was chosen to baptize Christ. I think that if I dress this way it does not hinder the furtherance of the Gospel.

And actually, doing what I do is far less popular than the world I live in. I have been blacklisted, a outcast in the Biker community because I preach the Gospel and practice Biblical Evangelism. Most of them hate me because I use the law instead of telling people "God has a wonderful plan for your life, do you know Jesus?" I have considered where you are coming from, and again, I am sorry if I have offended you at all. My intention was only to expose you to the fact that there are some people you described that truly only seek to please Christ and put no weight on the opinion of man.

Thanks for responding and God Bless you Sister :)

#32  Posted by Diana Hayes  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 10:01 PM

Thank you Pastor MacArthur, Phil Johnson, and others who have attributed to this series. The sad thing is seeing those in the faith whose conscience's were seared through listening to other's take on these issues. Not knowing what to believe, they went ahead and joined them at the pub or drinking, against their consciences. This is what angers me the most about all this. Weaker actually true believers are being led into sin by others using liberty as a cloak for licentiousness. I have one thing to say to those who do this, "When you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ." 1 Corinthians 8:13

#33  Posted by Corey Key  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 10:05 PM

Yes Pastor Mac Arthur, excellent!!!

And by the way, God bless you, and praise the Lord you are streaming the Truth Matters Conference for FREE!!! I'd been praying to go, knowing it will cost money I really did not have. Hallelujah! Grace and peace to you and the GTY staff, thanks!

#34  Posted by Corey Key  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 10:11 PM

Replying to Steve Bauer's post; where in the bible did Jesus drink wine? So many people state this, yet I still have not found where it states that Jesus drank wine? Anyone, if you have the bible reference please advise, thaks

#35  Posted by Chris Lemi  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 10:25 PM

Kerry H. #30

Sure, I agree with maintaining the Truth of the Word, and with that being said, teetotalism (abstaining from Alcohol) is not Biblical. The Bible condemns drunkenness and debauchery, not alcohol usage. I guess alcohol usage is a favorite "pet sin" to impose legalism upon the brethren because its a common vice out there that is abused by way too many people. But people also forget that food is abused by way too many people as well, but you don't hear too many people crying out about this outrage because there are more people in church with a problem in overindulging in food than there are alcoholics and drunkards, yet I see a lack of absence in rebuking these brothers and sisters for their reckless overindulgence in food. So I guess if we're going to be legalistic, lets at least maintain some consistency across the board. There's way too many Christian brothers and sisters out there with a 40+inch waist, that is extremely unhealthy. See, I can impose that legalism just as easily as the next guy.

#36  Posted by Micah Marchewitz  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 11:49 PM

#35 Chris

You state that "teetotalism (abstaining from Alcohol) is not Biblical."

Are you stating that people who abstain from alcohol are not being biblical?

I usually don't get to invovled in these blogs anymore because in the end it usually ends up in huge debates that last for weeks and I would much rather be pursuing my studies or spending time with my kids then devote a bunch of time to this but I am suprised with how defensive people are getting about thier alcohol use so I'll give my two cents for what it is worth. Alcohol is a drug. Next to tabbacco it is probably the most abused drug world wide. It is the only drug on earth that the physical withdrawls can actually kill you. I don't think I am posting anything that anyone does not already know, and I don't think that was the point of Macarthur's post, he never actually says having a beer is sinful. He states that alcohol (among other wordly things he lists) should not be a popular topic for discussion and should not be what the body of Christ is known for. Makes you wonder why some have gotten immediately defensive about drinking? Chris, If you haven't already go back and read the first two paragraphs, the last sentence Macarthur writes states that the YRR's "abstinence is deemed a sin to be repented of" which is the impression I got from you with your #35 post. I would also encourage you to follow some of the links and read up on some of the articles. Would you be ok with a pastor who fasted for 40 days from food and ONLY drank beer? I would have a serious issue if it was my pastor doing something like that. I don't believe that makes me legalistic at all and I didn't think that Macarthur came acroos as legalistic or condemming in his post. The last two paragraphs sum up the whole post nicely. The virtues he lists in the last paragraph are what every Christian should long for. God bless

#37  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 12:15 AM

Comment deleted by user.
#38  Posted by Jeremy Notchick  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 12:24 AM

#29  @Kerry Halpin,

Wuill definitely respond to you tomorrow. Gotta get to bed, but assuming you follow the old testament laws in Leviticus because that's what you use to justify that I am sinning than would I be correct in saying you stone people to death who Blaspheme God's name right? Also you make sure that women don't go outside during a certain time of month right. Leviticus also says that is sin. Will reply in length tomorrow but thats it for tonight :). God Bless

#39  Posted by Benjamin Booker  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 12:24 AM

Am I legalistic if I am not worldly and question those who appear to be in worldly sin?

I thought the Bible taught we are to be holy & Christ-like?

9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

1 Peter 2:9 (NASB95)

6 You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. 9 For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven , whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.

1 Thess 1:6-10 (NASB95)

11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

Eph 4:11-16 (NASB95)

26 For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens;

Heb 7:26 (NASB95)

9 And they sang* a new song, saying,

"Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

10 "You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth."

Rev 5:9-10 (NASB95)

15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

1 John 2:15 (NASB95)

8 But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king's choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself. 9 Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials,

Dan 1:8-9 (NASB95)

Thank you Pastor MacArthur!

#41  Posted by Taylor Lett  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 1:39 AM

Rebecca(22) and Kerry(29),

Do these criticisms apply to men like Hudson Taylor, or just men who are involved in biker ministry? How about to suburban soccer moms who drive SUV's? Wealthy business men who buy expensive suits rather than giving to the poor?

To be clear, I am not saying Hudson Taylor sets a biblical precedent, simply that by your definition he was conforming to the pattern of this world by imitating the outward appearance of those 'godless Chinese.'

I think it is more than possible to minister to bikers without looking like one. I would argue against getting a tattoo for ministry purposes, but not from Leviticus(read this article again for reasons not to do that). Instead, I would base the discussion on the superiority of Jesus to my ability to blend into a culture, and on experience building relationships that cross the boundaries of fashion. But you(Kerry) used a passage dealing with the inward man (1 Cor 6:9-11) to outright condemn the outward appearance of someone. That's unjustified, unkind, and actually detrimental to your argument.

#42  Posted by Sanford Doyle  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 4:25 AM

I think everyone has heard the expression "you are looking through rose-colored glasses".

We should all be looking through Christ- colored glasses.

All our thoughts,words, and actions should be captive to Christ. What I mean is all our thoughts, words and actions should be filtered through the face of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We need to consciously be thinking: is this thought bringing glory to Christ? Are my words showing the glory of Christ? How about my actions(drinking beer or whatever), are they bringing and showing glory to the Lord?

No one knows the heart of a man except the Spirit in the man.

Remember it is not about you, it's about the glory and honor of our Lord.

Search your heart and your motive. God will.

#43  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 4:50 AM

Is it the heart we are to look at not the outward appearance. Maybe one cant get the tattoo off after he came to Christ. But does it matter where one comes from a culture, like Africa, China, and etc. If one wear symbols that offends God, must remove and avoided. but

say, if I want a bible verse on my arm. Is that wrong?? I saw a young man had a bible verse from Isaiah. but do we know if he living for Christ or not. So it should be the heart that matters.. then.. Oh, Jesus wants us to wash inside of us, then clean outside of us.

God bless.

#44  Posted by Josh Griffis  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 5:11 AM

"The result was a greatly diluted wine that had virtually no potential for making anyone drunk."

I am extremely grateful to the Lord for His work in and through Pastor MacArthur. The Holy Spirit has done much sanctifying work in my life through the teaching of Pastor MacArthur even though I live on the opposite side of the country. I agree that is is almost always wise and Christ-honoring to avoid the consumption of alcohol in public in our culture (USA), but I don't buy the argument that we shouldn't drink wine because it is no longer necessary for health reasons. If the wine was diluted and there was no risk of getting drunk, then why does Scripture make it abundantly clear that drunkenness is a sin?

#45  Posted by Bryan Green  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 5:33 AM

I personally like what Martin Luther has to say on this subject.

"We must, therefore, be on our guard, for the devil is after us, through his apostles, with all his craft and cunning. Now, although it is true, and no one can deny that the images are evil because they are abused, nevertheless we must not on that account reject them, nor condemn anything because it is abused. That would result in utter confusion. God has commanded us not to lift up our eyes unto the sun, etc., that we may not worship them, for they are created to serve all nations.(Deuteronomy 4:19) But there are many people who worship the sun and the stars. Shall we,therefore, essay to pull the sun and stars from the skies? Nay, we will not do it.

Again, wine and women bring many a man to misery and make a fool of him. Shall we, therefore, kill all the women and pour out all the wine?

Again, gold and silver cause much evil, shall we, therefore, condemn them?...

#46  Posted by Bryan Green  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 5:33 AM


"Thirdly, there are some who are still weak in faith, who ought to be instructed, and who would gladly believe as we do.But their ignorance prevents them, and if this were faithfully preached to them, as it was to us, they would be one with us.Toward such well-meaning people we must assume an entirely different attitude from that which we assume toward the stubborn.We must bear patiently with them and not use our liberty, since it brings no peril or harm to body or soul, nay, rather is salutary, and we are doing our brothers and sisters a great service besides.But if we use our liberty without need, and deliberately cause offense to our neighbor, we drive away the very one who in time would come to our faith.Thus St.Paul circumcised Timothy because simple-minded Jews had taken offense; he thought, What harm can it do, since they are offended because of their ignorance? ( Acts 16:3) But when, in Antioch, they would insist that he ought and must circumcise Titus, Paul withstood them all and to spite them would not have Titus circumcised. ( Galatians 2:3) And he held his ground. He did the same when St. Peter by the exercise of his liberty caused a wrong conception in the minds of the unlearned. ( Galatians 2:11 ff.) It was on this wise: When Peter was with the Gentiles, he ate pork and sausage with them, but when the Jews came in, he would not touch this food and ate no more with them. (Peter and the Gentiles) Then the Gentiles who had become Christians, thought: Alas! we, too, must be like the Jews, eat no pork and live according to the law of Moses. But when Paul found that it would injure the liberty of the Gospel, he reproved Peter publicly and read him an apostolic lecture, saying: “If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of the Gentiles, why compels you the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?” (Galatians 2:14) Thus we, too, should order our lives and use our liberty at the proper time, so that Christian liberty may suffer no injury, and no offense be given to our weak brothers and sisters who are still without the knowledge of this liberty."

#47  Posted by Kerry Halpin  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 6:00 AM

#41 (Taylor)

Are you quoting the wrong passage? 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 most certainly deal with physical external vices, which of course are always driven by inward motives. The whole point of the entire chapter is to live a life apart from the sins one committed in the past.

Also, I am not condemning anyone's outward appearance. I am however, condemning the practice of continuing in sin after being saved.

#38 (Jeremy)

It appears you're throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Should we not obey the 10 commandments? Should we not belive in the promises God declared in the OT? 2 Timothy 3:16. Paul says in Romans numerous times that we are not under the law but under grace (Romans 6:14), no argument there, but he continues on for the rest of the chapter (Romans 6:15 etc) to say that just because we are free from the bonds of the law, we should not revel in sinfulness.

Romans 3:31, Romans 6:15-16,19, Romans 15:4, 1 John 1:6, 1 John 2:3,4,7

#48  Posted by Andy K  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 6:18 AM

I've read a few comments putting words into John's mouth. Did he ever say that having a beer is a sin? No. He criticizes the glorification of beer drinking and flaunting of vices as a badge of honor. It seems that there are many that are jumping to conclusions based only on a short blog article. To anyone truly desiring to hear an in depth biblical examination of alcohol, listen/read the 3 part sermon titled "Be Not Drunk With Wine" on It's excellent and would answer many of the questions posted here.

#49  Posted by Jason Oesterling  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 6:26 AM

I have great respect for Dr. MacArthur, and have learned much from him through the years. That's the context for these points of disagreement.

Regarding Paul's recommendation to Timothy that he drink a little wine in 1 Tim. 5:23, Dr. MacArthur writes, "The result was a greatly diluted wine that had virtually no potential for making anyone drunk." The problem with this argument is that it makes nonsense of Paul's command in Ephesians 5:18 to not be drunk with wine, but rather be filled with the Spirit. For Paul's comparison to work, wine must have the potential for behavior-influencing control that Dr. MacArthur wants to minimize in 1 Tim. 5:23. The Greek word for wine is the same in both texts, as it also is in John 2, where Jesus creates it and gives it to the wedding celebrants.

It may surprise some to realize that alcohol is spoken of positively in Scripture more often than negatively. For a solid biblical study of the relevant texts (from someone who himself does not drink alcohol for medical reasons), read Ken Gentry's book "God Gave Wine."

Dr. MacArthur also writes, "... until fairly recently, no credible believer in the entire church age would ever have suggested that so many features evoking the ambiance of a pool hall or a casino could also be suitable insignia for the people of God." It is a bit unfair to lump all of these behaviors - some clearly sinful, others not - all into one category, then say that they stand outside the historical stream of accepted Christian behavior. Let's be fair and deal with the issues individually.

For a light-hearted, buy eye-opening look at the history of alcohol in the church, read Jim West's book "Drinking with Calvin and Luther."

Alcohol addiction is a sin. Alcohol is not sinful. Let's draw lines where Scripture does, but not further.


#50  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 6:34 AM

By the way, Mary Elizabeth Tyler, I forgot to thank you for your You Tube link. Wonderful.

I used to by soundman in the church, and love all kind of worship music from the heart.

Hear this one on You Tube: O9Czujx1LOc

#51  Posted by Frank L. Allen Jr.  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 8:04 AM

Dr. John, may I commend you for sticking to the basic fundamentals of the Christian faith. I grew up in a house where my father was an alcoholic, he loved me and my brother but during his life (deceased) he caused his family some embarrassing situations. I personally drank will I was in the U.S. Navy during Vietnam area, but soon noticed My heavenly father caused me to be sick any time I drank. I understood the message and I heeded the warning and haven't drink any alcohlic beverage in 30 plus years. I discovered I could not witness to anyone if I persisted to drink and with the desire gone it was no problem for me. My mother who was a Godly women had a lot to do with who I am today, I teach SS at my church and I feel a purpose for my exitance. My mother told me years ago I could teach, but I rejected that idea until after she passed away six years ago. Finally in closing I allowed the Holy Spirit to guide my efforts and I have found that joy my mother always spoke of. She knew that joy after teaching for over 50 years at our church. May God continue to bless your minitries.

#52  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 8:23 AM

#41 Taylor. Would you please reread my first comment, #1 and tell me where you see a criticism other than an observation?

I asked many questions & received no answers. I never said I held my observations to be true. This has been bothering me for a while. Funny it didn't initially. But as time has gone on, it has. Maybe not so funny after all? The easy way would be for me to not rock the boat and remain silent.

Also. I think I did make a clarification about the difference of conforming and showing good taste or manners. I thought I made it clear that doing what another culture does, ie removing shoes before entering one's home, was not the same as conforming. And if there was a biblical reference that removing shoes was sin, I'd say, Keep Your Shoes On, Brother!

As far as soccer moms with big SUV's and business men with expensive suits...we could go on and on and on. None of those things are done in the name of Christ so I'm not addressing them here. My issue is with people that dress in a way in order to be acceptable to a people group and that might be offensive to our Lord, unlike the case with Hudson Taylor. I'm not an expert on Chinese history or culture but I don't think their attire was sinful or questionable by it's own standards or God's?

And Jeremy, #31. First, you did not offend me. I'm not offended or worried or hurt when others speak out. I am losing the ability to think it is about me, even if my name is mentioned. And thanks to Jesus, my conscience is getting bigger, deeper, wider. I'm either growing in Christ or I'm digressing. I don't think it's that I'm digressing because if that was the case, I'd accept what everyone was doing and everyone would have the right answers. So I must be growing?

As far as John the Baptist goes, he was so filled with the Holy Spirit. "And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit,"

Luke 1:41. John the Baptist did not dress to fit into the culture or any culture for that matter. I don't think his dress was an example for us today. Our example was Jesus Christ.1Peter 2:21-25

But, before you say that many of the tattooed and pierced folks have the Holy Spirit too, you and I cannot know one way or the other for sure. We can only know for sure that John the Baptist was and he was handpicked by God before he was even conceived.Luke 1:13-17.

This series has been about maturing and maturity. Popular today are crosses worn as jewelry, not as a sweet sentiment to our Lord.Cool guys wear them too...big ol' crosses on big ol' chains around their necks. Fashionable ladies wear, what would have been in my day considered gaudy, big crosses to match their attire. I like fashion.I had this really big red jeweled one I wore occasionally. The Holy Spirit really convicted me on that one. To use our Lord and His death as a fashion statement was wrong. I tossed it. I'm growing up. After all these years,I'm finally growing up.

#53  Posted by Marc Yoder  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 9:32 AM

I'm sure this blog will be well received, and the piling on will begin by everyone who sees this sin in others. I do not drink, but wonder if this message would be as well received if it substituted gluttony for drunkenness.

The day we begin to see our own sin as being as great as the sin we do not struggle with is the day we'll be as concerned about the 5th slice of pizza at the lock-in or the 3rd plate of fried chicken at the picnic as we are about the cooler of beer at the softball game.

When the morbidly obese man in the suit is as quickly identifiable as a Baptist preacher as the beer (or coffee) fanatic is of the Young-Restless-Reformed, we need to look at the plank in our own eye.

#54  Posted by Matt Rollings  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 9:53 AM

Be slow to label Dr. MacArthur as a Pharisee who commands abstinence from alcohol. While MacArthur himself is a proponent of abstaining, If you read the article in light of what MacArthur has previously taught in places such as his study Bible (ex. John 2:3) you will discover that the article was not written to convert those who practice moderation to total abstinence but instead to rightfully rebuke children who unknowingly disgrace themselves and the Reformed faith by practicing pragmatism in their evangelism and being known for their championship of mixing drinks rather then maturity in Christ.

#55  Posted by Marc Lambert  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 10:14 AM

I had my small wild streak in college. That being said, I have not "partied" in over a decade, and have not even sipped alcohol in nearly 7 years. Despite the fact I rarely bring up the topic, I get more flack from christians who drink than from non-believers. The non-believers usually give a respectful nod to my determination while christians are somehow offended.

This is not a strange thing. The enemy has little need to stir up conflict in the mind of the lost. A believer, however, he seeks to disrupt and cause trouble for the believer specifically and the body of Christ as a whole.

The more mature believers understand the spiritual battles we go through. When a less mature brother/sister reacts with quarrels, tension or lashing out to justify their sin, majoring on minors or creating division in the process, .... those who understand what is really going on need to respond in love and prayer.

I have had many instances where a calm statement of truth in the context of love for the other person had deffused what they were quickly working up to a divisive argument. Even if they did not walk away convinced of their wrong, they did walk away with their bonds to the body of beliers still intact.

#56  Posted by Keith Stokes  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 10:33 AM

While those who use the gluttony comparison have some points, and it's true that it is a sin most tolerate and overlook because it does hit so close to home. That is wrong. To tolerate gluttony makes you a companion with it's evil work as well. But I completly understand about the alcohol stance here as well. How many people have ever been killed by being under the influence of 14 pieces of fried chicken? The average non churched person doesn't look twice when they see a Christian going up for his fourth plate of chicken. However,even the most unlearned pagan knows it just doesn't look right for him to be sipping on a beer. I guarantee he thinks what a hypocrite, and there goes his possible christian witness, sin or not. In my opinion, alcohol in what man has used it for is wicked and evil. It about destroyed me years ago and to be honest even looking at this blogs picture( beer tap) gave me the jitters and ugly memories of what alcohol did to me. So God bless people for being labeled "legalist" it may just save some from a life of addiction and torment.

#57  Posted by Jeremy Notchick  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 11:26 AM

#52 Rebecca Schwem,

I’m glad I did not offend you or hurt you, that is good. Amen to that, if it is not all about Christ than are we really even in Him. I can tell how important Christ is in your life and I thank God there are sisters like you, not afraid to stand up for something they believe. Even though we might disagree I am still blessed by our conversation. Oh, I definitely believe John the Baptist was born again before he was even born; it clearly shows He leapt for joy in Elizabeth’s womb just by being in the presence of his Savior. I wasn’t trying to claim that John the Baptist dressed that way to fit into culture. That was my whole point that I am trying to convey to you. I am not dressing or looking a certain way to try to fit in with any type of crowd. I am not looking this way for anyone, I am not on this earth to try to please men and how they want me to look. And I am growing up as well. I used to want to get tattoos all over and have piercings everywhere because I thought it looked cool and I would “fit in.” After praying on that and waiting on the Lord I knew that would be the wrong choice, at least for me. I have a piercing on each ear, just one piercing. I have and Alpha and Omega tattoo on my right wrist, I have a cross with the Scripture Rev. 16:15 under it on my right bicep and I have the word Irish on my back between my shoulder blades. The only tattoo that regularly shows is the Alpha and Omega one. Am I going to get anymore tattoos, I don’t know. All I know is that I am not convicted by the ones that I have, and I definitely did not get them to make it “easier” to witness to a certain group of people. If I wanted to fit in with the bikers, which I don’t, than I would simply tell them what they want to hear, “they are sinners, but it’s ok because God has a plan for them and Jesus loves them.” We simply know that what I just said is not biblical and is not the Gospel; therefore I don’t fit in with the people group most associate me with. And believe me, nowhere am I saying that most tattooed and pierced folks have the Holy Spirit. Thanks again and God Bless.

#58  Posted by Jeremy Notchick  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 11:26 AM

#29 ,#47 Kerry Halpin,

First off, your use of 1 Peter 1:14 is off because I never said that I got tattoos before I was saved. As for Leviticus, let us take it in context. You are taking from there and applying it to me to show I am a sinner right? Well, let me do the same for you, just to show you how invalid your argument is. I will be using all of Leviticus 19:19-37. Do you where clothing made of two different types of material? If so you are going against Leviticus 19:19. Do you eat steak that is not well done, or any type of dish that has a trace of blood in it? If so you are going against Leviticus 19:26. Have you rounded off the edges of your temple, or mar the edges of your beard? If so you are going against Leviticus 19:27. You see, your argument using Leviticus just doesn’t work. Also, you are incorrect, Leviticus 19:28 only deals with tattoos, not piercings. Also, your usage of 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 does not apply because it doesn’t say anything about tattoos. I agree that we shouldn’t keep practicing sin after we are saved, but my friend; you simply present no valid evidence that tattooing is a sin. Your opinion of Roman 6:1-2 is simply that, your opinion. Remember, if you are going to use scripture you can’t interpret it to fit your argument, you are using this scripture out of context. This scripture says, “1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” There is no gray area here; it clearly states sin, not gray areas. You might think that’s what Paul meant, but my friend that is simply not what Paul actually said. His words are clear, he was addressing this to people who were false teachers, trying to lead the church astray by telling them they are free to sin so Grace may abound. This is one of the main reasons Paul wrote Romans, because he had not visited them yet, but knew of false teaching so he wanted to address them.

Again, I am not reveling in any kind of sinfulness because tattooing simply isn’t a sin. I challenge you to find any scripture in the New Testament that states that we are not to get tattoos. Again, if you want to use Leviticus make sure you remember all the other things in Leviticus. I only brought up a few near the same verse you used, but there are many other things as well. For another great read on this I would recommend looking at what Christian Apologist Matt Slick says about this on his site, It is a really great read. God Bless brother and I hope I didn’t talk your ear off too much.

#59  Posted by David Smith  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 11:36 AM

#29 Kerry Halpin

If you believe Leviticus 19:28 is applicable for Christians today, you also need to obey the rest of this chapter, including:

Leviticus 19:19 - do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material

Leviticus 19:26 - do not eat any meat with the blood still in it

Leviticus 19:27 - do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard

We may be laughing but it's actually a serious matter.

This sort of random proof texting is a complete abuse of the Bible.

If you want to make a Biblical case against tattoos and piercings (which I do feel are inappropriate for Christians), you'll need to improve your exegetical skills considerably. And incidentally, if piercings are wrong for men, then surely they are wrong for women as well...

#60  Posted by Denise Grimes  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 11:41 AM

Did anyone notice the hypocrisy of Patrick? On the one hand he "acknowledges" "addiction" among "church planters and pastors" yet he flaunts drinking. That's the problem. No one needs that kind of "coaching". That's not maturity nor love of a brother, nor living above reproach.

#61  Posted by Chad Miller  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 11:44 AM

I was beginning to wonder if anyone would challenge Dr. MacArthur on this... Good to see some rational, biblical arguments refuting some of the incorrect interpretations and conclusions he came to.

#64  Posted by David Smith  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 11:59 AM

Oops, I said exactly the same thing as Jeremy in #58. It wasn't intentional.

Regarding alcohol, I agree that Christians should not be known for or defined by their drinking habits. However, the Bible does not oppose drinking in moderation. But we do need to consider how it will be viewed by those around us. Having a glass of wine with a meal at a restaurant may be OK, going into a bar for a few beers may not. Yes, it is a case of social perception, but some forms of alcohol consumption are closely linked with the very worst that the world has to offer.

If someone feels that completely avoiding alcohol is the best witness, they have the freedom to do that, but it's a personal choice, not a scriptural requirement.

And for the avoidance of doubt, addictions of all sorts are wrong.

#65  Posted by David Smith  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 12:08 PM

#56 Keith Stokes

Where I live, there is no stigma associated with Christians "sipping on a beer", and the unsaved world does not look down on them. It's all a question of culture and how people are expected to behave. (And incidentally, I don't drink beer).

Regarding food, yes, overeating does not cause any immediate problems. But being overweight has very serious long-term health risks, and it is an abuse of the body that God has entrusted to you whilst you are on this earth, the body that is a temple of the Holy Spirit. So no matter what the world or the church thinks, not looking after your body is a sin.

(And no, that doesn't mean we have to be fitness fanatics. It simply means that we have to eat a balanced diet, keep our weight in the right range, and take a reasonable amount of exercise - the basic things that all physicians agree on).

#66  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 12:09 PM

#61 Chad Miller

What specific do you have in mind? And why?

#67  Posted by Sanford Doyle  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 12:13 PM

Many people and churches are embracing tattoos and beer drinking as a way to reach the world. I believe our responsibility is to challenge and confront the world,not conform to it.

Unfortunately, many people and churches do not realize they are reflecting the same culture they are trying to reach.

"I believe that one reason why the church of God at this present moment has so little influence over the world is because the world has so much influence over the church."

- C.H. Spurgeon

Think twice. Then think again.

Grace and Peace.

#68  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 12:21 PM

Steve @#24 writes,

Are you saying it's wrong for a Christian to drink a beer?

No. I don't take anything John wrote here as him saying that it's wrong for a Christian to drink a beer, or that it is even a sin. The emphasis is upon evaluating the motives of those folks who brazenly flaunt their liberty with such issues merely because it is the "hip" thing to do or allegedly strikes against fundamentalism and the moral legalism that chaffed them when they were growing up in church.

John is pointing out some rather important things: Is such flaunting of liberty in these areas truly a good thing in a Christian's overall ministry? Is it even necessary? Do we so devalue the power of God to save that we genuinely believe we have to get tattoos and start theology groups in pubs in order to have a hearing with unbelievers who happen to live a "rough and tough" lifestyle? It is Arminian methodology of the rankest sort.

Chris @#35 writes,

But people also forget that food is abused by way too many people as well, but you don't hear too many people crying out about this outrage because there are more people in church with a problem in overindulging in food than there are alcoholics and drunkards, yet I see a lack of absence in rebuking these brothers and sisters for their reckless overindulgence in food

These are two unrelated things here. Overeating doesn't have a negative impact on our society. There are no "Mothers Against Overeating" groups (unless you count the first lady's eating campaign as heading in that direction), nor is it a criminal offense to have three bowls of banana chocolate chunk ice cream. Overeating has negative impact on only one person: the one overeating. Those who overeat don't beat wives, children, or cause major accidents that take innocent lives. Hence the reason why Christians should be vigilant with the example they set for others if they partake in alcohol. What I often see from the YRR crowd is a lack of genuine wisdom and discernment.

#69  Posted by Benjamin Booker  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 1:00 PM

#55 Mr. Lambert

#56 Mr. Stokes

Great posts.

"Despite the fact I rarely bring up the topic, I get more flack from christians who drink than from non-believers. The non-believers usually give a respectful nod to my determination while christians are somehow offended.


The more mature believers understand the spiritual battles we go through. When a less mature brother/sister reacts with quarrels, tension or lashing out to justify their sin, majoring on minors or creating division in the process, .... those who understand what is really going on need to respond in love and prayer"~ Mr. Lambert

"However,even the most unlearned pagan knows it just doesn't look right for him to be sipping on a beer. I guarantee he thinks what a hypocrite, and there goes his possible christian witness, sin or not."~ Mr. Stokes

Those who approve of alcohol and say "it's not a sin to drink a beer," might need to rethink that thought. Drinking "a beer" might be a sin, if it causes your brother to stumble or bring reproach on Christ.

21 It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. 22 The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.

Romans 14:21-23 (NASB95)

5 "And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Matt 18:5-6 (NASB95)

You who "drink a beer," think about those other than yourself. It might not be a sin if you are at home with your wife or at the lake fishing/working on a project with your Dad or brother if they will not stumble because of the "can of beer" or "glass of wine" that you guys had.

But if you decide that you are going to have "a beer" at a local pub/bar/tavern or are around other believers that you don't know whether or not THEY will be sinning by having "a beer," then in these couple of instances you might be sinning by what you approve of in the eyes of those unbelievers or Christians who will stumbel.

Some might say and have said to me repeatedly, "well it is not going to cause ME to stumble!"

IT'S NOT ALWAYS ABOUT YOU! Your "beer" might cause someone ELSE to sin or bring a reproach on Christ. 1 Corinthians 6:9-20

9 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" And he said, "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?"

Gen 4:9 (NASB95)

3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,

Phil 2:3-5 (NASB95)

Philippians 2:14-16

#70  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 1:57 PM

Keith Stokes @ #56

So funny! "How many people have ever been killed by being under the influence of 14 pieces of fried chicken?" The best laugh of my day.

Hi Rudi:

I saw your comment and will look into that video. Keep up the good work!!! And get back to it! LOL!

#71  Posted by Heath Lloyd  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 2:02 PM

Well I guess Dr MacArthur can forget getting invited to that Resurgence conference.

#72  Posted by Chris Lemi  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 2:56 PM

#56 Keith Stokes

It should be a no brainer that for a Christian who was a former alcoholic or recovered/recovering alcoholic, should not drink at all obviously. But there are plenty of Christians who I personally know in which alcohol is not a problem for them at all, and they do not abuse it. So I can understand why those who have struggled or are struggling with alcohol have such a strong stance against it. Scripture commands Christians to deal harshly with their sin, whatever it may be. Unfortunately some Christians like to take the legalistic stance on alcohol and impose their beliefs on non-struggling Christian despite the absence of any Biblical mandate to do so (that is unless they took a Nazirite vow). The Bible has scriptures that praise wine, and also scripture that condemns drunkenness/debauchery. In all things we are to proceed with discernment, and eat, drink (or not drink) to the Glory of God.

#73  Posted by Chris Lemi  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 2:58 PM

#71 Heath Lloyd


#74  Posted by Chris Lemi  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 3:08 PM

Gluttony, overindulging in food and the possible health consequences associated with eating recklessly such as diabetes is no joke. Just ask anyone with diabetes who has to take insulin shots. It should be treated just as seriously as alcoholism.

#75  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 3:29 PM

Chris, #74,

Gluttony and overindulgence in food only has health consequences for one person. The over eater. Drinking HAS had serious consequences to innocent people. In fact, many innocent people a year. Like I stated, we have no laws regulating your cholesterol count when you drive home from Black Angus. This has to count for something with any YRR who advocates an anti-teetotalling mind-set with his friends.

#76  Posted by Chris Lemi  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 3:51 PM

#75 Fred

Yes, I mentioned in my above other posts that if one is a recovered/recovering alcoholic and struggles with alcohol, then they should NOT drink. Again, its all about discernment.

#77  Posted by Handell Desulme  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 4:24 PM

Comment deleted by user.
#78  Posted by Mary Held  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 4:51 PM


#79  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 4:55 PM

This topic sure has sparked a firestorm...:-)

Fred Butler,

"Gluttony and overindulgence in food only has health consequences for one person."

I beg to differ Fred, with all the respect which I have for you and your opinions, but that statement is not correct based on the overwhelming impact that obesity, overweight conditions, and diabetes has upon the health care system in this country and elsewhere.

For example here is an excerpt from an article on Canada dot com September, 2010:

""The economic burden of diabetes in Ontario is staggering and threatens the sustainability of our health-care system and the provincial economy," said Michael Cloutier, chief executive of the Canadian Diabetes Association.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, most of the newly diagnosed cases will come not from the morbidly obese, who are at the highest risk of developing diabetes, but from the thousands of moderate-risk Ontarians who are simply overweight, according to a recent study by the Toronto-based Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences."

The issue is at hand, in my opinion, one of where the Christian's focus lies. If the focus is man-centered or self-centered (as is far too often the case within many circles of evangelicalism) then all sorts of pragmatic means will be conjured up, used, and defended as a "Christian" way of life.

If the Christian's focus is Christ-centered then much of the foolish overindulgence of any sort will be tempered.

Paul gave us clear understanding regarding our liberties in Christ. Those liberties are not to lead one into licentiousness but rather to a balanced, Christ honoring, brother edifying lifestyle. Further, legalism is as dangerous as licentiousness. One must strive to be in balance and not swing too far upon the pendulum.

#80  Posted by Brian Erb  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 5:05 PM

Reply to #34 Corey Key

Matthew 11:19 - The Son of Man cam eating and drinking , and they say, 'Look at him!" A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!'

Luke 7:34 has much the same wording.

I take it from these verses that there is no denial of Jesus actually consuming alcoholic beverages.

(As an aside, I don't have tattoos but does the returning triumphant Jesus in Revelation have tattoos on his thigh (19:16?)

#81  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 5:09 PM

It probably wouldn’t surprise you to know Alcoholism is the number one drug problem in our country, enslaving millions of adults—and teenagers. Nor would it shock you to learn that 75% of American adults drink alcohol, 6% of that number classifying themselves as alcoholics. You wouldn’t dispute the reported dollar amount Americans spend each day on alcoholic drinks—$197 million dollars. And surely you’ve heard the statistic that says an alcohol-related automobile accident occurs every 30 minutes.

But just to ensure you have all the facts about alcohol, here are a few more statistics. Alcohol factors into…

• 73% of all felonies

• 73% of child abuse cases

• 41% of rape cases

• 81% of wife battering cases

• 72% of stabbings

• 83% of homicides

If you’re curious, alcoholism costs our nation around $60 billion each year. And excessive alcohol use is the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the U.S., taking more than 100,000 lives each year. While those statistics probably sadden you, I’m sure they don’t shock you. You already know alcoholism is a tragedy that touches all of us in some measure. But in my estimation, here’s where the startling stats appear—young people and alcohol.

Three-fourths of all American high school seniors report being drunk at least once, and each day in America 7,000 children under the age of 16 take their first drink—but probably not their last. Alcohol is the top drug choice for children and adolescents.

Let that statistic sink in for a second. 75 out of every 100 high school seniors have been drunk at least once (and that number includes only those seniors who confessed).

The bottom line from the Bible is this: Drinking alcohol is dangerous, and for many—maybe most—it proves to be an unwise (but not necessarily sinful) choice.

But John hasn’t even bothered making those points—at least not in this blog article. He’s simply pointing out the folly of parading alcohol around as the principal symbol of Christian liberty.

My experience with some reformed on-campus ministries, shockingly, was that they introduced under aged teens to drinking—all in the name of Christian liberty. The pressure to conform was high. As a college pastor, I had to warn parents of the dangers of reformed ministries on university campuses. That was quite a change for me. I hadn’t anticipated protecting my students from the dangers of reformed ministries. That was nearly a decade ago, but things haven’t changed…

#83  Posted by Denise Grimes  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 5:25 PM

Speaking of Darrin Patrick, he is part of Acts 29--he sits on the board along with Matt Chandler and Mark Driscoll. He also teaches at reTrain and the ecumenical Saddleback 12 Conversations where he shared the pulpit with Joni Tada, Ligon Duncan, Os Guiness, Michael Horton, Richard Mouw, and Tim Keller.

As noted by BP News ("Alcohol, Acts 29, and the SBC"):

"The alcohol issue goes straight to the top at Acts 29, whose president, Mark Driscoll -- who is pastor of the Seattle-area Mars Hill Church..."

Driscoll has a whole message on drinking called "Good Wine, Glad Hearts". Mars Hill's description of the message:

"Historically, God’s people have greatly enjoyed alcohol. Throughout the last century, however, Christians have watered down their beer as well as their doctrine. Mars Hill pastors speak on a theology of alcohol."

In the message Driscoll claims the Puritans' first order of business wasn't to build a church but a brewery. He calls Martin Luther's wife a "classically certified, trained brewer" and "yes, that's a beautiful woman..To me that's a Proverbs 31 godly woman." He then tries to make the case that prohibition came out of feminism. "My case is that drinking light beer is a sin."

Is it any wonder that more and more "Reformers" are flaunting their drinking as well as other worldliness? Apparently the new thing for "pastors" at church websites is to tell us what their favorite drink, movie, hobby, and music is. Case in point, here are the bios of two leaders at a Presbyterian church:

"Steve is a sports fanatic who loves fine Scotch, a smooth cigar, and a stimulating conversation on the confluence of theology and culture."

"Hector and his wife Christy, have spear-headed Christ Church’s outreach to the homeless in our community. Hector enjoys a good port and a delicious cigar accompanied by great theological conversation."

Source: Christ Church SCV

As Tony Miano said: "The church is too busy courting the world, not calling the world to repentance." Source: "America: the modern valley of slaughter" video(time mark 52:00)

"I believe that one reason why the church at this present moment has so little influence over the world, is because the world has so much influence over the church! Nowadays, we hear professors pleading that they may do this, and do that--that they may live like worldlings. My sad answer to them, when they crave this liberty is, "Do it if you dare. It may not cost you much hurt, for you are so bad already. Your cravings show how rotten your hearts are. If you are hungering after such dogs food--go dogs, and eat the garbage!" – Spurgeon

#84  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 5:29 PM

Comment deleted by user.
#85  Posted by Kerry Halpin  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 5:32 PM

#58 (Jeremy) and #59 (David)

Should we ignore Leviticus 19:11,12,13,17 or Leviticus 19:18b, which Jesus reaffirmed as the second greatest commandment? The arguments against my post could easily be used against rebuttal posts - selective text choice. However, let's look at this from the whole of scripture:

The OT clearly identifies many sins. Does being under grace mean that nothing is sin except what is explicitly defined as sin in the NT? Romans 6:1,2 and 1 Peter 2:16 and a wealth of other scriptures I've already mentioned declare that sin is still sin. Jesus says in Matthew 23:23 that the pharisee's problem was not strict obedience to the law, but rather in that they were right, but the problem was inward corruption. So what is the logical next step? If the OT says it's sin, it's still sin unless the NT explicitly removes the prohibition, as is the case for meats, drinks, circumcision, preaching to the Gentiles, etc... Indeed, if we remove the definitions of sin found in the OT, then sin has no definition at all, and all things are a gray area.

Now, since clearly the NT declares that there are many sins which are not in the "gray area", then the definition of such sins must have come by the law, in the OT (Romans 7:7,12), and such definitions of sin still persist. Now, if the law defines sin, and the NT does not couteract the OT (Matthew 5:17,19), then sin is still sin.

But what about Paul's declaration in 1 Corinthians 10:23? Well, if you are thinking what I think you are thinking, then applying such thought to OT sins means it's okay to do any sin condemned under the law. Is this true? NO, for all the reasons I stated before and more. So what then is the proper EXEGESIS of this scripture? Romans 6:15 says we aren't under the law. But a careful examination of Romans 7:5,6,10 and Romans 6:23 shows us that being free from the law means being free from the condemnation of the law, which is condemnation unto death. Indeed, since Christ died for us once and for all, we shall live forever with Him, without the penalty of the law, which is death (Hebrews 10:14 and Romans 6:11).

But wait, didn't the apostles declare certain unlawful OT practices lawful for NT believers? Yes! But they were specifically called out in the scriptures, and there was no general rule stating "all sins are now not sin". The apostles ALONE were given this power by Jesus Himself (Matthew 16:19), and the truth of this verse is that it wasn't what the apostles decided was now lawful, but what Jesus decided was lawful and ordained them to proclaim.

And what about the abolishment of the sacrificial systems and all its laws and regulations? According to the entire book of Hebrews, Jesus was the final sacrifice (Hebrews 6:12).

to be cont'd...

#86  Posted by Kerry Halpin  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 5:32 PM


Are we missing anything else? Well, some laws were for the preservation of cleanness and purity of God's people, but this was tied to the sacrificial covenant, explaining why Leviticus 19:19,26 no longer applies to believers. So, does the previous statement negate Leviticus 19:28? No, because Leviticus 19:28 is not a commandment tied to the cleanness of the believer as relating to the old sacrificial covenent. Does this then mean that Leviticus 19:27 is also still valid? Yes! But let me explain, these were customs of heathens that the Israelites adopted, therefore not being separate from the world (Romans 12:12). But wait, can we take a more general approach to Leviticus 19:28 as well? No, because piercings and tattooing are still current practices of the unbelievers (both of which are HEAVILY used in satanic worship and the like), therefore those acts are NOT to be committed by the unbeliever because of 2 Corinthians 6:17.

And in all of this, we haven't even touched on the fact that our bodies are now the Lord's, and not just our own.

#88  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 5:39 PM

Oh, Tommy. Thank you. This blog needed some clarity, some focus. And I agree, there are two issues, the seriousness of strong drink and the one Pastor John was speaking about...the sheer folly of it all.

I think this discussion starts to separate many on here. I am amazed at the wait, the desire to compare alcohol and it's dependency with other sins. Why do grown people want to make those comparisons?

It's like some are asking..."which is worse...if I gorge myself to death or drink myself to death?" It's not either or. Both are wrong!

Or the question some have, "what about those people in the buffet line? What about those gluttons?" Yes? What about them?

I think with so many families that now have generational alcoholics, it should be obvious that offering anyone an alcoholic beverage has a much higher risk of that one becoming a statistic you speak of than offering to by one's dinner. And to call that fellowshipping in the Lord. This is the stretch generation! Or what's the popular phrase now? "It works for me!"

"as he does in all his letters when he (referring to Paul)speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures."2Peter 3:16

#89  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 5:40 PM

drugs and drinking don't mix well for that drunk that hit me. but I just want to say to the young students. Please think responsiblity before you get behind the wheel. Jesus can help but you must ask him.

#90  Posted by Kerry Halpin  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 5:51 PM

Correction to my previous post. Hebrews 6:12 should be Hebrews 10:12 and Romans 12:12 should be Romans 12:2.

#91  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 5:51 PM

For those advocating/defending tattoos.

I'm sincerely asking this out of pure ignorance. I haven't been to a tattoo parlor--only seen them on TV.

Are there tattoo parlors whose walls, decorations, and artists don't represent the dregs of society and where all manner of sin isn't glorified?

#92  Posted by Micah Marchewitz  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 6:06 PM

#91 Gabriel

I am not an advocate for tatoo's. I do have alot of tatoo's from my pre-christian life though.

You ask: Are there tattoo parlors whose walls, decorations, and artists don't represent the dregs of society and where all manner of sin isn't glorified?

Sin is definately glorified in the ones I have been in. In fact, I think anyone picking up a tatoo magizine could discern that almost immediatley with how most of these tatoo conventions are portrayed and how they have their models dressed on the covers.

#93  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 6:10 PM

"But John hasn’t even bothered making those points—at least not in this blog article. He’s simply pointing out the folly of parading alcohol around as the principal symbol of Christian liberty." Tommy Clayton

Thank you!

Over and over again some people have clarified what the article clearly says, and over and over again people continue to take this issue to a different direction. Point in case, gluttony. I agree that gluttony is a sin, but it has nothing to do with this topic and comparing it to alcoholism is funny.

#94  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 6:21 PM

Some tatoo parlors are dangerous, drug dealers and worst. I walk by and it looks worldly.. which it is..

#95  Posted by Chris Lemi  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 6:23 PM

Over and over again the Bible condemns drunkenness and not drinking, and over and over again people continue to take this issue to a different direction.

#97  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 6:38 PM

Thanks, Chris. Sorry if I got off topic...

#98  Posted by Jeremy Notchick  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 6:46 PM

#85 & #86 Kerry Halpin,

Leviticus 13:32-33 says this

32This is the law for him who has a discharge and for him who has an emission of semen, becoming unclean thereby; 33 also for her who is unwell with her menstrual impurity, that is, for anyone, male or female, who has a discharge, and for the man who lies with a woman who is unclean.

See, this says that all the scripture in Leviticus 13 is the LAW for anyone with discharge. That would mean that it still applies because it is law right?

Secondly, you keep talking about piercings. Where is there any scripture that deals with that?

Honestly your argument is rather weak when you apply it to scripture. The fact is that the New Testament reaffirms the commandments. That is what we live by. You can say I am not saved or that I am continuing in sin, but again, I never said I got tattoos before I was saved.

When you make a more valid argument that can actually be defended with scripture than I will respond, but honestly you keep using one little scripture that was abolished when Christ died for us, he fulfilled the law.

#99  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 7:13 PM

Tommy Clayton #81,

The statistics are staggering for alcohol abuse. Let me say that I agree with the flavor John is presenting in his article. The point of my previous post is to demonstrate that any overindulgence can lead to extreme consequences for the individual and for society at large...there should be no disputing that as the statistics you presented as well as what I presented spell out the facts.

What I find somewhat unnerving is the propensity for SBC pastors (as well as others) to point to "beer drinking" as the go-to sin for beating up folks only to be silent about the obese guest evangelist or the deacon who lights up a cigarette on the church door steps before church begins and as soon as it is over.

What is needed, as I stipulated earlier, is a Christ-centered focus in our worship and our daily lives. Much of the over indulgences would be tempered if that would occur...but I digress.

I will add that I adhere to total abstinence from alcohol in my life. However, I also agree that legalistic extremes are not the cure for the issue at hand. John MacArthur has always been one to preach God's Word faithfully and allow the Holy Spirit to make the appropriate application...I agree with that stance.

I further agree that using alcohol as a ground-neutralizer is absurd. Greg Bahnsen stipulated the myth of neutrality in his teachings and he was very accurate. There is no such thing as neutral ground. We as the representation of Christ in this world should do as Paul instructed in Romans 1:5 "Through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,"

Paul wrote to the Galatian believers: 6:7 "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life."

Paul also wrote: "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Galatians 6:14) What Paul stated here is that the desires of this temporal world held no allurement for him. He was focused on running his race and finishing strong. He would not be side tracked by nonsense such as having a few beers with the fellas...simply not in Paul's mindset. The YRR crowd John is addressing here is a far cry from that example!


#100  Posted by Keith Stokes  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 7:37 PM

#93 Elaine Bittencourt: Just ask people with fingers falling off and legs being amputated or going blind how funny it is because of their self induced diabetes brought on by gluttony.

#101  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 7:43 PM

Bible Questions and Answers, Part 37, Code:70-9

Here's another question of a different nature. And by the way, these are not necessarily related, I want to cover as many as I can so I won't take a lot of time on them. "Should Christians drink wine coolers?"

Perhaps some of you were hoping this question didn't come up. Should Christians drink wine coolers? Let me just give you a brief response to that.

A wine cooler is an alcoholic beverage. It is my own personal conviction that I do not drink alcoholic beverages of any kind any time and there are several reasons why. Reason, and they're not in a particularly spiritual order, but reason number one is the fact that I believe the Bible warns very, very strongly about drunkenness and very, very strongly about losing control in dissipation, Ephesians 5:18, "Be not drunk with wine in which is dissipation but be filled with the Spirit." If I'm going to be under the control of something I want it to be the Holy Spirit, not some substance.

Beyond that I am convinced after studying the Word of God and studying the backgrounds around the Word of God that that wine which was imbibed in the time of the New Testament, and even in the Old Testament, was highly diluted with water, five to one, six to one, seven to one, eight to one. And wine...and they really drank water if you want to see the true picture and they simply purified the water by putting a little bit of fermented wine in it because killed whatever else would be in the wine that might cause them some physical problems. But it was not the normal drink of the time of our Lord for people to drink unmixed wine. You read in the Bible about two kinds of drink, wine and strong drink. Strong drink was unmixed and those who drank strong drink drank it for the purpose of drowning their problems. The wine that was consumed in the Bible was very definitely mixed with water extensively. Because you lived in a warm climate, the land of Palestine was hot, the very fact of thirst could contribute to a high consumption of wine. In order to prevent drunkenness they mixed it with water so that your body could not hold the amount that it would take to inebriate you.

So, that simply to point out to you that I don't think you can advocate wine drinking from the Bible unless you have diluted it sufficiently with water as they did in biblical times.

.........more to comment

#102  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 7:45 PM

Continuing with question concerning alcohol and answer given

by John MacArthur:

The other reason that I will give to you as to why I don't believe that Christians should drink wine is simply because of what the apostle Paul says, "The kingdom of God is not food and drink," Romans chapter 14. And he says if anything that I eat or drink offends my brother, I won't do it. Now I have lived long enough to have dragged enough people out of saloons to have tried to patch up enough shattered devastated lives, to have tried to put together families and marriages that have been devastated by alcohol to have a healthy hatred for it. And since we live in a culture where alcohol is only an option, not a necessity, it seems to me without particular constraint for us to consume that kind of beverage. I certainly would not want to be responsible for giving someone else the idea that it was okay to drink alcoholic beverages and then watch them in an out-of-control way be destroyed by what they saw me do. And so, in deference to a weaker brother, in deference to not making someone stumble, I choose not to do that. And since there's no compelling reason to do it because there are so many other things to drink, it has no place in my life.

#103  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 7:50 PM

Mr. Lemi (#95) just proved my point.

#100 - Keith, another example of twisting words. Did I say gluttony is funny? No, I said your comparison is funny. Stick to the topic.

#104  Posted by Chris Lemi  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 8:07 PM

#99 Keith Farmer

Good points. I'd like to also add to what Keith mentioned, scripture admonishes us to deal harshly with our sins, using hyperbolic language to make a point, "if your eye causes you to sin, cut it out!", point being is to deal with whatever would lead you to sin harshly. If that means being a teetotaler because you can't cut off at one or two drinks then that's what it should mean for you.

Discretion and discernment is needed because there's more people that struggle with alcoholism than don't, so do not be so quick to invite people out for drinks, or offer them some at a party/gathering/function because they may be a recovered/recovering or current alcoholic.

Also keep in mind that despite all the Scripture references in the world isn't going to change the mind of the Legalist. They are a committed bunch, vigilantly on the watch lest somebody somewhere dare have a little fun.

#105  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 8:14 PM

from The Greatness of John the Baptist by John MacArthur, code:42-6

"He will drink no wine or liquor," Luke 1:15

Liquor is often translated in the New Testament and the Old...strong drink...strong drink, and I'll comment on that in a moment. This demonstrates just generally a temperate life style, a moderate life style, a life style of self-denial. One who wore camel's hair, a leather belt and ate locusts and wild honey, had already demonstrated great temperance and somewhat an indifferent attitude toward the pleasures of the world, the dietary pleasures and the wardrobe fashion pleasures of the world he had eschewed or disdained.

There were two Old Testament words which he would have known very well for wine. One of them is tirosh, it's a Hebrew word for new wine, fresh wine which is grape juice, grape juice. It's associated with blessing in the Old Testament. You see the word tirosh, you see it in Deuteronomy 7, Deuteronomy 11 and 2 Kings chapter 18, and some other places, and it's simply grape juice. And it was enjoyed and it's associated with the way God blesses, He provides vineyards, and He provides grapes and He provides the fresh sweet new grape juice. That's tirosh.

Then there's yayin, a more familiar word in the Old Testament. yayin refers to fermented wine. There was no refrigeration. The climate of Israel is identical to the climate of Southern California, so that it is a very warm climate and the summers are very, very hot without refrigeration. Obviously everything would ferment and so the Old Testament had a word for fermented wine, it's the word yayin. The rabbis were concerned about the intoxicating capabilities of yayin and so they required that this fermented wine be mixed with water, be mixed up to eight to one, eight parts water, one part of wine in order that it might be diluted. Dilution of that liquid would prevent intoxication, also the introduction into the water of the fermented wine would act as a disinfectant on the water which was otherwise not free from amoeba and bacteria and whatever. So the rabbis called for a mixture. So they would drink either grape juice normally or they would drink this mixture of water and wine. The Old Testament acknowledges the common consumption of those beverages, both new and mixed. It calls for moderation in both. And it rejects drunkenness and a love for drinking.

#106  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 8:19 PM

continuing from The Greatness of John the Baptist:

Proverbs chapter 20,verse 1, "Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler and whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise." Wine has the potential to mock you, to turn you into a fool, as it were, strong drink can make you into a brawler and anybody intoxicated is just not using their mind. Proverbs 21:17 says, "He who loves pleasure will be become a poor man, he who loves wine and oil will not become rich." Why? Because spend all your time drinking, you love to drink and you don't work, you become a drinker. Chapter 23, of course, even a further warning, verse 20, "Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine." And there are judgments pronounced on drunkards. I won't take the time to go through all those. Read the prophet Amos, a brief little book, I think nine chapters or so. And the prophet Amos says there are certain judgments coming on God's people because of sins associated with drunkenness with wine. Later in that prophecy, however, to show you God's view, he says, "When the Messiah comes and establishes His glorious Kingdom, it will be with sweet wine," in Amos 9, I think it's verse 13.

New Testament there's a common New Testament word for wine, it's oinos and it basically shows the same thing.It is to be dealt with in moderation. One is not to linger long beside his wine, that is loving drinking and drunkenness is identified as a serious sin. Wine was used in that society, it was used, remember in John 2 at a wedding. Jesus went to the wedding. When they ran out, Jesus created wine. He created wine bypassing the earth, bypassing the vineyard, bypassing the vine, bypassing the grape, bypassing the grape vat. He just created wine and you can be sure it was wine that bypassed the curse and therefore it was new wine. But even fermented wine had a role to play. You remember Paul said to Timothy, 1 Timothy 5:23, "Take a little wine for your stomach's sake." It may have been that he needed to swallow some disinfectant for his own health. Drunkenness, according to Ephesians 5:18, is considered a sin, "Be not drunk with wine in which is dissipation," that's a pagan kind of action.

#107  Posted by Kerry Halpin  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 8:21 PM

#104 (Chris)

"...lest somebody somewhere dare have a little fun."

This sums up the true reasons many Christians drink, all the while making claims that their reasons are "christian liberty" and "trying to reach the lost". Finally some insight into true motives.

I'm not going to respond anymore to comments. If you have to justify your actions, and your only justification is christian liberty, then you've missed the point of every scripture touching on christian liberty.

#108  Posted by Chris Lemi  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 8:24 PM

#102 Rebecca

That still doesn't address why some people want to condemn the brethren on here that drink, rather than where the real blame should be placed, on the Drunkards, like the Bible teaches. Sola Scriptura.

#109  Posted by Chris Lemi  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 8:40 PM

Regarding John the Baptist and the fact of his avoidance of alcohol. He was a Nazirite and took a Nazirite vow, which meant no consumption of wine, wine derivatives, grapes, raisins, or anything to do with the grape.

#110  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 8:49 PM

A drunkard, Mr. Lemi, is not made overnight.

Plus, I often wonder if all these people shouting "Christian liberty" know the meaning of us, true born-again Christians, being called "holy"?

The purpose of Christian liberty is not having the right to do something, but rather exercising the right of NOT doing. Talk about "free will". Some of us are still in bondage.

I think Christians should be shouting "I am a slave of Christ" instead. And behave like such. But it takes a man to do so.

#112  Posted by Chris Lemi  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 8:53 PM

#107 Kerry Halpin

Thank you for proving my point. Yes I do have FUN in my life, and no, it isn't all because of drinking alcohol (moderately). I do love the Lord Jesus Christ with all my heart, mind, and soul, and the Bible (Sola Scriptura) as the Word I strive to live by every day. I feel no need to apologize because I do have fun in my life, and will not let you or any other professed Christians try to guilt trip me into feeling guilty for the Liberty that I have in my Saviour. Search your own heart as to why it angers you so much that others don't share your same stance which has no Biblical basis.

#113  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 8:58 PM

#108, Chris, it doesn't? The alcoholic drink today is different than the alcoholic drink in the Old Testament and the New Testament. Have you and others not used scripture to show that alcohol, ie wine was an approved beverage? Do you not see that the beverages of then and now were indeed different?

In other words, if the common mixture was used by the folks in the OT, it would be hard to get drunk or even a little tipsy because of the water content. They simply couldn't increased their level of alcohol before the need to void the water. So they could drink away and have no fear of doing anything foolish or getting their donkey or camel pulled over.

#114  Posted by Chris Lemi  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 9:25 PM

Comment deleted by user.
#115  Posted by Taylor Lett  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 9:40 PM


I'm in a different time zone, so my answers may not be timely, but I will try and address all of the questions from your first post, and then refer you to my previous post, as I believe they are all answered.

Q: What if God called them to do missionary work in a country, with a tribe where tattoos would get them killed and all those with them?

A: What if God has called them to minister where they are and dressing like an average American would get them killed?

Q: Why don't they see that their permanent tattoos excludes others they might have been able to witness to?

A: You have stated that the gospel is not about fitting in, so why should a tattoo or a different appearance keep someone from being able to witness? Is that not preaching conformity to the world most of us live in?

Q: Why don't they care that when they get on an elevator with their tattoos and rings in their lips and ears that some lady with her four year old daughter might be frightened enough to want to get off?

A: Appearances again. Do you care that your appearance might offend someone of a different socio-economic status?

Q: Don't they count? There goes a missed opportunity to spread the Gospel.

A: "Jesus stood out. He did not blend in."

Q: Why don't they dress in a way that boldly speaks about who they are?

A: Like Christian t-shirts, or clerical robes? A good tattoo makes a bold statement about your priorities even if I don't agree with getting them.

Q: Why don't they think that the "group" they want to infiltrate won't think more highly of them, won't see them more courageous if they go dressed more benign, more conservatively?

A: I really do think soccer moms and business men apply here as they are in the world not or it, and have been commanded to make disciples. Drive a cheap car, wear handmedowns.

Q: Why aren't they concerned that the "group" will think they are mocking them?

A: Because that isn't ever the result.

Q: Why don't they depend on God to make a way and depend on Him for protection like all the other missionaries do?

A: You don't need less protection just because you wear the right clothes. Do missionaries in the Arab world dress like westerners? Do they still rely on God?

Q: Why don't they think the "group" will see Jesus as weak, a conformist?

A: Because they boldly preach the truth.

** Hudson Taylor dressed as the Chinese. some elements of Chinese attire were heavily influenced by Buddhism. And he grew long hair. The people of his time were greatly offended by him.

#116  Posted by Chris Lemi  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 9:52 PM

#110 Elaine

I agree, that Christians should practice "Holiness" instead of Self Righteousness and condemnation, but external religious folk are more concerned with pointing out what others do, instead of concentrating on their own walk with the Lord. However, it takes a discerning Biblical Woman to understand this, not a religious Pharisee.

#117  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 10:10 PM

#109 Chris, so glad you mentioned the Nazarite Vow. Excerpt taken from the same lesson, The Greatness of John the Baptist by John MacArthur,

"not meaning from Nazareth, having nothing to do with that, an old Hebrew word meaning "separated." A vow of separation...a Jew could do this, decide I want to separate to God for a period of time. I want to be totally devoted to God. I want to just...I want to walk the high road with God and so I'll take a certain period of days and I will vow this Nazarite vow of separation unto God. The first component in it is this, verse 2, "The Nazarite to dedicate himself to the Lord shall abstain from wine and strong drink, drink no vinegar neither made from wine or strong drink, neither drink any grape juice nor fresh or dried grapes all the days of his separation." It was only for a matter of days usually, "Not eating anything produced by the grapevine or even the seeds or the skin." Nothing to do with the grape. He would abstain from that which was the normal pleasure of the pleasurable beverage of life. So it was a way to devout himself to God by self-denial. "Then he would not take the razor to his hair, his beard, he let his hair grow, not giving any concern to how favorably he might look in the face of people, and neither would he touch a dead body so that he would bring upon himself any unceremonial uncleanness, any unceremonial uncleanness." So this was the Nazarite vow, but it incorporated this idea of neither drinking of wine nor liquor.

Some have suggested that John may have been a Nazarite for life. There were only two, according to Scripture. Most people just did that for a few days. There was Samson, according to Judges 16 and Samuel according to 1 Samuel 1. Very rare someone would do that their whole life. Maybe John was a Nazarite for life...for life, separating himself. We know he separated himself by living in the desert. We know he separated himself in his life style. It may well be that this was indicative of a life of a Nazarite, although it doesn't mention anything about his hair.

But the point is this, he took consecration to the highest level, to the very highest level. Here was a man who on the outside was a consecrated, devoted, separated man. As well as the outside, though, look at the inside, verse 15, and it's the inside that made the outside possible. "He was filled...will be, it says...filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother's womb." He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, that will be the pattern of his life. He not only will be a man on the outside devoted to God at the highest level of devotion, but on the inside empowered by God at the highest level as well."

continuing in next comment

#118  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 10:16 PM

Lesson continued The Greatness of John the Baptist by John MacArthur

"The idea of being filled with the Spirit simply means that he would be under the influencing control and power of the Holy Spirit. His life will be under Spirit control. His life will be dominated by the will of the Spirit. The will of the Spirit, of course, largely expressed in the Word of God, but his life will be dominated by Holy Spirit influence. By the way, the phrase 'being filled with the Spirit' Luke uses numerous times in the book of Acts. It simply means God's Holy Spirit will be in control of his life while he's still in his mother's womb."

John the Baptist chose to not have other spirits in his system that might be in conflict with the greatest spirit of all...

the Holy Spirit!

#119  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 10:42 PM

#115, Taylor, I appreciate your attempt. At least you tried. I gotta tell ya, question #1 was a bust for me. Your answer made as much sense (and I mean that in the most respectful way) as some female defending her right to dress seductively with no worry she might draw the wrong attention and suffer consequences because, after all, conservatively dressed females get raped too. It just doesn't do it for me. Sorry.

Question #2 has nothing to do with the one doing the witnessing. It had to do with the one being witnessed to. You can try to witness to someone in the next car with a bone in your nose but I doubt you'll have much success.

I'm sorry, with all due respect, it goes downhill from there. I do appreciate that you made an effort but I don't feel right taking up time or space debating or reacting to all those types of answers. The answers seem obvious to me and in all honesty, while my questions were sincere, I don't feel you are opened to understanding my position. And that makes it a waste of time.

#120  Posted by Corey Key  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 11:02 PM

Reply to #80- Thanks Brian.

#121  Posted by Jeremy Notchick  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 11:21 PM


Anyone saying that the wine back than was diluted; where is evidence of this? I see MacArthur saying it over and over through the stuff Rebecca shared, but what valid references are there on this?

My problem with this whole theory is this.

#1) If this is true than why doesn't it make a clear mention of it, and even more, why wouldn't it just say they were drinking water instead of wine.

#2) BIGGEST POINT... Christ's first miracle. If the diluted theory is true than wouldn't it put less value in Christ turning water into wine. He could of easily poured a little wine into each basin of water if this is true. Also remember, they said the wine was the best saved for last, the best wine always has age to it and the best wine would not be diluted. If it wasn't diluted and what MacArthur is saying is true than wouldn't it be sin to give actual aged wine to the party guests? Would like some answers on this....

#122  Posted by Benjamin Booker  |  Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 12:33 AM

It seems that some are ABOVE correction and instruction.

7 He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself,

And he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself.

8 Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you,

Reprove a wise man and he will love you.

9 Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser,

Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning.

10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,

And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Prov 9:7-10 (NASB95)

There seems to be a certain attitude I keep seeing throughout these articles.

25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

Judges 21:25 (NASB95)

This is an attitude that I am very familiar with. For the portion of the YRRs who fit this shoe I hope you'll learn from Pastor MacArthur and those over you in the Faith.

Maybe a fellow youngster (25 years old) can give you some brotherly advice.

I was in the military (Marines) and was a baby Christian, about 6 months old in Christ when I joined the military. This was very providential. As a sinner and a young Christian I had a LOT of maturing to do.

It took 2 years to get it through my head what the meaning of submission was. I had a Brother in Christ who was younger in age, but older in Christ as my roommate. A very patient Brother. I am sure it was excruciating for him to see my rebellious attitude at work while everyone new that I was a Christian.

It took some real chastening for me to learn. I am thankful to the Lord for teaching me the lesson of SUBMISSION TO AUTHORITY. To learn that I was bought with a price and I am not to do my own will.

What I see in some of this YRR movement is a need to SUBMIT TO AUTHORITY. We need to realize that we do not have near the wisdom of those over us.

Instead of asserting your "rights" and "liberty" how about denying yourself and becoming a servant? Maybe take the example of Christ? Philippians 2:1-11

Paul had the right to be paid and have a wife, but for the sake of the Kingdom he denied himself. 1 Corinthians 9

Maybe follow the example of the OBEDIENT centurion? Matthew 8:5-13

5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.

1 Peter 5:5 (NASB95)

7 Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.

Heb 13:7 (NASB95)

17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.

Heb 13:17 (NASB95)

Maybe us youth should stop, listen, say "yes Sir, PASTOR MacAthur (insert other (e)Elder) thank you for watching over my soul! I will actually seriously consider what you are saying and resist the immature tendency to tell you that I already have it figured out."

#127  Posted by Sanford Doyle  |  Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 5:08 AM

To All:

When excercising "christian liberty", I would guess that christians who drink and have tattoos use these as a way to "break the ice", to share the gospel?

How do you do that? Are you like Paul in Acts 24:24-25?

When Paul was brought before Felix and Drusilla he preached to them :


Paul was direct and to the point. Are we like that? Or do you tend to wait, build bridges, establish relationships so that maybe if they like you, they will listen to you introduce Christ.

By the way,except for Jesus, no one and I mean NO ONE, has ever loved God with ALL their heart, with ALL their mind, with ALL their strength, and with ALL their will. Not you, not me.

Words to meditate on,

Grace and Peace,