Wine and the Heart
It is no secret that men turn to alcohol to fill an empty void in the heart. Men turn to alcohol to help numb the pain of life and to help assuage the inner longings of an empty and unsatisfied heart. Men turn to alcohol for help in their time of need because they are not able to face the difficulties of life alone. Men turn to alcohol for comfort (Southern Comfort!) when their hearts are broken. Men turn to alcohol when they are depressed. Men turn to alcohol for courage and boldness. Men turn to alcohol to feel accepted with the in-crowd. Men turn to alcohol as an escape from the world and its troubles. Men turn to alcohol as a crutch to lean on and hold them up… and keep them going. Men turn to alcohol when they are lonely and feel they don’t have a friend. Men turn to alcohol to “mask” their failures (when in reality, it only highlights them) and “hide” behind a drink. Men turn to alcohol because they see no purpose for life other than to “eat, DRINK, and be merry.” Men turn to alcohol to bring some joy into their sad heart. Men turn to alcohol because they suffer from the gnawing feeling deep in their soul because they have discovered that life “under the sun” is vain (Ecc. 1:8-10). Men turn to alcohol to cover up the awful feelings of remorse over their failures and the guilt of sin.
It is understandable when unsaved men turn to alcohol for such reasons. It is inexcusable for a Christian to do so. The unsaved man does not know the Lord, and thus struggles to deal with the issues of the heart the best he knows how. The void in their heart never goes away, and it is understandable when the lost seek refuge in a bottle. Alcohol becomes a substitute for Christ in the heart of a man who does not know the Lord. It is only Christ who is able to fill that void in a man’s life. Whether realized or not, all men NEED Christ. In his ignorance, man seeks to meet the need of his heart through a bottle.
Let’s review the reasons why men (and women!) turn to alcohol and compare that to what God offers to those who come to Christ.
- Men turn to alcohol for help in their time of need because they are not able to face the difficulties of life alone.
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb.4:16). Christ offers grace and help in time of need to all who come to HIM. He gives what men need.
- Men turn to alcohol for comfort (Southern Comfort!) when their hearts are broken.
“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation” (II Cor. 1:3-4a). Only God can provide true, lasting comfort to the heart of man. Seeking comfort elsewhere eventually leads to failure, disillusionment, and more misery.
- Men turn to alcohol when they are depressed.
“He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth” (Ps.40:2-3a). God alone can bring a soul out of the miry pit of depression and put joy in the heart.
- Men turn to alcohol for courage and boldness.
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (II Tim. 1:7).
- Men turn to alcohol to feel accepted with the in-crowd.
“To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved” (Eph. 1:6). Everyone needs to feel accepted. That need is fulfilled by coming to Christ and being accepted before God in Christ.
- Men turn to alcohol as an escape from the world and its unrest.
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:29). Christ offers real rest of mind, heart, and soul to those who come to Him. This is not a temporary escape, but a permanent solution to a heart that is experiencing unrest. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The world is full of troubles and trials. God is the answer—not a bottle. Christ has overcome the world and provides “good cheer”—not liquid cheer. The cheer Christ provides is a lasting solution to life’s problems.
- Men turn to alcohol as a crutch to lean on and hold them… and keep them going.
“Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD!” (Isa. 31:1) Leaning on anyone or anything other Christ will prove to be futile. Christ alone is able to hold us up.
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness” (Isa. 41:10).
- Men turn to alcohol when they are lonely and feel they don’t have a friend.
“Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:14). Christ is a friend to poor vile sinners who come to Him in repentant faith.
- Men turn to alcohol because they see no purpose for life other than to “eat, DRINK, and be merry.”
“What advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die” (I Cor. 15:32b). If this life is all there is, then drink up! But Christ DID rise from the dead (vs.19-20), proving that there is an afterlife, and that faith in Him is not in vain. The resurrection proves that sin and death have been defeated, and that a victorious life is possible (vs.55-58)! There is a reason to live.
- Men turn to alcohol to bring some joy into their sad heart.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…” (Gal. 5:22a). True joy is not found in a bottle, but in a Person. “Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice” (Ps. 51:8). God is able to bring lasting joy to the repentant heart. “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Rom.15:13). True hope and joy is produced only through the power of the indwelling Holy Sprit.
- Men turn to alcohol because they suffer from the gnawing feeling deep in their soul because they have discovered that life “under the sun” is vain (Ecc. 1:8-10).
“And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). That gnawing and hungering of the soul can only be satisfied with Christ – the Bread of Life.
- Men turn to alcohol to cover up the awful feelings of guilt because of their sins and failures.
Whether realized or not, it is the guilt of sin that underlies so many of the other difficulties of life previously mentioned. Guilt can tear a man apart. Guilt can drive a man crazy. Guilt will gnaw away at the soul and result in unrest that doesn’t go away. Guilt can AND DOES – drive a man to drink! There is no feeling worse than guilt. Consider the words of David as he experienced the bitterness of guilt in his life because of his sin:
“O LORD, rebuke me not in thy wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. 2 For thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore. 3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin. 4 For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. 5 My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness. 6 I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. 7 For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh. 8 I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart. 9 Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee. 10 My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me. 11 My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore; and my kinsmen stand afar off” (Psalm 38:1-11).
David was in agony of soul. The heavy burden of a guilty conscience was oppressive and became unbearable. It is under this unbearable pressure that men often turn to drink – to help alleviate the pain. However, God has designed the pain of guilt to cause us to turn to HIM for relief. God wants us to FACE our guilt and our sin. He wants us to CONFESS our sin, and He wants us to TRUST in Him for forgiveness. This is what David eventually did.
Consider David’s words of repentance: “For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight.” (Ps. 51:3-4a). “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice” (Ps. 51:7-8). David knew that when he turned to God in faith and confessed his sin, his soul could then REST on God’s grace and once again experience God’s POWER in his life.
Some readers may be presently struggling with alcohol, and perhaps have NEVER come to Christ in faith. Before you can ever experience His help, grace, and power in your life, God has commanded you to BELIEVE on His Son, Jesus Christ. Christ died for your sins – every last one of them! The Father put all of YOUR sins on Christ on the cross, and there, Christ bore the full weight, guilt, and penalty of YOUR sins. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (II Cor. 5:21). “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom.5:8). “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him, the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6).
God offers NEW LIFE to the sinner who acknowledges his sin and TRUSTS in His Son. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16-17). Jesus came to save men from a vain, empty life (I Pet. 1:18), and offers in its place an ABUNDANT life – one worth living. “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10b). Apart from Christ there is nothing but eternal condemnation. In Christ, there is abundant LIFE!
Only the precious blood of Christ can alleviate the pain, guilt and condemnation of sin. If you are not saved, Christ is speaking to you: “Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:29). Christ refuses no one who comes to Him in simple, childlike faith. Regardless of our past life of sin, Jesus said that he “that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37b).
Getting back to our point—it is understandable for a lost man to turn to alcohol in his time of need for comfort, strength, courage, peace, boldness, joy. We sympathize with the unsaved man who turns to a bottle because he knows not how to deal with depression, discouragement, guilt, or the trials and pressures of life. But for a Christian to do so is nigh unto idolatry! It is a sinful departure from trusting in Christ (our Source of comfort, strength, etc.) to trusting in ANOTHER source. It is in essence a denial that Christ is sufficient. Such a believer has been deceived and is a fool (Prov.20:1). God is grieved when His children put their TRUST in another—He is a jealous God (Ex.34:14) who wants ALL of our love, devotion, affection, confidence, and TRUST. Do we (in demanding our right to a few drinks) provoke the Lord to jealousy (I Cor.10:22)? The believer who turns to alcohol as means of dealing with life’s problems will discover that he is leaning on a broken reed that will eventually pierce him mercilessly. Wine deceives because initially it brings a bit of comfort and relief, but in the end, it bites like a serpent (Prov.23:32). Christ offers more comfort than the serpent. He is all we need (Col.3:1-4).