I’m not real proud of my past. I sure didn’t do some of the most honorable things. Getting drunk on regular occasions were one of those things…sometimes to the point of black outs. The usual Friday and/or Saturday night consisted of some type of alcohol. Surprisingly, I never had to take a breathalyzer or sobriety test…probably because I refrained from driving while under the influence, except for once which I paid a dear price. I look back and wonder how I survived sometimes. Obviously by the grace of God. Believe it or not, I was saved back in those days. I truly believed that Jesus was the Son of God, that He died for my sins, and that God raised Him up on the third day. I had no idea what that really meant, but I believed it nonetheless.
One thing I can attest to, a drunk will never admit when they are drunk, but it’s not hard to tell when someone is. It’s not rocket science. The dictionary defines being drunk as affected by alcohol to the extent of losing control of one’s faculties or behavior. I’d say that’s pretty accurate. They no longer have anything that inhibits them from acting in ways or saying things that they would normally refrain from. That usually results in regret the next day, if they even remember what happened the night before.
“Let all things be done decently and in order.” – 1 Cor. 14:40 KJV
Contextually, Paul was correcting the Corinthian church in regards to how they were operating chaotically in the gifts of the Spirit in their services. Things were out of control. I almost wonder if their church services were more of a competition than anything. If one person had a word of prophecy, then someone else had a better one. If one person started speaking in tongues, then four more people joined in. When someone tried to interpret, someone else would correct them. Bottom line, things were not happening as they should’ve been, otherwise there would’ve been no need for correction.
I have seen footage of church services – or “meetings” – gone awry and I wonder if they mirror what the Corinthians were doing. I’m not talking about little things where maybe the speaker got off on a rabbit trail, or they extended the music portion an extra 15 minutes. No, I’m talking about how people are acting like they are not in control of themselves – writhing around on the floor, laughing uncontrollably, those kinds of things. I have been a first hand witness to some of those things and something never set quite right with me.
People claim it’s the Spirit of God moving and however the Spirit moves, you move. You hear things like, “I just couldn’t stop ______.” Fill in the blank with whatever action you “felt” the Spirit was moving you to do. People will say they were just “drunk in the Spirit”. This is where Christians will use Ephesians 5:18 and these verses from Acts 2 to justify their “uncontrollable” behavior. That is a blatant misrepresentation of those verses.
The verse in Ephesians is supposed to be a contrast, not a similarity as many preach. He’s telling them, and us, we shouldn’t be getting drunk. Remember the dictionary definition earlier? You’re telling me that the Spirit of God, the one that set the universe in perfect motion, caused you to lose control of yourself? Sorry, I’m not buying it. God does not possess people and make them do things, nor does He the opposite.
If you do some homework, you’ll find that being drunk was a shameful act in the Old Testament. It was NOT something to be proud of. So why on earth would we act that way and claim it’s the Spirit of God? Peter tells us to be sober and vigilant. Read what Paul told the Church in Thessalonica:
But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
Be what? Sober – calm, collected in spirit – temperate. Strong’s concordance says it means to abstain from wine. So tell me again that you’re “drunk in the spirit”?
In regards to the verses in Acts 2, I don’t believe they were caught up in uncontrollable, hysterical laughter or any such thing. It’s clear that Scripture tells us people heard them speaking in multiple languages that were not their native ones. (You can read about that here in Part 3 of my series on tongues.) They were NOT acting drunk. That was just people trying to explain away what was happening. I also believe they were also trying to discredit the disciples, by spreading rumors that they were drunk at 9 in the morning. Think about it: If people thought that followers of Jesus were ok with drinking wine – getting drunk – that early in the morning, then that was further proof to the Jews that Jesus was not the Messiah and it would be easier to convince others of the same. Read the first thing Peter told them in Acts 2:14-15
“But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.“
The first thing he told the people was that they were not drunk! I believe it angered Peter, and rightfully so, that people were equating a move of God with being drunk. He specifically wanted them to know that they had not been drinking. I believe Peter had a “how dare you” moment. Know what I mean? When someone says or does something so disrespectful, that you just can’t believe what you heard or what just happened. I believe a little righteous indignation rose up within him and he was going to make sure they knew what was what. Yet Christians today brag about being drunk in the spirit. I think that if Peter was in some of the services or meeting which these things have happened, he’d have something to say about it and it wouldn’t be encouraging the behavior.
What I find odd, is hat the same Christians that get “drunk in the spirit” will also preach 4 verses down from Ephesians 18, that states “Abstain from all appearance of evil” as their basis for telling others that Christians shouldn’t drink alcohol. Do you see the obvious conflict here? Don’t actually drink alcohol, but it’s ok to act drunk. Excuse me while I bang my head against a brick wall. That make no sense. First, and I’m not getting into it here, but it’s not a sin to consume alcohol. It’s a sin to do so when you cross the line into intoxication. Regardless, if you’re going to say that drinking alcohol is an appearance of evil (which it’s not), then you had better say the same about acting drunk, which really would be an appearance of evil. I know how that sounds and I’m not apologizing for it. It’s the truth.
Don’t mistake my judgment of these incidents as unbelief. I believe in the gifts of the Spirit as outlined in 1 Corinthians 12. I totally believe speaking in tongues is for us today. I also believe we should be experiencing good heath and prosperity. I believe God is good and that every perfect gift comes from Him. I just don’t believe we should be acting in these types of ways and calling it God.
Was there a move of God that people experienced, but didn’t know how to describe or handle? Sure. Did people get so caught up in the emotional side of things that they allowed their feelings to dictate their behavior? Probably. Can laughter be contagious? Absolutely. Is it possible many others joined in even though they really weren’t experiencing anything because they didn’t want to be “left out”? Definitely.
Should our entire fellowship as a church be scheduled down to the minute? No. Should we never laugh in church? That’s not what I’m saying either. I totally believe that God can, and has, changed the course of many services and meetings. If God is truly moving you, as a leader, a different direction, then you better go that way. However, when things begin to seem disorganized and disorderly, that’s when we’ve moved over from the Spirit, into the flesh.
The flesh enjoys indulgence, no matter what it is. Anger feels good to vent. It feels good to gorge out on your favorite food. When you’re in a certain mood, you want to enhance the felling, so you listen to songs that reinforce your emotions at the time. If someone is experiencing the death of a loved one, we weep with them. Compassion moves through us and it’s a natural reaction. The opposite is also true. When we are around others who are joyful and they begin laughing, it’s easy to begin laughing with them. If more join in, it’s probably going to spread throughout the entire group of people. Emotions, good or bad, are both highly contagious and powerful.
It’s no different when we get into services that begin to manipulate our emotions. We want to continue in it because it feels good. I’ve been in many services where I would’ve loved the music to continue all morning because I “felt” the spirit moving strong. I’m not saying it’s wrong to experience emotion, but we just can’t let emotions dictate our behavior, no matter the atmosphere.
Thankfully, we have been given a fruit of the Spirit called temperance. I like the dictionary definition of this word: moderation or self restraint in action, statement, etc. Many translations use the word self-control. In control of one’s self. A Christians should NEVER use the phrase, “I just couldn’t help myself,” or any other like it.. It’s just not true.
The lost the only ones the have the potential to get away with statements like that. They don’t have the Spirit of God inside them. They don’t have access to the attributes listed in Galatians 5:22-23 like we do. Can they control themselves? If they really want to, but we have an advantage. We have the same spirit inside of us that raised up Christ from the dead.
It doesn’t matter what you felt the Spirit moving you to do, you – as a Christian – always have a choice and you are always in control of yourself.