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  • Joel Riehle

Ephesians 5: Not Just For Drunks


This isn’t just for addicts. If you enjoy dopamine in your brain than it’s for you too.

The commandment not to get drunk isn't arbitrary. Nor does it have as much to do with alcohol as you might think. We have put the accent above the wrong part of this verse. The don’t get drunk with wine is like a placeholder, I almost wish there had been “__________” an insert here marker in Greek for Paul to use.



This verse is not primarily about not getting drunk. You already know this. When you ask a coworker not to do something, but to do something else. You are trying to accomplish something so we first give them something that would represent counterproductively to that end goal, then we state what the goal actually is.

If Paul were emphasizing the drunkenness part of the passage it would make Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding in Cana even more confusing. I’m not saying getting drunk is ok, what I am saying is that we get so legalistic about individual acts and miss the whole beautiful picture of obedience that God is painting. So hear this: you can manage to never get drunk again the rest of your life, and yet still not be obedient to God.

If I’m right about this. Paul is giving the most basic of commandments. One the early church wouldn’t have grappled with as much as we do today:

  1. For New Life to exist you must be dependent on the Spirit

  2. Things that consume you interfere with your reliance on the Spirit

And there you have it. Paul was not picturing a small crowd inside the church in Ephesus that had a drinking problem. He was writing to the whole church (you can tell that by reading the whole of chapter 5).

Right before he says do not get drunk on wine he says “don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s Will is.”

And above that he talks about sacrificially loving others and not even allowing a ‘hint’ of sexual immorality, greed, coarse talk, or obscenity among the brethren.

These are not random thoughts. How often have you seen a drunk person caring for someone else? Who is a greedy person looking out? What about people who are addicted to various things…not just chemicals. Do you often see them caring for others? OR do all of those IDOLS require attention from us that is only rightly to be directed towards God?


The CONNECTION and the DIFFERENCE is as simple as going about our day in order to please ourselves or with the purpose of pleasing God. It’s what we pursue, its where our focus is.

Our default setting is pleasing ourselves. When we were babies we cried for milk and food, we played with and took what we wanted. It never crossed our minds to act in the best interest of others. But we are not called to be infants, we know this life is about more than ourselves. But for some reason we still have to remind ourselves daily not to live for ourselves.

Put another way: We must die to ourselves. Pick up our crosses daily and follow Jesus’ example.

So examine your daily routine. What takes up most of your time? Is it interfering with your reliance on God?

If you’re not thinking about anything... what person or activity pops into your head? Is that more important to you than obedience to God?

Consider what you might want to fast from in order to rely more on God.



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