Methuselah was one of the people we met a few weeks back. He had a drink problem. Now we know what The Bible has to say about alcohol. Whilst wine gladdens the heart (Psalm 104:15; Ecclesiastes 10:19) and is useful for sickness (1 Timothy 5:23), drunkenness damages and is associated with folly (Proverbs 20:1; 21:17). Paul contrasts being drunk with being filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).
This is the contrast. Alcohol has an impact on the whole person. It influences thoughts, words, perceptions and behaviours. Alcohol is associated with loss of control and regret. Being filled with the Spirit contrasts that. The Spirit also influences the whole person, what they think, say and do but with the result being joy, not regret and with the fruit being self-control not lost control.
So our first call to Methuselah is that he needs to be filled with the Spirit. In other words, he needs to follow a different master and let him take control shaping perceptions, words, behaviours etc.
But remember the twin errors we noticed when looking at what the bible says about The Holy Spirit. We can slip into either superstition or secularism .
Secularism sends Methuselah off to a counsellor. He kearns to take control and takes steps to battle his addiction. Today he may regard it as an illness that needs treatment and even medication. Essentially he is on his own in the fight. When the programme or treatment fails, Methuselah is on his own again, he has failed.
Superstition –sees becoming a Christian in a magical way. I become a Christian and the desire to drink goes away. Now don’t completely or immediately discount that. We’ve met people whose desire to smoke, drink, take drugs etc. has gone away overnight. However, we also know that they and we battle with other temptations and habits. We also know for every story of instant sanctification, there are thousands of stories about on-going struggle.
As we saw earlier, belief in the Trinity offers there’s a third way. How does being filled with the HS provide that? Here are some ways.
- Adoption into a family. This means Methuselah receives accountability, support and help from others in the family. This also reminds us that he is adopted by a Father . This is important because His relationship to God is about love not fear. This is a place where he can be honest and where things can come out into the light (Romans 8:15-16).
- There is no fear because God The Son took his place on the Cross. There is no punishment to fear. He has been justified and received God’s righteousness (Romans 8:3-4).
- The Spirit brings God’s Word to Methuselah’s heart to convict him of the ugliness of sin. There’s a waking up to the reality of the mess but not in a hopeless way. Repentance so different to regret (Romans 8:12-14).
- His mind is also waking up to the beauty of
- God’s Word
- God’s people
- God’s World
He will want to spend time in God’s Word, spend time with others and spendi time enjoying God’s creation. These all provide rich and fulfilling alternatives take him away from the loneliness, emptiness and despair that feed his temptation to drink.
Our understanding of these things also shapes how we approach Methuselah when he slips up and falls back into old habits.
We will forgive him. This means not keeping a record of wrongs. We are not to try and be the policeman that the Father won’t be. Isn’t this one of the things that the older brother does in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:30)?
We still must challenge him. We will bring him back to God’s Word . This is where he will experience the Father’s discipline which is best for him.
We will encourage him. There is real hope. Encountering the Trinitarian God means that he can change.