Wednesday, June 03, 2015


guest post by Bobby Mitchell, pastor of Mid-Coast Baptist Church, Brunswick, Maine

If you think "touch not; taste not; handle not" (Colossians 2:21) should be preached as "Don't mess around with the opposite sex, drink liquor, or steal stuff"... You might need to study more!

If you think "the old is better" in Luke 5:39 means "The old way of preachin', prayin', singin', and shoutin' is better" ... You might need to study more!

If you think "cannot discern between the right hand and the left hand" in Jonah 4:11 would be a good text to preach about Christians lacking discernment...You might need to study more!

If you think "A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho" in Luke 10:30 means he went south...You might need to study more!

If you think "we fetched a compass" (Acts 28:13) means they got an instrument to point North...You might need to study more!

If you think that "abstain from all appearance of evil" (1 Thessalonians 5:22) means "Don't do anything that could possibly look wrong"... You might need to study more!

If you think "do the work of an evangelist" (2 Timothy 4:5) means "travel around and preach revivals"...You might need to study more!

If you think "quit ye like men" (1 Corinthians 15:13) means, "don't quit until the job is done" or "man up, and quit 'yer smokin', drinkin', and cussin'" ... You might need to study more!

If you think "He taketh no pleasure in the legs of a man" (Psalm 147:10) means "men shouldn't wear shorts"...You might need to study more!

If you think "vision" in Proverbs 29:18 means "a big dream or idea"...You might need to study more!

If you think "my people which are called by my name" (2 Chronicles 7:14) refers to the United States of America...You might need to study more!

If you take a "catchy" phrase in the Bible and preach it with no regard for the context, you REALLY need to study more!

I have messed up some passages in a BIG way!  The first message I ever preached, at the age of fifteen, was, "You need to let Jesus into your heart" (using Revelation 3:20).  I DEFINITELY should have studied more!  Now, I'm forty-one and I ABSOLUTELY need to study more!

"Study to shew thyself approved unto God..." (2 Timothy 2:15).


Bobby said...


If you think "the great man humbleth himself" (Isa 2:9) refers to great men of God or your humble heroes... You might need to study more!

Farmer Brown said...

What about "Swear not at all" prohibits cursing? How about "Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink" is about being a waiter or selling alcohol? How about "Is there not a cause?" is referring to "the cause of Christ"?

I was tripped up by 1 Thessalonians 5:22. Guess I had better study more.

Bobby said...

If you think "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" is a reference to American independence... You might need to study more!

John Mark IB said...

Dear Pastor Mitchell,

Hope you're doing well, love your teaching, great article definitely needed by myself, and love your insights especially your series here on soulwinning-versus-salesmanship-first-half

Definitely classic on the Hyles/Hutson issue, What ever happened to your a pure church blog?
Sure did miss it when I couldn't find it anymore, was sad about that, thanks for the great post here, I hope to hear more from you! I wish I could visit you, Dr. Strouse, Pastor Brandenburg and Dr. Ross, my all time favorites only not necessarily in that order, and only after Jesus of course haha! ☺
May The LORD bless you and yours with many, many more years, of healthy and fruitful service to us all, with love joy and peace always in Jesus name amen! Have a blessed day and week

KJB1611 said...

I do not see anything wrong with using Habakkuk 2:15 to prove that believers should not participate in the distribution of alcohol.

Bobby said...

For the record, neither do I, Brother Ross.

Farmer Brown said...

Habakkuk 2:15 Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!

You can make a good argument from the Bible that believers should not be involved in the creation, sale, distribution or consumption of intoxicating substances, but not from Habakkuk 2:15.

That verse applies to the devious businessman ordering another bottle of wine at dinner to get his secretary a little more tipsy to he can get her in bed. It applies to the frat boy telling the naive freshman to have another, knowing what will come.

Habakkuk 2:15 is a woe to the person who gives drink and also makes drunken to see nakedness. Hence the judgment in verse 16, that the giver's nakedness will be uncovered. You cannot leave out the second part of the verse.

Most times I have heard it preached, the word "drink" is the last word in the verse, and the verse is about serving alcohol, working in a grocery store that sells alcohol, etc. That butchers the meaning. Use another text to prove that. There are many that can, but not this.

Jon Gleason said...

Does it also apply to a worker who works at a major distillery so he can make a little more money than he would at another job? How about someone who decides to work for a farmer producing barley for the whiskey industry? After all, in both cases, the person is "knowing what will come" for many who partake of the product he helps to produce.

I wouldn't say that Habakkuk 2:15 directly teaches, "Don't have anything to do with the production / sale of alcohol." It means exactly what Farmer Brown has said it means. But I would have a hard time saying it doesn't apply much more broadly. You are getting a benefit for yourself, but helping to do something that is going to bring great damage to others. Your salary / profit is at the cost of loving your neighbour.

Farmer Brown said...

Jon, if you are saying someone should not be involved with alcohol, I agree completely. You cannot go to Habakkuk 2 to make the case, though.

I recently did a two part message on alcohol based on a several year study. Part of this study was to call some of my contemporaries and classmates from the Christian school I attended through graduation. Despite the pastor and school teachers all endorsing, preaching, and teaching a Biblical position on alcohol, namely total abstinence, most of those with whom I spoke had rejected that teaching.

I asked them why and almost to a man, they cited the misuse of this verse (and others) as the reason for rejecting what they were taught. It was my reason for rejecting, until I studied and returned to a proper position.

While I never drank alcohol or desired to do so, the misuse of this verse convinced me (incorrectly) that those who preached against it did not have a Biblical case. After all, if they could make a Biblical case, why would they use half a verse out of context? Shouldn't they be able to make the case in context?

There are other ways to demonstrate the main point, that believers should not have anything to do with alcohol. I think that using this verse to make that point erodes confidence in the good teaching it accompanies.

Jon Gleason said...

I guess I'd stand by what I said. The verse doesn't directly teach it, but it applies in principle. If you use the drunkenness of others to achieve sinful purposes, you are violating the principle it teaches. And selfishness or greed are sinful purposes.

I certainly agree that we don't need this verse to make a Biblical case, and that this verse is not directly teaching what many have tried to make it teach. But it does teach a general principle which has broad application, and if we teach it clearly as to what it does and doesn't say, and some of the ways the principle applies, it is entirely fitting and appropriate.

George Calvas said...

"That verse applies to the devious businessman ordering another bottle of wine at dinner to get his secretary a little more tipsy to he can get her in bed. It applies to the frat boy telling the naive freshman to have another, knowing what will come."

It is not ordering another bottle, but never starting in the first place.

It applies to those who are not upright or have the faith to live their lives (v4) in honour of the Lord God and that their devious, subtile and sinful behaviours (v5-19) prove that they are enemies of God rather than lovers of his Him and his holiness (v20).

KJB1611 said...

When Habakkuk 2:15 employs "and" and "also," I believe it specifies two different but related sins. The first is giving his neighbor drink, and the second is making him drunk "also." Therefore, the verse does indeed directly condemn the practice of giving alchohol to others, not just drunkenness. I believe the verse fits the pattern of "A, what's more, B," found commonly in Hebrew poetry in statements such as "Six things doth the Lord hate, yea seven are an abomination to him." Thus, giving the neighbor drink is a lesser sin than making him drunken for the purpose of looking on the neighbor's nakedness; but it is still its own independent sin.

Thank you for the comments.