Drunk or Filled with the Spirit? (Mosiah 22)
In Mosiah 22, Gideon shares a plan with King Limhi to free the Nephites from being in bondage to the Lamanites. Knowing that the Lamanite guards get drunk every night until they pass out, Gideon suggests that the Nephite people gather their belongings and prepare to depart during the night after the guards have passed out. Limhi agrees with the plan and even sends a gift of extra wine to the Lamanite guards.
Sure enough, the guards fall into a sound sleep, allowing enough time for all of the Nephites in the city to make their way into the wilderness, eventually arriving in the city of Zarahemla where the rest of the Nephites reside under the rule of King Mosiah.
How foolish were these guards to be so easily manipulated by their desire to get drunk at night? The Lamanite king surely wasn't laughing at the loss of tribute that the Nephites had been paying. Most likely, the guards were terminated (if you know what I mean). Drunkenness ruined lives then and continues to do so today.
The perils of drinking are well documented, so I won’t even try to add to that discussion here. Terms like DUI and AA conjure up some images of where drunkenness takes a person, assuming he or she survives. In spite of the risks, drinking is widely encouraged in our society, even among the young. Tell someone you don’t drink, and the reaction is something like, “Oh, you’re one of those.”
Are we willing to be “one of those”? As servants of God, we do our best to avoid sin. The scriptures put drunkenness in the same category as fornication, idolatry, thievery, and extortion — these are all listed as activities that put us at risk of not inheriting the kingdom of God. So, is it just innocent fun? Does the spirit of God within us lead us to do any of these things, or are we pushing it aside when we indulge? One verse that comes to mind is:
“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18)
This verse tells us that we must make a choice — continue in our drunken ways or be filled with the Spirit. You can’t do both at the same time.
Several years ago, we encountered two men in Dominica who were recovering alcoholics. They were not what we might call “social drinkers” but rather were public drunkards, each losing his livelihood because of trying to work while intoxicated and/or spending all of his money on alcohol. When these men came to The Church of Jesus Christ and were baptized, they chose to be filled with the Spirit and leave the drunken lifestyle behind.
A year or two later, we were speaking with one of the community leaders in Dominica and we shared that we were being prayerful that miracles would occur there so everyone would know that the power of God was in our church. The woman mentioned the two men referenced above and said, “Everyone in this community knew those two men as fall-down drunks, and now their lives are completely turned around. They are clear evidence to everyone that the Spirit of God is in your church.”
Do we want to be filled with the Spirit of God? Do we want to move in a direction of spiritual growth and be an example to others of what God can do in a person’s life? Or do we prefer to fit in with the world, indulging in drunkenness and other worldly indulgences? Hopefully, the choice is obvious.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.