Satan’s Most Destructive Device


Isn’t John 2:10 direct evidence that the wine Jesus made was alcoholic wine? The wedding host states that normally a better wine is served first, and then when the guests are drunk enough, a cheaper wine will do. But at this wedding it was vice versa.

Additionally, I recently spoke to an Adventist pastor who told me that alcohol abstinence cannot be proven from the Bible. It has just been accepted as church tradition. It is certainly a good tradition, but I remember that many Adventists believe that alcohol abstinence is actually a Biblical requirement for Christians.


Where to begin. Raised a Seventh-day Adventist, all my life I was taught that Seventh-day Adventists do not drink alcoholic beverages of any kind because the Bible says that we should not. It is true that the Bible does not say “Thou shalt not drink fermented wine or any alcoholic beverage.” However, I can quote many scriptures that describe what the Bible says we should not drink: Ephesians 5:18, Proverbs 20:1, Romans 14:21, Isaiah 5:11, 22, and Proverbs 21:17. And perhaps the most well-known scripture Proverbs 23:31–35, “Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse things. Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: ‘They have struck me, but I was not hurt; they have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?’ ” This is not an exhaustive list by any means.

Oinos (Greek) and Yayin (Hebrew) are the generic words used in the Bible for wine. Both words can mean either fermented or unfermented juice of the grape. And yet, it seems that it is assumed that these words always mean fermented wine. Why?

Proverbs 31:6 is often used to support the belief that the Bible allows the use of fermented beverages. The Scriptures do give permission to use fermented wine, but only in very specific situations. In Bible times, there was very little chemical means with which to control pain. God does not want anyone to suffer even an hour’s pain if there is a way it can be alleviated. The use of a strong alcoholic beverage was permitted in the case of someone in severe pain or to alleviate the pain of someone who was dying.

Another scripture used to support that the Bible allows the use of fermented beverages is 1 Timothy 5:23—“No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities.”

Just as is still done today, grapes in Bible times were preserved many different ways—they were dried like raisins or the grape juice was boiled until most of the water evaporated leaving a thick grape syrup. Because of the dense concentration of this syrup, it would keep at room temperature without spoiling just as honey or sugar does. This syrup was often added to water when grapes were out of season and the resulting beverage was called wine, though it was not fermented.

Cities in Bible times had the same problem transporting water through a piping system as we do today. If the water is acidic, it will deteriorate the pipe, so either lye or some other alkaline compound must be added to the water. Two thousand years ago, most city water supplies were alkaline just as they are today. If a person had a sensitive stomach or weak digestion, this city water could cause stomach discomfort. This is almost certainly what Paul was talking about to Timothy in this scripture. Timothy was having problems with the drinking water because of its alkaline content. By adding some of this grape syrup, which was readily available, his drinking water would be changed to wine—grape juice with an acidic pH—and his stomach problems would be alleviated.

Now let’s consider this compelling scripture found in 1 Corinthians 6:19, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” How can a person, particularly a Christian, justify putting any substance into their body that causes harm to or destroys it and still claim to be a temple of the Holy Spirit? How can the Holy Spirit dwell in a temple polluted with alcohol?

Another compelling argument against intoxicating beverages can be found in what Jesus said in 1 Corinthians 11:25, “In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ ” How can we believe that any scripture in the Bible would condone the use of fermented wine as a representation of Jesus’ blood?

But what I find most compelling of all are the following quotations from the Spirit of Prophecy. Directly addressing John 2:10 and the miracle at the wedding feast, Mrs. White writes: “For the feast the best food that could be secured was provided. Unfermented wine was used as a beverage.” Christ Triumphant, 229

“The unfermented wine that He [Jesus] provided for the wedding guests was a wholesome and refreshing drink. This is the wine that was used by our Saviour and His disciples in the first Communion.” The Ministry of Healing, 333

“The wine created by Christ at this time was the best wine those present had ever tasted. But it was free from all fermentation. Christ Himself had forbidden the use of fermented drink, saying, ‘Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations: and that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean …’ (Leviticus 10:9–11).” Manuscript Releases, Vol. 10, 200

“We protest that Christ never made intoxicating wine; such an act would have been contrary to all the teachings and example of His life … . The wine which Christ manufactured from water by a miracle of His power, was the pure juice of the grape.” The Signs of the Times, August 29, 1878

In addition, Mrs. White says that Jesus meant this miracle as an illustration—actually more than one. “In this miracle, Jesus illustrates the truth that while the world presents its best gifts first, to fascinate the senses and please the eye, He [Jesus] gives good gifts, ever fresh and new unto the end. They never pall upon the taste, the heart never sickens and tires of them. The pleasures of the world are unsatisfying, its wine turns to bitterness, its gayety to gloom. … But Jesus provides a feast of the soul that never fails to give satisfaction and joy.” The Spirit of Prophecy, Vol. 2, 103, 104

“This donation of Christ to the marriage supper was a symbol of the means of salvation. The water represented baptism into His death, the wine, the shedding of His blood for the purifying of the sins of the world. The provision made for the wedding guests was ample, and not less abundant is the provision for blotting out the iniquities of men.” Ibid.

Finally, let’s address the statement by the Adventist pastor who said that abstinence from alcoholic beverages could not be proved from the Bible. The only reason there is doubt is because man misinterprets the Scriptures for his own benefit. “Some who claim to be Christians clothe themselves with fig leaves and feel at liberty to use intoxicating drinks, and they claim to be in harmony with Christ in this particular. But Christ did not set the example they claim to imitate. Be assured that Christ would not have made intoxicating wine on the occasion of His first miracle. He gave to those present a safe drink to give to all humanity—the pure juice of the grape. …

Christ looked down the ages and saw in every generation what the use of wine would do for the users. Therefore at this [marriage] feast He set a right example.” Manuscript Releases, Vol. 10, 201

“There are those who call themselves advocates of temperance who will yet indulge in the use of wine and cider, claiming that these stimulants are harmless, and even healthful. It is thus that many take the first step in the downward path. Intoxication is just as really produced by wine and cider as by stronger drinks, and it is the worst kind of inebriation. … A few quarts of cider and wine may awaken a taste for stronger drinks. …

“Moderate drinking is the school in which men are receiving an education for the drunkard’s career. So gradually does Satan lead away from the strongholds of temperance, so insidiously do wine and cider exert their influence upon the taste, that the highway to drunkenness is entered upon all unsuspectingly.” Temperance, 277, 278

“With the awful results of indulgence in intoxicating drink before us, how is it that any man or woman who claims to believe in the word of God, can venture to touch, taste, or handle wine or strong drink? Such a practice is certainly out of harmony with their professed faith.” Ibid., 42

Neither Christ nor His prophets nor His word would ever give leave or even suggest that we are able to drink alcoholic beverages, consume anything or participate in any activity that would cause harm to our relationship with Him. It is only with a transformed, purified heart that we are able to truly serve Him and only from a pure heart are we able to provide for Him a fit dwelling place.

“In the estimation of God a pure heart is more precious than the gold of Ophir. A pure heart is the temple where God dwells, the sanctuary where Christ takes up His abode. A pure heart is above everything that is cheap or low; it is a shining light, a treasure house from which come uplifting, sanctified words. It is a place where the imagery of God is recognized, and where the highest delight is to behold His image. It is a heart that finds its whole and only pleasure and satisfaction in God, and whose thoughts and intents and purposes are alive with godliness. Such a heart is a sacred place; it is a treasury of all virtue. …” My Life Today, 263

Satan’s Most Destructive Device

Satan has at his disposal a vast arsenal of weaponry that he successfully uses against the people of this world, but Ellen White points to one particular device that he uses very effectively. I saw the effects of this device in my childhood home. And I can tell you from this first-hand experience that it is most devastating mainly because so many people do not see it for the danger it is.

Ellen White tells us how Satan went about the creation of this terrible weapon:

“Satan gathered the fallen angels together to devise some way of doing the most possible evil to the human family. One proposition after another was made, till finally Satan himself thought of a plan. He would take the fruit of the vine, also wheat, and other things given by God as food, and would convert them into poisons, which would ruin man’s physical, mental, and moral powers, and so overcome the senses that Satan should have full control. Under the influence of liquor, men would be led to commit crimes of all kinds. Through perverted appetite the world would be made corrupt. By leading men to drink alcohol, Satan would cause them to descend lower and lower in the scale.” Temperance, 12

“Satan is taking the world captive through the use of liquor and tobacco, tea and coffee. The God-given mind, which should be kept clear, is perverted by the use of narcotics. The brain is no longer able to distinguish correctly. The enemy has control. Man has sold his reason for that which makes him mad. He has no sense of what is right.” Evangelism, 529

My father was a quiet, handsome, introverted man. But when he drank, he became loud, sometimes funny, if he hadn’t yet had too much to drink. But if he drank too much, he was sloppy, unsteady and ugly. He was a hard worker, leaving the house early in the morning every day of the week. But each day after he closed up shop he went to his favorite bar and drank until closing time. Then, with little sleep, he would get up at his usual time the next morning and head to work, basically still drunk.

I’m not writing this article to tell you about my dad except to give you a personal perspective of what alcohol does. I want you to specifically note that this is a definitive does, not a may do or could possibly do, but what alcohol does to the human body and mind, to the family and society, and why it is such an effective tool of the devil against us. Now someone might say, “I can have a drink and that’s it. I don’t abuse alcohol.” That may be true, but whether a person drinks a little or a lot, alcohol always does harm to the body and the mind. And one man may have a drink once or twice a week and it never goes beyond that, while another takes one drink and cannot stop. The dangerous part is that no one can know which they will do until they take that first drink and then it may be too late.

Let’s look at some basic facts and statistics regarding alcohol use. Consumed in excess, alcohol is poisonous and considered to be a drug. Herein lies the danger with consuming alcohol: most people consider drinking alcohol to be just something they do. It’s fun. They get a buzz. There are people who shout that they would never smoke marijuana or take heroin and yet, alcohol is as addictive as any other narcotic drug taken in some other form. It is estimated that 18 million adults, 1 in 12 in the United States, are chronic alcoholics or abuse alcohol to some degree.

Nearly 100,000 Americans die every year as a result of alcohol abuse and it is a factor in more than half of the country’s homicides, suicides, and traffic accidents. It also plays a role in domestic problems, missed work, property crimes, and spousal and child abuse.

    • 1 in 10 children have one parent who abuses alcohol
    • 80% of college students use alcohol, and half of them binge drink
    • Alcohol is racist; minorities suffer disproportionately from alcohol diseases
    • Rape and sexual abuse are now widely discussed, but alcohol’s significant contribution to these abuses is often ignored
    • An astonishing 70% of children in America’s foster care system suffer from some form of prenatal alcohol damage

Source: Adventists and Alcohol by Jack Hoehn 12/1/2020

Alcohol abuse results in weight gain, depression, chronic gastritis, pancreatitis, high blood pressure, heart failure, and changes to the brain, just to name a few. It also can increase the risk of infection, lead to impotence, damage a fetus, and increase the risk of several types of cancer including cancer of the larynx, esophagus, liver, breast, stomach, pancreas, and the upper gastrointestinal tract.

It also impairs liver function, and as many as one out of five will develop cirrhosis of the liver. The liver actually has about 500 functions, but those we are most familiar with are the removal of potentially toxic substances from the body, metabolizing nutrients from food to make energy, making most of the protein needed by the body, helping fight infection, producing most of the substances that regulate blood clotting, and helping to digest fat and absorb needed vitamins such A and D among others.

Alcohol abuse injures the liver. In an effort to repair itself, scar tissue is formed. This is the cause of cirrhosis of the liver. As cirrhosis progresses and more and more scar tissue is formed, it becomes difficult for the liver to do its job. Advanced cirrhosis is life-threatening, and while early diagnosis and treatment can limit the damage, the damage done by cirrhosis generally cannot be undone.

How is it, then, that one person becomes an alcoholic, but another does not? It seems to be a blend of genetics, physical, psychological, environmental, and social factors. A person’s risk of becoming an alcoholic is three to four times greater if a parent is an alcoholic, although there are many children of alcoholics who do not develop a problem with alcohol or even drink at all.

The mental effects of alcohol abuse can include fear, aggression, guilt, discontent, loneliness, anxiety, decreased impulse control, hypomanic behavior, sadness, and suicide.

Alcohol use can also bring about poverty. In the United States alone, as of year-end 2018, consumers spent $253.8 billion on alcohol. While families struggle to survive, the alcohol abuser throws away the money needed for food and housing for one more drink. Too many today are suffering homelessness, poverty, and mental illness as a direct result of alcohol and drug abuse.

webMD/Understanding Alcohol Abuse Basics Use Disorder: Symptoms, Treatment & Screening Use and Cancer

Wikipedia/Alcoholism – Causes

The Mental and Physical Effects of Alcohol/Alo House Recovery Centers

As Seventh-day Adventists, we likely feel that alcoholism is a worldly disease, a problem that does not apply to us. After all, we are instructed by Scripture and the Spirit of Prophecy that we are to turn away from the consumption of alcohol and other drugs.

“What account will fathers [and mothers] have to give in the judgment? What account for the habits of liquor drinking? What accounts for the habit of tobacco using, the money consumed in lessening physical, mental, and moral power that belongs to God? All of it has been purchased by an infinite price, the price of the Son of God. You do not realize the necessity of sending light to those that are in darkness because your eye is not single to the glory of God. Your whole body is full of darkness, and you treat yourself as a slave, a slave to grant to taste and appetite that which is unwholesome and unhealthy, and which is destroying vitality.” Sermons and Talks, Vol. 1, 259

As Seventh-day Adventist Christians, we should be able to say that alcohol is not a problem for us and I would imagine that would be true for many, probably most. However, alcohol consumption is not a problem confined strictly to the world. Alcohol may not be a temptation for most of us, but it is for some, maybe someone you know, someone you love.

While attending academy and college, many of my friends, as often as they could sneak away to do it, would drink alcohol and take drugs. Some of those same friends today no longer indulge, but for some, these habits persisted into adulthood until their bodies and minds were so permanently affected by the use of these substances that they suffer and struggle still with debilitating illnesses, both physical and mental.

The devil spends a great deal of time and effort preparing us to rationalize doing many things we know are not right. And each time we do something wrong and justify it, it becomes easier to do it again and to find a justification for it.

“The drunkard sells his reason for a cup of poison. Satan takes control of his reason, affections, conscience. Such a man is destroying the temple of God. …” Manuscript 130

The Sanctified Life, 33, tells us that the use of stimulants “deadens the natural sensibilities of both body and mind and renders him [the user] less susceptible to the influence of the Holy Spirit.” He will hunger for what pleases the body, his cherished idol, rather than for righteousness and holiness, making it impossible to glorify God.

As bad as all the above consequences of alcohol use may be, herein lies the real destructiveness of this insidious weapon of Satan: the more a person drinks, the less interest he or she will have in spiritual matters and a greater inability to respond to the pleading of the Holy Spirit.

“There is in the world a multitude of degraded human beings, who have, by yielding in their youth to the temptation to use tobacco and alcohol, poisoned the tissues of the human structure, and perverted their reasoning powers, until the result is just as Satan meant it to be. The faculties of thought are clouded. The victims yield to the temptation for alcohol, and they sell what reason they have for a glass of liquor.

“See that man bereft of reason. What is he? He is a slave to the will of Satan. The arch apostate imbues him with his own attributes. He is a slave to licentiousness and violence. There is no crime that he will not commit; for he has put into his mouth that which has intoxicated him, and made him, while under its influence, a demon.” Temperance, 36

Continued consumption of stimulating substances prepares the body for disease, affects the quality and circulation of the blood, and wears out the mind from excited and undue activity. It also affects a person’s moral qualities, and worst of all it creates unsound judgment and the inability to appreciate the value of spiritual things. The “sensibilities are blunted, and sin does not appear very sinful.” Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 4a, 129

As Christians we have two commissions in this life. The first is the preparation of our own lives to be fit to enjoy heaven and the association of heavenly beings; to strive to attain that perfection of character that God requires and so lovingly provides the ability to achieve.

“The body is the only medium through which the mind and the soul are developed for the upbuilding of character. Hence it is that the adversary of souls directs his temptations to the enfeebling and degrading of the physical powers. His success here means the surrender to evil of the whole being. The tendencies of our physical nature, unless under the dominion of a higher power, will surely work ruin and death.” The Ministry of Healing, 130

“Your part is to put your will on the side of Christ. When you yield your will to His, He immediately takes possession of you, and works in you to will and to do of His good pleasure. … If you cannot control your impulses, your emotions, as you may desire, you can control the will, and thus an entire change will be wrought in your life. … You have a strength from God that holds you fast to His strength; and a new life, even the life of faith, is possible to you.” Temperance, 113

The second commission is to give the hope of salvation to a dying world.

“Your neighbor may be yielding to the temptation to destroy himself by liquor drinking and tobacco using. He may be burning up his vital organs by fiery stimulant. He is pursuing this course to the ruination of himself and his wife and children, who have no success in trying to stay the feet that are traveling the road to perdition. God calls upon you to work in His vineyard, to do all in your power to save your fellow creatures.” Manuscript 87, 1898

“As we face these things, and see the terrible consequences of liquor drinking, shall we not do all in our power to rally to the help of God in fighting against this great evil?” Evangelism, 265

“When the members of the church of God do their appointed work in the needy fields at home and abroad, in fulfilment of the gospel commission, the whole world will soon be warned, and the Lord Jesus will return to this earth with power and great glory.

“God will do the work if we will furnish Him the instruments.” Sons and Daughters of God, 280

It is our responsibility and must be our determined effort to preserve our bodies “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is [our] reasonable service.” Romans 12:1. It is also our responsibility, for we truly are our brother’s keeper, to bring the hope of a transformed life through Jesus Christ to those for whom He died.

[Emphasis supplied.]

Judy Rebarchek is a member of the LandMarks team. She may be contacted by email at: