The topic of substance use and abuse has been a debate that has thrust itself into the forefront in recent years. In modern times, we have been blessed with thousands of lifesaving and life benefiting substances. With that, the line between substance use and abuse continues to blur. The United States has been in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic over the last decade. The choice on legalizing certain drugs seems to appear on ballots in states each election cycle. Prescription medication use is at an all-time high.
While the Bible does not specifically lay out truth on all instances of substance use, there are guiding principles throughout the scriptures that point to the line where substance use goes from life benefiting to Spirit robbing. Our heart in writing this resource, is to help us, as a church family, both use the grace God has given us in substances and medications to bring healing and comfort to fallen, broken people in a fallen, broken world; while also recognizing our temptation to use and lean on good gifts God has given us in unhealthy ways to try and replace what only He can provide for us. We hope these principles help you find your comfort, hope, rest, and escape in Christ alone, alongside the grace He has blessed us with in these things.
- The Bible says that the use of substances for healing is not only allowed but encouraged.
Jesus Himself advised those who were sick to seek a physician, and He also talks of the oil and wine used to heal wounds by the Good Samaritan, while Paul advises Timothy, to “no longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.”
- As Christians we need to obey the law regarding illicit substances.
Paul states in Romans, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.” At Fellowship Bible Church, we feel as Christians we should follow the laws of the land as long as they do not contradict God’s law. This currently applies for any drugs deemed illegal at the national or state level.
- We should view our bodies as God’s and not ours.
Even for legal substance, Paul tells the Corinthians, ““All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.” Many substances are legal to use, from alcohol to prescription medications. Even when medications are prescribed, they can be abused in an unhealthy and ungodly manner. Other substances may be legal, but if we do not consume them in moderation or understand their potency they can affect our ability to make sound decisions or put us in unexpected danger. The Bible says “do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So, glorify God in your body.” At Fellowship Bible Church, we believe that you should honor God by honoring His creation that is your body.
- Substance use can be an idol that we serve in place of God.
Jesus says in Matthew, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” Whether it be money, success, alcohol, or something else, anything that replaces God in our life is wrong. Which is one of the reasons Christian community is so important in our lives, because many times we need the perspective of others to help us know when we are crossing the line into idolatry and addiction.
In some instances, Biblical principles on the topic of substance abuse are concrete. Paul say clearly in Ephesians, “Do not be drunk with wine, for this is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.” In other ways, substance misuse may be only seen on the heart level between you and God. God has a desire for all of us to delight in the Lord more than in the things He has made. He desires us to be filled with and controlled by the Spirit of God in our daily lives, not the mind-altering substances that we may seek because we are not finding our fulfillment in Him. Therefore, abuse of any substance or overuse that inhibits control and capacity for biblical obedience goes against our call to be “filled with the Spirit.” We must always strive as followers of Christ to seek the true spirit of His words and not just look for loopholes that let us destroy ourselves with the very things He came to rescue us from.
We recognize the real tension that God asks us to live in when it comes to substances on the earth like alcohol and drugs. With grace and compassion, we appreciate God’s mercy to provide substances on the earth that can bring healing and comfort to those in physical and mental anguish in much needed ways. At the same time, we also recognize our temptation to abuse those substances on the earth to take the place of what God wants to be for us, and to try and meet the needs in our lives that only He can. Our prayer is that this resource helps give you wisdom and guidance as you make choices in your own life about alcohol and drugs, as well as how you decide to vote on legislation that would make some substances legal or illegal in our country.
While we recognize that abuse and addiction often overlap, this paper does not address addiction and the many complexities of that disease. We do pray for anyone trapped in a cycle of abuse or addiction that God will free you from that burden. For help with addiction or substance abuse, please utilize the following resources:
Counseling Resources – When you need help navigating the next steps in addressing addiction and substance abuse situations either personally or in your family.
- To obtain guidance in how to biblically address situations contact the Fellowship Care Team at 501-224-7171
- The Care team is an excellent first step in determining appropriate next steps in substance abuse situations.
- They provide biblical counseling services.
- They also conduct classes on Wednesday Nights on many of our campuses that assist in addiction recovery.
- Other Christian Counseling resources available include:
- Compass Counseling
- Napa Valley Counseling
Crisis Resources (When help is immediately needed in a crisis situation)
- If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or mental health related-distress contact the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988.
- If in-patient services are needed these facilities provide services that may be useful:
- Baptist Health Behavioral Health Services
- The Bridge Way – Behavioral Health Services
- Rivendell Behavioral Health Services
- When you or a loved one is caught in a cycle of addiction and need immediate help in changing destructive behavior visit www.arkansascentraloffice.org/meetings for local AA and NA meetings. The Fellowship Care team and recommended counseling resources can provide specific information on what group to join.
Additional Applicable Bible Verses
1 Timothy 3:1-5
The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
3 John 1:2
Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
1 Corinthians 10:23
All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.
1 Corinthians 3:16
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your souls.
 Matthew 9:12;  Luke 10:34;  1 Timothy 5:23;  Romans 13:1;  1 Corinthians 6:12;  1 Corinthians 6:19-20;  Matthew 6:24;  Ephesians 5:18