A saved friend has a daughter who took a small step to nowhere–she’s using drugs. What are the obvious moral and spiritual implications behind taking drugs? She knows all about Jesus and needs to be reminded of the nowhere path of this world.
The Bible speaks about drug use in a number of passages. In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he speaks of the “works of the flesh” (Galatians 5:20). Among those works is a reference to witchcraft (sorcery in some translations).
The Greek word for witchcraft is pharmakeia, from which we get the English words pharmacy, pharmacist and pharmaceutical. This translation of witchcraft is an indication that drugs can be used for evil intent. In fact, the Strong’s Dictionary defines pharmakeia as, “the use or the administering of drugs, poisoning, sorcery, magical arts, often found in connection with idolatry and fostered by it.”
Drug Use and Drug Abuse
There must be a distinction made between properly administered drugs and the abuse of drugs. God gave man the knowledge to treat illnesses and diseases and to develop drugs that aid in treatment. As with other things that God has given us, drugs can be used for good purposes (healing) or they can be used with bad intent (e.g. poisons, mind altering effects for pleasure, pagan practices, witchcraft, etc).
In Galatians 5:20, witchcraft/sorcery is linked with adultery, fornication, lewdness, idolatry, hatred, wrath, murders, drunkenness and more. This clearly indicates an abuse of drugs that would involve occultism or black magic. After identifying witchcraft, and the other sins, Paul gives a strong warning of the consequences, “…they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:21) Now, that’s frightening!
Context of Paul’s Warning
Paul began this passage by telling the Galatians, “…Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). He was speaking of the battle Christians have between the flesh and the Spirit. He was also reminding them that, if they are led by the Spirit then they are not under the law (Galatians 5:18). Paul went on to contrast the works of the flesh and the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:19-23) and he concluded with this declaration:
Galatians 5:24-25 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
While there is an ongoing battle between the lust of the flesh and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, Paul clearly tells that our flesh has been crucified and we belong to Christ. Our salvation is secure. Therefore Paul directed the Galatians to live believing this and to walk in the Spirit.
Spiritual Implications of Drug Use
We can conclude that if a Christian is using drugs, he is fulfilling the lust of the flesh and also grieving the Spirit. A Christian cannot suffer the condemnation of Galatians 5:21, because they are already part of the spiritual Kingdom of God. And, we know that Jesus is faithful to keep those who belong to Him.
However, there are serious spiritual consequences to drug use. Christians who fulfill the lusts of the flesh (giving in to sin) are not walking in the Spirit. While ongoing sin will not break union with Christ, it will damage, and even break, communion with Him. Our fellowship with Jesus is strengthened by our hearts desires. If one is desiring to use drugs (or commit other sins), they are not desiring to love and honor the Lord.
Consequences for a Christian
The girl mentioned in the question is said to have taken a “small step to nowhere” by using drugs. That’s a great description of the direction and destination of drug use.
It is also said that this girl “knows all about Jesus.” That could mean a couple things
- She has a knowledge about Jesus but does not have a relationship with Him, or
- She belongs to Jesus and has the indwelling Holy Spirit.
For our purposes we will assume that the girl belongs to Jesus. We’ll assume that there was a time in her life when she repented of her sins and trusted in Christ and was saved by Him. Therefore she is sealed with the Holy Spirit, but she is not walking in the Spirit. Instead she is fulfilling the lust of the flesh spoken of in Galatians 5:16.
Pray for this girl and others like her who fall into the snare of drug abuse. Pray that she will quickly turn from her sin and walk in the Spirit and avoid being drawn into a longer and deeper season of sin.
Drug Use vs Drug Abuse
Prescription drugs, legally obtained and properly administered, are not forbidden by God. Nor is the responsible consumption of alcohol (Read Is Drinking Alcohol a Sin?). In fact, Paul suggested wine be used for a medicinal purpose (1 Timothy 5:23). However, the abuse of wine (drinking to excess) is strictly forbidden in the Bible and is clearly indicated to interfere with living a Spirit-filled life (Ephesians 5:18). In the same way, the abuse of drugs, for non-medical purposes, will not produce a Spirit-filled life.
The Bible repeatedly says that we are to “be sober” (2 Corinthians 5:13, 1 Thessalonians 5:6,8, Titus 2:2,4,6, 1 Peter 1:13, 5:8). In context, this is a warning against intoxication from any substance. To “be sober” means to show self-control, to think rationally and to reason biblically. As Christians we are to do these things through the teaching and leading of the Holy Spirit. When drugs or alcohol are abused, the effects will influence the mind, direct the will, fuel one’s actions and grieve the Holy Spirit.
The apostle Peter also commanded that we “be sober.” And, He gave a very serious reason why it is important:
1 Peter 5:8, Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.
That should be a motivating reason not to use non-prescription drugs. Not only is drug abuse a sin, because it involves giving into lusts and altering the mind, it also makes one vulnerable and weak against the attacks of the devil. As Jesus told Peter in Luke 22:31, it is the devil’s desire to “have you, that he may sift you as wheat” (Luke 22:31).
The Bible Tells How Christians Are to Live
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
Drugs that alter the mind and compromise reasoning must be recognized as a “thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.” The Bible commands us to cast down such things and “bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” This is impossible to do under the influence of drugs.
Christians choose daily to be led by the Spirit or to succumb to the lust of the flesh. It is a choice to “be sober” and to take every thought captive for Christ. This can be successfully achieved when we choose to direct our thoughts toward God.
Philippians 4:8-9 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
Review this summary of what Paul commanded us to “think on” in Philippians 4:8-9, and consider the alternatives.
Choose Your Thoughts
We must be sober and clear thinking to direct our thoughts. Any drug that alters the mind will have a detrimental effect on one’s ability to direct their thoughts. Since every word we speak and everything we do is directed by our thoughts, without control of our thoughts we open ourselves up to sin. Therefore we must work diligently to protect our thoughts.
1 Thessalonians 5:8-10 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.
The Nowhere Path of Taking Drugs
Any Christian who is considering using drugs for recreational purposes, or abusing prescription drugs, should ask themselves this question:
Why do I want to take pleasure in something for which Christ died?
They should remember that Jesus took upon Himself every one of their sins, including the sin of drug abuse. Perhaps thinking about the price Jesus paid for their sins will be a motivator to turn from drugs. Jesus suffered the wrath of God that should have been theirs. When Jesus saved them, He forgave their sins and granted them eternal life. What a gift, what a Saviour!
It’s hard to understand why anyone, who is forgiven by Jesus and has received eternal life with Him, would take pleasure in a sin for which Jesus suffered and died. The only legitimate reason is because it makes them feel good. However if they will remember what Jesus has done for them, it should make them feel sick. Drugs can generate pleasure for a time, but drugs can never produce the kind of sustaining joy that comes from being in right relationship with Jesus..
The Painful Consequences of Drug Abuse
This picture depicts hard-core drug abuse, but any drug abuse, including the abuse of prescription drugs, will lead people down a path to nowhere.
The picture is a great reminder that what we do to ourselves, we do to Jesus. His Spirit indwells us and He is always with us. Jesus promised, “I will never leave or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). So why would anyone forsake Him by abusing one’s body with drugs, or with any kind of sin.
Additionally, our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. They should be cared for as such. Abuse of drugs is an abuse of the “temple” that God has given us.
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?
The Bible offers instructions on how to avoid sin and how to make God-honoring choices. The Holy Spirit is present with us and eager to help us in overcoming sinful desires and actions. We are clearly told that God will provide all that we need to resist and escape any temptation:
1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
God has given us the way to overcome. But it is a path of choices and action. Being today to…
- Renew your mind with God’s Word, that you might be transformed in Jesus, rather than being conformed to the world (Romans 12:2).
- Believe the promise that God will help you overcome temptations.
- Remember that you have the power of the Holy Spirit.
- Reject the emptiness the world has to offer. It might be pleasing for a season, but it will never satisfy.
Ultimately it comes down to what Jesus commanded. He gave us only two commandments, and the first is…love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. You can’t do that if you’re stoned. Be sober and choose to love God above all. By doing so you will choose not to fall into the snare of the devil.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
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