Text: James 5:13-18
I. I heard yet another radio program where the host was arguing for the legalization of drugs.
A. His main argument was one of many that I have heard: “We losing the war on drugs”
B. The idea is that we can’t win, so let’s stop the fight of a never ending battle.
C. Most Christians oppose the use of drugs, but I think many of us would be hard pressed to produce the Scriptures to say why drug use is inconsistent with living a Christian life.
II. Medicinal drugs did exist in biblical times
A. Oils were used for wounds - Isaiah 1:6
B. The good Samaritan used oil and wine for wounds - Luke 10:33-34
C. Anointing the sick with oil - James 5:14
D. Balm, an ointment like Vaseline, was used for medicinal purposes - Jeremiah 8:22
E. Because of Israel’s sins, it is compared to a wound that there is no healing medicine available - Jeremiah 30:12-13
F. In speaking of the perfect land, Ezekiel talks of a place where healing herbs are always available - Ezekiel 47:12
G. They had painkillers given to those suffering torturous deaths - Mark 15:23
H. Timothy was encouraged to use wine for his stomach ailment - I Timothy 5:23
1. In fact, Timothy is an interesting case because it appears he only drank water and avoided alcohol.
2. Even when ill, he had to be encouraged use alcohol as a medicine.
I. However, there is a large difference between medical usage and usage for entertainment purposes.
1. Many want marijuana legalized because of some suspected medical uses.
2. If it has use that a doctor proscribes, then fine, but we have many regulated medicines.
3. The use of a drug for medicine is not authorization for casual, recreational use.
III. Non-medicinal drugs were used in biblical times as well
A. Drugs are sometimes used to lower a person inhibitions, so they will do things they normally would oppose, such as fornication
1. Alcohol is often used today. Some have found that adding Rohypnol (commonly called the date rape drug) to alcohol removes all inhibitions.
2. Similar mixtures are alluded to in the Scriptures
a. Hosea 4:18 - After drinking all their liquor, they commit fornication
b. Habakkuk 2:15 - The NASB and ASV follow the Hebrew more closely. Where many versions talk of pressing the bottle, the Hebrew says mixing in wrath (or poison).
B. Wines mixed with drugs increased the intoxication - Proverbs 23:29-35
C. It was even a focus of contests - Isaiah 5:22
D. The use of drugs is also included in the word translated sorcery.
1. It comes form the Greek work pharmakeia which means “to administer drugs.” We get our work pharmacy from this same word.
2. Drugs were used to invoke “highs” and hallucinations. Without a knowledge of what was involved it appeared to be special power. Much like voodooism in West Indies.
3. In the list of works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21 is the mention of sorcery. In other words the ones who use drugs. They will not inherit the kingdom of God.
a. Listed as part of those sent to the lake of fire - Revelation 21:8
4. The unrepentant continue in their sorceries (drug use) - Revelation 9:20-21
a. Notice the things listed are often associated with drugs: idol worship, murders, immorality, and theft.
b. A similar list is in Revelation 22:15: dogs (homosexuals), sorcerers (drug users), the sexually immoral, murderers, idolaters, and liars.
E. The Septuagint version also used this same word for many instances of sorcery in the Old Testament.
1. Jezebel is accused of practicing harlotry and sorcery (drug use?) - II Kings 9:22
2. Nineveh is said to make merchandise of nations though her harlotry and makes merchandise of families through her sorcery (drug use?) - Nahum 3:4
IV. Why do people turn to drugs?
A. The influence of others - I Corinthians 15:33
B. Anxiety, wanting a chemical fix to calm them - Philippians 4:6
C. Thrill seekers - II Timothy 3:4
D. Lack of courage, a chemical way of avoiding problems - I Corinthians 16:13
V. Arguments for the legalization of drugs
A. We are losing the war on drugs
1. By this they mean that after all the money spent on enforcing drug laws, it still continues.
2. The deception is that no law stops crime.
a. Should we stop pursuing thieves because the laws against stealing have not stopped it?
b. This was Paul’s argument on the weakness of Law and the reason it cannot save - Romans 7:7-11
3. Whether drugs should be illegal or not must be based on the morality of using drugs, not its ability to be enforced.
4. If we are losing the war on drugs, the society must change its acceptance of drug use and teach that principle to its children.
B. Drug use will happen anyway, so we must make it safer
1. This is the argument behind various clean needle programs.
2. It sounds noble, but it sends the message that drug use is tolerated by the government.
a. Is it a wonder, then, that the war on drugs is losing ground when we send messages that its use is tolerated?
3. It also promotes drug use by making its use cheaper and reducing a risk to taking drugs.
4. We should not be surprised, the government does the same subtle encouragement in its sex education programs.
C. If used responsibly, some drugs can be used harmlessly
1. Usually the drug in question is marijuana.
2. The problem is marijuana is not harmless
a. It is a known carcinogen. More potent than tobacco, which is the popular drug to hate today for that very reason.
b. It causes a distortion in the perception of sight, sound, time, and touch. It interferes with thinking and problem solving. It can cause a loss of coordination, paranoia, and anxiety attacks.
(1) We rale against drunk drivers. What happens when marijuana use is legal?
(2) Even illegal, it is the second leading cause of all traffic accidents (alcohol is number one).
(3) With alcohol, the effects wear off after a few hours, but marijuana is stored by the body in the fat cells. It takes up to three months for effects of regular marijuana use to wear off!
c. Marijuana measurably lowers a person’s IQ. When taken during the teenage years, this effect can become permanent.
d. While the effect of marijuana reduces inhibitions against risky sex, longer term users of marijuana lose their ability to have sex and children.
3. The reason drugs are illegal is because they are known to cause harm. It is just that some people will not admit the facts.
D. The reason crime is associated with drugs is because they are illegal. If we legalize them, the price will drop, the drug cartels will go out of business, and crime will drop.
1. I find this twisted reasoning fascinating. If you legalize an action, which in the past was considered a crime, then of course “crime” will go down. However, it doesn’t affect whether the action is right or wrong.
2. Sex outside of marriage use to be considered a crime.
a. Has legalizing it reduced the number of participants or increased them?
b. Has legalizing it impacted related crimes of prostitution or rape?
3. What will be the expected impact of making drugs legal?
a. Will the number of drug users go up or down?
b. When the price drops will more or less people buy a product?
c. With an addictive product, would you expect the producers to go out of business or make a bundle?
d. Since drugs generally reduce inhibitions will risky and often criminal actions increase or decrease?
E. Some people need the drug for medicinal use
1. Then the use should be proven and properly prescribed as a controlled substance
2. But what is usually pushed for a removal of all controls and requirements for testing
3. What also is voided is limiting to those known to need the medication. It becomes a “I wanted it, therefore I need it” situation.
VI. The Bible teaches Christians to keep a clear, sober mind
A. Paul taught that young men and women were to be sensible - Titus 2:4-6
1. The word means sound in mind, self-controlled, in the right mind, or sober
2. Drugs produce artificial feelings and imaginary thoughts (hallucinations)
3. Drug users are reckless, yet the sensible man is careful in his actions - Proverbs 14:15-16
B. Christians are told to exercise self-restraint - I Corinthians 9:24-27
1. Our bodies are to be our slaves, yet drugs create dependencies. Our bodies becomes slaves to a chemical high.
2. We are suppose to have control over ourselves - II Peter 1:6
3. By what a man is overcome, to this he is enslaved - II Peter 2:18-19
VII. Addiction can be overcome
A. Romans 6:17-18 - Through obedience to God and his teachings we can be freed from sin
B. Psalm 119:11 - Treasuring God’s word in our hearts frees us from sin
C. Not that we some special power of our own, but we have the strength and encouragement of God - Philippians 4:13
D. It requires keeping our thoughts pure - Philippians 4:8
E. It requires persistent prayer - I Thessalonians 5:17
F. It requires giving our lives over to Christ, becoming his slave.