"Old wine and new, which take away the understanding of my people"Hosea 4v11.
This is almost a thorowaway line in Hosea, the book the women are studying together on Thursday mornings. But despite being a throwaway line, it still has a lot to say!
I am struck by the desperate need people have for understanding; that is, we need to think clearly and engage our minds if we are to obtain any insights into spiritual things, the only things which will ultimately do us any good.
We can't get to heaven on a good salary, or a nice house, or a satisfying job. And, at the risk of banging a drum, getting to heaven is really all that matters.
The problem with substance abuse, be it "old wine and new", or drugs, is that our understanding is taken away. So we can't engage with the gospel at all. We can't take on board our desperate need for a Saviour. This dwarfs the other, social, problems associated with substance abuse. This is the MAIN THING! If we get this wrong, all else is lost. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose his soul?
I write as someone who likes her wine. But I can really understand the temperance movement of former years. For some people moderate drinking is just not an option. So no drinking is the way it has to be. And I don't think that moderate illegal drug use exists..! (Anyway, it's illegal). The reason people take these things (and drink to excess) is that they specifically want NOT to have to think. They want to dull their minds to whatever problems are too much for them. Or maybe constant exposure to reality is too much for them. But booze just kills you. Quickly or slowly. And takes you to hell. That one's worse.
At Wellfield Church we're surrounded by people who are alcoholics, reformed or current. Also drug users. It's a devastating thing to see people deliberately shutting down their brains to the only thing that can help them.
The power of the gospel is enough to change people. But they have to embrace Christ or they will never kill these deadly habits. It's getting that across to them that needs lots of hard work, lots of prayer, and a miraculous work of God each time.