What Does the Bible Say About Drugs?

The dangers of illegal drugs and medicinal drug abuse are an ever-growing problem in society. All lives are affected in some way by the reality of addiction. What does the Bible say to help Christians think critically about drugs and addiction?

There are many different topics covered throughout the Bible, but the use of illicit drugs is never specifically mentioned. Although some may argue that the Bible’s silence on this and other issues leaves the decision of whether to partake or not in the hands of the user, biblical wisdom would lead us in a very different direction.

Even though drugs aren’t specifically mentioned in the Bible, it is clear that drugs are not allowed within the Biblical framework God has given us.

What Does the Bible Say About Drugs (KJV)?

“Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme”1 Peter 2:13

In this verse and the verses that follow, we are instructed to be subject to those in authority over us, to honor the laws of our governing body. Therefore we can conclude that the Bible prohibits one from ever using illegal drugs for the simple fact that they are unlawful and we should obey the laws of the land, unless such laws are directly at odds with the Bible.

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”1 Corinthians 6:19-20

The Bible encourages us to care for our bodies because they do not belong to us but rather to the Lord. We should carefully consider the way we use our bodies and the things we consume to determine if they bring glory to Christ. Seeing as how drugs are often highly addictive, as well as physically and emotionally harmful, we can once again infer that the Bible does not support the use of recreational drugs.

Is Addiction a Sin in the Bible?

Ask several Christian’s whether addiction is a sin, and you will get several different answers.

One stream of thought concludes that the initial use of highly addictive substances is a sin, but the addiction itself is an uncontrollable response of one’s body. Therefore, someone may be repentant of the choice he or she made, but still struggle with fighting against the addiction for the rest of his or her life.

Another stream of thought concludes that partaking in highly addictive substances is always a sin, even when one’s body is chemically addicted.

In either scenario, Christians generally agree that it is sinful to:

  • Choose to indulge in something that is known to be highly addictive
  • Participate in illegality activity
  • Choose to partake of mind-altering, sober-deducing stimulants for the purpose of recreation, escape, etc.

What Does the Bible Say About Drugs and Addiction?

The Bible doesn’t speak specifically to drugs and addiction, but the Bible does speak of the importance of staying sober minded and submitting our lives only to Christ.

“Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 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.”1 Thessalonians 5:6-8

In this passage Christian’s are called to always be alert, to keep their minds present and on guard against sin and temptation. Christians are called to live a different lifestyle than the world, so as to be an example of Jesus to others. Christians are called to have self-control, but the influence of drugs and their addictive nature are highly hindering to a sober and self-controlled mind.

“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit”Ephesians 5:18

Instead of living for things that fill us with empty satisfaction, we should instead be filled with the Spirit. Those who choose to be inebriated or high on something other than God’s goodness is not living according to His word.

What Does the Bible Say About Drugs and Medicine?

It is increasingly common for someone to find himself or herself abusing medication. Sometimes it appears to happen accidentally; sometimes it seems to happen because it is trendy, especially among the younger generation. The Bible doesn’t specifically discuss the use of drugs or medicine, but it does speak to other similar situations.

“Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.”1 Timothy 5:23
“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”Proverbs 20:1

From this we can conclude that using a drug for medicinal purposes can be helpful, and is biblically permissible. On the other hand, it is sinful to intentionally abuse medication for the sake of an experience beyond the purpose of the medicine. We should stay on guard against the abuse of medicine that can cause more dependence on it than doctors intend, and we should use wisdom and sober judgment when using such medicines.

What Does the Bible Say About Drug Cartels?

The Bible doesn’t speak specifically about drug cartels, but God, being an expert in humanity, is not unfamiliar with group dynamics. There are plenty of examples of groups of people banding together to commit crimes against the weak. Examples of group crimes include:

  • Joseph’s brothers sell Joseph into slavery (Genesis 37)
  • The men outside of Lot’s door seek to sexually assult visitors (Genesis 19)
  • The leaders of a town sexually assault a girl (Judges 19-20)

In each of these situations, God was angered by the sinful acts committed by the group. The punishment rendered in the latter two examples was significant and complete.

“But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.”1 Corinthians 5:11

Christians are called to separate themselves from any believer who takes part in dishonorable, rapacious behavior.

“Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”1 Corinthians 6:10

From this verse, one can presume that those who are participants in drug cartels will not inherit the kingdom of God, being opposed to the heart of God by preying on the weak and vulnerable.

Examples of Drug Addictions in the Bible

There are no specific examples of drug addictions in the Bible. However, we can be confident that temptations to sin and submit ourselves to addiction or other forms of substance abuse are found throughout all time. Further, we can take heart and believe in truth that Jesus himself can “be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

Bible Verses About Drugs and Substance Abuse

The Bible speaks on numerous occasions to the dangers of alcohol abuse:

  • Proverbs 20:1
  • Ephesians 5:18-20
  • 1 Corinthians 12
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8
  • 1 John 2:16

Adding to the dangers of alcoholism are the highly addictive nature of many drugs. The Bible warns us to avoid such substances that dull our ability to make sound and wise choices.

What Does the Bible Say About Drug Relapse?

“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”Romans 5:3

There is a process of growing in overcoming addiction.

“For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”Romans 7:19-23

The authors of the Bible were unaware of the struggle between the desires of the spirit and the desires of the flesh. We should delight ourselves in God’s Word and thank him for his work in our lives while remembering He is the one bringing us through and will finish the work He started (Philippians 1:6).

“But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.”Romans 8:11

One of the greatest hopes of the Christian in the present life is the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is working in the lives of the people of God, empowering us to walk by the Spirit instead of walking by the flesh.

This doesn’t guarantee freedom from addiction, nor does it mean relapses are impossible. However, the presence and power of the Holy Spirit is more than sentiment. Therefore we can seek to humble ourselves before the Lord, believing that he is powerful to bring about all things for his glory and our good.

Stephen D

Stephen Dillard serves as a Bible Scholar with Wycliffe Associates and is a contributing writer on Revelations.org. He is a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri. He and his wife, Madison, have four children and make their home in Indiana.

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