A black and white photo featuring a worn Bible resting on a table, beside a half-filled glass of water, symbolizing the biblical message of sobriety and the importance of spiritual clarity.

What Does The Bible Say About Being Sober?

The Bible has a lot to say about sobriety and living a sober lifestyle. In a world filled with temptations and substance abuse, God calls His followers to be sober minded and exercise self-control.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The Bible encourages sobriety and warns against drunkenness, instructing believers to be sober minded and self-controlled.

In this comprehensive article, we will explore various Bible verses about sobriety, what the Bible teaches regarding alcohol and drunkeness, the importance of sobriety for believers, and how we can live soberly in today’s society.

Bible Verses Encouraging Sobriety

“Be sober-minded; be watchful” (1 Peter 5:8)

In his first epistle, Peter urges believers to be sober-minded and watchful, comparing the Christian life to a battle against our spiritual enemy. As soldiers must be alert and self-controlled to succeed in battle, Christians must be spiritually sober and vigilant against temptation and evil (1 Peter 5:8).

Staying sober helps us be aware of the devil’s schemes and stand firm in our faith.

According to a Barna study, 67% of practicing Christians say the Bible encourages sobriety. As Peter writes, remaining clear-headed and self-controlled aids our spiritual warfare against “the roaring lion” who seeks to devour us.

“Do not get drunk with wine” (Ephesians 5:18)

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul contrasts drunkenness with being filled with the Holy Spirit. He commands believers not to get drunk, but rather to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). The implication is that alcohol can impair our spiritual life and replace the Spirit’s influence over our thoughts and actions.

A CDC report shows that excessive alcohol use led to around 95,000 deaths annually from 2011–2015. Heeding Paul’s injunction can help us avoid alcohol abuse and walk in step with the Spirit.

“Let us walk properly” (Romans 13:13)

In his letter to the Romans, Paul instructs believers to walk properly in the light of Christ’s return. Part of this involves abstaining from drunkenness and debauchery. Instead, we are to live honorably and make no provision for the flesh (Romans 13:13-14).

According to the WHO, harmful alcohol use results in some 3 million deaths globally each year. Heeding Paul’s words can help us walk uprightly and prevent alcohol abuse and its effects.

Verse Injunction Purpose
1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded Be watchful against spiritual enemies
Ephesians 5:18 Don’t get drunk Be filled with the Holy Spirit
Romans 13:13 Don’t be drunk Walk properly before God

As these verses demonstrate, the Bible frequently encourages sobriety and warns against drunkenness. Remaining clear-headed aids our spiritual walk, our witness, and our warfare against temptation and evil.

Alcohol and Drunkenness in the Bible

Warnings against drunkenness

The Bible contains many warnings against drunkenness and excessive drinking of alcohol. For example, Proverbs 20:1 states, “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.”

This verse cautions that overindulging in alcohol can lead people to make foolish decisions that they regret. The apostle Paul gave a similar warning in Ephesians 5:18, saying, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.” So the Bible makes clear that drunkenness is unwise and sinful.

Examples of drunkenness and their consequences

The Bible contains several examples of people who suffered negative consequences from drunkenness. One prominent case is Noah, who became drunk after the Flood and passed out naked in his tent, leading his son Ham to see his nakedness (Genesis 9:20-27).

This resulted in a curse being pronounced on part of Ham’s descendants. Another case is Belshazzar, the Babylonian king who held a great feast and got drunk, after which the mysterious writing appeared on the wall foretelling the fall of his kingdom (Daniel 5:1-31).

The Bible presents these as sobering (no pun intended! ) examples of how drunkenness can lead to vulnerability, lack of discipline, confusion and catastrophe.

Instructing leaders to avoid drunkenness

Several Bible passages instruct kings, priests and other spiritual leaders not to drink excessively or be prone to drunkenness. For example, Proverbs 31:4-5 says, “It is not for kings, Lemuel —it is not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.”

And in the New Testament, one of the qualifications for spiritual overseers is that they must not be given to drunkenness (1 Timothy 3:3). So the Bible promotes sobriety and self-control as qualities necessary for responsible leadership.

The Importance of Sobriety for Believers

Keeping a sober mind for prayer and discernment

A sober mind is crucial for Christians to commune with God through prayer. As 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” We must be spiritually alert and self-controlled to resist the enemy’s attacks.

Sobriety helps us focus our thoughts on God and hear His voice more clearly. It enables wise discernment rather than hasty, foolish choices. The website GotQuestions.org notes that a sober mind is free from the distortion of sin and addictions.

Exercising self-control by God’s Spirit

Rather than relying on our own strength, believers have the power of the Holy Spirit to help us exercise self-control and live soberly. Galatians 5:22-23 describes the “fruit of the Spirit,” which includes self-control. The Spirit enables us to crucify sinful desires and walk in God’s ways.

Being filled with the Spirit leads to sobriety in every area of life. According to the website BibleStudyTools, sober-mindedness requires vigilance, discipline, and deliberate effort.

Being an effective witness to unbelievers

Living soberly gives credibility to our witness as Christians. Unbelievers are watching how we conduct ourselves. 1 Peter 2:11-12 exhorts us, “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.

Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God.” Our sober-mindedness shows God’s transforming power. As GotQuestions explains, our self-control is a light that points people to Jesus.

Living Soberly in Today’s World

Avoiding temptations and destructive behavior

As the Bible teaches us, we must be vigilant against temptations that can lead us into sin (1 Peter 5:8). This requires self-control and intentionally avoiding situations where we may be vulnerable. For example, if someone struggles with alcohol, it would be wise for them to avoid parties or social gatherings where drinking is prevalent.

The company we keep is also important – if our friends or family engage in destructive habits, we should limit our time with them or seek new friendships with strong believers who will strengthen our walk with God.

Seeking accountability from other believers

Having trusted Christian friends who support our desire to live soberly is invaluable. Their prayers, honesty, and willingness to ask us the hard questions provide accountability and encouragement to make wise choices.

In Galatians 6:1-2, Paul urges believers to gently restore those caught in sin and to carry each other’s burdens. Accountability partners can call or text us when we’re struggling and remind us of God’s truths when we feel weak.

Some churches and ministries offer recovery programs, counseling, or small groups focused on defeating different addictions while discovering freedom in Christ.

Relying on the Holy Spirit for strength

While human friendships and support networks are important, our greatest power to live soberly comes from the Holy Spirit. When we put our faith in Christ, God sends the Holy Spirit to dwell within us (1 Corinthians 6:19) and empower us to resist sin.

As we spend time reading the Bible, praying, worshipping, and fellowshipping with other Christians, our strength is renewed. The Spirit guides us away from toxic habits and gives us new passions that align with God’s will (Galatians 5:16-25).

Even when we stumble, the Spirit brings conviction and forgiveness that set us back on the right path (1 John 1:9).


In conclusion, the Bible has clear instructions and examples showing that followers of Christ are called to live sober, self-controlled lives by the power of the Holy Spirit. Although we may face temptations, God promises to help us overcome and stand firm in His strength and wisdom if we submit ourselves to Him and resist the devil.

As we cling to Him, we can live victoriously and be bright lights pointing others to the hope found in Christ.

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