The Christian and drug abuse[1]

For Christians living in the 21st century, we cannot afford to be ignorant about drug abuse. It is all around us. Drug busts have made it to the front page of my local newspaper, the Bundaberg News-Mail (Queensland, Australia).

 Portal icon How should you respond to the escalating drug problem?

blue-arrow-small What should you relate to your children & friends?

blue-arrow-smallWhat is the message we should take to a culture that is enmeshed in drugs — legal and illicit?
blue-arrow-smallWhat reasons can we give for our approaches to drug abuse?

I want to limit my focus to the biblical, theological and ethical issues of the use of drugs for non-medical reasons.


The Christian response has some foundations:

  • The existence of the living, eternal, personal God who is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.
  • He is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • He is the Redeemer of the world who sent Jesus to die on the cross to provide salvation.
  • He is the Judge before whom all persons, including nations, will bow and be judged for what they have done;
  • He is the One who writes the rules of the universe.
  • As Francis Schaeffer’s book title puts it, He Is There and He Is Not Silent. He’s the listening and speaking God who speaks through the Bible, illuminates it by His Holy Spirit and speaks to our heart by the Holy Spirit.

We must begin any attempt to address the drug situation from these foundations.

Isaiah 8:19-20 reads:

When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn

(note especially v. 20).Many are asking today: What’s wrong with drugs? They say that marijuana is no worse than alcohol or cigarettes, the legal drugs. We must give our youth solid reasons for not using illicit drugs.

A. Foundation Principles

Bible basics for all of life, not just the drug experience, is the Creation, the Fall and Redemption. These make up the foundation of a biblical world view. To interpret and understand anything biblically, we must see it in light of Creation, the Fall and Redemption.

1. Drugs & the Doctrine of Creation

Why be so basic? What does Creation of the heavens and the earth have to do with drugs? When talking about drugs, there are four reasons to begin with Creation(Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”).

a. We are living in a postmodern (“post-Christian”) age.

Religious liberalism within Christianity contributed to this by hacking into the very heart of the supernatural God who is exists and denigrating God’s works in the world. It has moved the church away from its view of truth. The conservative evangelical

operates with a definite supernaturalism — God resides outside the world and intervenes periodically within the natural processes through miracles… The liberal… [considers] there is no supernatural realm outside of the natural realm. God is within nature rather than beyond or outside it. [2]For example, what this means in terms of liberalism:
  • Human nature contains God;
  • There’s a spark of the divine in every human being;
  • Human nature has not been corrupted by sin; rather, human nature is good and has the potential for developing;
  • Human beings do not need conversion; they just need inspiration and a vision of what they can become. [3]
  • Christianity’s beliefs are so tied to the ancient world and need changing. They are old fashioned and out of date. It is not necessary to conserve or preserve those doctrines [of Christianity]. [4]
  • Jesus is basically a good man, a teacher of great spiritual truths, but not the miracle-working, pre-existent Second Person of the Trinity. There is no Jesus dying for the sins of the world as a substitutionary atonement. [5] Of course, there was no miraculous birth.
  • The Bible is not the Word of God, but the writings of human beings, containing many errors.

Then add scientism to religious liberalism and you have an explosive mixture that hacks into the heart of supernatural Christianity. Scientism states that the principles of the “scientific methods can and should be applied in all fields of investigation.” [6] All of life is governed by what you can see, measure and manipulate.

This have moved our thinking away from the truth of Creation, for people in Western cultures. I have people who come to me who have perpetrated horrible sexual abuse against children and ask, “What wrong have I done?” Children who lie, steal, are disobedient, rebel like crazy, and think it’s their right. Many of them have no remorse for the wrong they have done. Where is conscience?

What is right and what is wrong? Just your opinion against mine? This is postmodern relativism. Anything goes as far as values are concerned. Why the hue and cry when euthanasia is voted down by the parliament? Why is the government even thinking of lowering the age of consent for sex to 10 and making incest no longer a criminal offence? How do we choose right vs. wrong?

That’s why we must get back to Creation.

The second reason we must get back to Creation when talking about drugs is:

b. Because of the influx of Eastern religions and the popularity of the New Age Movement.

This view is pantheism. All is god. Therefore, the universe is God. This is especially true of young people. Many young people have never heard of Creation. In my field of welfare, the New Age movements’ meditation, crystals, yoga, mantras and the like are dominating in dealing with stress.

This comment comes from the front page article of Contact [7], “a monthly Newsletter for people interested in mental health in the Bundaberg district” (May, 1997). It recommended Eastern meditation, saying it

Is all about relaxation, contentment and awareness. It is all about “stilling the spontaneous activity of the mind” as one of the Eastern Master[s] wrote 300 years before Christ.Through the deep relaxation that meditation can bring, comes an altered state of awareness. This altered state of awareness can take people from aggressive to tranquil, from fearful to confident, from doubtful to positive and from discontented to understanding.

Then the article proceeds to recommend many methods of meditation: transcendental meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, concentration, walking and standing, mantras and chants. It admits that the mantras and chants are “derived from Eastern religion where they were believed to have mystical powers.”

The third reason we must get back to Creation is because:

c. Pantheism is the basic world view of many who take drugs.

It interprets the drug experience for them. Leaders in the “flower children” of the 1970s who were into drugs, Timothy Leary, Alan Watts, etc. openly embraced pantheism.

Why do you think the Green movement has become so big? Nature is part of God and needs to be preserved, according to pantheism. Ecological movements use pantheism in their presentations.

There’s a fourth reason to get back to Creation:

d. Unless you understand the biblical doctrine of Creation, you can never understand the rest of Scripture.

blue-arrow-small To get to the sinful response of the Fall into sin, you must start with Creation. After the Fall comes Redemption. We must start with Creation to oppose pantheism. I also put it to you that in this secular age, we need to get back to Creation, the Fall and Redemption in our witnessing for Christ.

The doctrine of Creation means:

  • Time, matter, energy, space and all things that are created had a beginning. They are not eternal. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1).
  • By an act of His sovereign will, God created everything without using pre-existent material.
  • The Creator and His creation are totally and qualitatively different from each other. Human beings are distinct and different from animals.
  • The universe is not God or a part of God. It is the creation of God (John 1:1-4; Col 1:16-17; Heb. 11:3; Rev 4:11).
  • The universe was originally created good and with a divine purpose. God created everything with a definite purpose in mind (Prov. 16:4; Ps. 19; Rev. 4:11).
  • Nothing happens by chance or luck in the universe. Nothing is meaningless.
  • Therefore, we must look upon every plant, drink and drug as having some purpose and function in the created world.

When the biblical doctrine of Creation is understood and believed, the pantheistic drug experience will be rejected.

The Eastern/New Age pantheist wants to get away from life and the body in this world. He/she wants to escape to an inner world of non-material reality. Only in the teaching on Creation, do we find a positive attitude to material reality. It is all made by God for a purpose.

Pantheism can never use drugs for the correct purpose in its escape to “Nirvana.” The Hindus see themselves as trapped in a wheel of suffering “and they yearn to break out of the cycle so that they can finally merge as a mindless drop in the great sea of forgetfulness that they call Nirvana.” [8] This is what many on drug trips expect.

Only the biblical doctrine of Creation serves as the positive, useful and correct use of drugs which God created.

Don (D.A.) Carson preached a series of messages for the Presbyterian Theological College, Melbourne, in late 1996. He’s an outstanding evangelical scholar of the Bible as well as a thinking, enthusiastic university evangelist. He says that he is having considerable impact on these postmodern students by going back to Genesis 1-3. He places a photocopy of Gen. 1-3 on each seat in the building and proclaims Creation, the Fall and then Redemption in Christ. You can read of his approach in his massive book, The Gagging of God (600 pages) [9]. Some of it is heavy going, but Carson’s analysis and solutions are brilliant, in my estimate.

2. Drugs and the Biblical Teaching on the Fall

blue-arrow-small Human beings were created righteous, pure, holy and good (Gen. 1 & 2). Gen. 1:28, “God blessed them and said to them, `Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.'” This is the Cultural Mandate.

But then sin entered (Gen. 3). Original sin was a deliberate act of rebellion. Gen. 2:16, “And the Lord God commanded the man, `You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

Gen. 3 shows how they listened to Satan, ate the fruit and the dreadful consequences of sin and eternal damnation came on the human race. This original sin was rebellion of human beings misusing part of creation to satisfy the evil desires of the heart.

The sin of Adam had two effects:

a. It made him legally guilty before God because he had broken God’s law.

So human beings at that moment were subjected to God’s justice and holiness.

b. Adam’s sin infected his own being and made him evil. This has been passed on to the whole human race.Human beings became corrupt in every aspect of their natures. The Bible’s clear teaching is that all human beings are now born with an evil nature and that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Ps. 51:5; Rom.. 1-5; Eph. 2:1-3). No aspect of us misses the radical effects of the Fall into sin. In our emotional, intellectual, volitional activities we are sinners before the true God.

Our thoughts, feelings, desires come out of wickedness in every area of our experience. In relation to God, sin is disobedience to God’s Holy Law and Word (I John 3:4). Sin is a form of idolatry (Ex. 20:3-7). In relation to the world around us, sin is the abuse and misuse of the creation — in opposition to the commands of God’s law (Ex. 20:8-17).

This means that a person does not ultimately become a drug abuser because of environmental or psychological factors. These are important factors, but they are not the ultimate cause of drug abuse. From the Christian perspective, drug abuse does not come from people’s ignorance or peer pressure but from sinfulness.

Why am I going over this fundamental doctrine of sin? Unless we see this, we are misguided in our attempts to help drug users. We must lay the axe at the root of the problem, because a radical cure is needed. If a person is serious about getting off drugs, he/she must see drug abuse as something that is sinful, that needs repentance from sin.

I read about

A well-known Christian drug-abuse center in Brooklyn, New York. Several men from the FBI [went] in and started asking questions. In conversation, one of them said that the government could not officially send anyone to a religious organization even for drug rehabilitation. However, so many drug users had been cured at this Christian establishment that they had come to see the secret of the success. After the Gospel was explained to them, they replied that the government could not use any religion for rehabilitation, but they were going to send people to them unofficially. Certain individuals with whom the government had worked and failed had come to the center. There they had been converted and seemed permanently cured of drug abuse. Obviously the power of the Gospel had been displayed to the government officials. [10]

3. Drugs and Redemption

There are four basic aspects to biblical redemption:

a. It is something that God has planned and accomplished.

The Fall into sin did not take God by surprise. He had planned salvation for people before He created the universe according to Eph. 1:4, “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.”

b. The Trinity is involved in Redemption.

God the Father planned the salvation of sinners by choosing them for salvation (2 Thess. 2:13). He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us, paying the full penalty for the sins of the people (Heb. 2:17) so that we could be redeemed. He died in our place to secure eternal redemption for us (I John 4:10).

Then the Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit to apply Christ’s redemption to sinners. We could say, “Christians were chosen by the Father, purchased by the Son, and sealed by the Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14). Salvation is from the Triune God.” [11]

c. Redemption concerns individual persons

Individual people become Christians. It is personal (John 6:37, 65). God the Spirit renews and indwells individuals (Eph. 1:13). However, these individuals become part of the body of Christ–corporate. But individuals make up this body (I Peter 2:5).

d. Redemption has cosmic ramifications.

The earth itself will one day be redeemed from the effects of sin. READ ROMANS 8:19-23.  There will be a new heaven and a new earth without contamination (2 Peter 3:7-13). All of this confirms that biblical Christianity is radically opposed to the pantheism of the drug experience and Eastern religions. Pantheism believes in the ultimate destruction of the individual person by absorption into the One.

This Eastern view of the annihilation of the individual self is a popular explanation of drug-induced experiences. This impersonal annihilation teaching has been known to be the background of some suicide attempts.


Based on the foundation laid, we can say, concerning drug abuse:

  • We are dealing with the difference between right and wrong;
  • The basis of Christian ethics is:
  • Something is absolutely wrong when God says it is wrong in His Word. God writes the laws for the universe.
  • We must examine the Scriptures to know the thoughts of God concerning drug experience. The Bible alone tells us this (Isa. 8:20).
  • Those who base their views on subjective experience will contradict much of what I have said. These people exalt experience over the Word.

A. The Distinction Between Medical Use of Drugs and Illicit Drugs

blue-arrow-smallThe NT records over 100 cases of healing, most of them being miracles by Christ and the apostles. Jesus portrayed himself as a physician (Mark 2:17).

If we take the teachings of Christ, we can construct a biblical view of the role of a physician to indicate some of the functions of medicines.

  • “Jesus said, `It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick'” (Matt. 9:12). Therefore,
  • “The function of drugs for medical purposes is to bring a person from the abnormal state of sickness or unwholeness into a state of normal health.”[12] God, in His grace, has given human beings the means to cure diseases. However,
  • “Drug abuse functions to take a person from the normal state of life into an abnormal state.” [13]
  • The medical use of drugs has been used to help people with emotional difficulties, e.g. anti-depressants. On the other hand, drug abuse has been linked with permanent mental illness (we’ll talk about his when we get to discuss marijuana).

The drug experience is designed to take people into an inner world and to forget about society, problems, the family, work and school. If you go to Nimbin, Northern NSW, you can still meet drop-outs from society and those on drug highs. However, you don’t have to go that far. I know of many who have dropped out and into drugs — in Bundaberg — a regional Queensland city and district of 65,000 people.

Robert Morey’s summary is penetrating: “The use of any drug for the purposes of entertainment, escape, mind-control, religious worship, occult experiences, magic or murder is a sin against God, the Creation, the Society and the Individual.” [14]

My proposal to you condemns any use of drugs for non-medical reasons, regardless of whether that use has developed into a physical dependence or continuous use. I do not support the methadone program. It is the giving of a synthetic morphine substitute (methadone) to heroin addicts. The methadone is not for medicinal reasons. It is a continuation of drug addiction. Neither the individual nor the government has the power to change the drug addiction.  Some by sheer determination have come out of the drug scene — but it’s a tough battle. That’s why the Australian government’s policy is “harm minimisation.”

However, I know of many who have been set free from the oppression of drug addiction through a life changing encounter with Jesus Christ — through repentance, forgiveness and faith. If you are interested in the Gospel of Jesus Christ that changes people NOW and guarantees eternal life — see “The Content of the Gospel.” [15]


Some people seem to think the Bible has nothing to say about the drug problem in our society. They reach this understanding because of

A. Two basic misunderstandings:

1. They assume drug problems are peculiar to the 21st century.

The fact is, the ancient world during biblical times had many drug cultures. Many of the empires surrounding Israel wisely used drugs in their cultural life.

  • Jewish awareness concerning drugs. In Gen. 30:14-24, Jacob’s wife obtained a love potion called “mandrakes” to cure her infertility. She soon discovered that only God can open the womb for the infertile.
  • In NT times the drug problem was worse. Drugs were integral to the popular Mystery Religions of first century AD. Acts 19:18-20 — the people who had repented under Paul’s ministry, turned away from their mystery religion and burned their occult books that, no doubt, contained recipes for various drugs. [16]

There’s a second misunderstanding that causes people to think the Bible does not speak of drug abuse.

2. In their reading of the Scriptures, they fail to see the places where the writers raise the issue.

This is understandable because drug abuse is not mentioned explicitly in the English versions of the Bible. It is disguised by certain translations that are used.

Consider the Greek word, “pharmakeia.”

The English words, “pharmacy, pharmaceutical, pharmacist”, come from the Greek word, pharmakeia. The origin of this word refers to the making and use of drugs. “The word means in the classical writers, a preparer of drugs.” [17]

W.E. Vine in his Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says, “In sorcery, the use of drugs whether simple or potent, was generally accompanied by incantations and appeals to occult powers, with the provision of various charms, amulets, etc., professedly designed to keep the applicant or patient from the attention and power of demons, but actually to impress the applicant with the mysterious resources and powers of the sorcerer.” [18]

A more recent word study by Colin Brown, says, concerning pharmakeia, “Its meaning of medicine, magic potion, poison gives the underlying idea of the words. Potions include poisons but there has always been a magical tradition of herbs gathered and prepared for spells, and also for encouraging the presence of spirits at magical ceremonies.” [19]

B. Biblical Use of “Pharmakeia”

We see the use of pharmakeia in passages like Gal. 5:20 where one of the works of the flesh (“acts of the sinful nature”) is witchcraft or sorcery (depending on the translation). Drugs were part of witchcraft. Pharmakeia was only part of sorcery, “it literally means the act of administering drugs.” [20]

In the context of Galatians, pharmakeia refers to sinful activity. It is the practice of witchcraft, involving drug abuse. It is the non-medical use of drugs that is one of the “acts of the sinful nature.” We must get this clear. People may say the reasons they use drugs are: boredom, to get kicks, or to escape, “but the ultimate motive lying behind all other seeming motives is a self-satisfaction of the inner, depraved desires. This reveals that a drug experience is essentially selfish because it directs one entirely into oneself.

Galatians 5: 17 makes it clear that drug abuse is being in total opposition to the work of the Holy Spirit, “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.”

In this context, the remedy for witchcraft and drug abuse is the work of the Spirit of God which replaces the “acts of the sinful nature” with “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23).

You will also notice in Galatians 5 that pharmakeia is linked with other sins. For example, in v. 20 the list “couples idolatry with its habitual ally, sorcery.” [21]  The Bible seems to place certain sins together because there are elements that bind them together — idolatry and witchcraft.

With this is mind, what kinds of sins are generally associated with witchcraft and drug abuse? If you look at the list of sinful practices here is Gal. 5:19-21, they divide into four basic categories: [22]

1. Sins of sensual passion. “Fornication” or “sexual immorality” (NIV) refers to any kind of sexual immorality outside of marriage. “Impurity” or “uncleanness” often refers to the unnatural sexual acts such as homosexuality. “Debauchery” or “licentiousness” indicates the “giving up of oneself totally to sensuality and is expressed in such sins as pornography, exhibitionist nudity, sleeping around with anybody. These are sins against the body. [23]

2. Sins of unlawful dealing in spiritual things. “Idolatry” means that one makes a god out of some aspect of created things. The wood or stone idols of the heathen are obvious. The secularism and exaltation of reason of modern human beings are also forms of idolatry. All idolatry is a direct sin against the God who exists.

3. Sins of “violations of brotherly love.” Or, sins against your neighbour — hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissension, factions and envy.

4. Sins of “intemperate excesses.” Or, sins against society. These are sins that usually happen in groups. In Gal. 5, these sins are mentioned as “drunkenness, orgies and the like.”

Western people seem to be returning to the “Age of Magic” through the New Age Movement There’s a resurgence in meditation, yoga, crystals, astrology, the occult, witchcraft and Satanism. “There is an acknowledged attitude toward drug abuse which views it as a magical solution to personal problems.” [24]

Wherever the Bible mentions sorcery/witchcraft (pharmakeia), it also refers to drug abuse, which was an integral part of ancient sorcery. When the Bible condemns witchcraft/sorcery, the denunciation includes drug abuse. This position is taken by many well known New Testament commentators and scholars. [25]

There are other biblical uses of pharmakeia that I can mention briefly:

Rev. 9:20-21:

Even after a third of the human race has perished under God’s relentless, severe punishment, people still will not repent of their sins and turn to God. John, the revelator, mentions certain sins that were prominent at that stage of society. They include “magic arts” (NIV), pharmakeia. We could just as easily translate v. 21, “Nor did they repent of their… drug abuse.” [26]

The judgment of God could not break [people] of [their] addiction to drugs. It is only the grace of God which can savingly change the heart of a drug-abuser. Notice the sins which accompany drug abuse in the context [of Rev. 9:20-21]. [27]

Note: “worshipping demons.” Right now, the worship of Satan and his demons, the rise of witchcraft, astrology, magic, and the occult, is happening at the same time as the rise in drug abuse. The Bible, thousands of years ago, told us this would be so.

The existence of these things in cultures of the East and now in the West (thanks to the New Age) supports the underlying unity between these evils. “What binds them together is a lust to substitute the world of the creature for the world of the Creator. In his rebellion, man wants to be his own Creator and to live in a pleasure world which panders to the desires of the flesh.

Rev. 9 says that the people “did not repent… they did not stop worshiping demons and idols” (v. 20).

Alan Watts, one of the leaders in the hippie drug culture in the 1960s and 70s, “pointed out that drugs cause a person to loosen up in the area of inter-physical and inter-sexual contact with other people.” [28] We know that some drugs seem to heighten sexual sensations during intercourse. When a person takes drugs, he/she often loses self-control, including sex-control.

I don’t have space to look into Revelation 18:23; 21:8; 22:15 to see how illicit drugs will be used by people and nations at the end of the church age. Just before Christ returns. However, it is important “to note that the last chapter of the last book of the New Testament ends with a warning to those who traffic in sorcery and the wrong use of drugs.” [29]

The Old Testament is just as adamant against use of drugs and sorcery. e.g. Ex. 7:11, 22; 8:18; 22:18; Deut. 18:11; 2 Kings 9:22; Isa. 47:9, 12; Dan. 2:2; Micah 5:12; Nahum 3:4; Mal. 3:5.

The early church felt the force of the Scriptures against sorcery to be so strong that they met at the Council of Ancyra in Galatia about A.D. 315 to pass a severe canon against all (pharmakeia) [30]. The church of the twenty-first century must stand by this historic canon in condemning all forms of sorcery, especially drug abuse, which is at present over-running our society. The early Christians saw clearly that drug-cultures and drug-religions are diametrically opposed to biblical Christianity. The truth of this absolute antithesis [drugs and Christianity do not mix] must be revived in our day so that the Church may not only survive but also triumph.[31]


We can briefly note

Portal icon1. Even some of those coming out of the hippie movement of the 1970s, such as Timothy Leary & Alan Watts, linked “religious” and “mystical” experiences with LSD and other drugs. This was their wonderful motive for taking drugs. [32] Aldous Huxley, who didn’t believe in “god”, linked the “religious” experience with taking drugs. [33]

2. But what has liberalism done over the last 100 years in the church? It has not taught people to fear God and it has rejected the new birth that brings regeneration. It brought “dead, formal, and external religion. This created a vacuum within [people] which drugs now attempt to fill.” [34]

3. Liberalism rejects the Christianity of the Bible, shattering the foundation of historical “facts”, leaving religion to be a non-rational leap of faith or state of mind. This opens life up to the drug experience.

4. This view is not only in modern liberalism, but in modern philosophies of art, music and literature of the last century. It is also the experience of the New Age Movement. Those on drugs, often say, “Why waste time meditating or praying when I can drop out on drugs?” How are modern liberal theologians going to interpret the drug-induced, non-rational religious experience when there is nothing like it in orthodox Christianity? The answers will come from: (1) Eastern religion (Hinduism, Buddhism), or (2) Existential Christianity of the Charismatics/Pentecostals.

5. Drug-induced mystical experience or hyped-up experiential highs of some Christian groups are not acceptable before God. Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

The way to the true God is the way of “faith.” The Bible’s view of faith is “that certain conscious commitment of the whole [person] to the Lord Jesus Christ in all the glory of His person and work.” [35]

6. Your true worship of God is this, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). You cannot love, obey and worship the one true God through a drug-induced experience. Your heart will be somewhere else, your soul high, your mind blown and your strength zapped.

When Jesus saved the demoniac, the demons were gone; he was clothed and in his right mind (Mark 5:15). According to 2 Tim. 1:7, the work of the Spirit in your life produces a sound mind/self-discipline. When the prodigal son was converted “he came to his senses/he came to himself” (Luke 15:17). Acts 19:18-20 makes it clear that the sign of true conversion is turning away from all forms of witchcraft — drug abuse.

Many people try to get to God via a drug experience. They by-pass Jesus Christ and are damned. “Since the Fall, [human beings have] attempted to find inward peace, happiness, and joy by any means except the way laid out for [them] in the Scriptures.” [36] The use of drugs in every aspect is opposed to the work of the Spirit in producing the fruit of the Spirit. Drugs is a manifestation of the sinful nature. Refer to Gal. 5:16-23.


1. In Gen. 1:28 we have the Cultural Mandate that God has given to human beings. Does drug abuse violate the Cultural Mandate? If so, why & how?

  • Drugs are an escape from this world into an inner world of irresponsibility.
  • Drugs can cause people to be blind to the evil and inhumanity around them. They see the real world as an illusion. “Marijuana is particularly guilty in this area. It cuts down on the motivation to do physical and mental labor. While they are high on pot, the earth can go to `pot’ for all they care.” [37]
  • To enable people to obey the Cultural Mandate, they must have use all of their faculties and be consciously working with all of creation. Drug abuse is a sin against the earth.

Portal icon2.    Why is a widespread turning to drugs detrimental to society?

  • It makes human society ultimately meaningless; society has no real significance.
  • Just take a look at some Eastern countries where drug abuse is endemic. Go to Burma, India. Andrew Weil has admitted that “clearly much drug taking in our country [speaking of the USA] is negative in the sense that it is ultimately destructive to the individual and therefore to society.” [38]
  • Those under the influence of drugs cannot truly love their neighbours. Yet drug users could respond, “Well, I know that when I am high I love everybody. The love which I have when high is fantastic and unbelievable. And you should feel what it is like to make love when high. Man, that’s love.” [39]

This is a confusion of fleshly excitement and lust, with love. This means that true human relationships cannot happen when intoxicated. Just take a trip through a drug community and see the filth, poverty, crime, disease, immorality. Drug users are a negative influence in any society.
  • Widespread use of drugs causes many drop outs in society. They don’t produce for society. They live off society by welfare, stealing, prostitution, etc.

3. You have to decide for yourself whether or not to use drugs. I put it to you that your personal drug use could:

  • temporarily affect you as a rational being while on a high;
  • it can twist your sense of time and history;
  • drugs can sometimes render you incapable of intelligible communication with another;
  • many drug users have lost their sense of being an individual person distinct from another. If this happens, you are destroying the image of God in yourself, reducing yourself to the level of an animal, plant or machine,
  • You may lose your sense of being a creature. Drugs create a sense of euphoria which sometimes may cause you to think you can transcend your creatureliness — even become a god. Some think of themselves this way, as superman, and leap from a tall building to their death. [40] Just remember that Satan’s main temptation to Eve at the Fall was “you will be like God” (Gen. 3:5). Ever since then, people have tried to experience godhood. They use drugs as one trip to try to get there.

Many drug users find that drugs help to create a period of self deification which eventually causes psychological problems and sometimes physical harm.

Remember, injecting SPEED may KILL you; LSD probably breaks chromosomes; many drugs destroy brain cells; marijuana has serious adverse effects. There are grave personal consequences from using drugs. They may alter your mind permanently. You can expect basic, and maybe, permanent change to your personality. Many times you may lose your ability to concentrate or read. Motivation could be zapped — especially with marijuana.

4. Pill popping is much quicker than sanctification. Some ask, “Why spend hours in prayer when a pill can give you instant peace? Why seek to put to death the sin of anxiety when a tranquillizer will calm your nerves?” Read James 1:2-4.

5. The use of drugs may open you up to demonic or satanic control. Is it worth it? Many pagan religions have used drugs to gain entrance into the spirit world to commune with evil spirits and gods.

6. Addiction is slavery. Paul to the Corinthians said, “I will not be mastered by anything” (I Cor. 6:12).


Numbers of people have debated marijuana use through the pages of the my local newspaper, the Bundaberg News-Mail. A summary of an article and three letters-to-the-editor follow:


In the Bundaberg News-Mail, “Friday Faith”, April 4, 1997, p. 18, it recorded:

1. “An outspoken, inner-city youth counsellor (Pastor Morrie Thompson, Teen Challenge, Adelaide) has called for tougher marijuana laws, including life imprisonment for adults supplying the drug to minors”:

2. “Current legislation [in SA] is responsible for many young people moving on to other drugs”;

3. “Lives are being ruined by m. because many teenagers were unaware of its dangers”;

4. “Many young people did not believe m. was harmful to their health despite `the peak health bodies in the world (being) unanimous in their condemnation of the drug’ because of a lack of information”;

5. Because the general community is ambivalent in its attitude, due mainly to misinformation, criminals are reaping a rich reward”;

6. “M. laws should be tightened to make growing `any quantity’ of the drug a criminal offence with `extremely heavy fines'”;

7. “A reward system should also be set up for information leading to conviction”;

8. “M. use could lead to harder drug abuse because `soft law’ sent a message to the community that `drugs are OK'”.


An April 12, 1997 letter to the Bundaberg News-Mail, in reply to an article, “Call for tough laws”, News-Mail, April 4, 1997, warning of the dangers of marijuana use contained this content :

1. “Pastor Morrie Thompson, calling for life imprisonment for marijuana dealers”;

2. “The nonsense printed by Drug Arm on marijuana”;

3. “The most dangerous drugs in common use are the legal ones: alcohol and cigarettes. . . The drug most linked with a greater use of hard drugs is alcohol”;

4. “Marijuana has never killed anyone”;

5. “The ban on alcohol earlier this century did nothing to curb its use, and only enriched the mafia. . . Marijuana now performs this role”;

6. “The drug debate needs informed opinion, not hysterical lies”;

7. “The best approach, I believe, is moderation in all drug use, whether legal or illegal”;

8. “Any high can induce an addiction cycle, and that mixing hard drugs, especially with alcohol, can be fatal”;

9. The ABC’s Quantum is running an excellent series on drugs at the moment. I am sure we will all find it informative on m., and that the claims made by the above writers will be entirely discredited”:


An April 21, 1997 letter to the Bundaberg News-Mail (replying to letter of April 12) proclaimed:

1. “Misguided conception that marijuana is a comparatively harmless recreational drug.”

2. “Cannabis sativa is a complex mixture of about 60 cannabinoids.”

3. “The worst offender in cannabis appears to be THC.”

4. “It is rapidly absorbed by the blood through the lungs and accumulates in heart, brain, liver and body fats. Since release from fat can take up to 40 days the residual effects of marijuana can be topped up by intermittent smoking. Is this the recreational aspect you refer to?”

5. “Effects such as memory loss, balance and co-ordination impairment, hallucinations, anxiety and panic attacks and a form of psychosis…”

6. “The increase in the incidence of tongue, mouth and jaw cancer is apparent but as yet undocumented. It may be no worse than tobacco smoke but it does exist.”

7. “The biological dependence is well known.”

8. “All addictions need financial input to support them… supplemented by crime… juveniles turning to crime to support their addiction.”

9. “You look at the long term effects of drug dependency and not at the short term pleasures.”


An April 24, 1997 letter to the Bundaberg News-Mail (replying to letter of April 21), stated:

Portal icon1. “Where oh where do you get your facts on marijuana use?”

2. “Your exaggeration of undocumented stories and half truths have little factual basis.”

3. “When we discuss m. it is essential that we are entirely truthful and do not conduct a campaign of scaremongering.”

4. “While the ACT and SA Governments have decriminalised m., Qld persists in prosecuting it as a dangerous drug.”

5. “If it must remain illegal surely the word `prohibited’ would be more descriptive than the word `dangerous’.”

6. “One of the most remarkable qualities of this drug is its safety as medicine. It is non toxic. No deaths from overdose have been reported. In fact it is safer than some foods… It is far safer than aspirin and many legal medicines which commonly have a lethal dose only 10 times their effective dose.”

7. “It has been estimated that one would have to smoke 800 m. cigarettes to induce a fatal reaction.”

8. “Like any drug used to excess it can have minor side effects. It is not called dope for nothing.”

9. “The citizens of Arizona and California voted into law their right to have legal access to marijuana for medicinal uses.”


A. Initially, people use drugs because of:
  • social pressure,
  • boredom,
  • curiosity,
  • desire for a new experience,
  • better sex,
  • to gain wisdom & intelligence,
  • to escape pain, worry, responsibility, tension, etc.

To begin with, the use of drugs comes out of normal, natural or environmental needs or desires. Drug abuse is one way to try to satisfy our needs or desires. This doesn’t mean it is beneficial.

1. We must distinguish between needs based on creation and sinful needs.

Creation needs:

Gen. 1:27, “So God created man (human beings) in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Psalm 8:3-9:

    When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?  You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.  O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

We were created by God to relate to God. This is a creation need.

Gen. 2:18, “The Lord God said, `It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
We are created with a need for human companionship, communication and love. There are created needs, but there are also

Sinful needs

In Gen. 3, human beings sinned and the results are: needs and desires are contaminated by sin. The desire to kill oneself or other human beings goes back to the Fall. When talking about drug abuse, we must make sure we are clear about the difference between created desires and sinful desires.

Within the limits of God’s will, He has provided us with wonderful ways to satisfy created needs: companionship through friends, marriage; relating to God through His Word, worship, prayer.

The desire for food and sleep comes through creation. The desire for a drug experience comes from the Fall into sin and the guilt that comes.

Initially, people use drugs for many sinful reasons.

B. Why do people continue to use drugs?

When I speak with drug users, most of them don’t give me the initial reasons for trying drugs. Many times they will say:

  • it feels good;
  • it puts me into a mental state so that I don’t have to worry about the things around me;
  • it has expanded my consciousness; it is a “high” that gives me a different perception on the world.

Let’s get this clear: the main reason for entering into the drugged state is the abnormal mental state that it gives — the high.

Most people would not risk memory loss, zapped motivation, schizophrenia, etc. if it were not for the altered states of consciousness that they experience.

C. The Pluses and Minuses of the Drug Experience

During the drug experience, you may lose:

1. the ability to rationally understand things;

2. contact with the normal world of sense perception;

3. any accurate perception of the size, shape, or colour of objects;

4. the ability to perceive differences between objects;

5. the sense of self and its identity;

6. the awareness of time;

7. consciousness of the past and its importance;

8. consciousness of the future and its goals;

9. the ability to give sustained attention;

10. the ability to communicate intelligently.

Portal icon During the drug experience, you may gain:

1. the sensation of having great insight, intuition, & knowledge;

2. the monistic or pantheistic perception of the universe;

3. the experience of godhood by sensing that you are infinite, all-knowing, all-powerful, indestructible, and eternal;

4. the sense of being possessed, overpowered, or carried along by some force greater than oneself;

5. a heightened perception of sounds sights, and colours;

6. a heightened sensual experience of sex, touch, and taste;

7. a confusion of the senses in which one may see music and hear colours;

8. the ability to live in the present without any care or concern for the past or future;

9. the ability to be released from all responsibility and restraint and to do whatever one feels like doing;

10. mystical or religious experiences with God/”god” or spirit beings. [41]

D. What can we say about the altered state of consciousness?

Is it good, bad, neutral or a mixture?  Is it beneficial or destructive for human beings? Our answers to these questions decide the issue of drug abuse.

  • For some years I have thought and taught that the way to fight drug abuse is to show the scientific (factual data) about the harmful effects of drugs. But I’m not convinced now that this is the correct focus. Why?
  • I think this is opening the door to decriminalising or legalising drugs. Why?
  • I have no basis or right to reject legalisation of a drug which could be discovered in the future that does not cause physical harm.

While the harmful effects of drugs play an important part in the battle against drug abuse, I believe the primary attack should be made against the major motivation and goal of drug abuse: THE ALTERED STATE OF CONSCIOUSNESS. This, I believe, is the core of our battle.

Once we realise that the core issue is the drug experience itself, then anything that produces in human beings this altered mental state must be condemned. This condemnation stands whether this drug is physically harmless and non-addictive. [42]

There are other ways to produce this altered mental state: Eastern meditation, yoga, chanting, singing and dancing.

I am convinced that biblical Christianity can give the proper arguments against drug abuse and answers to the issue of the drug experience. This requires a knowledge of basic Christianity — which is fairly scarce these days. We are in a day of shocking biblical illiteracy, even in the evangelical church.

Portal icon

X.    Endnotes

[1] Much of the content of this web page is based on a summary of R.A. Morey, The Bible and Drug Abuse. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1973. This is one of the most helpful books I have ever read on a Christian understanding of drug use. Unfortunately, the book is now out of print.
[2] Millard Erickson, Christian Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1985, p. 304.
[3] Ibid., p. 305.
[4] Ibid., p. 113.
[5] Ibid., p. 663.
[6] Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary Unabridged. Collins World, 1978.
[7] Issue 10, Bundaberg, Qld., May 1997, p. 1.
[8] Johanna Michaelsen, Like Lambs to the Slaughter. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1989, p. 302.
[9] Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996.
[10] Morey, pp. 21-22.
[11] Ibid., p. 24.
[12] Ibid., 28.
[13] Ibid.
[14] Ibid., p. 29.
[15] “The Content of the Gospel” by Spencer Gear is a summary of essential Gospel content (a sorely needed emphasis in these days of spiritual declension in the church), based on John F. MacArthur Jr., Faith Works: The Gospel According to the Apostles. Milton Keynes, England: Word Publishing, 1993, p. 247ff.
[16] See A Deissman, Light From the Ancient East. New York: George A. Doran Co., 1909, p. 259 for an example of a drug formula in a magic book. In Morey, p. 103, as footnote for Chapter 6, No. 2 (p. 32).
[17] Kitto (ed.), A Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature. New York: William H. Moore and Co., 1846, p. 959, in Morey p. 32.
[18] W.E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. London: Opliphants, 1940, Vol. VI, “Sorcery”, p. 52.
[19] Colin Brown (Ed.), The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 2. Exeter: The Paternoster Press, 1976, p. 558.
[20] James Orr (Ed.), International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1939, 5:3097, in Morey, p. 34.
[21] W. Robertson Nicoll (Ed.), The Expositor’s Greek Testament, Vol. III. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Company, 1967, p. 187.
[22] J.B. Lightfoot, The Epistle of St. Paul to the Galatians. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1957, p. 210.
[23] Morey, p. 36.
[24] Ibid., p. 33.
[25] Alford, Kitto, Lange, Lenski, A.T. Robertson, Vincent, as in Morey, footnote 9, p. 103.
[26] Literally, “their drugs,” Henry Alford, Alford’s Greek Testament, Vol. IV, Part II. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Guardian Press, 1976, p. 648; also supported by A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol. VI. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press, 1933, p. 369.
[27] Morey, p.37.
[28] The Joyous Cosmology. New York: Vintage Books, 1962, 93, in Morey, p. 39.
[29] Morey, p. 42.
[30] Lange, Lange’s Commentary, 138, in Morey, p. 42.
[31] Morey, p. 42.
[32] A. Watts, The Joyous Cosmology, pp. xi, xviii, 18-19, 90, in Morey, p. 43.
[33] See Francis A. Schaeffer, The God Who is There. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1968, pp. 27-29.
[34] See Francis A. Schaeffer, Escape from Reason. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1968, pp. 46-55. Also W. Braden, The Private Sea: LSD and the Search for God. Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1967, 117-119, in Morey, pp. 44.
[35] J.G. Machen, What Is Faith?. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1965, in Morey, p. 47.
[36] Morey, p. 49.
[37] Ibid., p. 53.
[38] “The Natural Mind: A New Way of Looking at Drugs and the Higher Consciousness,” Psychology Today 6, no. 5 (October 1972), 83, in Morey, p. 56.
[39] Morey, p.56.
[40] See Lit-sen Chang, Zen-Existentialism. Nutley, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1969, 14, in Morey, p. 60.
[41] Andrew Weil, “The Natural Mind: A New Way of Looking at Drugs and the Higher Consciousness,” Psychology Today, 6, no. 5 (October 1972), pp. 51-66, 83-96. In R.A. Morey, The Bible and Drug Abuse. Baker Book House, 1973, pp. 8-9.
[42] Morey, pp. 10-11.
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Copyright © 2012 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 16 October 2015.


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