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Miranda Writes: What Influence Are You Under

by Omar Miranda

Alcohol—an incredibly foolish life choice

I’m sure you’ve all seen or heard the alcohol ads on TV, radio, and the Internet with this tagline at the end: “Drink responsibly.” But here’s the bottom line: the most responsible (and most Christlike) behavior is to not drink any alcohol ever! This one substance has destroyed a lot of teens’ lives—either directly or indirectly! As a counselor I get to see a lot of people whose lives have been destroyed by alcohol. Many of them blame the alcohol. But it’s not the alcohol—it’s the choice to use it!

Let me be really clear: beginning or continuing to drink alcohol is among the most foolish life choices anyone can ever make! At the end of our times together I remind you of this: Life is full of choices, so make good ones.” Alcohol is not a good choice! Some bad choices in life take a while to negatively impact you, but that’s not the case with alcohol. Once you begin to use it—in whatever form you choose—it immediately becomes like a boa constrictor that wraps itself around you and squeezes tighter and tighter. Bad things will always happen when you choose to use alcohol.

The Bible makes it crystal clear that choices have consequences. Take a look at what the apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 6:7, 8: “You cannot fool God, so don’t make a fool of yourself! You will harvest what you plant. If you follow your selfish desires, you will harvest destruction, but if you follow the Spirit, you will harvest eternal life.”* John Dryden, a seventeenth-century English poet/writer, said it another way: “We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.”

Did you notice that Paul not only tells us not to do something (follow our own selfish desires) but also to do something (follow the Spirit, that is, the Holy Spirit)? If you’re a Christian, the Holy Spirit is alive and well inside of you and will give you the desire and the power to make right choices that will honor God, such as not drinking alcohol. The Bible says: “God is working in you to make you willing and able to obey him” (Philippians 2:13).

Teens use alcohol for three reasons: curiosity, copying, and coping.

The first reason is that they’re curious about alcohol. They want to see what it tastes like, how it makes them feel, or just simply want to be able to say that they’ve experienced it.

The second reason is that many have grown up seeing their parents or some other important adult in their life turn to alcohol again and again. Or they see friends their own age using it. They begin copying behavior that they see around them.

The third reason is that they mistakenly think alcohol will help them cope with serious life problems. As a professional counselor, I can tell you this: alcohol has never helped in these situations! It has only brought more pain and despair—and often addiction, disease, and even death. Alcohol doesn’t truly help anybody cope effectively. In fact, it makes things worse by masking the problem or postponing dealing with it. To get better, the person always has to actually confront the problem.

If we seek to live as true Christians, we should choose to stay away from alcohol. (We should also choose not to use other substances—tobacco, drugs, caffeine—that will hurt or destroy our minds and bodies.) When we use substances that pollute us physically, mentally, and spiritually, we give God a bad name before the rest of the world. It’s as if we’re saying the Holy Spirit doesn’t have the power to strengthen us to think and act righteously—that being reborn in Christ doesn’t make believers behave any differently from nonbelievers.

Think I’m overstating things, being kind of harsh? Take a look at the fifth chapter of Ephesians. That’s right; I encourage you to read the whole chapter when you finish reading this. I’ll give you the short version for right now.
In Ephesians 5:1-18 Paul gets on the case of the believers in the city of Ephesus for not acting like Christians, but acting like all the unconverted people around them. He says: “You are God’s people, so don’t let it be said that any of you are immoral or indecent or greedy” (verse 3).

He goes on: “You used to be like people living in the dark, but now you are people of the light because you belong to the Lord. So act like people of the light and make your light shine. Be good and honest and truthful, as you try to please the Lord” (verses 8-10).

Paul continues his advice this way: “Act like people with good sense and not like fools. These are evil times, so make every minute count. Don’t be stupid. Instead, find out what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t destroy yourself by getting drunk, but let the Spirit fill your life” (verses 15-18).

Paul says that we Christians should let the Holy Spirit control us as much as drunk people let alcohol control them! Get it? People who are under the control of alcohol aren’t making good or wise decisions. They’re saying and doing things they wouldn’t normally say and do, and many times that gets them into a lot of trouble. But when we choose to be under the control of the Holy Spirit, we make positive, God-honoring choices. This strengthens us in the Christian life and shows the world that we love God and serve Him through our wise, positive choices. We show the world that being a Christian works!

You see, there’s more at stake in our choices than just our health and happiness, although they’re important. You and I can serve God much better if we’re not broken-down in body, mind, and spirit. We can show the world that we have joy and peace (see Philippians 4:7) that others can’t achieve or even understand. When that happens, people will be eager—even desperate—to find out what influence we’re under!

As you go through life, remember these principles: God’s way is always the best way. Life is full of decisions, so make yours good ones. Put God first in your life, and you can’t go wrong.

Feel free to contact me: you can e-mail me at; or you can keep up with me on Facebook; or you can read more of my stuff on Miranda Writes, at; or you can check me out or send me a message at my Web site,; or you can reach me via snail mail (slow!) at the address printed below.

In Christ,
Omar Miranda, certified Christian counselor
Abundant Life Ministries
155 Earl Street
Plainville, GA 30733
Phone: 1-770-354-2912

*All Scripture quotations in this article are from the Contemporary English Version. Copyright American Bible Society 1991, 1995. Used by permission.

Omar Miranda is a Christian counselor with 20 years’ experience working with youth in public and private middle and high schools. He’s married and has two kids. He enjoys teaching the youth at his church, reading, writing, gardening, and camping. He’s a recovering knucklehead who spent a lot of time in the past doing stupid stuff away from God. He’s been back with God for years now and is eager to share what he’s learned from his experiences by answering any questions you may have about life, the Christian life, Jesus, spiritual matters, and relationships in his column, Miranda Writes.

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