The Porch And A Rattlesnake
Wisdom literature instructs, “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder” (Prov. 23:31-32). Wine and strong drink are deceptive (Prov. 20:1). Such may appear pleasant and peaceful, but their effects are horrifyingly painful! Let me take just a moment and talk to you about the porch and a rattlesnake, in light of what the wise man said.
1) The Porch. Some have been made to think that it is a sin to get drunk, but that there’s nothing wrong with a little social drinking — having a glass of wine with the gals or a beer or two with the fellas. They think that “excess of wine” (1 Pet. 4:3) allows moderate drinking. I wonder, does “excess of riot” (1 Pet. 4:4) sanction riot on a smallscale? And, who decides what is excessive? How do you know at what point you will become “drunk”? The first two words of our text — “Look not” — prohibit drinking in any amount. It’s the same kind of language used in reference to the strange woman — “Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house” (Prov. 5:8). In other words, stay as far away as you can. Some, however, want to
get as close to the edge as they can. One might think I’m going to the drinking party, but I’m not going to drink. That’s like saying, “I’m just going to stand on her porch and talk to her through the screen door. I’m not going in her house.” Since “her house inclineth unto death” (Prov. 2:18), stay off the porch -- don’t even cross her property line!
2) The Rattlesnake. Did you notice that wine is likened to “a serpent” in our text? When I preached on this text recently, a brother showed me on his hand where he had been bitten by a rattlesnake. The fang marks looked fresh as if it happened only a few days ago. I asked, “When did this happen?” He said, “Sixty years ago.” Though he received the anti-venom and was healed of the snake bite, the serpent left its mark on him. This is true of “that old serpent, the devil” (Rev. 12:9; 20:2). Sin, though it may be forgiven, — yes, “drunkards” can be “washed,” “sanctified,” and “justified” (1 Cor. 6:9-11) — often leaves marks that last a lifetime. It may be health problems (liver disease, nerve damage, damage to the brain, cancer), unintentional injuries (car crashes, falls, burns), losses (job, spouse, children), painful memories of sacrificing things of value for the lure of liquor like those who “...have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink” (Joel 3:3). It not only leaves its mark on the drinker, but there are often marks left on innocent bystanders. It’s left its mark on wives, children, families who have been victims of violence and car collisions operated by those under its influence. You need to know, before you pick up that glass of wine or put that bottle or can in your hand, that you are taking a serpent by the tail! And, as the wise man said, “....At the last it biteth like a serpent...” There’s nothing pleasant about that! That’s what the alcohol ads don’t show. No, they want you to see it moving aright, everyone seemingly having a good time. They don’t show you “the last” - when “it biteth like a serpent”. And, like a serpent’s bite, it comes suddenly and unexpectedly! But come it will, and rest assured, its bite will be excruciatingly painful and its effects long-lasting.
So, stay off the porch — don’t go near the door of her house. Stay far away from it. Don’t even look at it. That old serpent is lurking. “Be sober, be vigilant...Whom resist stedfast in the faith…” (1 Pet. 5:8).