Nowhere in the Bible does it say to be drunk in the Spirit. When the Bible speaks of being drunk, it always has a negative connotation. The only place in Scripture that alludes to the idea of “spiritual drunkenness” is Isaiah 29:9-14, and it refers to God’s judgment upon sin and apostasy.
Some leaders in the Word of Faith movement and churches associated with the Toronto Blessing promote the false idea of being “drunk in the Spirit” or being filled with “drunken glory.” Congregations are instructed to “get drunk,” “take another drink,” and cast off all restraint. Stumbling gaits, slurred speech, falling to the ground, and other odd behaviors are “proof” of the work of the Holy Spirit.
The false teachers who promote being drunk in the Spirit point to Acts 2:13 as justification for their aberrant practice. On the day of Pentecost, as the apostles were preaching the gospel, some in the crowd said, “They have had too much wine.” The accusation was obviously a mockery of the apostles, and Peter flatly denies any hint of inebriation (verse 15). Yet today’s Word of Faith teachers take this jest from an ungodly crowd and use it as “evidence” that Peter and the apostles were preaching in a senseless stupor. Such twisting of Scripture not only demeans the apostles, it also dishonors the Holy Spirit.
The apostle Paul wrote, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:15-18).
Paul says that getting drunk is akin to our old way of life with its worldly and self-serving desires. Such behavior is debased and “leads to debauchery” (compare Colossians 1:21; Romans 13:13). The word debauchery is a translation of a Greek word meaning “lawless insolence or unmanageable caprice.” Paul deliberately contrasts the state of drunkenness (a loss of control) with the indwelling of the Spirit of God (a gain of self-control, Galatians 5:23).
God wants every aspect of our lives as believers to be under the complete control of the Holy Spirit. This does not come by drunkenness, and it does not mimic its effects.
Acting drunk and blaming it on the Spirit of God is sin. Those who teach spiritual intoxication are more closely allied with Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and drunkenness, than with the true God of the Bible. Being filled with the Spirit is not some ecstatic or emotionally charged experience. It is not a heavenly high or a spiritual buzz. Being filled with the Spirit is a steady submission of one’s life to the God of glory (1 John 3:24).