This was the first stage. The Qur'an's approach here has been to first seek to show the benefits, or otherwise, of a thing and to make it clear that the sin in it would be greater than any benefit that may accrue thereof.
With this verse, the society, now trained in alienating itself from sin and in moving along the path of virtue, soon begins to free itself from the vice-like grip of intoxicants and gambling. It was then that the second verse was revealed: 'O ye who believe! Approach not prayers in a state of intoxication, until ye can understand all that say ...' (Qur'an 4:43)
The prayer constitutes a conservation with the Lord Creator. However, many a man approached prayer in a state of intoxication. Indeed, the degree of their slavery to intoxicants can be seen from this single fact. The Qur'an had then made the second step towards achieving the goal of a society that was free of intoxicants. Prayer must be made only with the acute awareness of that which is being said in the conservation with God; with the mind and heart solemnly influenced by that which is being uttered therein. Briefly put, therefore, prayer must never be in a state of intoxication.
With the arrival of the second ruling a good section of those conscious of God were freed of their slavery to intoxicating drinks. They resolved, thenceforth, that they would, at least, abstain from intoxicants during the times of the five daily prayers. It was then that the third ruling, which sought to fully abolish all intoxicants, was finally revealed.
'O ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, sacrificing to stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination - of Satan's handiwork: Eschew such (abomination), that ye may prosper. Satan's plan is (but) to excite enmity and hatred between you, with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah, and from prayer: will ye not then abstain?' (Qur'an 5:90,91)
With the revelation of this verse, the other verses that were revealed earlier had now become irrelevant. They were, in fact, verses that had been revealed for the creation of an intoxicant-free society which were revealed in the two stages of the society's evolution. It can, therefore, be said that with the coming of this verse, the other two verses had, for all practical purposes, become abrogated.
It was mentioned earlier that even this abrogation serves only to stress the divine nature of the Qur'an. Prophet Muhammad (e) was, himself, never one to take intoxicating drinks even before his attainment of prophethood. Even if he were to put forward a law against intoxicants which was of his own making, it would have been in a fashion that straightaway prohibited all intoxicants forthwith. However, it is the Creator who is best aware of the intricacies as well as of the methodology of variation of the human mind. It is for that same reason that He brought a law into effect stage by stage. When such is the implementative process, therefore, it is only natural that the laws issued in the earlier stage tend to be abrogated at a later stage. This is why it has been said that the Qur'an makes it clear that these abrogations are, indeed, from Allah, the Omniscient.