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Sipping Saints

Written by: Wilkerson, David    Posted on: 03/18/2003

Category: Christian Living

Source: CCN

AN OUTCRY AGAINST THE ALARMING SPREAD OF DRINKING AMONG CHRISTIANS-

Sipping Saints By David Wilkerson

  "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging; and whosoever is  deceived thereby is not wise" (Proverbs 20:1). 

  This nation is fast becoming a sodden society of too many  intoxicated citizens. Alcohol is now the modern golden calf, and  millions of people, young and old, male and female, have been  seduced by it. 

  The teetotaller, the prohibitionists, and all the others who have  for years fought against this flood of booze have been laughed  out of existence. We laugh to scorn those old-fashioned little  ladies who went around smashing barrels of whiskey and  shutting down bars and honky- tonks, and taking pledges of  abstinence. We liberated moderns have made it fashionable to  drink. It is now considered sophisticated, urbane, cool - to drink  socially. Try saying "No" to the airline stewardess who keeps  pushing drinks at you from the time you get on the airplane till  you deplane. "What do you mean, no drinks?" She looks at you  as some kind of kook for refusing free drinks. People are  offended nowadays when you refuse their offer of a  complimentary drink. They try to make you feel unneighborly for  not joining them, or that you are putting on a "holier than thou"  attitude. Even President Carter couldn't keep drinks out of the  White House. 

  "Be not among winebibbers..." (Proverbs 23:20). 

To me, the real tragedy is that so many who call themselves  "Christian" are now drinking. I call them "sipping  saints" - because that is how it all begins,  one sip at a time. A recent poll revealed that 81% of all  Catholics now drink and 64% of all protestants. These shocking  figures keep mounting higher each month. The permissive  attitude toward social drinking is fast creeping even into the  most conservative, evangelical church circles. l have spoken at  Charismatic conventions where thousands of "Spirit-filled"  saints of God lifted hands in praise and adoration to God - and  after being dismissed, numbers of them walk out into the  parking lot, open their car trunks and pull out a couple  six-packs and pass them around to fellow worshippers. Others  order mixed drinks with their restaurant meals, in between the  praise sessions. They return to speak with "pickled tongues." 

  "And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are  in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither  consider the operation of his hands" (Isaiah 5:12). 

The prophet Isaiah has a message for the entire Charismatic  movement - in both Catholic and Protestant circles. 

  "God's people are in captivity to these things because of a lack  of knowledge . . . But the Lord of hosts shall be exalted in  judgment, and God that is holy shall be sanctified in  righteousness" (Isaiah 5:13-16). 

The prophet Hosea said, 

  ". . . wine and new wine take away the heart . . ." (Hosea 4:11). 

This suggests that sipping saints have divided hearts.

Spirit-filled people lay claim to being "kings and priests" unto  the Lord. The Bible emphatically states, 

  "It is not for kings to drink wine, nor for princes strong drink, lest  they drink and forget the law . . ." (Proverbs 31:4,5). 

The writer of Proverbs suggests happy, overcoming Christians  don't need wine, that it is only for the depressed and dying. 

  "Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine  unto those that be of heavy hearts" (Proverbs 31:6). 

A fine Christian lady wrote to me saying: "We are good church-going Christians. We love the Lord, and  we see nothing at all wrong with serving wine in our home. We  drink moderately, and our children are learning to drink under  our supervision. They do not overindulge. We have never seen  anyone drunk in our home. You are simply trying to make us  feel guilty and are pushing your fundamentalist morals on us.  We were not raised under the legalistic taboos like you  evidently were. Frankly? sir, our drinking habits are none of your  concern." 

  God bless that dear lady - but one of these days it will be my  business. It starts becoming my business when those  teenagers go out with their friends and get stoned. Just today,  one of my students, a converted alcoholic, told me how she  became a drunkard. Her parents taught her how to drink  moderately. At parties, birthdays, and when company came,  everybody took a social drink. It was served at meals. She  admired and loved her parents. They despised drunkenness, yet  they had a bar in the house. This young lady started going to  teenage parties and began to drink socially with her crowd. That  led to drinking in clubs. Soon she was getting stoned in parked  vans. Finally, when problems began to pile up, she began to  lean on wine heavily. She ended up in a mental institution, a  hard-core alcoholic. That same story is repeated to me over and  over again from coast to coast. How many, many times I've  heard it, "My parents were considered good Christians. They  went to church. But we always served wine or beer at our  house. My big brother drank moderately and he was my hero. I  drank to be like my parents and big brother, but I couldn't  handle it. But they made me think drinking was the  thing all good people do." 

Am I prejudiced? Narrow-minded on the subject? You bet I  am! And I have reason to be. My own brother, a minister's son,  started drinking beer moderately - just to be sociable with  friends. He wound up a heavy drinker, leaving his wife and lovely  children to pursue his habit. Thank God he is saved today and  back with his family. But I sent my brother Jerry with a team of  converts to Europe to testify about what Christ did in delivering  him from the power of alcohol. The Christians in Europe gladly  rejoiced in the testimonies of deliverance from dope and  prostitution - but they didn't want to hear a word about Jerry's  deliverance from alcohol. Why? Because European Christians  guzzle wine and beer like water. It broke his heart. I have heard  all the excuses for the drinking among Christians in Europe  - and I can't accept any of them. They blame it on impure  water. They talk about it being rooted in their culture and  customs. They drink "because they have always done it." How  deeply offended some of the pastors were in Paris, France,  when I refused to drink their wine. American missionaries, who  themselves easily adopted the European customs, told me I  should "do as the Parisians do, while in Paris!" Yet, how deeply  offended I was when some of these same ministers were so  stoned they couldn't stay awake during my crusade. There is an  alarming rate of alcoholism and heavy drinking in Christian  circles in Europe. They do get drunk! They are not all moderate!  None of their excuses make it right. And what phoniness for  American Christians to drink "only in Europe." They won't touch  a drop here in the States, but they think it's "cute" to join the  brethren over there in sipping a few! 

I am deeply offended by drinking Christians because of the  terrible example it sets for young people! This nation is now  facing a plague of drinking among teenagers. The two most  popular words in school today are "cruising and boozing."  Drunkenness is spreading in our schools like a wildfire out of  control. Kids tell me that as many as 80% of their class not  only drink, but get stone drunk. We face the possibility of  having over one million young alcoholics next year. I've been  helping drug addicts for 20 years. But this drinking rage now  sweeping our nation frightens me. They drink now because  they think alcohol won't"waste" them like drugs! Booze is now the preferred  "liquid pot." Everywhere you see teenagers getting stoned, they tell you - "No  cops, no parents, no politicians can hassle us now - because they are all doing  it, too. We finally found a kick that won't put us behind bars!" 

I don't want to get involved in that age-old argument about the Bible and  fermented wine as opposed to grape juice. But the more I see of these  bombed-out, broken-down, hopelessly drunken young people - the more I am  convinced Jesus did not mock that crowd at Canaan's wedding feast with the  same stuff that is destroying our youth today. Christ came to  fulfill the law! The law says, "Wine is a mocker . . . whosoever is deceived  thereby is not wise." Was Christ deceived? Would he have served a drink that  would have led to a man leaving a feast drunken to heat up his wife?. And in  court that man is asked, "How did you get so drunk?" And the convicted man  answers, "I went to a wedding feast. Jesus of Nazareth served up a really  strong drink. He got me drunk." 

  I can't conceive that Jesus would mock that crowd and serve a drink that could  have been abused if taken immoderately. I believe that elixir Jesus served was  the pure juice of the vine - a supernatural punch so full of nature's true blend, it  was a unique and welcome change! Would Jesus add alcoholic content to His  supernatural drink and make it "bite the cup" when the law said - 

  "Look not upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright . . ." (Proverbs 23:31)? 

That was written by a king who had "given himself over to wine" (Ecclesiastes  2:3). And Christ would have never, never given the guests over to wine that was  intoxicating. 

  Paul knew the law, too. He revered the wisdom of Solomon. Pure juice of the  grape is good for the health! It is nutritious. But fermented wine is not more  nutritious, according to a doctor friend of mind who is well read on the subject.  How could Paul recommend drinking alcoholic wine when the law he respected  so warned, ". . . be not among winebibbers..."?

But the real issue is not whether or not the New Testament refers to  fermented wine or grape juice.  The real issue is the abuse of it that is so prevalent today. Solomon had three  thousand wives. At one time, Moses permitted divorce. God winked! But God  does not wink when His laws become so perverted and abused. Look where our  permissiveness has led us. So- called Christian discos, featuring beer drinking  and dancing to Christian music. Rocking, rolling, drinking "Christians." 

  ". . . Lest they drink and forget the law . . ." 

  We are forgetting the laws of God, the very laws Jesus said He came to fulfill.  We now allow a lesbian priest to be ordained in the Episcopal church.  Homosexuals not only flaunt their sins, they boldly seek recognition and power  within the church. One million new divorces this year. Ten million kids victims of  broken homes. Nude dancing in the church sanctuary. Liberal ministers mock  old-fashioned biblical sex standards. They now tell our kids, "Masturbation is a  gift from God to relieve your tensions." And the lawlessness to end all  lawlessness, some of our church agencies have been serving as fronts for  anti-God, Communistic anarchists seeking to destroy democracy - using the  churches' missions money to engage in covert acts of violence. 

Do Christians drink because of ignorance? Has no one challenged them by  the Word of God? Do these new converts from the Jesus movement drink to  prove they are liberated and not under law? 

  A young lady, a member of a Christian love commune, wrote to me recently  and said, "Sure, we all drink. Jesus did; Paul did! The Bible is not down on it.  Our leaders drink moderately. They are good Bible teachers and they travel,  speaking at youth gatherings." Yes - and I happen to know some of them also  smoke. They mix Jesus with their heavy rock music, and only God knows  where the compromise ends. 

  They seem to think that adding the word "Jesus" to anything sanctifies it and  makes it all right. 

You say - "Don't judge, David! What about the beam in your own eye?" I am  not anyone's judge. I have not set myself up as some kind of spokesman for  any group. But Paul said, "We judge those within - God judges those without."  It's time judgment was called for! It's time all drinking Christians were  challenged! It's time for the Holy Spirit to expose the looseness, the slaphappy "anything goes" attitude. If it's  wrong for my dear converted alcoholics and addicts and  prostitutes to drink, even moderately, then it is deadly wrong for  mature Christians to drink and set a poor example for them. 

And I get very weary and spiritually indignant when drinking  Christians come back at me with - "Aw, you're just a  fundamentalist, law bound, moral do-gooder. We modern,  liberated Christians are free in Christ. We are not under law. We  will not be bound by your attacks on our freedom." 

  That offends everything in me that yearns for godliness and  holiness. That offends every young convert whom God has  convicted of past drinking habits. And the Bible says - 

  "But whosoever shall offend one of these little ones which  believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were  hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth  of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must  needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the  offence cometh!" (Matthew 18:6-7). 

I refuse to give in to the mounting pressures of worldliness - in  the disguise of spiritual freedom! What has happened to us,  saints of God - when we can sit idly by and not rebuke the fast  eroding morals in the house of God? I believe in free grace, but  not licentiousness. I believe in the imputed righteousness of  Christ, by faith. But I also believe the holiness of God demands  that we "touch not that which is unclean." I also believe that  smoking ministers are not being honest with God. These  "puffing prophets" refuse to practice what they preach. And  drinking ministers are a reproach to the name and power of  God. It is not an effort to condemn true ministers of the gospel.  But how can we as ministers and parents ask our kids to quit  using drugs and alcohol, if we will not clean up our own lives -  and set a Christ-like example? 

At times, just for a fleeting moment, I think to myself, "Maybe  I'm the one who is wrong. Maybe these new Christians who  rock, roll, smoke, drink, and who go back to their old haunts to  sing, entertain, and perform - maybe they have seen something  in God I haven't yet seen. Maybe all these fast changes aren't  compromise, but a sign of maturity and growth. Maybe I am too  old-fashioned - too out of it to recognize some new thing God  is doing." But then I begin to compare the rollicking, boisterous  sounds of their music with the old songs like "The Old Rugged  Cross," and "Holy, Holy, Holy." Then I want to cry! I look at  them going back into those smoke-filled clubs to entertain the  drinking crowd on the pretense of taking Jesus with them, and  then I compare them with all the millions of God's people over  the centuries from the martyrs on down to the converted addicts  and gangs of today, who forsook the world and all its  associations to take on the reproach of Christ. I begin to weep  for those compromised Christians. I know I am not wrong. 

Please don't get mad at me! If you are one of the sipping  saints - don't allow your hurt or anger to rob you of the truth. If  you find yourself resenting this message of separation - it is  probably because God has already convicted you - and He is  now wanting you to enjoy complete freedom. 

  Pray also that God will lay it on the hearts of ministers all over  the nation - to take a bold stand in their pulpits against these  insidious trends. 

  Pray for our teenagers! The pressures on them to drink with the  crowd are getting worse daily. They need to be encouraged to  stand up and resist, lest they be drawn into this whirlpool of  drunkenness. 

  Even if you don't "feel convicted" - abstain for the simple but  powerful reason of setting an example for the youth! 

  "Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who  hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath  redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go  to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red,  when it giveth his color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.  At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.  Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall  utter perverse things" (Proverbs 23:29-33). 

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