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Sipping Saints
AUTHOR: Wilkerson, David
PUBLISHED ON: March 18, 2003
DOC SOURCE: CCN
PUBLISHED IN: Christian Living

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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