What's Wrong with Spiritual Drunkenness?

What's Wrong with Spiritual Drunkenness?

You can't get far in charismatic circles without encountering people who "get drunk in the Spirit". Is this biblical? What's wrong with spiritual drunkenness? Isn't God ok with having a little bit of holy fun?

Debunking spiritual drunkenness

Those who believe that spiritual drunkenness is biblical usually point to what the Bible says happened on the day of Pentecost:
They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. The crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.”
Now let's just say for a moment that the disciples were indeed acting drunk when the Holy Spirit came upon them. Some people believed a miracle had occurred. But others didn't believe because they thought the disciples were drunk. So if acting drunk caused people not to believe God, why would anyone who is filled with God's Spirit ever want to act drunk? If this scripture indeed says these disciples were spiritually drunk, it serves as a compelling argument against ever practicing spiritual drunkenness again.

But the Bible does not say that the disciples appeared drunk. What it does say is that people heard the assembly speaking in different languages all at once. Unbelievers were the ones who said they thought they were drunk. Does drunkenness explain this phenomenon? Of course not! But it was the only thing the unbelievers could think of to explain what was going on without believing God. Did these unbelievers even take their own explanation seriously? No, it says they were "mocking". If they were just joking around, then we certainly shouldn't take their foolish assessment seriously and build a theology on it. Sadly, this is not uncommon. I've seen many people experience a miracle but refuse to believe it's from God, choosing to instead believe a foolish, worldly explanation instead, even if that explanation doesn't make sense.

Some said this was a miracle from the Holy Spirit; others said it was just because they were drunk. But no one said the Holy Spirit made them drunk. It was one or the other -- not both. What did these early disciples say about being drunk?
"Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit."
The Apostle Paul, who wrote these words, is saying that you cannot be drunk and filled with the Spirit -- it's either one or the other. Elsewhere Paul says, "God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints." Drunkenness brings confusion, but the Spirit brings order.

Spiritual drunkenness is not biblical. It is not a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. It is an impartation of something else.

The origins of spiritual drunkenness

So if not from God, where does spiritual drunkenness come from? The practice can be traced back to a single individual. He came to America and spread a new spiritual impartation in the 1980s and 90s. This individual gave his drunken impartation to a leader in a major Pentecostal denomination. This leader started a revival in Toronto. It was so contentious, the denomination eventually split with the revival, but the movement continued to grow. Books written by its leaders have sold millions of copies. A worldwide TV network is heavily influenced by their teachings. Many Christian worship songs are influenced by it. Subsequent revivals were attended by hundreds of thousands of people who brought the same impartation into their churches at home.

The most famous of these revivals started in 2008 in Lakeland, Florida. While the revival was going on, the revival's married leader had an affair with another woman on his staff. He was removed from leadership, divorced his wife, married his mistress, and was welcomed back into the ministry with his new wife in sin. One of the pastors who welcomed him back in took over a large church one year after attending the Toronto revival. A friend of mine who recently returned from their supernatural ministry school worked an entire year in their healing rooms, but did not perform a single healing. Another friend recently told me an unmarried male and female student at this school was sleeping together, conceived in sin, and were embraced by the leaders.

Does this movement sound like it's from God?

Spiritual deception

Do not make the mistake of thinking that this spiritually drunken movement is relegated to a small corner of the charismatic movement. This movement is in fact so prevalent, that it's hard to find a charismatic church that's not a part of it. If you are part of a charismatic church, there is a good chance you and your church have been influenced by these false teachings. It's may even be pretty clear to many of you who I'm talking about.

But I'm intentionally not using the names of individuals or churches because I don't want to cause division or hurt anyone's reputation. I do believe that there are good things happening in this movement. God can use sinners for good in his Kingdom. These people are doing this in the name of Jesus. Many people in this movement have been healed of sickness. There are many signs and wonders occurring in this movement. Many people are being reached, and many people are praising God.

But just because good things come from spiritual drunkenness does not mean that it's godly. For as long as the church has been around, people have been trying to sneak in and pervert the truth under the guise of righteousness. Paul dealt with the same problem in the Corinthian church:
"For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds."
Just because one does signs and wonders in the name of Jesus does not mean they know him. Jesus himself said:
"Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’"
Throughout the gospels and Acts we read of many demons proclaiming Jesus as the Son of God. But even though these spirits spoke truth and glorified God, they were servants of Satan who were doing evil.

Identifying the enemy

Since this movement is evil in disguise, it's not always easy to identify. The teachings that go along with spiritual drunkenness are not organized under a single individual, organization, or denomination. It goes by many names. But just because it doesn't have a worldly identity doesn't mean that it doesn't have a spiritual identity. The movement we're talking about is not an abstract idea or attitude, but a very specific enemy. It is an evil spirit.

How can you tell if something is from a demon rather than the Holy Spirit? All of these practices seem harmless on the surface, so what's wrong with spiritual drunkenness? How can you tell the difference between false teaching and godly teaching? Jesus gave us the answer:
"Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits."
Besides adultery, divorce, and illegitimate children, what are the fruits of this ministry? Unfortunately, the false teachings of this movement do not stop at spiritual drunkenness. This evil spirit brings with it many common practices, beliefs, and behaviors that are easy to identify if you know what to look for. Though the leaders of this movement would never admit it, these practices are just as much influenced by new age and eastern religions as they are the Holy Spirit and the Bible. Here are the most common examples of what I'm talking about:
  • Spiritual drunkenness
  • Uncontrolled laughter or euphoria
  • Unnecessary exclamatory sounds like "Ho!" and "Woh!"
  • Animal sounds
  • Repetitive movements of head and limbs
  • Fire tunnels
  • Inner healing programs
  • Talk of energy
  • Declaring prosparity
  • Gold dust, angel feathers, or glory clouds appearing
  • Feeling the God's presence in the form of emotions
  • Focusing on the love of God without a fear of God
Is there anything specifically wrong with any of these practices? No, probably not. But every single one of them is a "red flag" that there is a hidden evil happening behind the scenes. If you come across any of them, I encourage you to stop, pray for discernment, and evaluate the fruit.

Does getting drunk ever resulted in getting saved from sin? Does euphoria give a lasting impact of righteousness? Does grunting and making animal sounds result in God being glorified? Does momentary happiness lead to sacrificial, Christ-like love? Does rolling around on the floor result in a fear of God? Does having an experience give one more power? Does emotion and disorder result in repentance? There is no fruit from any of this!!! Everything surrounding it is all about feeling good, but there is no substance. What's the point? All of these practices are for temporal, fleshly, selfish satisfaction, not eternal righteousness. Everything else is sin. Sin is evil.

The fruit of evil spirits is drunkenness, but the Holy Spirit causes sobriety. The fruit of evil spirits brings chaos, but the Holy Spirit brings order. The fruit of evil spirits are emotional, but the Holy Spirit is rational. The fruit of evil spirits causes irreverence, but the Holy Spirit causes fear of God. The fruit of evil spirits brings happiness, but the Holy Spirit brings love. The fruit of evil spirits promotes indifference, but the Holy Spirit promotes repentance and righteousness.

Don't be distracted by the manifestation. Evaluate the fruit. Don't be deceived!

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