The Tsar referred to Rasputin as ‘our friend’ and a ‘holy man’, and Rasputin had a considerable personal and political influence on Tsarina Alexandra, who believed that God spoke to her through Rasputin. Rasputin used to speak of salvation as depending less on the clergy and the church than on seeking the spirit of God within. He claimed that yielding to temptation (for him this meant sex and alcohol) was needed to proceed to repentance and salvation. During the years of World War I, Rasputin's drunkenness, sexual promiscuity and willingness to accept bribes in return for helping petitioners who flocked to his apartment, as well as his efforts to have his critics dismissed from their posts, made him cynical. Attaining divine grace through sin was one of the central secret doctrines which Rasputin preached to and practiced with his inner circle of high society ladies.