All churches – meaning Protestant and Catholic – do NOT take their religious beliefs and doctrines from the Bible. Rather, they attempted to read THEIR ideas and beliefs INTO the Bible – by twisting and distorting the Holy Word of God, and by taking verses out of context. So if we want to find the answer to the question about smoking, we have to find it IN the Bible.
Many people have strong opinions about the subject. Almost every time you ask someone who smokes about quiting, you get some negative feed. Generally, the comments are:
1. The Bible has nothing to say about it.
2. It only hurts me and no one else.
3. I need to smoke because it calms my nerves.
4. It gives me pleasure and hurts no one else.
5. I know someone who smoked all their lives and did not get cancer.
But there is a principle of sin we have to consider, because “sin is the transgression of law” – meaning God’s laws. There is a SPIRITUAL law based on the principle of outgoing LOVE. There are also physical laws God has set in motion within our human bodies to control our state of health.
God’s spiritual law is first of all outgoing love. Next it is magnified into the two Great commandments – love toward God, and love toward human neighbour. The Ten Commandments state the broad principles of love toward GOD (the first four of the Ten), and love to fellowman (the last six commandments).
II Corinthians 3:6, explains that the ministers of the NEW Testament are ministers NOT of the strictness of the letter of the law, but of the Spirit – that is, the obvious intent, meaning or principle involved. The Ten Commandments explain the general principle of the direction, attitude and purpose of the law.
Principle applies to smoking
So we can apply the principle of God’s law defining sin to smoking. What is the obvious intent, meaning and principle of the law? It is the principle of outflowing love toward others, toward God and toward neighbour.
Ask yourself: “Why do you smoke? Is it to express outgoing love to God?” Most likely not! “Are you smoking to express outgoing love and concern for the welfare of other people?” Again, the answer is probably negative because smoking is obnoxious and objectionable to nonsmokers.
Now asked yourself, “Is it injurious to me?. Your lungs filter out impurities from the blood passing through the lungs returning to the heart. Inhaling smoke into the lungs is harmful, and is known to cause a host of health problems.
Exodus 20:13 commands that “Thou shalt not kill.” Smoking is certainly killing one’s self which is a form of suicide. Hundreds of thousands of people die annually from cigarette and cigar smoking and that is only in the United States. Cigarette smoking is the major cause of lung disease, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It is proven to cause cancer, heart disease and hormonal problems. Smoking is also linked to pulmonary diseases and cardiovascular disease.
The opposite of, or transgression of, the law of outgoing love to others is coveting or lust — self-desire. Smoking is a self-desire, breaking — at least in some measure — the Tenth Commandment! In this context, smoking is a spiritual sin.
Is it also a physical sin?
But what about being a physical sin — harming the physical laws that God set in operation in our bodies? We know now, that it is a cause of lung cancer, which can be fatal. So smoking is coveting what is harmful to yourself and your fellow man.
“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
The word used for “temple” is naosvv “naos” nah-os’ which means a shrine. The word is the one used of the temple at Jerusalem that contained the Holy place and the Holy of Holies which was the dwelling place of God. Paul was teaching that a true Christian’s body should be free of sin and separated to God’s service, because it is the dwelling place of God through the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9). Our bodies are to be clean and free of any sinful habit, wholly dedicated unto Him.
Second hand killing
Some people die of lung cancer having never smoked a cigarette in their life. Second hand smoke will do that over many years. If a husband or wife smokes, they may be responsible for killing their mate.
Second hand smoke from cigarettes also harms not just the smoker, but family, friends and co-workers. The Bible says we are to love our neighbor. Jesus said that loving one’s neighbor was next to loving one’s parents “Honor thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 19:19 ). Romans 13:10 teaches us that “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour.” It’s certainly not an act of love to smoke around other people exposing them to the proven deadly effects of the ensuing smoke.
We are also to love our children, but smoking potentially harms them. Many studies have shown that in the first two years of life, babies of parents who smoke at home have a much higher rate of lung diseases such as bronchitis and pneumonia than babies with non-smoking parents. Infants and children have tender tissues and are more susceptible to passive smoke. Acute respiratory illnesses happen twice as often to young children whose parents smoke, and can aggravate symptoms of asthma or trigger asthma episodes. Further children exposed to secondhand smoke can develop middle ear infections, suffer from wheezing, coughing, and worsen asthma conditions. It is quite contradictory for a parent to love their children and yet expose them to cigarette smoke and by their example teach them to smoke (and sin) also.
The only sacrifice acceptable to God is one without spot or blemish. How can we presently ourselves as a sacrifice that is holy, meaning separated from sin, if we are addicted to tobacco and destroying our health? How can we attempt to be transformed by the renewing of our minds when we have no regard for our testimony, our personal health or the health and spiritual welfare of others? How can we prove what is God’s good, acceptable and perfect will of God with pack of cigarettes in our pocket?
Is smoking a sin? You bet it is! Some argue against this view by pointing to the fact that many people eat unhealthy foods, which can be just as addicting and just as bad for the body. Others are helplessly addicted to caffeine. While this is true, how does that make smoking right? Christians should avoid gluttony and excessively unhealthy eating. They should not be hypocritical by condemning one sin and condoning another.
As a Christian, go to a private place and on your knees tell God you have cleaned your life of tobacco and confess that using it is a sin and you are committed overcoming smoking for the rest of your life and that you trust in Him. Then get up and go and sin no more.
“Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:4-5).