Will a Christian who has been born again be lost if they don’t stop smoking? Is it sin for a Christian to smoke? If a Christian smokes, does it mean they really aren’t saved? Is smoking and being a Christian incompatible?
The Definition of Sin
The Bible gives us the proper definition of sin. It does not come from human beings or human opinions. If you watch today’s talk shows, you can see just how far human opinions can deviate from the Word of God; therefore a biblical definition of sin is accurate since it is a definition from God Himself.
In First John 3:4, the apostle gives us the proper definition of sin, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.” This means that every human that has ever lived has sins and continues to sin. So we are all in big trouble since we all have and will continue to sin in this life. Jesus is the only human who never sinned. He was both man and God and lived a perfect live. Consequently, this is why Jesus made the perfect sacrifice because He was without blemish and the only perfect One that ever lived. His death reconciled humans to God. But only those who believe in Him are the ones reconciled to God (Acts16:30-31).
Sin leads to death as James says in 1:15, “Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” The wages or what we earn from sin is death (Romans 6:23). But whoever believes in Jesus Christ is saved from the penalty of sin (John 3:16). Since all have sinned and fallen short of God’s standard, every human is in big trouble (Romans 3:23).
What Saves Us From Sin?
Humans are unable to save themselves. Paul quotes Isaiah when he tells us about human efforts to save themselves by works, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away“(Isaiah 64:6). Paul clarifies it in Romans 11:6, “And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” Any attempt to save ourselves by works is self-righteousness and God will not accept our own works because they are not sufficient. It is only those who believe in Jesus Christ that are saved from the penalty of sin (John 3:16).
Our best efforts to overcome will never save us. Holiness is not the way to Jesus; Jesus is the way to holiness. There is only one way to salvation that is only in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12).
Famous Christians Who Smoked
There is a veritable who’s who list of Christians who smoked. One of the greatest preachers and evangelists of the 19th century loved his cigars. He was Charles Spurgeon. Other famous Christians who smoked or still do are J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Chuck Colson, Johann Sebastian Bach, Billy Graham, and Jerry Farwell (although the last two quit in their latter years). This article has addressed all types of tobacco: cigarettes, pipe, cigar, snuff, and chewing tobacco.
The same questions could be asked about drinking beer, or wine, or eating pork, or…the list goes on. The fact remains that moderation in all things is a Godly attribute. Smoking is obviously not healthy and the believer should be diligent in their efforts to quit but what is there in this world that isn’t good for you. I love to go to fast food restaurants but don’t go very often because I know the menu carries high fat volumes in their foods. The fact is that it is a fallen world and that there are no perfect Christians. None are perfect but they are forgiven.
What Saves Believers?
Jesus was more concerned with what came out of the mouth (in words) than what was going into it saying in Matthew 15:11, “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” It is what comes out of the mouth that defiles believers; it is by our words that our heart is revealed.
Yes, you can still be a Christian and smoke. Is it God’s will that you would quit? Of course because God tells us we are to be perfect and to abstain from every appearance of evil and He desires that we live a happy, healthy, prosperous, and long life. But at the same time, we shouldn’t judge those who do smoke or those who we see are not perfect. If I caste the first stone, it would have to be aimed at myself. We should be concerned about our own sins and repent daily and come to the cross of Christ for daily cleansing. We will still sin and fall short of the glory of God, but whoever believes in Jesus Christ remains his possession forever and He will never leave you, forsake you, or have you snatched from His hand or the hand of God the Father (John 6:37, 10:28-29).
As covered by the apostle John in 1 John 3:4, a true definition of sin is “lawlessness”. Then James reminds us that sin leads to death (James 1:15). The good news is that John also shares that when we believe in what Jesus did for us on the cross we are saved from death, which is the penalty for sin. We are unable to save ourselves, only Jesus saves. Because of sin we live in a fallen world and therefore there are no perfect Christians. Yes, you can still be a Christian and smoke, however God desires that we live a happy, healthy, prosperous life and quitting smoking would be a good thing for any Christian.
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