Tobacco products are widely used in our society today, for
example, in cigars, in pipes, in chew, and most commonly, in cigarettes. The discussion that follows is applicable to
all such uses of tobacco, but smoking is the central topic, since it is so prevalent.
This lesson examines the use of tobacco. Is smoking an activity in which the faithful
Christians should be engaged? As with
all our lessons on morality, we will investigate what the Bible says about it
and live by that standard.
Smoking is one of the nastiest, filthiest habits that anyone
It produces undesirable effects on the body
It produces undesirable effects on the
burns on furniture
flying ash and piles
a smelly home or office
The Bible instructs us to put away filthiness. The adage, "Cleanliness is next to
Godliness," is not far from scriptural principles.
2 Corinthians 7:1
Harms The Physical Body
Cigarette smoking is the main cause of many diseases. Someone may argue, "My body is mine to
do with it as I please; if I do harm to my body, it is no body's business but
my own." This is arrogance and
selfishness. Actually, our bodies are
not our own; our bodies are a gift from our creator. We are but stewards of that gift. Smoking is not the way to "glorify God
in your body."
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
It's no wonder that smoking causes disease: it's
poisonous. Cigarette smoke contains nicotine,
and nicotine is a poison. Look up the
word "nicotine" in any dictionary and see what it says. Moreover, research has determined that
cigarette smoke contains additionally about 12 different deadly gases, among
them are carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, and nitrogen oxides.
As long as we are alive on this earth, God expects us to
serve Him and teach others to do His will.
If we bring upon ourselves a needless, early demise, we have robbed God
of our time to be effective for His causes.
Let's consider some diseases with known links to smoking.
It is the number-one cause of lung cancer
The chances of dying from lung cancer was statistically
studied by the American Medical Association.
Here's what they found:
If you smoke, your chances of dying from lung
cancer are 1 in 148.
An ex-smoker's chances are 1 in 946.
A non-smoker's risks are only 1 in 16,238.
Emphysema is much more easily contracted
Emphysema, an incurable breathing disorder, is characterized
by an inefficiency in the lungs to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide with the
blood. Over time in susceptible people,
lung infections or irritations can cause a blockage of airways in the
lungs. These blockages trap air in the
lung, causing the blood vessels in the affected area to disappear. Less contact between air and blood is the
result. More lung irritations result in
further damage until breathing is impaired.
This disease can obviously kill.
Smoking provides the perfect irritation of lung tissue for
this disease. Statistics show the
disease occurring in smokers 2000% more than in non-smokers!
It increases the risk of heart problems and
Here is the American Heart Association's Scientific
"Cigarette smoking is the most important preventable cause
of premature death in the United States.
It accounts for more than 440,000 of the more than 2.4 million annual
deaths. Cigarette smokers have a higher
risk of developing a number of chronic disorders. These include fatty buildups in arteries,
several types of cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (lung
problems). Atherosclerosis (clogged
arteries) is the chief contributor to the high number of deaths from
smoking. Many studies detail the
evidence that cigarette smoking is a major cause of coronary heart disease,
which leads to heart attack."
Smoking is clearly a bad habit. However, more than just a bad habit; it is an
addiction. In fact, it is one of the
strongest and cruelest addictions known to man.
What is addiction?
There is a distinction that must be made between habit and
addiction. Habits may be good ones or
they may be bad ones, but there are no good addictions. We may have the habit of locking our car door
when we leave it or flossing our teeth at bedtime, but that does not mean we
are addicted to those things. Addiction,
on the other hand, involves physical dependence. The addicting substance is actually known to alter
the body chemistry. Once this occurs, it
becomes as much a bodily illness as anything else.
Smoking addiction is so strong, it has been found to have a
life-long effect. Even if you beat the
habit and quit smoking, the desire is still chemically programmed in your
body. The temptation to smoke again is
much greater than the temptation for someone who has never smoked. There are actually 3 kinds of people:
smokers, ex-smokers, and non-smokers.
Ex-smokers will never be non-smokers again.
The same things can be said of addiction to other
substances, like alcohol. Drinking is
specifically examined in another lesson, but the effects of alcohol are a
little different from nicotine. It is
quite possible to casually drink alcohol and not immediately become chemically
dependent to it. However, almost no one
uses tobacco casually; they are typically always addicted.
Self-control is compromised in all addiction, and that is
always wrong. The scriptures are filled
with admonitions regarding mastery of our own bodies.
Romans 6:12-13, 16
1 Corinthians 9:27
Lack of self-control is at the heart of smoking problem;
Christians are to exhibit self-control.
2 Peter 1:6
Even if a thing is right in and of itself, we are not to be
under the control of it.
1 Corinthians 6:12
We are put into bondage by whatever we are overcome. If we are overcome by corruption, we are
slaves of corruption.
2 Peter 2:19
How does it start?
The best way to avoid addiction is to never start in the
first place. This is little comfort for
those held in its grip, but for those who are not, heed the warning! Here are some of the main reasons people
Many smokers today are young people who are most easily
influenced by others. When those you go
to school with or work with see you as different because you do not smoke, you
may be tempted to join in to feel included.
The idea that smoking will make you look mature is a
falsehood. Conversely, maturity and
conviction are required to take a stand against it.
Unfortunately, some children grow up seeing their parents
smoke. They may learn from this one way
or the other, but in any case, it would be better if children could learn from
the proper example.
Curiosity can fuel creativity and invention, but
unchanneled, it can lead astray.
Proverbs 5:22, 23
Simply because smoking is physically addicting does not
excuse the activity, and addiction is not a valid reason to not quit. Before the smoker became addicted, he made the
free choice to smoke the first one; no one held a gun to his head. Besides, he must have been living in a cave
for the past four decades to have never heard about the dangers of smoking. We have only ourselves to blame for a
self-inflicted ailment. Righteous living
is easy, but choosing a life of sin is a hard life to live.
It is possible to bring any addiction under control, though
it may require great effort. Moreover,
as nicotine is a drug, it may be possible to obtain aid in breaking the habit
with other drugs legitimately developed for this purpose.
Not only can smoking rob our time but also our money. Reports indicate that in 1999, the total cost
in the United States of healthcare and loss of productivity for smoking was
$100 billion. But what about for the
cigarettes themselves? Let's do a little
Assume that a pack of cigarettes costs $2.50 and you smoke a
pack a day. That's $76 per month or $912
per year. Over 20 years that would be
$18,240 and even more if interest on investment were included. Granted, we may spend money on many frivolous
things for amusement or entertainment, but when the money goes literally
"up in smoke" it's worthwhile to think about the productive things
that could have been done instead.
Ironically, you will see people buying groceries with government food
stamps, yet cigarettes are in their cart.
That's because of addiction.
It Damages Your Influence
Do you think it would be easy to convert someone to Christ
while smoking a cigarette? Will smoking
impress them with your spirituality?
Will they see your devotion to God in this practice?
1 Corinthians 10:31-33
1 Peter 2:11-12
Would you recommend the practice to others? Would you want your own children to smoke?
Smoking is not Christlikeness. Can you picture Jesus smoking as He preached
the sermon on the mount, smoking as He performed His miracles of healing, or
asking for one last cigarette as He hung on the cross?
1 Peter 2:21 22
Smoking is drug abuse; the drug is nicotine. Every point made in lessons on drug abuse can
be rightly applied to smoking. This is
covered in greater detail in another lesson.
Recent studies have just begun to show the effect of what we
now call "second hand smoke."
If you smoke, whoever you are with while you do it has to endure it,
whether they also are smokers or not. It
is essentially rude and inconsiderate.
On a grander scale, the millions of people who smoke needlessly
contribute to the world's air pollution problem to a degree. Smoking has become prohibited in most zoos,
museums, and botanical gardens for its adverse effect.
Smoking Is Sin
Know this: sin is a violation of God's law, and if smoking
violates God's law concerning our bodies and self-control, it is sin. A distinguishing characteristic of Christians
is to always objectively look to the Bible and call lawlessness sin without
bias. This, however, is not a very
popular sermon. For decades, smoking was
accepted because the long-term effects were not yet known. We are no longer ignorant, yet the acceptance
lingers, or at least toleration, perhaps out of patience or sympathy for those
enslaved to it. We never hear today of
anyone being disfellowshipped in the church because of smoking, but we do if
they are drunkards or adulterers.
Perhaps there are inconsistent practices in the church today as we are
weak, fleshly creatures, but God's law is pure and changeless, and we'd better
be teaching it.
Arguments To Justify Smoking
A large number of arguments are often heard in an attempt to
justify smoking. An honest heart will
recognize these arguments as poor excuses for ungodly behavior. Let's hear some of the arguments:
"Soda pop, coffee, overeating, and too much
candy are just as harmful as smoking."
No they're not. There
are no warning labels on soda pops or coffee.
Besides, one abuse does not justify another. If I'm addicted to coffee or a glutton,
that's wrong, too. A thing is determined
to be right or wrong not by comparing it to other things but by comparing it to
"Mark 7:15 says that nothing which enters a
man can defile him. That includes
Read ahead in verses 17 through 23. Defilement is centered in the heart. Jesus teaches in verse 22 that out of the
heart comes "foolishness," which defiles. W. E. Vine states that this word (in the
adjective form) "signifies 'without reason,… want of mental sanity and
sobriety, a reckless and inconsiderate habit of mind' (Hort), or 'the lack of
commonsense perception of the reality of things natural and spiritual … or the
imprudent ordering of one's life in regard to salvation' (G. Vos, in Hastings'
Bible Dic.)." That describes smoking. When a man purifies his heart, foolish
behavior, like smoking, is not engaged.
"It's just as bad to work in a coal mine or
a chemical company as it is to smoke."
Improvements are constantly being made to hazardous work
environments as we learn more about the dangers. Nevertheless, as dangerous as some
occupations are, safety is never disregarded as it is for smoking.
"The Bible doesn't say, 'Thou shalt not use
An early premise in our study established that sinful
practices do not have to be specifically mentioned in scripture for us to
determine they are sinful in principle.
"All God's creation is good. For what use did God make tobacco if not for
Perhaps for the production of pesticides.
"Romans 14:14 says, 'There is nothing
unclean of itself.' That includes
This is out of context.
Romans 14 is talking about things that in themselves are not matters of
right and wrong.
"We use medicines that are poisonous;
smoking is no different than chemotherapy."
The therapeutic use of chemical substances in the body is not
to be compared to their recreational use, that is, abuse.
"l enjoy it."
Some sins are admittedly enjoyable, for a season, but they
are still sin. Self denial in our
service to God requires that we not give ourselves over to every earthly
pleasure (2 Peter 2:10).
"I'm not addicted; I smoke only in
moderation. I therefore keep it under
control, so it's okay."
We have established that smoking is sinful not only because
of its addictive nature but also due to bodily harm and influence, which still
results from smoking only in moderation.
How much control a moderate smoker really has is doubtful, anyway; he
may actually be mildly addicted in self-denial.
Besides, addicted smokers always start out in moderation.
can afford it."
Though you might be able to manage the waste does not change
the principle of squandering (Proverbs 21:20).
incense was a part of worship under the Old Testament, and the smoke pleased
God (Revelation 8:3, 4)."
Not one time in the Bible is the word "smoke" used
to refer to intentionally inhaling it for the effect as is done today.
all have to die eventually from something."
This is just plain silly, and anyone who says it knows
it. Life is a precious gift from
God. God expects us to do something good
with our life (Gal 6:9, 10). That which
shortens our life shortens the good we can do (Phil 1:23, 24).
To Help People Quit Smoking
It is not easy to quit smoking. But it CAN be done. Others have done it, so can you, if you
smoke. Here are some suggestions to
Admit that it is sin
Recognize that we can lose our souls over it. If we truly accept this, it will motivate
us. The greatest trial or hardship life
can give is not worth losing our soul over.
Do not surrender yourself to accept that you tried but you
just can't quit. God assures us that
with every trial, He provides the way of escape. Look for it and find it.
1 Corinthians 10:13
Don't try to do it alone
Pray for God's help. Talk
to other Christians who have gone through it.
Galatians 6:1, 2
Do not keep cigarettes where you can easily get to them.
Do something with your hands to keep them too busy to have
time to smoke. Replace bad habits with
This will do two things: it will help keep you from gaining
weight, which is often a problem, and it will help you to realize how much
better you feel without cigarettes.
Smoking defiles both the body and the spirit; Christians
should never do it.
And Questions For Discussion
"you are not your own" (1 Corinthians 6:19).
"filthiness" (1 Corinthians
1 Corinthians 6:12. What did Paul mean
by "all things are lawful for me?"
someone has to eat a little bit of cornbread about every half hour of the day,
would you say he has a problem with self-control?
you think smoking sinful? If so or if
you heard other arguments given to justify smoking? If so, how would you answer?
you think it would be wrong to take only one puff on a cigarette just to see
what it's like?