Smoking cigarettes and using other tobacco products is a controversial issue among Christians. While the Bible does not directly address smoking, there are principles and Scriptures we can look to for guidance on whether smoking is a sin for believers. In this comprehensive blog post, we will examine what the Bible says about our bodies, addictions, self-control, and other factors to help us determine if smoking is sinful behavior for Christians.
Smoking has become an extremely common practice around the world. The addictive nature of nicotine in tobacco makes it hard for smokers to quit. Many Christians who smoke cigarettes, cigars, vape, or use other tobacco struggle with knowing if it is acceptable behavior for followers of Jesus Christ. There are good arguments on both sides of the debate. Rather than merely stating an opinion, our goal will be to thoroughly study what the Bible teaches that can apply to this issue.
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- The Bible teaches our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and we should care for them accordingly.
- Smoking is addictive and we are called to have self-control over our fleshly desires.
- Secondhand smoke can harm others, conflicting with Christ’s command to love our neighbor.
- While the Bible does not forbid smoking directly, biblical principles suggest it is a habit Christians should avoid.
- Christians struggling with addiction can turn to Jesus and find freedom and strength to quit.
Over the course of this post, we will provide an in-depth Christian perspective on smoking, including Bible passages relevant to this topic. Whether you currently smoke, recently quit, or have never used tobacco, this article will help you understand what the Bible teaches so you can make an informed decision before God.
- The Bible on Our Bodies as God's Temple
- Freedom in Christ from Addiction
- Loving Our Neighbor as Ourselves
- Principles For Christians Who Currently Smoke
- Bible Verses on the Body, Self-Control & Health
- Finding Freedom from Addiction to Tobacco
- Objections Some Christians Have to Claiming Smoking as Sin
- Conclusion – A Matter of Christian Conscience and Wisdom
The Bible on Our Bodies as God’s Temple
One biblical principle we can apply to the question of smoking is that our bodies are not our own, but have been bought with a price. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 states:
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (NKJV)
As Christians, our bodies are not our possession to treat however we want. They are God’s temple, indwelt by the Holy Spirit. We are called to glorify God with our bodies.
1 Corinthians 3:16-17 gives a similar instruction:
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. (NKJV)
Smoking introduces thousands of toxic chemicals into the body’s system. This clearly has harmful effects on the physical health of smokers, putting them at higher risk of various cancers, lung disease, and other ailments. Studies have also shown secondhand smoke negatively impacts the health of those around smokers.
While an activity does not have to be overtly sinful to be unwise, the biblical principle of stewarding our bodies carefully as God’s temple is hard to align with smoking. If we are knowingly engaging in an activity that harms the body God has given us to honor Him, we may need to reconsider our actions.
Freedom in Christ from Addiction
Another relevant principle is that as believers we are called to avoid addictions that destroy our self-control. 1 Corinthians 6:12 states:
All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. (NKJV)
As this verse states, just because we have the freedom in Christ to do something does not mean it is beneficial. Smoking cigarettes is very addictive, largely because of the nicotine they contain. While smoking may start as an occasional habit, over time the addiction to nicotine can gain control and be very difficult to quit.
Galatians 5:22-23 lists self-control as one of the fruits produced by the Holy Spirit:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (NKJV)
As believers, we should exhibit self-control empowered by the Spirit. An addiction to smoking contradicts the self-control the Bible encourages Christians to have.
Part of living in freedom in Christ means asking Him for strength to overcome the flesh and avoid addictions that hinder our walk with God. Through the power of Christ, believers can have victory over tobacco addictions as with any other sinful habit.
Loving Our Neighbor as Ourselves
In Mark 12:30-31 Jesus states what are the two greatest commandments:
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (NKJV)
If we love our neighbor, we should avoid harming others with secondhand smoke. Several thousand non-smokers die each year from lung cancer caused primarily by secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke also increases respiratory infections and asthma complications, especially in children.
While smokers have a right to make choices for their own bodies, secondhand smoke infringes on the health and right of those around them, especially family members and coworkers who share space. Christians should thoughtfully consider how smoking affects not just their own health but others around them. Loving our neighbor calls us to care about their well-being also.
Principles For Christians Who Currently Smoke
The principles we have explored suggest that smoking conflicts with God’s purposes for our bodies, self-control, and love for others. However, many Christians today do smoke whether occasionally or regularly. Here are some biblical principles for believers who currently use tobacco:
- Pray and ask God to reveal to your conscience whether smoking is honoring to Him. The Holy Spirit will guide you to truth.
- Study relevant scriptures on the body, self-control, and loving others. Scripture combined with prayer leads to wisdom.
- If convinced it is an unwise habit, pray for strength to quit through Christ who can overcome any addiction.
- If smoking around other believers, be considerate of their convictions and health by avoiding smoking near them.
- Be a godly example to youth and non-believers, not promoting or glamorizing smoking.
- Support biblical principles like self-control over fleshly desires even if struggling to fully live them out.
The goal should be fully aligning our thoughts and actions with God’s Word. This may require difficult changes, but we can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13). Believers should encourage each other in love to live for God’s purposes.
Bible Verses on the Body, Self-Control & Health
Beyond the passages we have looked at in-depth, there are many other Bible verses applicable to the question of smoking and Christian living:
For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13, NASB)
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”–and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. (1 Corinthians 6:12-13)
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship. (Romans 12:1)
These and other Bible verses help us understand God’s desire for us to honor Him with our bodies and have self-control by the power of the Holy Spirit. As we offer even our bodies as living sacrifices, He can guide us away from harmful addictions and toward greater obedience.
Finding Freedom from Addiction to Tobacco
For current smokers wanting to quit, know that freedom and strength are available through faith in Jesus Christ. Philippians 4:13 promises, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (NKJV) Take time to sincerely pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help you in this journey. Scripture encourages us God is faithful to help us resist temptation:
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13, NKJV)
Joining support groups, nicotine addiction programs and medications can also aid you in breaking free from dependence on tobacco. But the most powerful tool is prayer to the One for whom nothing is impossible. With God’s help believers can overcome any addiction including smoking.
As 1 John 1:9 (NKJV) promises: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Do not allow guilt or shame to keep you from drawing close to Christ. He forgives completely and can empower you to walk in newness of life.
Objections Some Christians Have to Claiming Smoking as Sin
Those who support smoking or using tobacco occasionally make several arguments for why they believe it is acceptable for Christians:
1. The Bible does not forbid it directly. It is true there is no verse stating “thou shalt not smoke.” However, there are biblical principles about caring for our body, avoiding addictions, and loving others that should inform our view.
2. Jesus drank alcohol. Jesus did miraculously turn water into wine in his first miracle at the wedding feast of Cana. However, there is a big difference between an occasional glass of wine and a long-term addictive habit that harms the body like smoking.
3. We have freedom in Christ. As mentioned earlier, just because we have freedom does not mean everything is beneficial for us. We should use our freedom to serve God, not as an excuse to indulge the flesh.
4. Others sins like gluttony or laziness also harm health. It is true that overeating to obesity or living a sedentary lifestyle damages health like smoking. All believers should pursue moderation and self-control in various areas by God’s grace. But just because other habits are sinful, it does not justify smoking.
5. Smoking relieves stress. People smoke claiming the nicotine reduces anxiety, depression, and anger. But God wants us to cast all our cares on Him rather than unhealthy habits. The peace of God which surpasses all understanding can guard our hearts (Philippians 4:7).
While these arguments have some merit, overall the biblical case against smoking appears stronger based on principles for Christian living.
Conclusion – A Matter of Christian Conscience and Wisdom
In conclusion, is smoking sinful? While Scripture does not forbid smoking outright, biblical principles about stewarding our bodies, self-control, and loving others provide guidance for Christians to avoid this addictive habit. The Bible calls us to righteousness, not to merely avoid what is explicitly named as sin. The many health risks of smoking conflict with God’s desire for us to treat our bodies with care as His temple. Secondhand smoke shows disregard for the well-being of those around us. And addiction to tobacco violates the self-control produced by the Holy Spirit within us.
Ultimately whether to smoke or not for Christians is a matter of conscience before God and applying biblical wisdom. The abstaining from smoking is the most prudent choice for believers seeking to honor Christ with their bodies and walk in the Spirit rather than the flesh. But the Bible allows room for Christian freedom. Our prayer is this post provides meaningful spiritual guidance so you can make a scripturally informed decision. Whether you smoke or not, the goal as Christians is to live in a way bringing glory to our Lord and sharing His love with others.