Will Smokers Go to Heaven?

Smoking is a controversial topic among Christians. Some believe that smoking is a sin that will prevent someone from entering heaven. Others argue that while smoking may be unwise, it is not necessarily a sin that excludes one from salvation. This article will examine both perspectives from an Evangelical and Charismatic Christian viewpoint.


Smoking cigarettes and using other tobacco products is highly addictive and proven to cause severe health problems and death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking harms nearly every organ in the body and is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.[1]

Despite knowing the risks, over 30 million Americans still smoke cigarettes.[2] A portion of those smokers identify as Christian. This raises the question: will smokers go to heaven?

There are differing opinions on this issue among Evangelical and Charismatic Christians. Some believe smoking is a sin that will exclude someone from heaven. Others argue that while unwise, smoking itself does not make someone unsaved.

To address this question thoroughly, we will look at the following:

  • Biblical principles related to the body and health choices
  • Historical church views on smoking
  • Whether smoking is inherently sinful
  • Dangers of legalism and judging others
  • Recommendations for current Christian smokers

By the end of this article, readers should have a nuanced understanding of the debate around smoking and heaven. The goal is to examine what the Bible teaches on this issue, not to pass judgement on our brothers and sisters in Christ who struggle with addiction.

Will Smokers Go to Heaven?

Key Takeaways

  • The Bible calls our bodies temples of the Holy Spirit which should be cared for. Smoking damages our bodies.
  • Many historical church leaders condemned smoking as a sin, but views have changed over time and are not universal.
  • Smoking may or may not be inherently sinful depending on one’s conscience and convictions.
  • Christians should be careful of legalism and judging other believers based on disputable matters.
  • Christian smokers should pray about their habit and seek God’s help in quitting if they believe it is indeed sinful.

Our Bodies Are Temples of the Holy Spirit

One relevant biblical principle is that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and should be treated with care. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 states:

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 Cor. 6:19-20, ESV)

As Evangelical and Charismatic Christians, we believe the Holy Spirit resides within us after salvation. Our bodies are not our own, but temples in which God’s Spirit dwells. We therefore have a responsibility to care for our bodies and use them for God’s glory.

The apostle Paul makes a similar point in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17:

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. (1 Cor. 3:16-17, ESV)

These verses indicate we should treat our physical bodies as holy places belonging to God. We should be careful to honor God with how we use and care for the temple of our body.

Without question, smoking cigarettes and using other tobacco products causes significant destruction to our physical bodies. Here are some facts about how smoking impacts health:

  • Cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer, which is the second most common cancer in both men and women.[3]
  • Smoking raises the risk of many other cancers including mouth, throat, esophagus, pancreas, kidney, cervix, stomach, bladder, and acute myeloid leukemia.[4]
  • Smoking causes about 90% of all deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a progressive disease that makes breathing difficult.[5]
  • Smoking increases risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart attack, stroke, and heart failure.[6]
  • Smoking harms nearly every bodily organ and has a negative effect on overall health and mortality.[7]

With this overwhelming evidence, no Christian could reasonably argue that smoking aligns with the biblical principle of stewarding our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit. Smoking unequivocally causes great harm and destruction to our physical bodies.

Historical Church Views on Smoking

Looking at church history also provides insight on Christian perspectives towards smoking. Many prominent preachers, theologians and church leaders over the centuries have condemned smoking as a sinful practice:

  • Martin Luther (1483-1546): The German priest who sparked the Protestant Reformation viewed smoking as demonic, stating “smoking is a sinful habit that leads people into other sins like drinking.” [8]
  • King James I of England (1566–1625): The king who commissioned the famous King James Bible wrote a pamphlet in 1604 called A Counterblaste to Tobacco that harshly condemned smoking as “harmful to the brain” and “dangerous to the lungs.” [9]
  • John Wesley (1703–1791): The founder of Methodism preached against tobacco use, stating “none can be better employed than in contemplating the works of God. But this cannot be done unless you refrain from tobacco.” [10]
  • Ellen G. White (1827-1915): The pioneering founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church strongly spoke against tobacco and smoking as part of living a holy life. [11]
  • C.H. Spurgeon (1834-1892): The famous British Baptist minister said, “smoke makes a chimney of the throat, a mud chimney at that. Smoking makes a man’s body too much like a chimney and his head much too like a funnel.” [12]
  • Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899): The great American evangelist equated smoking with drunkenness and gambling, stating “You never heard of a praying drunkard or praying gambler…a praying thief or a praying tobacco user.” [13]

This small sampling shows many influential church leaders over the centuries condemned smoking as a sinful habit incompatible with holy Christian living.

However, views within Christianity have changed over time. Smoking did not become common until the late 1800s. [14] As smoking grew in popularity among the general public in the early 20th century, many churches softened their stance.

Some denominations such as Seventh-day Adventists and Mormons still officially prohibit tobacco use. But many modern churches do not take an official position on it, leaving it up to individual conscience.

So while smoking was almost universally viewed as sinful throughout church history, contemporary perspectives among Evangelical and Charismatic Christians are more diverse. The habit is no longer condemned as often as it once was.

Is Smoking Inherently Sinful?

Given the health risks of smoking and historical church condemnation, is using tobacco inherently sinful? Or is smoking a disputable matter of Christian freedom?

As with many moral issues, there are good arguments on both sides. Some Christians make the case that smoking is not inherently sinful in all cases:

  • The Bible does not directly prohibit smoking. Though our bodies are called temples, the act of smoking itself is not forbidden.
  • Many other behaviors like eating unhealthy foods carry health risks but are not necessarily labeled sins. Why single out smoking?
  • If done in moderation, smoking may not always be addictive. People theoretically can smoke occasionally without addiction.
  • The ceremonial and responsible use of tobacco has a long history in some Native American cultures. [15] Can this be done without sin?
  • While inadvisable, smoking falls into a category of disputable matters where no one should judge another believer’s conscience, per Romans 14.

On the other side, several strong arguments suggest smoking is inherently sinful:

  • The Bible forbids addiction and habitual behaviors that control us. Smoking is highly addictive and very difficult to do in moderation. [16]
  • God commands us not to harm our bodies. The severe health risks of smoking violate the principle of not intentionally harming ourselves.
  • Smoking not only harms us but others via second-hand smoke, especially children and pregnant women. Causing harm to others is sin.
  • The money spent on tobacco could be better used to serve God and others. Smoking wastes resources in pursuit of unhealthy appetites.
  • Many historical church leaders have condemned smoking directly as sin, not just as an unwise practice.
  • The Holy Spirit may guide some believers to avoid smoking in obedience to their conscience.

Which of these arguments is more compelling? Christians can analyze the evidence and come to differing conclusions. The Bible does not provide a definitive stance either way.

Ultimately, whether smoking is inherently sinful depends on the conscience of each individual Christian. Romans 14 addresses matters of conscience in disputable matters not directly forbidden in scripture:

One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? (Romans 14:2-4)

Based on this principle, whether to smoke or not comes down to a matter of personal conviction before God. One person may believe they can smoke occasionally without sin, while another with a sensitive conscience may abstain from smoking entirely.

As mature believers, we should not judge or despise fellow Christians who arrive at a different conclusion. God alone judges the heart and knows if someone is acting in faith according to their conscience.

Dangers of Legalism and Judging Others

Given the complexities around this issue, Christians must be extremely careful not to be legalistic or judge others who smoke.

Legalism involves elevating laws or rules to a level of importance they were not meant to have in scripture. Nowhere does the Bible directly prohibit smoking. While the principles of caring for our bodies and avoiding addiction/slavery to sin still apply, smoking itself is never forbidden.

Therefore, dogmatically claiming any smoking is sinful for all Christians goes too far into legalism. It places manmade rules on par with God’s direct commands.

Furthermore, Christians have no place passing judgement on fellow believers regarding disputable matters of conscience per Romans 14. The chapter goes on to say:

Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. (Romans 14:4)

So then let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. (Romans 14:13)

Only God in His perfect knowledge can judge a person’s heart motives and whether they violated their conscience before Him.

As Christians, we are called to love others, not place stumbling blocks in their way. Harshly judging smokers projects self-righteousness, pushes people away from the gospel, and usurps God’s role in judging the heart.

Recommendations for Christian Smokers

For Evangelical or Charismatic Christians who currently struggle with smoking addiction, what is the best path forward?

Here are several recommendations:

  • Pray and examine your motives and conscience before God. Why do you smoke? Are you truly convinced it is not sin, or does the Spirit convict you that it is wrong? Pray for wisdom to understand God’s perspective.
  • Consider quitting smoking if you believe it is sin. Pray for power through the Holy Spirit to overcome addiction. Seek help from other Christians, recovery groups and resources to succeed in quitting.
  • If you smoke, do so in faith with self-control. Use moderation and extreme caution not to become addicted. Prioritize caring for your body as God’s temple.
  • Be sensitive about smoking around other Christians. Do not flaunt smoking or pressure others to smoke. Avoid passing judgement on those who abstain.
  • Redirect the time and money spent on smoking towards God’s purposes. Use cigarette breaks for prayer. Invest the money in ministry and giving to others. Let smoking decrease as love for God increases.
  • Encourage Christian friends who smoke to reconsider the habit. Lovingly share your convictions and reasons for quitting. Pray for and support their success in overcoming addiction.

Smoking is a complex issue for Christians. But with prayer, wisdom from the Holy Spirit, non-judgement towards others, and focus on God’s purposes, we can honor the Lord with our choices and treatment of our bodies.


In summary, there are strong biblical principles and historical voices indicating smoking goes against God’s ideal purposes for our bodies and lifestyles. Many Christians argue smoking is inherently sinful in all cases.

However, since the Bible does not directly prohibit smoking, others believe it falls into a disputable category where personal conscience gives freedom. The right choice depends on each believer’s convictions before God.

Evangelical and Charismatic Christians must be extremely careful, however, not to judge fellow believers on this issue. Only God can judge the heart.

For those who currently smoke, the ideal path forward is prayerfully examining their conscience and motives before God. Strength from the Holy Spirit and support of Christian community can help overcome smoking addiction if one is convicted it is indeed sin. But even if one smokes, maximizing other good works brings glory to God.

While reasonable Christians can disagree, the undeniable conclusion is smoking carries substantial proven health risks. Therefore, abstaining from tobacco use is the wisest choice for living a healthy and godly life.

But whether occasional smoking disqualifies someone from heaven is not ours to definitively determine. Our responsibility as Christians is to love others, avoid judgement, and seek God’s will in how we care for the temple of our physical bodies. By God’s grace and strength, we can strive to honor Him in all areas of life.

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