Here’s a common question: Is smoking a sin? Or is habitual smoking a sin and can you occasionally smoke and not be committing a sin?
Like all sin questions, we have to first start with a few others: Why do you smoke? Do you smoke for comfort, to escape the hardships of life? Do you smoke to please your friends? Do you smoke out of boredom? Putting a cigarette in your mouth and lighting it up might itself not be an act of sin, but can ever lead you down a path that isn’t sinful?
Like all sin, it’s the heart motivation behind the action that determines whether it is good or evil. Jesus said that it’s not what goes in to the body that determines sins, but what comes out of the heart. And since smoking is the end result of several decisions that rise up out of many possible motivations, we first have to examine the heart to determine whether or not smoking is sinful.
Now all of that might be too heady or philosophical for you, so let’s try another approach and let’s try thinking about this spiritually. The apostle Paul defined sin like this: Everything that does not come from faith is sin. To put it another way, all acts that we do are spiritual expressions – they are all acts that either express faith or unbelief in Jesus.
So if you do smoke, can you honestly say that your smoking is an act of faith? When you light a cigarette and put it in your mouth are you expressing your faith in Jesus at that moment or are you depending on the nicotine in the cigarette to carry you through your day? Are you medicating the worries of your life with a legalized drug or are you really engaged in act of worship towards Christ as you smoke? And all this begs another question: Can you really rest your hope in Jesus with a highly addictive substance like nicotine?
The purpose of these questions aren’t as much to arouse your guilt, as they are to challenge your thinking about faith. It’s just as easy to replace dependence on a cigarette with food or television or a 1,000 other addictive vices that leave you as spiritually empty (if not more) than before. These questions aren’t designed to guilt you into quitting, but to confront your thinking by asking you if your smoking really does draw you closer to Jesus.
So what motivations trigger your smoking? Stress? Worry? Boredom? Each of these triggers are sins, and they are very likely leading you to commit another as you take refuge in a drug rather than Jesus.
Taking refuge in things outside of Jesus is the essence of unbelief, a dependence on anything but Christ. So can you enjoy the occasional smoke as an act of worship to Christ, and not become addicted? I suppose anything is possible, and Christian freedom does abound apart from sin, but give what we now know about smoking and it’s affects on the human body it’s deems highly doubtful that smoking doesn’t impare one’s faith.
Remember, anything that enslaves you and keeps you from Christ is not of Christ. Anything that is outside of Christ, that is outside of God himself, is sin.