Yesterday afternoon I went evangelizing on the streets of Haverhill, Massachusetts (just north of Boston) and saw 19 people pray to receive salvation. One of them was a young man who once had another preacher tell him that smoking sends people to hell and even showed him Scripture that supposedly supported that belief. I responded by making a comment I’ve told many other smokers; “Smoking won’t send you to hell but it will make you smell like you’ve been there…and if you don’t know Jesus, smoking can help send you to hell much quicker.”
Some Christians believe if a person really gets saved, he or she would stop smoking immediately. I have seen instances (including one yesterday) when people tossed their lit cigarettes before praying to get born again. Then again, there was another man who asked me to pray for him and then lit up a cigarette while receiving salvation. This man thanked me for the prayer afterwards even though he continued smoking. Romans 10:13 says, “Whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” Giving up smoking is not a prerequisite for entering through the Pearly Gates.
Certainly I don’t approve of smoking. As a kid, I had to put up with relatives who were chain smokers. That was enough of a deterrent for me from getting started on that nasty habit. Before I gave my life to the Lord, I worked as a disc jockey in nightclubs and at wedding dances where I often found myself surrounded by smokers. Although I got used to that kind of environment, I could no longer tolerate being in smoke-filled places once I resigned from nightclub work.
I would agree that smoking is a sin because it damages a person’s health. On the other hand, there are other habits destructive to the human body. Christians who willfully abuse their health by smoking, overeating, or drinking alcoholic beverages are being a poor witness to non-believers observing them. We are to be living epistles (2 Corinthians 3:2-3) and good stewards of our bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “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.”
Evangelist Nick Kinn often testifies the day after he got born again, he read the gospel of John with a cigarette in one hand and a beer in the other. Just over a year later, Nick was so full of God’s Word that he no longer desired those vices. Psalm 119:9 says, “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.” Brother Nick didn’t give up smoking and drinking because someone beat him over the head with a Bible. He took it upon himself to desire more of God and has since preached the gospel in numerous cities and countries.
Reading the Bible causes our thoughts to line up with God's will. So if you have an addiction that’s hindering your walk with the Lord, feed on the word more. I also encourage you to build up your spirit by praying in the Holy Ghost (Jude 20). God will give you the victory over fleshly habits if you put your trust in Him.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
- Philippians 4:13