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A reader asks:

I smoke. Is that a sin? Should I quit smoking? I think people automatically assume I’m not a Christian because I smoke. I really struggle with it.

My answer: 

We all struggle with sin. One person’s gluttony or lack of exercise (unhealthy habits)  is no better than your struggle with your physically unhealthy habit. Smoking destroys your body, wastes money (health costs, stinky clothes and cars, it’s hard on your teeth, loss of productivity, etc.) and arguably hurts your testimony (which you have experienced since you admit many people don’t think you are a Christian because you smoke). So in that context, we can surely say smoking is a bad choice for Christians, but…

To declare all smoking dogmatically “a sin” is simply going beyond what the Bible says. Is smoking a cigar occasionally a sin? Many notable Christians smoked pipes and cigars. Before the destructive nature of cigarettes became known, lots of faithful and sincere Christians smoked. As with all sin that is not specifically listed in Scripture (such as lying, adultery, gluttony, drunkenness, etc.), it only becomes a “sin” at the moment God convicts us individually to “stop” and we do not.  I get the same questions about “drinking a beer”. For some Christians, it’s not an issue… for others, God’s has convicted them personally “no!” so for them it is a sin.  I think given the nature of cigarettes it is surely only a matter of time and maturity before any Christian becomes convicted they should cease the habit.

Once God convicts you that “you should stop” and you do not, then it would be a sin for you because you are not obeying God’s will in your life. To come to that conviction about smoking is usually a simple process, just answer these questions: 1) If your body is created by God and is a “holy temple”, does cigarette smoking do undeniable damage to that temple (also if using the supplementary products)?; 2) smoking is pretty expensive, is that a good use of the financial blessings God has given you? 3) is it true that smoking can be a real obstruction to your testimony as Christian? 4) if the Christian life is about victory over “living in bondage to physical desires” (ie. “the flesh”) should you stop any habit that keeps you addicted to or bound to some physical desire that dictates much of your life?

We don’t need to legalistically pronounce smoking a “sin” (when the Bible does not) to wisely bring the maturing Christian to a point where they clearly see that smoking is a bondage God would have us free of.  In fact, the prudent UN-believer would come to the same conclusion just based on health and financial reasons. When you add spiritual and Biblical reasons to the equation, it’s only a matter of time before a genuine Christian will realize their need to stop smoking.

God promises us the the strength and power to overcome the flesh, so every Christian is capable of kicking any habit including cigarettes. Don’t fall for the perpetual victim or endless recovery nonsense the world promotes today. God is greater than any drug, habit or desire and He will give you the strength to beat it if you only ask Him to and keep your focus on Him.