“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you? . . . you are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”- I Cor. 6:19 and 20.
This verse which Paul wrote to the Christian, at Corinth deals with fornication, but it is so loaded with truth and principle that Christian ministers and teachers have often applied it to all of the other things that have an effect on our bodies. I have beard it used in regard to everything from drunkenness to drag racing. I would like to use it in dealing with smoking.
For the problem of smoking is one area in which there has been little said in our churches. Perhaps that is because it is so common to us.
You see, smoking is a mighty popular thing. Thousands upon thousands, millions upon millions of people smoke. Not all for the same reason, to be sure, but they all do smoke. So when people in the church smoke, they feel right at home. They don’t stand out; they blend right in with everyone else. That’s one reason why we don’t feel so guilty doing it . . . everyone else does, too. But Scripture tells us not to be like everyone else. Scripture tells us to be “transformed.” That is a mighty big idea to understand. We must strive to be different. How strange, how wonderful. The non-Christian must look at us and see something different in us. He must see in us a “new creation.”
“Wait a minute, back up,” someone is saying. “You are assuming that smoking is wrong. That’s jumping to conclusions mighty quick. I see nothing wrong with it.”
Well, I guess I did draw a conclusion too soon. Perhaps we should examine smoking first, and then pass judgment on it. Let’s see where its place is in the life of a Christian. For a Christian’s life must be full of things working together to the honor and glory of our God. In working toward that goal, everything we do must fit into the scheme of a godly life.
What does smoking accomplish? Does it provide our bodies with nutrition? No, I think it is obvious that it does not provide nutrition. Does it serve to ease pain, as aspirin, perhaps? No, it doesn’t do that either. Does it have any medicinal use whatsoever? None. Does smoking have any constructive value to the body at all? No, I think not.
The only reason that people smoke cigarettes is that it is somehow enjoyable to them. Yet not all smokers can even agree with what it is about smoking that they enjoy. Some smokers say that it tastes good, some say that it does not. Some say that it feels good, some disagree with that. At any rate, plain enjoyment is a poor reason to smoke if it is the only reason to do so. And I am afraid that it is the only reason.
Now, on the other hand, why would I ever say that it is wrong to smoke? First of all, let me deal with the externals. To begin with, people who smoke have the stench of smoke on their bodies, hair, clothes, and breath, and to non-smokers these people stink because of it. Also, the smoke burns the eyes of the partaker and all those near him. The cigarette often burn holes in carpeting, upholstery, clothes and so on.
It is rather sad that something as small as a cigarette, with as little value as it has, and with so many unbecoming characteristics as it possesses should control the lives of so many people. And it does control their lives. That is apparent when they try to stop.
But out of all this talk about smoking come the apostle’s words, “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit! That sheds a different light on the matter. That makes it mandatory that we are careful with our bodies. For Paul also says in Romans 12:1, “. . . Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.” Can the smoking Christian do that as well as a non-smoking Christian? No. Why? Because of the true nature of smoking; whether cigarettes, cigars, or a pipe.
For smoking, especially cigarette smoking, is harmful to the body. The world realizes this. The surgeon-general of the United States has figured that out. Smoking is directly linked to cancer, of the lungs primarily, but also of the mouth and throat. With every puff, the chances of cancer increase. It is also had for the heart. Smoking constricts the capillaries, causing a sharp rise in blood pressure.
The whole body is affected. Infection sets in more quickly because smoking destroys the guarding action of the cilia (small hair-like projections) in the bronchial tubes by paralyzing them. The dangers of smoking are numerous.
The federal government, aware of this truth, has forced the manufacturer to put a warning right on the package that his product comes in, and also in all his advertising. Can you imagine anyone eating meat that had stamped on the wrapper the word, “WARNING”? Of course not, but people still smoke. And many of these people are Christians.
To smoke just for the pleasure of it at the expense of the temple of God is a terrible thing. It is lust. It is gluttony. It is drunkenness. “Present yourself a living sacrifice,” the apostle says. He leaves no room for smoking when he says that. That habit does nothing to help us in our lives as Christians. It has no place in the life of one dedicated to God, for it serves no purpose, it doesn’t work toward God’s glory. Smoking isn’t even fit for recreation. For smoking destroys our bodies, while recreation serves to give us new vigor for the tasks of life.
There are many people who have tried to stop smoking and haven’t been able to. They have tried pills, chewing gum, or other such things to help them break the habit. They may even have gone to a “Five-Day Clinic to Stop Smoking.” Perhaps some people reading this have tried that, all without success. These people would say. “I agree that it is wrong but how can I overcome the habit?”
Perhaps part of the problem is that we put our trust in ourselves. It says in Mark 11:22-24, “And Jesus answered them. ‘Have faith in God, Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, Be taken up and east into the sea and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will.” Christ meant what He said. It takes faith to believe what He said, and more faith and prayer to put what He promised into use. But the Spirit has been sent and it dwells in us. The power is there. And if we pray in faith for the strength to overcome smoking, the Spirit will give us that strength. That is promised. Now take hold of that promise.