Alcohol, Tobacco and the Christian.

I got a question not too long ago from a concerned christain asking if alcohol and smoking would take a believer to hell? This was my response (names changed);


Hello Sandra,
Your question is straight forward and really not such a difficult one to answer but
sometimes, an easy topic is made difficult by a challenging environment.
First of all I will assume the people we are in particular talking about are Christians,
because everyone who does not believe in Christ and has never smoked a stick of
cigarette or taken a bottle of liquor is still going to end in hell, not because of some
great sin they committed or lack of good deed they should have done, but because they
refused God’s salvation; Jesus.

What takes a person to hell like I stated is rejecting Jesus, and a major characteristic of
such people is the sinful lifestyle they live born out of that unregenerated, sinful nature,
so we see the bible say that;
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and
whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the
lake which burneth with fire and brimstone… Rev 21:8
So the question I will answer is this; is drinking a bottle of alcohol or smoking a stick of
cigarette a sin? Can we honestly say a man who smokes is a sinner just like the man
who steals? Or a woman drinks alcohol is also a sinner just like the one commits
adultery?

Let me state that my background (being born and bred in a church that is 100% Antidrinking and Anti-smoking, and even consider it a sin) has given me a perspective on
these things that I followed zealously without question, but a point comes as you grow
in Faith you want to choose; will I follow this because it’s popular or because it’s the
truth? Will I hold on to it because my heroes of faith held on or because the Word
made flesh said so? Will I judge a matter objectively and scripturally? Or will I judge it
traditionally and culturally?

It is wisdom to start where the bible starts and stops where the bible stops

It is wisdom to start where the bible starts and stops where the bible stops and as such,
I do not consider drinking alcohol in itself a sin!, being drunk (a result of too much
alcohol) is clearly instructed against (Eph 5;18, Gal 5:21, 1 Pet 4:3), just as being a
glutton (a result of excessive eating) is also clearly wrong. It’s obvious from studying
scriptures that the Jews drank (and still drink) alcoholic beverages, from Noah till even
the disciples. Like Paul who advised Timothy to take a little wine for medicinal purposes
(1 Tim 5:23), we know that if a doctor had advised Timothy to sleep with a woman for
health reasons, Paul and even Timothy would never agree, Timothy would rather die of
the sickness than sin against God for medical reasons. They are no special conditions
where certain sins are permitted, hence because it was not a sin to drink wine as a
whole Paul could give such an advice (P.S. One of the conditions of being a Bishop is
that the person is one not given to wine or as the Amplified puts it ‘not addicted to
wine’, just like priests were not allowed to drink wine when they ministered (Lev 10:9),a matter more of consecration and requirement for the office than otherwise.)

Smoking is more a crime against your body than a sin against God

Smoking is more a crime against your body than a sin against God, I cannot in any
sincerity say that a smoker is a sinner just like a liar. Smoking may be considered bad
stewardship of the body God gave you because of it’s obvious hazardous effects on the
body and is in my own opinion a very bad and foolish idea. If sins once committed takes
a person immediately to hell, I don’t believe smoking would. I believe such acts would
be judged under the same category where God judges those Christians who wasted
their time, who married outside His will, who worked in the wrong ministries, who
didn’t develop or deploy the gifts God gave them, who didn’t minister to those they
could have etc. a judgment not of ‘hell or heaven’ but of ‘reward & recognition’ (Read
my article: The Two kinds of Judgment).

Having said this, let me share a discussion I had with a brother who asked me ‘if it was
sinful for Christians to bet?’

||
>>The issue of betting is not really a black and white matter, the
scriptures give no explicit instructions to do so or not, but by the
Spirit of the Scriptures we can approve the will of God
>>The bible points ‘ “All things are lawful for me,” but not all
things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be
dominated by anything’- 1 cor 6:12
>>What that means is that though something may not be a sin, it may
not also be useful for our souls
>>Let me give you two live examples: back in those days of Charles
Spurgeon, D.L Moody (an American preacher) travelled to England to
see Spurgeon. On reaching his house and he met spurgeon smoking, he
cried ‘how could you a preacher smoke’, Spurgeon on seeing him
replied ‘how could you a preacher have a pot belly’ (because you see
in England it was seen as a great ill for a preacher to have a pot
belly).
>>Context matters
>>Snooker is just another game, like playing cards but because the
people who mostly play it are those in bars and clubs, it is seen
negatively. A Christian for his testimony may choose depending on the
environment not to play it
>>Betting is also like so, most people who bet do so out of greed,
taking risks to make quick money
>>And so you see people loosing themselves because of the outcome of
a game
>>It also like most vices tends to be addictive, the more you do, the
more you are pulled to do. many times Taking your focus from what
really matters
>>This has led many to gamble away their time, money, and even
families
>>Like the man who lost a bet for which he had put his house as his
own wager, his family become homeless
>> There also is the societal disdain for people who do so, labeling
them irresponsible and unserious
>>Difficult to imagine Jesus playing Naira bet right?
>>The thing is I can’t scripturally tell you its a sin but we can
discern it’s not expedient and may take more out of us ultimately
than it gives
>>I would advise not to
>>Remember, you are a son of the King of Kings, and good, honest and
honourable work is pleasing before God no matter how meager
>>Better to work on a skill, offer a service or sell a product than
live your financial life (or any life) based on chance
>>We walk by Faith in the unshakable Word not by chance in probable
outcomes of guess work, regardless of how intelligent the guess is
||
Let me in paraphrase, share also a true story I read in a book, of an American preacher
who traveled to another continent of totally different orientation, on reaching there his
hosts welcomed him and took him to a large banquet they had set up, they all sat and
ate. At the end of the meal the attendants brought small glasses of wine for each
person on the table, the American preacher was a bit shocked (for his own upbringing
frowned against wine), but nevertheless he took the wine and sipped with his fellow
preachers. While still on the table a preacher on the side bent towards him and said ‘I
hear the saints in America do such horrible things as drinking coffee!’, the American
preacher shook his head and replied ‘I’m afraid they do, I’m afraid they do’.

It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong
drink

The humor of the story is in realizing the American preacher and people in question
have no ill against drinking coffee at all but see it as just another drink but view
alcoholic drinks as a most dreadful sin while it was vice versa for the hosts.
The bible clearly shows us the wisdom ways that wine is NOT for kings;
It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong
drink:Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.
Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of
heavy hearts.
Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.
Prov 31:4-7

Other scriptures point;
Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise
Prov 20:1,
Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who
hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes?
They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.
Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it
moveth itself aright.
At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.
Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.
Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon
the top of a mast.
They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I
felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again
Prov 23:29-35
Then when you consider the scripture in Romans 14:21, which says;
It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother
stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.
And you realize that many brethren stumble over this matter that is pretty controversial
in different church circles, you realize it will not be waling in love to do so.
The law didn’t let priests in the old testament take wine when they went to
temple to minister (Lev 10:9) and we Just read that wine is not for kings, and the bible
calls us Kings and Priests to our God (1 Pet 2:9, Rev 5:10) and that we are the temple of
God (2 Cor 6:16), so one could say ‘even though we can, we shouldn’t’, the point not
being about sin but a matter of consecration. And when you consider the addictive
nature of alcohol, it’s historical role in ruining peoples lives and it’s not so positive
health effects (especially when taken in excess), you realize the wisdom of Proverbs is a
wisdom we should live by.

In conclusion I would state, while these things may not be sins, I would not advise
any christian to be even a light consumer of them, especially in for those in African context, where most people with a cigar in hands are viewed with suspicion and drinkers are viewed with same eyes, it is almost impossible to think of a preacher who smokes. How dangerously this would affect our witness, the very people you want to save will not
listen to you for they will feel ‘he is a smoker and drinker and therefore sinner like us’.
The idea of drinking is also a bad one to me, why tempt yourself and go to so far an
edge? Why tempt yourself to drunkenness and addiction? I once said concerning porn
addiction, the best way to overcome it, is not to get involved in the first place! and so I
also say to addictions of drink and tobacco.

I’ve never taken a bottle of beer or smoked a single stick of cigarette and I don’t plan to
ever do so, so I have no personal prejudice to favour the matter, I also realize they are
many opinions about the terms ‘wine’, ‘grape juice’, ‘strong drink’ etc. with different
people interpreting it differently albeit somewhat skewed to support the own predispositions, howbeit I’ll not go there, sometimes complex mind makes simple things
complex problems.
These are the truths I’ve gleaned from scriptures, I realize my views might go against
the trend of most churches and denominations, but I believe a true-ness to truth is
faith in the gospel as the power of God unto salvation. Don’t forget it’s the Truth that
sets free.

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