Can you go to Heaven if you smoke?
Out of all the behaviors that many question, whether they may or may not prevent people from going to heaven, smoking is usually at the top of the list.
This is not surprising as there are many genuine Christians who we may know to be smokers.
Charles Spurgeon, a renowned preacher and author, was known to smoke cigars.
However, does this make smoking good, and does it mean that smoking will not affect our chances of going to heaven?
What the Bible says about smoking
The Bible does not explicitly mention smoking at all throughout its pages. However, there are Biblical principles that we can use to help us understand God’s stance about smoking.
The Bible mentions that our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19-20).
Our bodies are of great importance to God, and we are to care for and be mindful of what we do with our bodies.
We are to glorify God with our bodies.
Smoking is known to cause severe long-term health challenges to those who indulge in it.
It is harmful to the lungs and cells of the body and can lead to lung diseases, cancer, and issues with the immune system. It also increases the risk of heart disease and tuberculosis.
All these are highly detrimental to physical health and limit how we serve God with our bodies.
Christians are not to indulge in anything that does not glorify God.
Smoking in itself does not bring glory to God as it not only leads to terrible health problems but is also highly addictive.
Earlier in that same chapter mentioned above, Paul the apostle says something profound that can explain how habitual indulgences such as smoking should be viewed.
“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” (I Corinthians 6:12)
As believers, we enjoy liberty in Christ. However, as warned in Galatians 5:13, we should not use this liberty to indulge fleshly desires.
We may have the freedom to do all things. However, not all things are of benefit to us.
We are also not to be brought under the power of anything that is not of God. Whatever will take our attention away from God has taken the place of God in our lives.
The addictive nature of smoking places one in its power and control.
It is a form of bondage and an indulgence of the flesh.
In Galatians 5:1, we are told not to be entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
The desires of the flesh are in enmity with the desires of the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:17).
Smoking has no benefit to our physical health or spiritual walk with God.
It is a harmful habit that takes the mind away from God to the short-term feelings of satisfaction it gives.
Is smoking a sin?
Although the Bible does not mention smoking among the various sins it talks about, we can deduce from scriptural principles that it is indeed a sin.
What is the motive behind smoking?
Does smoking glorify God in any way?
Can it be said that smoking honors God? The answer to these questions is “no.” Smoking is a lust of the flesh that does not glorify or honor God in any way. However, some might argue that many other things do not directly glorify God but are not necessarily a sin.
Let’s view this carefully.
As Christians, we are not to indulge in any fleshly lusts that bring no glory to our Father in heaven. Galatians 5:16 tells us to walk in the Spirit, and we will not indulge in the lusts of the flesh.
When we look at the various reasons why people smoke, none points to God.
There may be genuine reasons why people smoke, such as using it to manage stress levels or keeping warm during cold weather. However, using a habit harmful to physical health to manage another aspect of physical health seems counterproductive.
Nowhere in the Bible will you see indulging in fleshly lust is mentioned as the solution to help the flesh. Instead, we are encouraged to seek the help of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is given to us as followers of Christ Jesus to help our infirmities (Romans 8:26).
There are many things that Christians indulge in that are detrimental to their physical well-being, which do not glorify God but are not explicitly mentioned as sin in the Bible, such as unhealthy eating habits, smoking, drinking, and the likes of them. However, we can deduce from their effects (not only to the body but to the mind) that they are not pleasing to God.
Whatever does not please God should be avoided by all means by Christians, not because we are held down by “dos” and “don’ts” but because we seek to please God in every way.
Another thing we must consider is whether or not smoking is done from a place of faith. The Bible says that whatever is not done in faith is a sin (Romans 14:23).
Faith pleases God (Hebrews 11:6), and anything done in faith pleases God. Faith means belief and trust in God. A belief/trust in anything or anyone else is not faith. God is the focal point of faith.
We have established that smoking does not seek to please God but rather self and takes the place where God should operate.
Still, some might argue that they do not have any conviction to quit smoking as it does not affect their relationship with God.
This is left between God and the individual, as God is the one who justifies a person. However, if you are having doubts within you or the Holy Spirit has clearly been convicting you about smoking, and you refuse to heed Him, continuing to indulge in it, you are clearly sinning against God.
Of course, this can only be known by you and God. However, knowing deep within you that you have to quit smoking because you feel uneasy about it or you have doubts about it, but go on smoking, making up excuses for it, you are walking in disobedience and lack of faith.
It is a sin.
We are also admonished in the Bible to avoid doing anything that will lead to the fall of a fellow believer.
You might have strong faith to be involved in any activity, but you have to look out for those whose faith does not carry what you do. Paul puts it this way:
“Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another… it is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.” Romans 14:19,21 (NKJV)
As earlier stated, we have liberty in Christ. But when that liberty offends a fellow believer or makes a weaker believer stumble, it is best to avoid it for the sake of that believer.
The truth is that we are called to serve and look out for one another as we are all members of the Lord’s body.
It is pleasing to God that we do nothing to make a fellow Christian fall, as not all are strong in the faith.
Therefore, if your smoking raises doubt in your heart, makes a believer who had just come out of a smoking addiction fall back to it, or makes them question their faith in God, you are in error and need to repent.
Will smoking prevent me from going to heaven?
To answer this question, we must first examine what ensures our salvation.
Romans 10:9 says we are saved by confessing with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believing in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead.
Jesus Himself said in John 3:18 that he who believes in the Son of God is not condemned, and he who does not believe is condemned already.
Salvation is a gift of God that comes by believing in Jesus Christ as the Lord who died and rose from the dead and lives forever. It is not as a result of our works (Ephesians 2:8-9).
There is nothing that we do that saves us. However, the Bible tells us we are saved to do good works (Ephesians 2:10).
Engaging in good works does not save anyone. However, those who are saved have been created in Christ to do good works.
As James the apostle says, “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:26).
This means that in itself, smoking has no power to determine where you spend eternity, neither does it prevent a person from being saved. However, if your indulgence in smoking comes from a place of disobedience to God, it is a demonstration of your lack of love for God (John 14:21).
If your smoking also makes a fellow believer fall, you are not walking in the love of God.
These may not take away your salvation, but these works will be tried in fire and determine your reward in eternity.
Would your works as a Christian be found to give praise, honor, and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ (I Peter 1:7)? Or would they deny Him (Titus 1:16)?
These should be the concern of Christians.
Our belief and trust in Jesus must reflect in our works as well.
We have to let the Holy Spirit work in us to produce good fruits pleasing to God the Father.
If it was only about making heaven and being saved, there would be no mention of renewing our minds or presenting our bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2).
We are saved by the grace of God by having faith in the only begotten Son of God, but we are made perfect by walking in the Spirit and denying the works of flesh.
Those who walk in the Spirit seek things above and of eternal value (Colossians 3:1-2).
As Christians, we are to put off the old man (before being saved) and the deeds of the old man and put on the new man, which is renewed to become the image of God (Colossians 3:8-10).
So, will I go to hell for smoking?
No, you won’t go to hell for smoking, but it could be spiritually detrimental.
Smoking is not the backdrop to determine who is saved and who isn’t; however, indulging in smoking can lead to harmful effects both to the mind and the body of the individual and can, in the long run, affect their relationship with God. Smoking in no way brings praise or glory to the Father, and it is not something a Christian should indulge in.
It is a sin when it leads to an addiction as the smoker is under the control of the act rather than being subject to the Holy Spirit.
The Bible tells us that we are slaves to whatever we yield ourselves to obey (Romans 6:16).
A smoking addict is a slave to tobacco and nicotine and not to God.
It is also a sin when smoking is indulged in regardless of the direct instructions and leading God to quit it.
It is a direct disobedience to God when you know fully well that you have to stop smoking, but you smoke anyway.
Smoking is a sin when you fully know that it will cause a fellow believer to sin against God, but you keep indulging in it.
As brothers and sisters in Christ, we must bear one another’s burdens in love (Galatians 6:2, John 13:34-35).
We all sin in one way or the other. But we serve a merciful God who forgives us when we confess our sins to Him and seek His help to forsake them (I John 1:9).
Smoking is not a greater sin than others. But it is a little fox that can spoil the vine, and it is essential to remove whatever can soil our walk with God in any way. In everything you do, do it to the glory of God.