Pardon my long absence. We are now settled in to a beautiful house here and jumping into things. We had 4 believers for the midweek Bible study this week and I just finished a one-on-one discipleship time with a fellow who is a 60 year old baby Christian.
Twice this week we have been asked by new believers in the church the question about smoking. A young lady asked my wife, “Are Christians allowed to smoke. I feel guilty about it but I can’t find it in the Bible anywhere.” Today, my friend Mohammed told me he feels like he could really give his life to Christ as soon as he could stop smoking but he feels chained to it.
Now, I’ve never had a problem with smoking but I have had a problem with judging people by smoking. A couple years ago we had a couple young men who were hiding their smoking from me while we were training them for ministry and they were preaching and teaching every week. I laid into them about the great sin of smoking. Then I realized two things:
#1. The Bible doesn’t say a word about it.
#2. Jesus rebuked the pharisees for thinking themselves just because they didn’t put certain items into their mouths.
I realized that I was actually on the wrong end of Christ’s law of the heart as a Christian! Wow. That woke me up. So today I had the great privilage of telling Mohammed he doesn’t have to worry any more about his smoking than I do about not exercising at all (I admit I am a little worried about it). Mark 7:14-23 Jesus tells us that it is the heart’s depravity that causes all the ugly things that bring so much sin and unhappiness into our lives! It shocked him to read it. Galatians 5:22-23 is what Mohammed really needs: Fruits of the Spirit.
Here was my question for Mohammed: If you’re wife (not a believer) saw the fruits of the Spirit in you but you still smoked would you have happiness in your home and wife ready to believe on Jesus?
Second question: If you stopped smoking but didn’t have these fruits of the Spirit would you or your wife have a new life and new happiness?
Turns out the smoking isn’t really the issue at all.
Now, for all of your pharisees who are really irked by this (like I was a couple years ago) I’d like him to stop smoking just like I’d like you and me to start excersizing.
Anybody think I’ve really overstated things and I’m missing a deeper point of the law? I’d love to hear about it!