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Series 2 - Bible Answers for...

Hi, friends, and welcome! This lesson covers biblical principles that give a unique perspective on the habit of smoking. It is primarily for those who already desire to quit smoking (or chewing) tobacco and want more understanding, incentive, motivation and hope for success.

We also want to equip you to influence young people—especially your children and grandchildren—to never start smoking!

In Western societies there is an abundance of practical information on the dangers of tobacco use and advice on how to overcome a tobacco addiction. Please take advantage of the many free resources you can easily find on the Internet and elsewhere.

Our view toward people with addictions is sympathetic, not condemning. Smokers are seriously damaging their health and shortening their life, and, sadly, destructive habits and addictions are a hindrance to spiritual growth. Therefore we urge you to make stopping smoking a high-priority goal.

Overcoming an addiction is tough, but God can give you the toughness you need. We pray that this lesson plus the recommended resources will help you win the battle over addiction.

Lesson: A Healthful, Smoke-Free Life

Bible Study - A Healthful, Smoke-Free LifeSmoking and smokeless tobacco (chewing tobacco) involve two major issues: the great harm to health and the problem of addiction. This lesson looks at both issues, plus a much greater issue—your relationships with God and with other people.

A former smoker in Washington tells her story:

"I started smoking off and on when I was 14... As I got older and had my own money I smoked more, until I was up to a pack a day... When I was 26 I was called by God to His truth, and I knew I had to quit smoking, as I knew God wanted His people to treat their bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit...

"So I would quit for a few months at a time, and then I'd fall off the wagon. A cigarette felt like a friend to me, always soothing me, and yet it was a ball and chain I felt shackled by so I could never reach my full potential. I also felt shame. Shame for knowing better and yet still doing it!...

"Looking back I can see how my smoking addiction kept me from growing in many ways... It isolated me because I didn't want anyone to get too close to smell the smoke on me or on my breath, so it kept me from growing relationally.

"Then when I got pregnant I managed to quit for good, knowing it was not worth it to smoke and possibly harm my unborn child. But I could not have done it without God! Sure I craved it, but I just kept going to God and beseeching Him to take this desire from me.

"Occasionally I still crave a smoke, but I know that if I give in and have just one, I'll be right back into the addiction again. I never want to go through that again! Besides, a pack of cigarettes is expensive nowadays. I don't know how people can afford to smoke.

"Now I feel I can be there for someone else who struggles with smoking and trying to quit, as I've been there and done that!"

Share Your Story


Some Sobering Facts About Smoking, Tobacco and Nicotine

Why did God create tobacco? Well, one benefit of tobacco might be the insecticides that are made from it. But God didn't intend for people to inhale this stuff!

Smoking is the most preventable cause of disease and death in Western societies. (Most of what is said in this article about "smoking" also applies to the use of smokeless tobacco. For example, they both often cause cancer. Chewing tobacco often results in cancer of the mouth or throat.)

Nicotine is a powerful psychoactive chemical, almost as addictive as cocaine or heroin. While nicotine is the cause of addiction, it is primarily the tar and many toxic chemicals that cause innumerable health problems. Using some kind of scientifically proven and medically approved "nicotine replacement therapy" (NRT), such as nicotine patches or gum, can eliminate the tar and carcinogenic chemicals while a person is trying to diminish and eliminate his or her dependence on nicotine.

For a good source of facts about the damaging effects of tobacco use, see the Web site sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). According to this source, "Researchers have identified more than 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke; of these, at least 43 cause cancer in humans and animals." (Cigarettes have been called "cancer sticks" and "coffin nails" since clear back in the 1950s.)

Smoking is more dangerous than ever because of the many chemicals in our environment. Our bodies easily become overwhelmed by the combination of chemicals. And often two chemicals combine synergistically to make an additional toxin.

And we all know that secondhand smoke causes health problems for nonsmokers.

Tobacco use and addiction usually begin in adolescence. Teens that lack knowledge, strong principles, confidence and courage are especially vulnerable to temptations to smoke. And some youth become addicted almost immediately. They also are attracted to fads, like smoking hookahs (water pipes). Inhaling nicotine from anything, whether from cigarettes, cigars, pipes, bidis, hookahs or electronic cigarettes, is extremely addicting.

Some teens feel invincible and lack a healthy fear of dangers. Surprisingly and sadly, many teens today feel almost the opposite—that they will probably die young anyway—so "eat, drink, smoke and be merry, for tomorrow we die." Both attitudes contribute to self-destructive behaviors.

What Does the Bible Say?

Is it your body or does it belong to God?

Genesis 1:27
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.

Since God created us, we belong to Him. God has entrusted us as stewards to take care of His creation, especially ourselves and other human beings. Plus God sacrificed His Son to pay the ultimate price for us. That means we doubly belong to God! Therefore, "Glorify God in your body"—by taking excellent care of your body. That shows gratitude and love for God and love for neighbor.

Is our physical health important to God?

3 John 2
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

John's prayer is included in the Bible because it also reflects God's desire for us.

Humanity has been influenced by the pagan idea of dualism, that people are spiritual "souls" trapped inside evil physical bodies. That implies that God doesn't care if we neglect or abuse our bodies. That is completely contrary to the Bible. The Bible has many laws and instructions concerning health and safety. God dearly loves us and wants what is best for His children. And a healthy person can do more for others and for God. So substitute healthy habits—like exercise and positive, productive pastimes—for the old bad habits.

What does the Bible say about cleanliness?

The Bible has many instructions regarding sanitation, personal hygiene and cleanliness (see Deuteronomy 23:12-13 and Numbers 19:12-13, for example). Filth is used to symbolize sin throughout the Bible (Isaiah 1:16; Revelation 22:11). Consider how smoking pollutes you and the people around you, leaves ashes, butts and stinky residues and turns lungs from pink to black. (Thanks to God's amazing design of our bodies, once a person quits smoking, his or her lungs gradually heal and become pink again.)

What's wrong with being addicted to a substance like nicotine?

Romans 6:16-18, 22
Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?
But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.
And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness…
But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.

The Bible stresses true Christian liberty. The more free a person is, the better he or she can serve God and build godly character. Addiction is enslavement. The only good enslavement is being voluntary "slaves to God." Enslavement to anything else comes between us and God. It's extremely important to conquer both the chemical and psychological aspects of a smoking addiction. Keep this key in mind: Success will begin when our desire to please God becomes stronger than the craving to smoke.

According to the Bible, how important is knowledge?

Proverbs 18:15
The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.

The Bible repeatedly exhorts people to seek right knowledge, understanding and wisdom. It is far more important than gold (Proverbs 8:10-11). God said, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6). So thoroughly educate yourself about dangers to your health. And make a daily habit of reading the Bible. Battles with temptations are largely won or lost in the mind!

How can we get God's help to overcome smoking?

Matthew 7:7-11
"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
"For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
"Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?
"Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?
"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!"

The Bible reminds us over and over to rely on God, to pray and even fast for His help and strength. God loves us and loves to help us. Our prayers should include thanksgiving, confessing our sins and relapses, and asking His forgiveness. And know this for sure: No matter how many times you slip up, when you are sincerely sorry and ask God's forgiveness, He will always forgive (1 John 1:9).

Does the Bible teach us to also rely on others for help?

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.
For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.
Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Two people can be stronger than one alone. Some people mistakenly have the idea that if you seek help from people, you are not relying on God. But one of the ways that God helps us is through other people. Take advantage of all the resources and supports available to you—doctors, friends, ministers, counselors, support groups, etc. And ask others to pray for you (James 5:16).

If you suffer some withdrawal symptoms, what perspective can help you?

Matthew 7:13-14
"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.
"Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it."

There is nothing wrong with using medicinal aids to lessen withdrawal symptoms, but you may still have some during the first few weeks. It is worth it to fight through these difficult times. Christ told us that right ways are seldom easy ways. Remember how Christ suffered for you, and think of your suffering as being for Him. That will help you to have courage and determination to stick with your plan!

What do children need from parents and others?

Deuteronomy 6:5-7
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
"And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.
"You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up."

Proverbs 22:3, 6
A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished...
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

God urges parents to learn His ways and then "teach them diligently to your children"—every day at every good opportunity! Your teaching should include the many reasons to say no to tobacco and other drugs and the need for long-range vision to foresee consequences. (When this writer was a child, several adults passionately talked to him about how they had become slaves to cigarettes, were terribly short of breath and deeply regretted starting to smoke. That gave me a healthy fear that saved me from getting addicted.)

How can setting goals for your life help?

Matthew 6:33
"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

Matthew 5:14
"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden."

Make it your urgent goal to quit smoking. Make a plan and commit yourself to it. Don't think in terms of losing something—think of all that you are gaining. Think big! Make the goal to stop smoking a part of the larger goal of becoming a really healthy, happy, energetic person—by steadily making improvements in your nutrition, exercise, sleep, peace of mind, etc. And make that a part of the even larger goal to "seek first the kingdom of God" and to be a better "light" to the world!


Apply Now

Click on the Web site to see how quickly and dramatically a smoker's health improves in many ways when he or she stops smoking! This timetable should be extremely encouraging to every smoker who wants to quit the habit.

We encourage you to commit now to quit smoking or to never start.

Next Lesson: See the Bible Study Guides series menu for your choice of future lessons to study.

Questions about this lesson? Feedback about this lesson?

Related Resources:

Smoking and Health: The Often-Overlooked Key

Reasons for Not Smoking

Alarming Facts About Smoking Addiction

My Experience With Smoking

Keys to a Long, Healthy Life

Breaking Free From Addictions

GN Commentary: Time to Quit Smoking