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Questions and Answers - Part 2

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
The second in a series on Bible questions that have been sent in, this broadcast deals with the question, "Does the Bible give any indication that smoking cigarettes is a sin?" Another question is, "You seem to make the Christian life very prohibitive. Don't you think all the restrictions will drive the young people away from Christ?"
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Today we continue the series of special Questions and Answers broadcast on the Amazing Facts' program. Many of you have sent in your sincere Bible questions. Now we come to the first question that we shall deal with today. It has to do with the cigarette question. We are always interested in the reaction of the listeners to anything concerning diet and health. I suppose more than anything else this touches the individual pride of a person. Millions of people feel that it is simply no one else's business how they care for their body, or how they treat themselves. So here is the question:

"Does the Bible give any indication that smoking cigarettes is a sin?"

Friends, ever since the government report on smoking and health was published, the controversy over cigarette smoking has been hotly debated. Many church leaders cautiously entered the arena for the first time. Sad to say, many preachers had never said a word about the issue until the government forced their hand. Even sadder, many religious leaders were addicts themselves to this body and soul destroying nicotine master. I'm glad to tell you that the Bible has always clearly classified smoking as a fleshly lust that wars against the soul.

Notice this text in 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20. "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." Now, this is a divine principle of scripture that very few people understand properly. God says we don't even belong to ourselves. Our bodies are His by creation and then doubly His by redemption. No one has a right to treat his body as he pleases. It is to be the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, a temple wherein God Himself will live and reign from the human heart. Put with that the text 1 Corinthians 8:16, 17. "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." This speaks in such positive language that no one should be confused. God says that anyone who deliberately defiles or destroys the body temple will be destroyed in turn himself. This places the issue in the moral category entirely. No one can argue now that it is not a moral issue. God says it is life or death, people who destroy themselves shall be destroyed. Suicide, of course, has always been looked upon as a sin. And in this case it is simply slow suicide on the installment plan. With all the scientific evidence now available that cigarettes actually do shorten the life, it becomes a sin for people to contaminate their body and actually shorten their life and destroy themselves by this narcotic indulgence.

The strength of the addiction to nicotine is very well evidenced by the increasing numbers who are taking up with the habit. Of course, millions have laid it aside since they learned of the causative factors of cancer. But millions more continue to smoke and even increasing the number of cigarettes smoked. Many people have expressed themselves that they would rather die than to give up their tobacco habit. Surely this is an amazing thing. The angels of God must look down in astonishment as they behold the sight of mass suicide that is taking place today with people who regard their own selfish pleasure more than they do their God-given temple, which is to be kept holy and clean for God.

There are many other texts that would surely apply to this question, but we are going to leave it at this and trust that the answer will be clearly evident from the scriptures in 1 Corinthians.

Here is the next question. "You seem to make the Christian life very prohibitive. Don't you think all the restrictions will drive the young people away from Christ?"

Let me answer that by reading what Jesus said in Matthew 7:13, 14: "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." Let's face it, friends, we are living in an age, not of restriction, but of license. For a long time now, youth have been on a freedom binge, rebelling against authority and law. What has been the result of it? Has it made better Christians out of young people? For the answer to that, consult your morning newspaper or read the latest FBI figures on juvenile crime and delinquency. One of the greatest mistakes made by parents and religious leaders has been to lower the requirements of entrance into the kingdom of heaven. No man has the right to make the path less narrow than Jesus made it. Those who are saved will be saved on God's terms only. They cannot make up their own rules of life. They cannot follow the standards of the world, they must take what God has given in order to reach the destination of heaven.

Jesus said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Anyone who thinks that modern youth are denying themselves too much must be seeing the world backwards, friends. And who thinks for a moment that the teenagers are being taught too much about the high standards of discipleship?

Many years ago the church leaders were not afraid to call sin by its right name. Most denominations held clear lines of belief which condemned worldliness in conduct, dress and recreation. Today those same practices that were once condemned are being sponsored in church recreation halls and basements. Dances, movies, and immodest dress, which brought ringing sermons of reproof once upon a time, are now defended by a liberalized clergy. And who can say that it has drawn the youth closer to religion or closer to the church? I maintain that it has actually driven them away. Why try to make that path to heaven a bed of rosy ease and self-pleasing. It is not! It will require self-denial and sacrifice of material, carnal pleasures. But it will bring to any young person the deepest joy and highest pleasure that he has ever known. The Christian youth is the happiest person in the world. Millions will be in heaven who died for their faith by burning at the stake or being torn apart by wild animals or being tortured to death on the cruel medieval instruments of persecution. Why should we expect to drift into heaven by following our every desire and whim. Religion, true religion that is, is a bold, daring, courageous denial of self and sin in all its alluring forms. The Bible is very clear in laying down requirements for salvation. The narrow road has been clearly defined, text by text. I pray not to make it repulsive or unattractive to young people or adults, but I pray also not to make it so broad and so liberal that anyone will be self-deceived about going there.

We must obey the commandments of God, we must follow the scriptures that are given to us and must be willing to put self and sin aside. These are certainly the basic things about going to heaven. Now, in order to do this, friends, we have to love the Lord with all our heart. No one can follow the plan of salvation, no one can obey the commandments laid down by our Lord Jesus, commandments which sometimes involve discipline and self-denial, without really loving God. If a person is in love with an individual they will do almost anything to please that person. If we love God, we will be happy to follow any path of self restriction in order to put Him first and to please Him above our own selves.

Recently, a letter came from one of our listeners, and I'd just like to read a portion of that letter which seems to indicate that this is the real problem among the denominations. This lady writes, "It looks like the churches have taken in the world and thrown out God. I am seeking and searching to find God's church where Christ is the head and where all born-again Christians belong to it by His Holy Spirit. Where each and everyone lives a Christian life, not only on Sunday, but every day in the week. Where sin is denounced at all times. What this world needs is to be told how Christ can cleanse them from their evil way and give them a new heart and mind to live a life of righteousness instead of one of sin. How He can take the most miserable and broken-down person in all the world and give him joy, peace and happiness. If ever there was a need for the true, unadulterated, old-fashioned gospel of Jesus Christ to be preached, it is now. What will become of these teenagers if they live to become fathers and mothers, and how can they teach their children to do rightly when they haven't even taught themselves? If only the preachers would start preaching against sin, I believe with all my heart that there would be a big change in this whole world. But if only a few preach it and others don't, the world will be going on as it is and getting worse all the time."

Well, that is a wonderful letter, friends, and it expresses exactly the truth about present- day religious conditions. Unfortunately, the whole truth of God's Word is not being proclaimed very much. In fact, many preachers, apparently, are afraid to call sin by its right name for fear of offending someone or maybe losing members. Jesus pulled no punches, spared no feelings in His presentation of truth. Of course, He was tactful and kind, and so must we be also, but He did not permit the attitudes and impressions of others to influence the preaching of His great message to the world. We need more of that holy boldness in these days of spiritual retreat and intimidation. Satan has actually frightened too many of God's children out of their moral convictions. We have no cause to flee before the devil, my friends. He is a defeated foe. He has been ever since the cross of Calvary. It is his program alone to varnish over and soften up the truth so that it loses its cutting edge and convicting power. That is the way with this idea of pleasing the people and tickling the ears of a multitude. The end of the world is upon us. The coming of our Lord is at hand. We dare not talk in generalities or platitudes. We must come down to the very heart of truth and announce the message in firm and uncompromising tones.

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