Is Smoking a Sin or a Bad Habit?

Video Transcript

Is smoking a sin? Yes, it is a sin. Smoking is a sin, but the way we deduce that smoking is a sin is not the way we deduce that stealing is a sin. How is stealing a sin? It’s so clear, “Thou shall not steal.” Now I can go a little bit deeper to then explain why it is, in terms of how God created us, how God is sovereign over what we have, how lack of contentment and covetousness is behind it, and therefore it’s not trusting in God but the things he has created. It’s also worshipping the things He has created, and therefore we think that by taking that thing, we are in a better state than actually not having what God has given us, trusting that it’s those things that will satisfy us other than God. 

So, you can go deeper to explain why stealing is a problem but how we know it’s sinful, is a clear command against it. But it’s not everything that we know is sinful just because there’s a clear command. Sometimes we can read the implications of other things the Bible has said. So, how is smoking a sin, and I don’t think you have to go too far. The Bible is very clear about human beings and our value, and when it says that you are created in the image of God, that means that you have infinite worth. But who is the you that is created in the image of God? It’s not the unseen part. Human being is both the seen and the unseen, right? If somebody should shoot you today, you will not say because I am a spirit, I will continue to live on. That doesn’t work. You are spirit and body. That’s what the Bible teaches.  

So, when God says this life that He’s given to you, you should honor it and take care of it i.e., you can’t lead others if you’re not leading yourself first. So, that’s why, take for instance, you shouldn’t sleep with someone that is not your spouse. It is a sin and sin goes beyond the body, but it’s also a sin that you commit with your body because it’s the whole you. So, when we smoke, unlike when we eat in a gluttonous way even though the Bible does mention gluttony as a sin, what is the problem? It’s that there is no physical beneficial value to smoking. Benson and Hedges, Rothmans, …, they don’t do their advertisement to promote the physical benefits of smoking. They just don’t. The genius of smoking adverts, and if you want to go and check it out, I think between the 60s and 70s, the genius is that they don’t focus on the cigarette, they focus on the status that cigarette gives you. So, you always see a guy dressed up in tux, holding his stuff, maybe holding martini, and you look and say I want to be like that guy, and they say yeah, when you take this cigarette you’re like that person. 


So, they don’t sell the benefits of the thing itself, they sell a lifestyle, and why? It’s because they know that the Federal Ministry of Health has warned. It is an incontrovertible fact. So they push for a lifestyle or they push for liberty; “okay it’s my life. I can decide to destroy my life” and it’s true in some sense, yes, but as a Christian what we are saying is that this body that God has given to you, even though you will die, you don’t have to actively go down the road that makes you continue to die. If you say food, the food that we take sometimes it kills because it has these calories, yes, but what will happen to you if you don’t eat, you will die quicker than calories will kill you. So, the calorie way of killing is actually a by-product of something that is ultimately beneficial for you. Food is actually beneficial for you but if you take too much of the wrong food it starts having a particular effect. Not with smoking. Smoking has absolutely no benefit. In fact, smoking actively kills and so you’re actively killing yourself.  

Now if you want to say, oh some people smoked up until they are 90 and they smoked up to 50 years and all of those things. It’s like, you know when there was a plane crash and there was one person that survived. Are you now going to say that it doesn’t matter, whether you’re in a plane crash or not? Right? That’s an outlier in terms of the statistic. Yes, there are a couple of people who live long but the vast majority of people have lung cancer, have different kinds of diseases. So smoking is sinful, but I do think when we are talking to people who smoke and we want them to stop, I don’t think you go because of what I’ve just said, that it’s not like lying, it’s not like stealing, it’s not like adultery. I don’t think you just go gung-ho on them.

That was the bad thing that happened with a lot of us growing up. They said the Bible says that smoking is sinful. And people asked, where does the Bible say it. They couldn’t show it. They were against a lifestyle; going to club, drinking, and smoking, and that was the problem, and so you now focus on the smoking, and you don’t focus on the Jesus. Whereas you should focus on the Jesus, and as people get Jesus, and then they start asking what it means to start to follow Jesus as they are discipled more, then we can talk about the smoking thing. Please be very careful that people don’t understand your gospel to be stop smoking. That’s not the gospel. The gospel is to give our lives to Jesus Christ and live under His Lordship.


Femi Osunnuyi is lead pastor of City Church, a gospel-centred urban church in the city of Lagos. Because of his passion for church planting and leadership development he also serves on the Lead Team of Acts29 and the Advisory Team of City to City Africa. He is happily married to Tosin and is father to Tofunmi and Timilehin., +2349076700860