Christians Say the Damnedest Things

Dear TTC,

First I want to say I love Jesus, I have felt Him in my life. He has saved my marriage, I cant imagine not being with Him after this life. I know He is the only way. My question is sin. I was (well still am) a horrible person before I accepted Christ. I know that salvation isnt earned but is reflected in our lives. To me sometimes I dont “look” like a Christian. I stand up for Jesus and the gospel and dont do most of the so called bad things people do but my issue is smoking. I have quit and started back up and quit and the cycle continues. I hate the fact that I cant stop. I know I shouldnt do it. I have heard people say I cant love Jesus as a smoker and I am in sin. Sin yes-I feel like everything I do is a sin. I do love Jesus though. Ever since I accepted Christ there isnt a time where I am not thinking of Him. I guess I would like to know am I not saved because I smoke? I am not using this as a free pass to do it because I really do want to stop, but can I lose my salvation if I die before I do? Thank you.

Dear Loves Jesus,

Thanks so much for writing. In fact, I’m really glad you wrote because I don’t know who is telling you that you can’t love Jesus as a smoker, but they couldn’t be more wrong. I’d like to see where the Bible says smoking is a sin. I’d bet you all the cigarettes at the corner drug store it isn’t there. If they are using 1 Corinthians 6:19, which talks about our bodies being temples, they are grossly taking that scripture out of context (which people do with this verse all the time). That passage is explicitly about sexual sin… not smoking or eating fast food or exercising.

Smoking is not categorically a sin. It might be foolish, but that doesn’t make it a sin. You cannot lose your salvation because of smoking. Christ’s redemptive work on the cross couldn’t have been very powerful if it could be undone by a puff of smoke. In fact, Romans 8 says nothing can separate us from God.

Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Jesus assures us that He has saved us and He will never let us go:

All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” John 6

I hope those passages from God’s Word give you hope and peace and assurance. I know they do that for me. These are only two of many passages which affirm our confidence in Christ and his work of salvation through his death and resurrection.

Finally, my dear sister in the faith, I have some book recommendations that I think will be very helpful and encouraging. Firstly, Mike Yaconelli’s Messy Spirituality: God’s Annoying Love for Imperfect People. Romans 12:2 warns against allowing the world to squeeze us into a particular pattern, a box that doesn’t let the Light in and keeps us from real living. Yaconelli recognizes that not only are we in danger of the world trying to make us into what the world wants us to be: we are also in danger of well-meaning Christians and churches trying to squeeze everybody into one-size-fits-all patterns of spirituality. This small book says big things about what it means to walk with God in the Spirit.

Secondly, once you’ve read Messy Spirituality, Conelius Plantinga’s Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be is an excellent (and small) book that provides us with a thoughtful theology of sin; in other words, what sin is. Plantinga gives a helpful working definition of sin and makes valuable distinctions between different categories of sin; he talks about the relationship (and difference) between sin and folly and handles the tricky ‘sin for me’ (but not necessarily for you) aspect of sin. You’d think a book all about sin would be heavy and depressing, but Plantinga is uplifting and honest; not naive, simply gracious.

May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

With the love and affection of our Lord,

Thank you so much.

That does help a lot. I will look for those books as well. I appreciate you answering me. I’m glad to have you as a sister in Christ.

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