You Asked For It // Can A Christian Smoke, Drink and Watch R-rated Movies?
[Lead Pastor, Scott Moore, ECC Covington Campus]
Sometimes we think our decisions only affect us. But the decisions we make actually impact our families, friends and even generations to come.
Christian maturity doesn’t mean we only love those who agree with us. It means loving even those who disagree with us.
There are essential tenants in the Christian faith like Jesus is the only way to the Father..and Jesus died on the cross as the atonement for our sin then rose three days later defeating death. Then there are non-essential ideals that lead to questions like, “Can a Christian drink alcohol? And Can a Christian smoke cigarettes and cigars?” All are important questions but only a few are essential. We will fight for the essential questions and in unity we will agree to disagree on the non-essentials.
So, why do people ask this question?
- we want to know the rules. This can be good and/or bad. The rules help guide us but creating rules that aren’t explicitly in the Bible can be dangerous.
- our upbringing is different from other Christians. For centuries theologians have debated issues of morality.what we learn growing up often shapes our ideas and predudices.
- we want to see how close to sin we can get. This is the most dangerous. Trying to live as close to the line without sinning is NOT the abundant life Jesus promised.
Life as a Christian is not getting permission to do what we want, but being in submission to all that God wants.
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 NLT)
When a believer lives in complete submission to Christ then that believer has complete freedom IN Christ.
Jesus was not into behavior modification like the Pharisees were. Jesus didn’t die so that our old life would be made better..Jesus died so that we could have a NEW LIFE. (see Romans 6:1-11)
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT)
So, when faced with any decision like these three today (smoke, drink, movies) here are
three questions to consider:
- What does the Bible say about it?
- What do godly people say about it?
- What is the wise choice?
So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. (Ephesians 5:15-17 NLT)
We have more rejection of what we KNOW God’s will to be rather than confusion about WHAT God’s will is.
So, let’s look at what we do know God’s Word says.
The Bible is very clear on many topics. However it never addresses smoking or movies.
The Bible addresses drinking in a few places:
Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, (Ephesians 5:18 NLT) — the Bible does not instruct us to abstain here, only to avoid drunkeness.
Paul even told Timothy, “Don’t drink only water. You ought to drink a little wine for the sake of your stomach because you are sick so often.” (1 Timothy 5:23 NLT)
But Paul also says, “But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble.” (1 Corinthians 8:9 NLT) and goes on to finish that section of Scripture with, “So if what I eat causes another believer to sin, I will never eat meat again as long as I live—for I don’t want to cause another believer to stumble.” (1 Corinthians 8:13 NLT)
People have disagreed about alcohol for years.
Here are two giants of Christendom with to opposing views on this topic:
CS Lewis wrote, “An individual Christian may see fit to give up all sorts of things for special reasons — marriage or meat, or beer, or the cinema; but the moment he starts saying the things are bad in themselves, or looking down his nose at other people who do use them, he has taken the wrong turning.
One great piece of mischief has been done by the modem restriction of the word Temperance to the question of drink. It helps people to forget that you can be just as intemperate about lots of other things. A man who makes his golf or his motor bicycle the centre of his life, or a woman who devotes all her thoughts to clothes or bridge or her dog, is being just as ‘intemperate’ as someone who gets drunk every evening. Of course, it does not show on the outside so easily: bridge-mania or golf-mania do not make you fall down in the middle of the road. But God is not deceived by externals.”
DL Moody says, “There are two sides in this matter, and I want to give a rap at both. I think every Christian church ought to be a temperance society. Look at the men who are stumbling over this great evil, going down to a drunkard’s grave! I am a total abstainer; have never touched liquor, and never intend to do so. I am able to do a day’s work without it. Now for the other side. I think the temperance man makes a great mistake who always harps on that one question. Everything in its own place. If I go to prayer-meeting I don’t want to hear incessantly about temperance or the higher Christian life…”
Submission leads us to ask not what can I do, but what is the wise thing to do.
A verse often used to argue against alcohol is:
Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 NLT)
However this section of Scripture was referring to the sexual sins being done in the pagan temples. This was not in reference to alcohol.
We all want to have an internal peace about our decisions. If we use the three questions above it can help point us to wisdom. And we will begin to think on true and right thoughts.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8 NLT)
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. (Psalms 139:23, 24 NLT)
Bottom Line: Trusting in Jesus leads to trustworthy decisions.
- Submit yourself to God.
- Seek Godly counsel (His Spirit, His Word, His people.)
PluggedIn.com is a great resource to find out what is in a movie before you go to the theatre. (There is also an iPhone app.)