Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sin: Cigarettes of the spiritual world.

A little disclaimer before I begin. I am NOT saying that smoking is a sin, NOR am I saying that cigarettes will send you to Hell. To steal a quote from my youth pastor: "what they WILL do, is send you to Heaven faster". I am merely trying to illustrate a point, and cigarettes/ smoking is the image I've chosen to help get that across.

As someone who is, once again, trying to overcome my addiction to smoking, AND a born again follower of Christ, the similarities between sin and cigarettes are very obvious to me.

I first made the connection when I was listening to a Lucero song entitled: "Drink 'til we're gone". The lyric that I reference says: "I'm wastin' my time, with these cigarettes, and these ashes are all I've got left". That simple verse got my mind rolling.

What good does smoking do? Why do we (I) do it? All it's good for is slowly killing you (me). Every smoker alive knows it to be true. It isn't a pleasant death either. It's slow, painful, and torturous. Smoking stinks. It stains your walls, your teeth, and your fingers. There is scientific evidence that it's bad for you (me), and there are NO good reasons or justifications to do it. It's dumb. Why, why, WHY do we (I) do it?

As a Christian, I see sin the same way. It too, slowly kills us. Romans 6:23 tells us: "For the wages of sin is death". We don't automatically die as soon as we sin, it's a process (slow, painful, and torturous if you will). Genesis 8 talks about a sacrifice (something given up or lost for the sake of something else) by saying: "And the Lord smelled a sweet savour". It stands to reason that, if a sacrifice to God (something good) is a SWEET smell, then sin against God (something bad) would be a BAD smell. It would stink. Follow? The similarities don't end here. Jeremiah 2:22 says: "For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is MARKED before me, saith the Lord God". The New American Standard Bible translates it a bit differently. "Although you wash yourself with lye, and use much soap, the STAIN of your iniquity is before Me, declares the Lord God." It's a stain, a mark, a smudge, whatever word you want to use to describe it... it's all the same! There is NO good reason, NO justification. It's dumb. Why, why, WHY do we do it? Like the Lucero song says about cigarettes, all it does is waste our time and leave us with nothing but ashes (a mess).

Just like cigarettes, sin leaves us needing more. We're okay for a while with the little bit we get, but eventually the feeling, the high, the pleasant tingle wears off and we need more. We come back to the thing that kills us for another draw. We inhale the things that destroy us, just for that short moment of pleasure. We don't realize that in our spiritual respiratory system, we're choking the very thing that our life depends on. In the physical, it's our lungs. In the spiritual, it's our relationship with Christ and The Father. Sometimes we DO realize it, but we do it anyway. We do it because by the time we finally get it, by the time we finally see it for what it is, we're so addicted that we can't get out. Sin/ cigarettes have such a hold on us, that many can't see the negative aspects it produces. Just as a smoker can't smell the smoke on their clothing or in their hair, many times sin gets us to the point where we don't even realize that what we're doing is wrong. We've justified the situation to ourselves to the point that we honestly believe that what we're doing is okay.

Proverbs 26:11 describes it better than I can. "Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly." Can you imagine eating dinner, sitting down on the couch to watch the newest episode of American Idol, Lost, Grey's Anatomy, Whale Wars, whatever fits your situation... and throwing up on the carpet in front of you. Now comes the disturbing part. You don't get a towel, a rag, or a steam cleaner. You get on your knees and lick it up like a dog. Just thinking about it makes me nauseous, but that's what the Bible says we do... and it's disgustingly accurate.

How do we get over this "sin addiction"? They make patches and pills for smoking, yet comparing God to these things hardly does him justice. It's an insult to describe him this way. The only thing my mind can compare him too, would be a surgeon. This surgeon is trained in all ways of surger-ing... he can operate on any system, any organ, any bone. This doctor finds you dying from lung caner (sin) and takes compassion on you. He does a lung transplant (salvation) to save you from the cancer. Then, because he knows you're a smoker (sinner) and will return to your "vomit", he does a brain transplant too (sanctification). He gives you a brain that knows better than to smoke. One that recognizes the dangers, the risks, and the sheer stupidity of the act. Then comes the best part. When your insurance won't cover the cost of the surgeries he performed..... he doesn't hold you accountable for paying the debt. Someone has already covered the cost for you.


  1. Hey dude. Good stuff. I wanted to talk to you Friday night, but I was running sound; and then again Sunday, but you left before I could catch you! (If you don't know who I am, I'm the short guy that sometimes plays keys at HOP. ;-) )

    Anyway...I still want to get together sometime. Some stuff I'd like to share with you.

    Until then...

    I smoked for 14 years total. When I was active duty AF working grave shift, we would sometimes sit out back in the smoke pit telling stories and just I started going to a charismatic church and found that one of the guitarists was a supervisor at my unit. We didn't really know each other. Anyway...for months he would occasionally come outside looking for one of his troops and he would see me out there smoking. He never said a word, but I knew he see me. After a few months I started playing keys on our worship team. We became friends. I still smoked.

    One night I was out back, telling some story and my entire cigarette burned out and I never took a drag. I threw out the butt and lit another one and almost threw up. It was so nasty...I just looked at it and thought, "What the heck am I doing?" I threw it and the rest of the pack away and never went back.

    So this supervisor friend of mine and I were talking one day and I thanked him for never saying anything to me. Not once did he ever try to preach, or shove the Bible down my throat or tell me I need to quit; and for that I appreciated him. He said that he just prayed God would remove the desire. He did.

    You make an interesting point though, with smokers being "numb" to the smell. It's the danger of deception. We don't know we're being deceived. When the sin is exposed to light it begins to die.

    Anyway...great post! Let"s get together sometime.

  2. Hey Chris, thanks for the support. Sorry we've been missing each other. Let's definitely get together. I'm looking forward to it!