Heaven’s Gate Closed to Smokers? Crazy but popular false teaching

Should we replace the cross with this as a symbol of our faith?

This evening I was shown a publication from yet another religious group in Romania that asserted that someone could not be a Christian “if there is a cigarette in his mouth.”
That anyone would assert stopping smoking is a condition of salvation is too sad for words. (The same teachers don’t even say stopping real sins will save you. I’ve never heard them say, stop sleeping with people you’re not married to and you’ll be saved. It’s always smoking with these guys.) The teaching that stopping smoking makes you a true follower of Christ isn’t anything like the gospel. It isn’t even a distant relative of the gospel message. It’s “another gospel which is really not another.” It is blatantly contrary to the gospel message. And while someone’s smoking habit won’t make me question his salvation, I certainly do doubt that these teachers are saved.
What’s worse is that this crazy false teaching is most prevalent in churches of the Baptist/Pentecostal/Evangelical persuasion–the people who are supposed to be preaching the gospel of salvation through faith in Christ, not through works. And the good work they require for recognition as a believer isn’t really even an issue of sin and righteousness to begin with. And they do make it the test of being a believer. Dozens of churches will not baptize a smoker or let a smoker become a member of the church. Someone’s smoking or not is often the ONLY arbiter of whether they are to be baptized.
I’m not promoting smoking. I have never smoked and I find it quite unpleasant to be surrounded by people who are smoking in the air I want to breathe. But the fact that “quitting smoking is necessary for being born again” is a false teaching should go without saying. Unfortunately, as a pastor I find myself having to say it to someone almost every week. And many of them don’t believe me.

One thought on “Heaven’s Gate Closed to Smokers? Crazy but popular false teaching

  1. And since millions of people who are lost have quit smoking without seeking any help from God to do it, one who doesn’t smoke should not view that as a mark of his spirituality any more than one who does smoke should view that as a mark of spiritual weakness.

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