Legalism and Smoking.

You may also like...

No Responses

  1. No comments??? Wow. 🙂
    I wonder if the thought about smoking aught to be phrased in another way, to give it perspective. I like to have a smoke from time to time Maybe 8 – 10 packs in a year), I am not enslaved to it, I can do without. Is that different from someone who can’t go without a cigarette? I have a few friends, and family members, who “need” a smoke quite often, they would seem to be enslaved by it. I think there is a difference.
    Not praying (and I am guilty here) as often or at given times, begs the question, why am I not praying at those times? Forgot? Hardly a good answer, No time? Not much better. Too tired? Not cutting it either. Not disciplined enough? Good question. Just don’t think of it? That’s telling me something about myself.
    Getting gas, food or other things, might also be telling me something about myself, and perhaps about others. The thing I would like to have done, should this be perceived by someone, it have a tap on the shoulder, and a posing of a question. Maybe, just maybe, I can justify what I’m doing, but I suspect it might be very difficult. 🙂
    I think that you’ve again touched on subjects we like to talk about with others, just not with those who might be the focus of the discussion.
    Don’t read this until the morning. 🙂

  2. Wim says:

    Esteemed br. Ryan
    As this is my first foray into the comment section, first things first: a “tip of the hat” for your insightful, often thought-provoking articles and reminders for all of us to take seriously the call to holy living, Coram Deo.

    I’ve read your recent blog about smoking as well as the prior ones from last year, and am left wondering why we often struggle with that concept of “legalism” as to where and when either we ourselves or our brother/sister may be “judged” to have stepped over the -indefineable?- line. This issue of “legalism” reminds me of a book I just re-read recently (Michener, The Source) where many Jews were so entrenched into defining and detailing the Torah (Law) into its very minutiae for everyday living, resulting in the Talmud and other works. Talk about “legalism” as an art refined…

    The poetic contribution by John Piper of “What is Sin” (quoted in an earlier article) pretty much echos the basic principle of Scripture, as found in 1Cor. 10:31 “… Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” This speaks on a much higher level than just defining whether smoking/speeding/drinking/ etc. (easy to fill in many more blanks) is sin to a person or not. Instead it puts the whole “law” in perspective of God’s purpose for creating us. Do we live our lives to His honour, or do we seek to please ourselves? First and foremost, that’s a question that each one has to answer for him-or-herself.

    Just a few chapters later we read of that “most excellent way” of building up the body of Christ, i.e., through love. “Love does not delight in evil… always protects… keeps no record of wrongs…” If to me or you smoking -or fill in any other [potentially] harmful habit- is part of “recklessly endangering myself” (HC QA 105), how do or can we then explain it in light of “everything to His glory” ??

    • Esteemed Br. Wim. Thank you for officially joining the fray!

      I think, as Darren mentioned in his comment below, that we are very skilled at justifying our sinfulness and our selfish actions and behaviors. I know for me that smoking (and many other sins) was simply a selfish action, it was self gratifying and self destructive and therefore not God honouring…which means it was sinful.

      I believe that you hit the nail on the head with this question: Do we live our lives to His honour, or do we seek to please ourselves?

      That was the question that changed my mind on smoking, and I think we would all do well to ask ourselves this question on a daily basis…

  3. Darren says:

    What’s the opposite of legalism? Is it not doing whatever you want? As long as the Bible does not explicitly forbid it, you can decide if it’s right or wrong for you to do, and no one can tell you otherwise.
    The issue with that is…. this is now open to your sinful heart, and we all know that we can make crafty and creative lines of reasoning to explain away anything we really want to.
    Romans 14…. Useful and relevant in everything we do. But sure can be used to justify anything we want, whenever we need to.
    I’ll take your ‘legalism’ as brotherly concern and guidance over the ‘free-for-all, as long as I can justify’ attitude that the other perspective can come to. Each can be sinful and hurt someone, but one at least you know your fellow brother and sister in Christ cares for you, even if it comes across poorly.

    • Hi Darren,

      Antinomianism is the opposite of Legalism. Antinomianism is the belief that under the gospel of grace, we are not obliged to follow the moral law because faith alone is necessary to salvation. It is a distortion of the gospel just as legalism is.

      As Wim said above, we should all ask ourselves this question: Do we live our lives to His honour, or do we seek to please ourselves?

      I am of the belief that Christians (and yes even those of us in the CanRC) are sometimes a little too casual with regard living a life of thankfulness, ( holy living, devotions, prayer etc), that is why I poke at it sometimes – to simply get us to think and talk and read and pray. At the end of the day I do not judge, but I will admonish in love…even if it comes across poorly 🙂