sin

Smoking is a Sin

Worldwide News, 3rd July 1978 page 1

Smoking is a Sin

By Herbert W. Armstrong

It may come as astonishing news to some of our members, but the truth is, I personally did smoke – until a little more than 51 years ago, that is. As a matter of fact I was smoking until after I was baptized! Let me EXPLAIN THAT. True, I had not been a heavy smoker. On the average I had, since age 19, been smoking about THREE CIGARETTES a day (not three packets), or one cigar. On those days that I smoked a cigar I usually smoked no cigarettes at all. How did I get started. Not like most youths of 19 or under. But at age 19 I had the job of time- keeper and paymaster of the Finkbine Lumber Mill just out of Wiggins, Miss., some 30 miles north of the Gulf. I had to keep work-hour records and pay the main labour force, all blacks, only a generation or two after the abolition of slavery. It was at the time when they were totally illiterate, not one of them could write his own name. They made an X mark instead of a signature. What a long way our black population has come since then. I did not belong on that job. I had felt flattered when it was offered to me. It was offered because I had made such an excellent record in my first job on a daily newspaper. But on this job I was like a fish out of water. I was doing the work it had taken three men to do before I was put on that job. But I tried, I did my best. And that required working until 10 at night on alternate days and until midnight on nights in between, and rising at 5.30 every week day morning. I think it is understandable that I had difficulty keeping awake on those long nights. But I was determined to succeed. I was determined to GET THE JOB DONE no matter how long the hours required. I began to find myself drowsing off on these late night hours. That is when I started smoking. I tried smoking a pipe. I found that keeping the pipe in my mouth while I worked kept me awake. After leaving that job I turned to the three cigarettes a day or the one cigar. During my super-intensive in-depth study of the Bible, evolution and allied subjects from the fall of 1926 until the spring of 1927, my mind was on the studies – not on smoking. But in the spring of 1929 I made an unconditional surrender to God. I came to BELIEVE what He said in His Word. I GAVE MY LIFE TO HIM and was baptized. I was very conscious of the experience of receiving God’s Holy Spirit. — This was the spirit of a CHANGED mind. It was the RENEWING of my mind. What had seemed important before now seemed utterly worthless. My whole approach to the things of life – my whole attitude – was CHANGED.

What about smoking?

Then it was that I asked myself, “What about smoking?” I had learned that “all the churches” – meaning Protestant and Catholic – did NOT take their religious beliefs and doctrines from the Bible. Rather, they attempted to read THEIR ideas and beliefs INTO the Bible – by twisting and distorting the Holy Word of God, and by taking verses out of context. I said, “I will not give up smoking just BECAUSE the church in which I was reared regarded it as a sin…I must find the answer in the BIBLE,” I said. Now I knew smoking was not mentioned specifically in the Bible. But I HAD LEARNED GOD’S PRINCIPLE OF SIN! I knew God said, “Sin is the transgression of law” – meaning God’s laws. I had learned that there was the SPIRITUAL law based on the principle of outgoing LOVE. I had learned there were also physical laws God had set in motion within our human bodies to control our state of health. I had learned, even at that early stage of my knowledge of the things of God, that GOD’S SPIRITUAL LAW is first of all outgoing LOVE. Next it was magnified into the two Great commandments – love toward GOD, and love toward human neighbour. The Ten Commandments, I knew, merely stated the broad PRINCIPLES of love toward GOD (the first four of the Ten), and love to fellowman (the last six commandments). But also I had learned one more VITALLY IMPORTANT BASIC PRINCIPLE. In II Corinthians 3:6, God through Paul began explaining that the ministers of the NEW Testament are ministers NOT of the strictness of the letter of the law, but of the SPIRIT – that is, the obvious intent, meaning or principle involved. I knew, for example, that the Ten Commandments explained only the general PRINCIPLE of the direction, attitude and purpose of the law. God had given me, in my own experience, a very vivid example of what Paul was talking about in II Corinthians 3. My elder daughter, then 9 years of age, was a rapid and inveterate reader. She had been bringing fiction “love-story” books home from the school library. She would read an entire book in just two or three evenings. I had received a note from her teacher. I said to Beverly: “Your teacher has warned me that you are injuring your eyes, and even perhaps your mind, by reading so much of this fiction and suggested I speak to you about it. Therefore I am telling you not to bring any more of those fiction books home from the school library”. The very next evening, I noticed Beverly reading a book and already about half way through it. “Beverly”, I asked, “isn’t that another love-story fiction book?” “Yes, Daddy,” she replied. “Well, why are you disobeying me, when I told you to stop reading such books?” “Oh, I’m NOT disobeying you, Daddy. You said, ‘Don’t bring any more of those books from the school library.’ I didn’t bring this book from the library. I borrowed it from Helen!” My daughter obeyed the strict LETTER OF THE LAW – but not its obvious intent and meaning – not in the PRINCIPLE involved – not ‘the spirit of the law’.

Principle applied to smoking

I applied this PRINCIPLE of God’s law defining sin to smoking. What was the obvious intent, meaning and principle of the law? It was the principle of outflowing LOVE toward others, toward God and toward neighbour. I then asked myself, “WHY do I smoke? Is it to express outgoing love to God?” Most assuredly NOT! “Am I smoking to express outgoing love and concern for the welfare of other humans?” I had to answer in the negative. Often, I realized, smoking is obnoxious and objectionable to nonsmokers. Then I asked myself, “Is it injurious to me?. It was not yet then known that smoking is a cause of lung cancer. But I knew well the function of the lungs – to filter out impurities from the blood passing through the lungs returning to the heart. I did know that inhaling smoke into the lungs simply had to be harmful, at least in some degree. I realized that the opposite to, or transgression of, the law of outgoing love to others was coveting or lust – inordinate self-desire. WHY, I finally asked myself then, do I smoke? It was a form of SELF-DESIRE, breaking – at least in some measure – the Tenth Commandment! In other words, God was showing me SMOKING WAS A SIN, even though a mild one! That was more than 51 years ago. I stopped smoking then and there. Now it had happened that my smoking was obnoxious to my wife. She had merely tolerated it. That is how THE LIVING GOD SHOWED ME THAT SMOKING IS A SPIRITUAL SIN! But what about being a physical sin – harming the physical laws that God set in operation in our bodies? We know now that it is a cause of lung cancer, which can be fatal. But I learned one point more. Some 10 years after I had quit smoking, I made a test on myself. I was in Portland, Ore., doing a broadcast or making recordings. On this particular trip my wife was not with me. I knew that if I smoked she would smell it either on my clothes or in my breath. I tried an experiment. I bought a pack of cigarettes. In my hotel room, removing all my clothes and hanging them in the wardrobe closet with the door shut, I took out a cigarette and lit it. I wanted to learn how it would affect me after some 10 years of non-smoking. After about two puffs, I felt DIRTY all over. I felt definitely that it was in violation of the natural law of cleanliness. I never took the third puff. I threw the cigarette and the remainder of the pack into the toilet and flushed it. Then I took a shower so I would feel CLEAN again – and perhaps also so that my wife would not discern the telltale smell of it when I returned home in Eugene, where we then lived. That is how and WHY, when God had used me as His apostle in building His Church for this era of time. GOD used me to put into HIS CHURCH the truth that smoking IS, INDEED, A SIN. Even though one may argue it is only a mild sin, yet SIN IS SIN and that does include smoking. Other uses of tobacco fall, in principle and obvious intent of the law, in the same category! Tobacco is a poison weed! I know because a ditch digging labourer, working front of our house when I was 5 years old, induced me to “take a chew” of his chewing tobacco. I swallowed it! I learned at age 5 that tobacco is a poison weed that can make you horribly sick in your stomach! I swore off chewing tobacco at age 5! ]]>

An Important Reminder —How Leaven Pictures Sin By George M. Kackos

 (Source)

God offers Christians vital lessons through the Days of Unleavened Bread. What do these days picture, and how can they help you lead a happier life?

The apostles were jolted! First, the sound of a violent windstorm filled the house where they were meeting. Then, almost before they had time to think, glowing flames of fire began leaping upon them. Continue reading…

Are You Worthy To Take The Passover?

Are You Worthy to Take the Passover?

What does the Passover mean to you? Do you really know why Jesus had to suffer and die — and what is required of us?

 

By Allen L. Stout 

The Good News Magazine, March 1984 

  Paul wrote to Christians: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. “Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord” (I Cor. 11:26-27). Paul was writing about the Passover, the annual memorial of the death of Jesus Christ, which God commands His people to observe. How few professing Christians understand! If you have not been aware of God’s annual festivals, write immediately for our free booklet Pagan Holidays — or God’s Holy Days — Which? Many have not fully comprehended the significance of Paul’s warning. Some, feeling they were not worthy of Jesus’ sacrifice, have not taken the Passover. Others have taken the Passover in a casual or ritualistic manner. It’s time we all understand! The Passover is the first of the Christian festivals commanded by God (Lev. 23:5). It is not to be taken lightly.   Purpose of the Passover   The Passover originally represented the turning point in the separation of Israel, God’s chosen people, from Egypt, which symbolized sin. The blood of the Passover lamb, sprinkled on the doorposts, distinguished those whom God was sparing (Ex. 12:13-14). The Passover for Christians today is a memorial, an annual reminder or renewal of our spiritual covenant with God. It reminds us not only of when God called ancient Israel out of Egypt, but, more important, of God calling us today out of sin. Let’s make the meaning of Passover clear by examining what the Bible says. What was required to free us from the bondage of sin? God’s sacrifice of His firstborn, Jesus — the blood of the Lamb. Why? Why couldn’t God just forgive our sins without a sacrifice? Why did Jesus have to give up His glory with God, take upon Himself the form of a servant, become a human being and suffer and die for our sins (Phil. 2:7-8)? Because there was no other way to save man from the consequence of sin.   God will not compromise His law   God can do all things, but God will not compromise His law (Matt. 19:26, 5:18). God’s law is perfect (Ps. 19:7). It would, if kept, produce and maintain a peaceful and happy society. Tragically, no human has kept God’s law perfectly — all have sinned (Rom. 3:23). The Bible likens sin to leaven — if sin is not disposed of, it grows and spreads rapidly (I Cor. 5:6). The whole world is suffering under the curse of sin (Gal. 3:10)! Death is the penalty for sin — breaking God’s law (Ezek. 18:4, 20, Rom. 6:23). God will not allow anyone into His holy Family and Kingdom who will compromise His law (Gal. 5:19-21, I Cor. 6:9-10, Rev. 22:14-15). God’s law requires that blood be shed for the remission of sin (Heb. 9:22). Thus blood had to be shed in order that the sins of every human might be forgiven, upon repentance.   The sacrifice of Jesus   The only way God could redeem humanity — all of us! — from the death penalty without compromising His law was to have our penalty paid. Enter Jesus Christ. Notice what God’s Word says: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us…. when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son … through whom we have now received the reconciliation” (Rom. 5:8, 10-11). Our sins had separated us from God (Isa. 59:1-2). We had the death penalty hanging over us. But Jesus’ sacrifice paid the death penalty for sin in our stead (Rom. 3:24-25). Does Jesus’ death save us, then? Let’s see what the Bible tells us.   What is required of us?   What is our responsibility, given Jesus’ sacrifice, in God’s plan of salvation? Notice Acts 2:38: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus’ sacrifice does not redeem us from the death penalty until we have repented of breaking God’s law, turned from sin and accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Master. We must submit to God’s government over our lives and begin to live God’s way. Then what happens? Notice Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Jesus actually lives His life in us (verse 10). We strive to follow Jesus’ example as revealed in the Bible (I Pet. 2:21). We shall, then, be saved by Jesus Christ’s life (Rom. 5:10)! By obeying God’s law with the help of God’s Holy Spirit and by submitting to God’s government, we actually begin to take on God’s very nature. We gradually overcome sin — sin no longer has power over us. We are God’s servants rather than the servants of sin (Rom. 6:12-16). We have embarked upon a new way of life that leads to every blessing and joy for eternity. To turn back from it — to reject God’s way and Jesus’ sacrifice, which paid our death penalty — brings the death penalty on us again, this time with no chance for redemption (Heb. 10:26-29). Now what about observing the Passover?   Are you worthy?   God’s redeemed people are commanded to observe the Passover annually, in its New Testament symbolism, as a memorial of Jesus’ death and to picture what God has done in our lives (Matt. 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:14-20, John 13:2-5). And we are to do so in a “worthy” manner, as we have seen from I Corinthians 11:26-27. What, exactly, does it mean to be worthy? Paul warned, “Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup” (I Cor. 11:28). What is your attitude? John wrote: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (I John 2:15-17). As long as we live in this evil, Satan-ruled society, there will be tests and temptations to break God’s law. We are tempted through our own lusts (Jas. 1:14) to cheat, to lie in business, to boast, to swear, to gossip, to commit adultery (Matt. 5:28) and to put other things before God. And we as Christians — yes, as truly called and redeemed Christians — will slip occasionally and sin! But, as long as we are repentant, striving to overcome sin, God accepts us, applying Jesus’ sacrifice (I John 1:9). God continues to lead us. We live under grace (Eph. 2:8). No one is worthy of Christ’s sacrifice, but not to take the Passover is to deny Christ. To take the Passover in a worthy manner, we must repent of our evil desires and ways, come to hate the sin that Jesus had to suffer and die for and set our will not to compromise God’s law. “For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned [judged] with the world” (I Cor. 11:29-32). Our goal, as Jesus commanded in Matthew 5:48, is to become perfect, as God the Father is perfect. Keeping the Passover and understanding all it pictures, as well as striving to keep all of God’s other laws, is vital to attaining that perfection. So, as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 5:8, “Let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth”!]]>

"THEY DECLARE THEIR SIN AS SODOM"

“THEY DECLARE THEIR SIN AS SODOM”

By Gene Hogberg

Pastor General’s Report September 28, 1984

  One of the themes that Mr. Herbert Armstrong has emphasized in the past several years is “come out of this world.” And with good reason. The societies of modern-day Israel are on a moral toboggan slide. As a result natural calamities lie just over the horizon. There is little, in the end, that morally-upright leaders (such as President Reagan) or movements such as the “Moral Majority” can do to halt the downward spiral. The forces of evil are just too strong. Continue reading…

An Important Reminder —How Leaven Pictures Sin By George M. Kackos

 (Source)

God offers Christians vital lessons through the Days of Unleavened Bread. What do these days picture, and how can they help you lead a happier life?

The apostles were jolted! First, the sound of a violent windstorm filled the house where they were meeting. Then, almost before they had time to think, glowing flames of fire began leaping upon them. Continue reading…

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE PASSOVER AND FESTIVAL OF UNLEAVENED BREAD by Herbert W. Armstrong

(SOURCE)

CREATION is the proof of the existence of God. Creation identifies God. The Sabbath is a weekly memorial of creation. A weekly reminder of God’s power to create. Therefore it identifies God to us — keeps us in the true memory and true worship of the true God. No other day but the SEVENTH DAY OF THE WEEK could have that great significance and MEANING. It was designed to keep us in the true worship of God.

Continue reading…

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE PASSOVER AND FESTIVAL OF UNLEAVENED BREAD

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE PASSOVER AND FESTIVAL OF UNLEAVENED BREAD

by Herbert W. Armstrong

Source CREATION is the proof of the existence of God. Creation identifies God. The Sabbath is a weekly memorial of creation. A weekly reminder of God’s power to create. Therefore it identifies God to us — keeps us in the true memory and true worship of the true God. No other day but the SEVENTH DAY OF THE WEEK could have that great significance and MEANING. It was designed to keep us in the true worship of God. Continue reading…

WHY Christ Died – and Rose Again! by Herbert W. Armstrong

(SOURCE)

IT IS revealed that Jesus was “Emmanuel” — that is, “God with us” — GOD in human flesh. He was both God and man — divine as well as human. Can God die? Was Jesus really dead, or did only His body die? Was Jesus the divine One alive during the three days and three nights a body was in the tomb? What, then, is the NEED of the resurrection? Here is a brief pointed answer.
This is a question that has perplexed millions. It is an enigma that has never been made clear and plain to many minds. Yet the Scriptures give us a clear revelation, in plain, simple words — if we can believe the Scriptures — which is to believe they mean exactly what they say. We read, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (I Cor. 15:3). Continue reading…

Conversion Is A Process! by Herbert W. Armstrong

(SOURCE) How many times have you heard non-Christians, judging one who professes Christ, say in disgust, “Well, if that’s Christianity, I don’t want any part of it”? How many judge GOD by the way they see professing Christians live? How many assume that one must live a perfect life before he can become a Christian? Continue reading…