How about drinking or smoking?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked that question. Let me start by saying that this blog won’t tell you what to do and what not to do. If you have a relationship with Jesus, redeemed by His blood and empowered by His Holy Spirit, I pray you’ll be able to build convictions that will honor God by seeking Him.

We are all called to holiness. And this holiness has to be gospel-driven. What does gospel-driven holiness mean? It is a gripping response to His grace – that out of our gratefulness for His redemption, we respond with a heartfelt desire to please Him in every way.

Back to smoking and drinking.

Paul, the apostle, declares in 1 Corinthians 6:12, “Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial.” (NIV84)
He is saying that because of my freedom in Christ, I can actually do anything I want. However, in the same breath, not because I can, I should. Everything may be permissible but not everything is beneficial.

Question. Can I eat my laptop computer? Technically, I can. But because I can doesn’t mean I should.

A few chapters later, Paul gives us principles that I would like to share with you. It has helped me make decisions through the years. I can’t give you a list of do’s and don’ts, rules and regulations. What that would do is to catapult us back to legalistic self-righteousness and performance orientation. My goal is to help us think through all that we do in the grid of these 3 questions.

1. Will this glorify God?

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Co 10:31)

Paul exhorts us to do everything for the glory of God.

Isaiah 43:7 (ESV) tells us that we have been created for His glory.
“Everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”

The preposition “for” tells us that we were created by Someone intended for a particular purpose – for His glory.

2. Will it cause anyone to stumble?

Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God. (1 Co 10:32)

It is true that everything may be permissible. But the Apostle Paul makes it clear that our freedom should not cause anyone in the faith to stumble. If what I am doing causes someone to stumble or cause their faith to weaken, then I shouldn’t do it.

3. Is it a good example to follow?

Two verses later in the following chapter, Paul declares “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1)

Will what I will do be a good example to follow?
If my kids see me, will it be a good thing to imitate? I realize the dichotomy in some of our statements at times to our children. “Do as I say, not as I do.” It seems that there may be a double standard somewhere. The Father that calls our children to holiness is the same Father that calls us as well.

If people who are far away from Christ see me, will it be a good example for them to follow?
I wonder how many people far away from Christ have been turned off by us because we haven’t been good examples.

I pray that these 3 questions would help us build convictions that will lead to a lifestyle of gospel driven holiness. The question is not how close I can stay by the cliff before I fall off but how far I can be from the cliff so that I don’t displease the One who gave His life for me.

Have a great week ahead.


One of our leaders in church asked me a question the other day on the subject of drinking.

It’s a consistent topic that is often ask.  This one was particularly on drinking and being in ministry.

(I wrote a similar article in another post here)

I couldn’t give him a specific ‘rule’ because that’s not how life works.  Life is not about formulas and steps; nor a bunch of rules and regulations.  God has given us His Word to bring guidance.  Therefore, these principles will be at work whether you are in Europe or Asia, 70’s generation or millenial kids, below 18 or over 18 years old.

Here are 3 questions that might help you form guiding principles with regards to this topic.  In fact, these can be questions that can be asked not just in the area of drinking but in any area we are faced with in our daily lives.

1. Does it glorify God?

1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

While drinking is not necessarily wrong, drunkenness clearly is.  Check out  Galatians 5:21 and 1 Peter 4:3.

Asking this question will bring us back into focus as to WHO we want to please – us or Him?  If I do this thing (not just drinking), will I glorify God?

2. Will it cause anyone to stumble?

Paul continues his point in 1 Corinthians 10:32, “Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God…”

Causing someone to stumble would mean causing one to not follow Jesus because of the example we show.

We, by the way, are called to be His ambassadors.  We are no longer of the world (Peter calls us aliens in this world… haha) but we are definitely still in the world.

3. Is it a good example to follow?

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Cor. 11:1)

When I do what I do and someone watches my life, is it a good example to follow?  Will they be encouraged to follow Christ as well?

With this being said, I want to book end this post by saying, we definitely cannot do this on our own.

We rely on the grace of God to glorify Him, to not cause anyone to stumble and to be a good example for others to imitate.  As Zechariah 4:6 clearly says, “not by might, nor by power but by My Spirit, says the Lord Almighty.”

And truly, His grace is sufficient.


Can I drink and still be a Christian?  
Is it a sin to smoke? Is oral sex wrong since there’s no actual intercourse?

These are a few questions I get asked.

First of all, I have no intentions of turning what is black and white in Scripture into something grey.  Neither am I trying to turn something grey to become black and white.  That’s the reason why I will refer to what the Bible says.

While there are certain issues that the Bible doesn’t explicitly talk about, this doesn’t mean that it is quiet about that particular topic.  There are certain principles we can glean from so that we can answer the questions we might have.

For example, someone might say that since there’s nothing about internet por.nography in the Bible, then it must be ok.  Obviously, it won’t be there because computers didn’t exist.  But the Bible does talk about lust and impurity.

Paul gives us a guiding principle in 1 Corintians 6:12.

“Everything is permissible for me” – but not everything is beneficial.  “Everything is permissible for me” – but I will not be mastered by anything.

Not everything is beneficial…

Beneficial for who?  And for what?

Three questions we can ask ourselves…

1. Will it benefit me?

If you ask me, “Can I eat my cellphone?”  My answer?  “Sure! If you want to but it surely won’t be beneficial to you.”

Is it wrong?  Not really.

Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.

2. Will it benefit others?

If a pregnant woman asks me, “Can I join our 7 day prayer and fasting and do a water fast?”

While the activity is very spiritual, I’m just not sure it’s very wise.  We have to ask ourselves the question, “Will this thing benefit/affect the others?”

Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.

3. Will it benefit God’s kingdom?

Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  This means that whatever is going on in heaven, we desire to happen here on earth as well.

And if that is our prayer, then will this thing I do honor God and advance His kingdom?  Or will it hurt the cause of Christ?  Will I misrepresent His kingdom, since I am His ambassador?

These are tough questions but we do need to answer them.  And when we do, I think we’ll have a pretty good gauge about what we need to do.

As Oswald Chambers said, “Holiness, not happiness is the chief end of man.”