Many young Christians struggle with the question of whether it is ok for them to dance, smoke or drink alcohol, because if they are prohibited from participating in these things, they might end up losing a lot of their friends. In his book The Spirit-Filled Believers’s Handbook, bible teacher Derek Prince provided some good insights on this subject, which would be helpful to new believers who might be struggling with this issue.
One often hears questions such as these: Is it right for a Christian to dance? to smoke? to gamble? and so on. The answer to all such questions must be decided not by accepted social practice, nor by accepted church tradition, but by the application of God’s Word.
For instance, I remember that a group of Christian African women students once asked me, as a Christian minister, if there was any harm in their attending dances at the college where they were being trained as teachers. In reply I did not offer them my own personal opinion or the regulations laid down by a mission board. Instead I asked them to tum with me to two passages in the Bible.
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31).
And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Col. 3:17).
I pointed out that these two passages of Scripture contain two great principles which are to decide and direct all that we do as Christians. First, we must do all things to the glory of God. Second, we must do all things in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God by Him. Therefore, anything that we can do to the glory of God and in the name of the Lord Jesus is good and acceptable; anything that we cannot do to the glory of God and in the name of the Lord Jesus is wrong and harmful.
I then applied these principles to the question they had asked me. I said, “If you can attend those dances to the glory of God, and if you can freely give thanks to God in the name of the Lord Jesus while you are dancing, then it is perfectly all right for you to dance. But if you cannot do your dancing in this way and upon these conditions, then it is wrong for you to dance.”
It was my responsibility, as I saw it, to give those young women basic scriptural principles. Thereafter it was their responsibility, not mine, to apply those principles to their particular situation.
Medical research has brought to light one very definite way in which many modem Christians, like David of old, have been kept from the paths of the destroyer by the application of God’s Word.
The Scriptures teach very plainly that the body of the Christian, having been redeemed from the dominion of Satan by the blood of Christ, is a temple for the Holy Spirit to dwell in and is therefore to be kept clean and holy. For example, Paul says:
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are (1 Cor. 3:16-17).
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
For this is the will of God, your sanctification … that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel [that is, the earthen vessel of his physical body] in sanctification and honor (1 Thess. 4:3-4).
On the basis of these and other similar passages, many Christians have refrained from using tobacco in any form. Until fairly recently it was often suggested by unbelievers that this refusal by Christians to indulge in tobacco was merely a kind of foolish, old-fashioned fad, akin to fanaticism. However, modem medical research has demonstrated, beyond all possibility of doubt, that smoking – particularly of cigarettes – is a direct contributory cause of lung cancer. The medical associations of both the United States and Great Britain have endorsed this conclusion. In the United States this year there will be an estimated 146,000 deaths from lung cancer (American Cancer Society). Another undisputed fact, proved by experience and endorsed by medical science, is that death through lung cancer is usually lingering and painful.
In the face of facts such as these, the refusal of Christians to smoke can no longer be dismissed as foolishness or fanaticism. If foolishness can be charged to anyone today, it is certainly not to the Christian but to the person who regularly wastes substantial sums of money to gratify a lust which greatly increases the possibility of a painful death through lung cancer. And if foolishness can be charged to the victims of this lust, surely nothing short of wickedness can be charged to those who, by every means of persuasion and modem publicity, willfully seek, for the sake of their own financial profit, to bring their fellow human beings under the cruel bondage of this degrading and destroying habit.
Almost exactly the same that has been said about tobacco smoking applies equally to excessive indulgence in alcohol.
Again, a majority of sincere Christians have through the years refrained from this kind of indulgence on the basis of the Bible’s warnings against it. It is a well-established fact that excessive indulgence in alcohol is a major contributing factor in many kinds of mental and physical disease and also in the modem toll of traffic accidents.
Here again, as in the case of smoking, millions of Christians have been preserved from harm and disaster by their practical application of the Bible’s teaching.
A new, “modem” plague – AIDS – came upon the world in the 1980s. Christians who practice monogamy and refrain from immorality protect themselves and their children from the devastation of that disease.
On the other hand, homosexuality, so often touted as an “alternative life-style,” has proved to be an alternative death-style. Christians who have been protected from these evils can surely echo, with deep thankfulness, the words of David.
Concerning the works of men,
By the word of Your lips,
I have kept myself from the paths of the destroyer (Ps. 17:4).