BIG Questions- Part 2: “Is getting a tattoo a sin?” “Is it a sin to smoke or do drugs?” and “Is it really a big deal if I sin?”

April 19, 2009

There are a few questions that trip up just about everybody. But every question has an answer. I have been asked a number of these, and some I didn’t have the answer to at the time. So, I’ve looked up a few and I want to share those, so that you can have the answers, too, and so you can tell anyone else who asks you. This time, we tackle tattoos, smoking, drugs, and comparing sin- is any of it really so bad?

                                       Don’t forget to leave your questions and comments below!!

1. Is getting a tattoo a sin?

This question grows in popularity as the “art” of self-mutilation grows. It has become easier and more acceptable to get tattooed. Many are even risking infection and disease by having them done with needles and pen ink in their own homes. The danger there goes without saying, but is it a sin? The Bible mentions tattoos specifically one time. That is in the book of Leviticus.

Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:28 NIV)

Now, some people have argued against this statement, despite it being perfectly clear. Among the series of commands that this verse is in, we are also told not to eat bloody meat, not to practice divination or sorcery, not to cut our hair at the sides or trim the edges of our beard, and not to make our daughters prostitute. Out of these, the only one we don’t follow nowadays is the trimming of our hair and beards. This command was for the Jews (some of whom still practice it), and was “overturned,” so to speak, later on. Still, some have said that since we cut our hair, we can cut our bodies and tattoo ourselves. This is not a fair comparison at all. We must look at what a tattoo really is, and what it does to our body.

We need to be extremely careful of what marks we put on our bodies. If, for no other reason at all, then for the following.

He [the Antichrist] also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that none could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. (Revelation 13:16-17 NIV)

That is what we commonly call the “Mark of the beast”. It is something that most people will actually want to get, because they are blinded by the convenience and commonality of the world. Still, we can look even deeper into a tattoo’s function. How do you get a tattoo? You let someone stab you with a needle, and while the wound is fresh, they inject foreign ink into your body. Despite some of the beautifully artistic pieces, my view has always been “Hang it on a wall”. So tattooing is not really more than a clever way to mutilate the flesh with a pleasant-looking after effect. What does the Bible say about that?

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:15, 19-20 NIV)

Since your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and you are living for God, and your body in fact belongs to Him, what authority do you have to cut, poke, mutilate, inject ink, etc.? Jesus paid a price for your body, for your very life, and God asks that in return you use your body to honor Him. Paul warns in his letter to the Philippians,

Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. (Philippians 3:2 NIV)

So let us take to heart the words of Scripture that plead with us to offer ourselves wholly to God, body, mind, and everything that we are. Don’t allow an inch of the devil’s work to touch you or taint you. Allow yourself to be put to unadulterated service, in every capacity, to the Lord. Since God is in control, let His glory be your decoration, and supply yourself to Him.

Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. (Romans 6:13 NIV)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:1-2 NIV)

What about those who already have a tattoo?

Don’t worry if you have one. Many people have gotten tattoos before becoming a Christian, or maybe just didn’t realize the way God felt about it. While the tattoo is difficult to remove, the sin isn’t. Cutting yourself or tattooing is NOT the unforgiveable sin. God will forgive you if you repent sincerely. Many Christians who were previously tattooed use the mark as a part of their testimony of the life they left behind when they accepted Christ. It is never too late.

                               Don’t forget to leave your questions and comments below!!

2. Is it a sin to smoke or do drugs?

This question has a lot of similarity to tattooing, since it involves harm to the body. However, there are a couple other reasons that smoking and drugs are sinful.

One of the biggest excuses is that God made it, so it’s okay to smoke it. This isn’t further from the truth. Although the Bible does declare that God made everything for good, (Genesis 1:31; Ecclesiastes 3:11a) you must also remember that the earth is not now how God originally made it. Because of the sin of mankind, the earth was changed. God allowed thorns and thistles to grow, plants that were not for our practical use; plants that were not in God’s perfect Garden.

Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. (Genesis 3:17-18 NIV underline added for emphasis. See also Hebrews 6:8)

Another reason is that it is illegal to do drugs, and to smoke until a certain age. Ask yourself, “Why would such a law be in place unless it was somehow harmful to smoke?” The truth is, the law allows you smoke at such an age because they believe that at that age, you can decide whether or not you want to harm your own body and health. The Bible demands that we not only obey God, but also our governing authorities, i.e. the police, courts, judges, laws, etc. If it is illegal, and harmful to our bodies, you are really committing two sins at once if you smoke.

            Obey your leaders and submit to their authority… (Hebrews 13:17 NIV)

One other thought is this: God has made everything, but for a good purpose. Marijuana plants can be used to make hemp, which is useful and safe. God never said that should smoke the plant. That was sinful man’s idea.

Remember, your body is made in God’s image and is designed for worship. Jesus died to give you life, not so you could slowly destroy yourself. Keep in mind what the Bible teaches about your body:

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:15, 19-20 NIV)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:1-2 NIV)

                 Don’t forget to leave your questions and comments below!!

3. I try to be good, but I keep making mistakes. Since everybody sins, is really such a big deal if I do once in a while? 

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

To you, it might seem like no big deal. It might even seem that way to the person you sinned against. To God, however, it’s a very big deal; the BIGGEST! Sin is the one factor that separates us from God, even if its what we call a little sin. The Bible tells us that everyone has sinned.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

This is a HUGE problem for us. Even just one little lie; or if we steal a candy bar; or if we misuse God’s Name; all of these make us imperfect. God is absolutely perfect, and so is heaven. If heaven had just one sinner in it, it would no longer be a perfect place. Because of this, we have only two options: Be perfect or go to the only other place we can go- hell. “But,” some would ask, “What about all the good deeds I do?”

            For all of us have become like one who is unclean,

And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;… (Isaiah 64:6)

All your good deeds are wonderful, and please God, but compared to our sin, every good deed is like a dirty garment. What value is a filthy, robe? Absolutely none. God doesn’t measure your sins in one pile and your good works in another to determine if you make it. You are either perfect, or you aren’t. The problem is, everyone has sinned,, and there is a price to pay for sin:

            For the wages of sin is death… (Romans 6:23)

Because we sin, we die. The punishment for sin is that death, and if we die with that sin still covering our lives, the death continues in hell. That is why God sent His Son, Jesus, to die for our sin. We are instructed in how we can have our sin erased, as though it never happened!

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Jesus has paid the price for us, but we can choose to accept or ignore this gift. To accept, all we need to do is confess our sins to Him, and He will faithfully forgive us. That is how we can be made perfect! Once God forgives our sin, we have a new start; a perfect record! Of course, we need to try our best to avoid sin in the future, but should we slip up, God is still faithful to His Word. The apostle John continues to urge us on by saying:

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2)

Jesus paid the price for the entire world. That includes you. The prophet Joel records God’s words as He urgently calls us to go back to Him in repentance. God beckons us to Him.

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord,

“Return to Me with all your heart,

And with fasting weeping and mourning;

And rend your heart and not your garments.”

Now return to the Lord your God,

For He is gracious and compassionate,

Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness,

And relenting of evil. (Joel 2:12-13)

When you go to God with your sin, it’s serious, yet He is slow to anger. He loves to be gracious and kind to us; He loves to defeat the evil in us. God would be more than thrilled to forgive you of your sin. He wants to erase the sin and one day welcome you into His Heavenly Kingdom. If you need to, confess your sins to Jesus in prayer.

            He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper,

            But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion. (Proverbs 28:13)

 What are your thoughts on any of these questions? Do you have questions of your own? Let me know below!


14 Responses to “BIG Questions- Part 2: “Is getting a tattoo a sin?” “Is it a sin to smoke or do drugs?” and “Is it really a big deal if I sin?””

  1. […] made God?” “What does He look like?” and “Who wrote the Bible?”  and Part two is at BIG Questions- Part 2: “Is getting a tattoo a sin?” “Is it a sin to smoke or do drugs?” and …. Be sure to look for more to come! If you would like your question answered, just leave it as a […]

  2. Nadine Says:

    Interesting, I`ll quote it on my site later.

  3. SonyaSunny Says:

    I have already seen it somethere…

  4. justinlessard Says:

    To Nadine ans SonyaSunny:
    I apologize for the delay in approving your comments. They were both filtered into the spam folder, which I neglected to check until now. Thanks for stopping by, though. I appreciate the comments!

  5. Tim K. Says:

    So… strangely enough, I was beginning to have thoughts of having Romans 12:1-2 inked sometime in the future… and then Googled it to see if it had been done before, look for good design out there, etc., and to my great surprise I found Romans 12:1-2 itself used (effectively, by the way) as an argument against ever having a tattoo! I was rather stunned that I hadn’t thought of this aspect of the tattoo before… but I have doubts as to whether that really is included in the sin category. After all, the “tattoo” that ancient times were referring to involved a knife and a purposeful creation of scar tissue, and maybe dies of some sort if the person had the means, not a precision needle injector. And what of the fact that Jesus already led the perfect life for us, so that many Jewish customs are no longer necessary? Christians no longer celebrate the Passover, for instance; is the tattoo included in this now-negated old genre of rituals (for lack of a better term, I meant no judgement of Judaism by that phrase)? If it causes no physical harm to the body but is a testimony to Him, it seems that it would actually be a good way for connecting with those who are already a fair ways down the wrong path. And if you argue that it does cause physical harm to the body, and is therefore evil, (which I would agree, self-inflicted injury is BAD), would that not also mean that Christians cannot accept medical shots or blood draws? The problem is that an answer like “it’s a necessary evil to preserve the long-term well being of a human” just won’t cut it. It’s still a sin. I figure that the Lord made the human body extraordinarily resilient, “fearfully and wonderfully made”, and it will fully recover from a tattoo using modern techniques, and yet create an easily accessible path to engaging in a conversation with an unbeliever. Thoughts on this point of view?

  6. Wesley Says:

    Regarding Tattoo’s Being a Sin:

    In Leviticus 19:19 we are instructed “…Do not wear clothing woven from two different kinds of thread.”

    If we were to take the literal interpretation of these scriptures almost EVERYONE would be living in sin in this day an age.
    The majority of clothing woven in factories are in fact from different kinds of thread. Does this scripture condem anyone who shops at Wal-Mart?

    Of course not, we have to look at the message of the text.
    Many of these laws were given to wean the Hebrew from pagan customs, habits, and appearance.

    The book of Romans (and the rest of the New Testament for that matter) emphasizes that we are no longer under that Law. Jesus paid for our sins, so people no longer have to try “cleaning themselves” to be worthy of being around a holy God. Stated another way, the Old Testament made it clear that people could NOT stay clean on their own, so God sent His Son, who could and did live a sinless, “clean” life. By accepting Christ, we benefit from His work, not ours.

    In love brother please reconsider this stance.

  7. justinlessard Says:

    Of course you realize that you cited a ritual law. Clothes of a certain kind and cutting hair on your beard and other such laws are old covenant ritualistic laws- many of which were in place simply for the sake of obedience to the Lord. Tattooing yourself, cutting, murder, adultery, rape, theft- those are ethical laws. They are in place to preserve others, yourself, and the Word/ works of God. Not only that, but the respect of the temple of God- your body (if He lives in you, i.e. you are saved)- as mentioned quite plainly in the rest of the article.

  8. Rob Says:

    The position of respecting the Lord’s temple has always been funny to me. The lord dwells in your heart and soul, not your earthly flesh. Argue whatever you like, but you will never convince me that my earthly body is the Lord’s temple.

  9. Bible Study Says:

    I am a Christian and I find no sin in smoking or doing drugs. You only get in trouble when you deny that Jesus is the Christ in unbelief.

  10. justinlessard Says:

    apparently, you didnt read a single Scripture posted. Or maybe you think God is more of a pushover uncle than a Father and Judge. No, God is strict; His rules are solid. Protect your health, protect your life. HE GAVE IT TO YOU so that you could care for it. Your body is designed to do His will, not whatever makes you feel or look cool. Its a harsh reality, but if you think God is God, know that He is unchanging. He is a God of mercy and love, but also a God of Justice and Righteousness. He has strck people dead for one lie, one misstep, one act of disobedience. The wages of sin is death, so He is just in doing this, however, He may have a purpose for your life and calls you to care for the temple He created. If, however, you get severe cancer, months of radiation treatment, chemotherapy, and/or death, don’t expect Him to heal you. You have your warning now! Read the Scriptures more carefully. You will see that He has more for you than a temporary high and possible jail time.

  11. Tad Reed Says:

    What do you suppose Jesus used to write King of Kings and Lord of Lords on his thigh as described by John in Revelation 19:16? I can’t imagine it was a Sharpie. It’s not exactly something he would want washed off or removed.

  12. ChelseyK Says:

    Thank you for you article, I fully agree with you. We are not to be tempted by the ways of this world,just because everyone else is doing it and its widely excepted does not make something right in he eyes of God. I gave the same advice to a christian friend of mine and she still got a tattoo, not caring what the bible says. It was a rebellious act. I was the only one of her christian friends who told her she should reconsider getting one, everyone else praised her for it as though it was some huge accomplishment. It makes me sad that so many have become man pleasers not God pleasers.

  13. sean Says:

    In reading posts here a few years after the last post… Many of you brothren have forgotten what you have read and posted in scriptures. Jesus is the same yesterday today and forever… but now you disect and cherry pick what you choose to do and leave what you do not wish to obey. even the owner of this thread has done this. When you decide to make the fallacy in judgement that this is OT and this is NT based on well thats just silly so….. you have accepted in context that it is against his Law to mutilate your body, or it is wrong to use drugs (by the way the use of drugs is called sorcery) but then look up in the same context other ordinances given to Israel and compare to our modern standard of living and create a chasim of acceptability of some things while chastising others. this will always chase you down a misunderstood road of Law vs Grace. The fact is The Law of God has always been the same. It has not changed in spite of misunderstanding Paul. Jesus said he ha dnot come to Destroy the Law but to Establish the Law (look it up). Paul also stated that the Law is given forever and will be used to judge all mankind at the end. Now it is upon us to learn and search and pray the father causes our veil to be lifted. Think of it this way would you let your child use recreational drugs?, how about your 12 year old daughter to get a tattoo? if you say no then think about the reasons why… I will be willing to say your answers are well, thats a little different they are young and they don’t really have the capacity to make that decision. Well if it is a question of having your mind in a state of discernment it already is wrong. We do not need the “Law” to tell us that from a book! it has already been written in our heart everything after that is a matter of justifying it in your own heart. This is the same question as to Idolatry, Pagan worship of Christmas, Pagan worship in Easter instead of practicing the memorial of YHWH and what he commanded us to do. Not Israel only but all nations (look that up too). Also I will point out that we are grafted into Israel and therefore subject to the ordinances given to Israel since we are made citizens of the commonwealth of Israel. Israel and the Nations were made one in Messiah. Not a different entity but we were grafted in. The root stays the same and the branch is sustained by the root.

  14. This is my first time visit at here and i am genuinely
    pleassant to read everthing at alone place.

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