Questions From Readers
● What is the attitude of Jehovah’s witnesses toward the use of tobacco?—J. G., U.S.A.
The Bible does not comment directly on the view that God’s servants should have concerning the use of tobacco. This is understandable, since, according to one encyclopedia, tobacco was not used in Biblical lands until more than fifteen centuries after the Bible was completed. Yet, from what we read in God’s Word, it is easy to see that the use of tobacco, whether one is smoking, chewing or snuffing it, is an unclean habit that goes contrary to Bible principles. So Jehovah’s witnesses strongly discourage its use, and they view as spiritually immature any Christians who continue to use tobacco.
The most common use of tobacco is in smoking, whether in cigarettes, cigars or pipes. That smoking contributes to cancer, heart disease and many other debilitating and fatal diseases, needs no documentation here. An abundance of evidence is public knowledge. In fact, the health hazard is so great that a number of major nations have put restrictions on cigarette advertising. Less information is available on the use of chewing tobacco and snuff. Yet, studies indicate that these habits contribute to a higher incidence of cancer than among nonusers and affect the nerves and the sense of smell.
It is, of course, only reasonable to avoid something that poses such a threat to one’s health and life. And this is especially important to the Christian, since his worship of God is involved. How? Well, Romans 12:1 mentions that a Christian must present his body as “a sacrifice living, holy, acceptable to God.” If he were to follow the harmful tobacco habit, he would be withdrawing some of what he dedicated to God by shortening his life and impairing his health. Do you think God would be pleased with that?
Additionally, mature Christians strive to apply the counsel: “Let us cleanse ourselves of every defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in God’s fear.” (2 Cor. 7:1) The use of tobacco plainly runs counter to that inspired advice. Think of the scars and stains on the hands and mouths of many of those who smoke or chew tobacco. What about the “defilement of flesh” in the nostrils and lungs resulting from smoking or using snuff? And the uncleanness from tobacco even spreads to one’s surroundings, including ashes, stains and burns. Do you think Jesus would have disregarded purity by following a practice as unclean as the tobacco habit? Remember, Christians are to follow his example.—1 Pet. 2:21.
Smoking is also contrary to the principle: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” (Jas. 2:8) Why so? Commenting on this guiding principle for Christians, the apostle Paul wrote: “Love does not work evil to one’s neighbor; therefore love is the law’s fulfillment.” (Rom. 13:9, 10) Have you ever seen a smoker speaking with another person and at the same time enveloping both of them in noxious smoke, or someone smoking in a car, bus or train but completely oblivious to the discomfort he is causing those near him who have to breathe the unwanted irritant he is blowing out? Is that the course of neighbor love? To the contrary, Christians are urged: “Let each one keep seeking, not his own advantage, but that of the other person.”—1 Cor. 10:24.
When one comes right down to it, why does a person use tobacco, such as by smoking it? Maybe years ago he began smoking on a “dare” or to appear more grown up and “one of the crowd,” but does he continue because he enjoys it? Probably not. True, a cigarette might calm or satisfy him. Yet the fact that he becomes nervous and uncomfortable when deprived of tobacco only proves that it has become an enslaving habit. Such a person is not fully manifesting the self-control encouraged in the Bible.—1 Cor. 9:25-27.
Whether a smoker is a “chain smoker” or not, the fact that it is difficult to break the habit shows that a problem with self-control exists. This is also noted in that many feel compelled to smoke even though they might have no place to put the ashes, cannot afford it or have to borrow cigarettes from others. Without doubt, such persons need to apply the counsel: “Supply to your faith virtue, to your virtue knowledge, to your knowledge self-control.”—2 Pet. 1:5, 6.
Since the use of tobacco violates so much of the counsel provided for Christians, one who had not yet overcome this habit would not have the blameless reputation that an appointed servant in the Christian congregation should have. Those privileged to be overseers and ministerial servants are to be examples of Christian maturity. (1 Tim. 3:2, 10) Consequently, in addition to the aforementioned reasons for overcoming the unclean habit, one should strive to conquer the habit so as to be available for special privileges in the congregation, such as being an appointed servant or a full-time pioneer minister.
Since the occasion of one’s water baptism is such a significant point in his life, that is an excellent time to break the tobacco habit if it has persisted up to that point. But what if that step is already past and you still use tobacco? The situation is not hopeless. Others have quit, and you can too. Obviously, more self-control is needed. This quality is a fruit of God’s spirit, so one seeking more self-control needs more of God’s holy spirit. And that is available if you will but ask Jehovah for it and work to obtain it. (Luke 11:13) Seek association with Christians at meetings where the spirit is in evidence. Regularly read God’s inspired Word. Instead of thinking about satisfying a craving for tobacco, talk about Jehovah and the clean new order he has promised.
Probably the best way to break the tobacco habit is to stop abruptly. Instead of doing it secretly, tell your friends and family, so they can support and encourage you. Arrange to be in the company of mature Christians at times that you know you will desire to use tobacco, when the habit is most pronounced. Do not hesitate to telephone or visit a Christian companion if you feel yourself weakening. And, above all, seek Jehovah’s strength and holy spirit. Be like Paul, who said: “For all things I have the strength by virtue of him who imparts power to me.”—Phil. 4:13.
Thus, to those dedicated Christians who have not yet broken the tobacco habit, the full import of God’s Word is: Do not let this unclean habit become more firmly entrenched; seek to overcome it with more self-control. Think of your present health and life. Think of those around you. Think also of your dedication to Jehovah, upon which your eternal life depends. Thousands of others have gained freedom from enslavement to tobacco, and you too can do it. Do not put it off!
● Will Satan be dead when he is in the abyss for one thousand years?—R. G., U.S.A.
The limited information from the Bible on which this question is based appears at Revelation 20:1-3. We read: “I saw an angel coming down out of heaven with the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he seized the dragon, the original serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. And he hurled him into the abyss and shut it and sealed it over him, that he might not mislead the nations any more until the thousand years were ended. After these things he must be let loose for a little while.”
Now, what will be Satan’s state when he is in that abyss? Well, we cannot say anything that is based on personal experience, for we are not and never have been spirits. Furthermore, the Bible does not indicate that any spirit creatures have been put in that abyss in the past. Neither does it describe in detail what Satan’s condition there will be.
There is only one indication that we have as to his condition: When the man Jesus died, he was put into a tomb. While dead he was in Hades or the common grave of dead mankind. The apostle Peter pointed that out at Acts 2:31. Yet over in Romans 10:7 the apostle Paul wrote under inspiration: “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ that is, to bring Christ up from the dead.” Note that the word “abyss” is used, and not “Hades” or mankind’s common grave, where Jesus was.
When Satan is in that abyss mentioned in Revelation chapter 20, he will definitely not be in Hades, for he is not a human and he will not be assigned to the common grave of dead mankind. But in view of Jesus’ dead condition while he was in an abyss, we can conclude that during the “thousand years” Satan will be in a state of deathlike inactivity; he will have no conscious existence anywhere, and so will be unable to “mislead the nations.”
Apparently Satan will be temporarily revived or resuscitated after the thousand years, for the Bible says that he will “be let loose for a little while.” He will not be resurrected as if he had a potential to act righteously and live forever. To the contrary, the Scriptures indicate that after he is allowed to test mankind briefly he will be eternally destroyed by being cast into the lake of fire, which “means the second death.”—Rev. 20:10, 14.
‘But,’ some may query, ‘does that mean that when Satan is in that abyss he will be “dead” exactly the same as when a human is dead in the grave?’ We simply cannot say. The above is based on a parallel between Jesus’ condition while he was dead in an abyss for parts of three days and the fact that Satan will be in an “abyss” for one thousand years. Remember that Jesus was a human with a body of flesh, while Satan, as a spirit, does not have a body of flesh. So, since at present we lack any additional information from experience or the Bible, all we can say is that evidently while Satan is in that abyss he will be in a condition of deathlike inactivity and unconscious as was Jesus.