Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 8, 1983

The Unanswered Pray Of Christ

M. M. Ritter

It is not the purpose of this article to discuss who is right or who is wrong in those matters which have caused division within the body of Christ. Our purpose is to try to suggest a way whereby we can be more like the church for which Christ suffered and died — the one so plainly described in Ephesians 5:27"A glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing: but that it should be holy and without blemish." Christ tells us how to enter into this church (or kingdom) in John 3:3-7: "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."

A major point of emphasis among the people who seek to be "Christians only" is unity of all believers in Christ. And truly, a plea for Christian Unity is much needed in our present religious world which is so shamefully divided. Jesus himself prayed that all His followers might be one (John 17:20,21). Also, we have learned by experience that division is a great hindrance to the cause of Christ. The "Restoration Movement" has been a great and mighty effort for the cause of Scriptural unity and for a restoration of simple New Testament Christianity free from all the humanly devised ecclesiastical systems. These efforts should, by all means, continue. However, there is another point in that prayer of Christ which He prayed shortly before He was taken to be crucified that has not been given nearly enough emphasis, namely, He also prayed that His followers be "sanctified in truth" (to live holy) and "to be kept from the evil one." This part of His prayer is equally as important as the portion concerning unity.

Let us notice some other New Testament passages related to the subject of Christian purity, moral sanctity, and holiness. Romans 12:1-2 teaches that a Christian must present his body "a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God." I Corinthians 3:17 and 8:19 tells us that the body is the temple of God (the place wherein God's Spirit dwells), and we are commanded not to defile that temple. In I Thessalonians 5:22 we hear Paul warning the Lord's people to "abstain from all appearance of evil." Christ tells us in Matthew 5:48 to "Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect." Again Christ says "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day" (John 12:48). That word is nothing other than the will of Christ as laid down for us in the New Testament.

The Menace Of Tobacco

Now we shall get to the real point of this article. Statistics tell us that near five billion dollars ($5,000,000,000.00) is being spent each year for tobacco.

Before me is a newspaper item which suggests that the U. S. Air Force has become extremely disturbed over the tremendous consumption and dangerous effects of smoking — "The United States Air Force is concerned about the ever increasing evidence linking cigarette smoking with lung cancer, pulmonary diseases, cardio-vascular diseases, and other medical problems, and has refused to accept free cigarettes for its hospitals, clinics, and flight lunches until the present evidence of the harmful effects of cigarette smoking may have been cleared up, and the Air Force has informed the tobacco companies to that effect." Here is another newspaper item with the following heading: "Children Under Age 18 Will Be Picked Up by Officers if Seen Smoking."

The findings of so many medical scientists combined with the overwhelming evidence of medical research teams working independently all over the world seems to do away with any chance that the poisons of tobacco and tobacco smoke can be proven otherwise than of tremendous harm to the human body. It is a great encouragement to know that the U. S. Air Force has shown such a degree of concern and it brings joy to the hearts of many to know that some policemen are trying to prevent smoking among teen-agers. Dr. Hutchinson of Kansas State Reformatory says, "Cigarettes are the cause of the downfall of more boys in this institution than all other vicious habits combined."

Doctors tell us that cigarette smoke robs the air of oxygen which is the most vital element used by the brain, and that cigarette smoke contains many fearful poisons, one of which is furfural which acts upon the brain and nerve tissues. Dr. D. H. Kress says that furfural is a brain-wrecking and destroying poison. Dr. W. C. McCormack has proved that tobacco smoke destroys Vitamin C in the human body. This is the vitamin necessary to guard off diseases from the human body. It is said that since so many mothers have fallen victim to the fearful cigarette smoking habit and the homes are seldom free from poisonous tobacco smoke, that most dreaded disease of children, leukemia cancer, has increased right along with the great increase of cigarette smoking these last few years. The article also states that children are breathing too much tobacco smoke and that it enters the body through the pores of the skin as well as being breathed into the body. Another danger to children which doctors point out is that if they breathe tobacco smoke with its poisons, they naturally acquire a craving or lust for cigarettes just as all smokers have. So be fair to the children and to the Scriptures and to your vow to follow Christ in your example of life!

Here are some more passages of Scripture which every Christian should seriously and prayerfully consider. Romans 6:4, 5 — "We are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." In verse 12 Paul continues, "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it and the lusts thereof." In 2 Corinthians 8:17, 18 we are commanded to "Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord." The great apostle Peter so lovingly warns, "Dearly beloved, abstain from fleshly lusts that war against the soul" (2 Peter 2:11). In speaking to the church at Ephesus, Paul said, "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the church over the which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God which He hath purchased with His own blood" (Acts 20:28). Men possessed of the tobacco habit cannot possibly set a holy example for others to follow. Positions of leadership in the Lord's church deserve the purest and holiest examples of life.

The example which a cigarette addict sets is most inconsistent with the type of influence that a leader of God's people should be trying to exert on the world in general and on our youth in particular. If elders, deacons, preachers, and other leaders in the church do not feel it important to set an example of purity in Christian living, then how can we ever hope to restore the Lord's beautiful church as described in Ephesians 5:27? "A glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish."

Immodest Dress Another glaring violation of the principles of Christian purity, is the appearance of mothers and daughters on the streets as nearly nude as the laws will allow. Let us notice one passage which is especially plain on this matter — I Timothy 2:8-10.

"I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel . . ."

The first part of this passage doesn't sound like Paul included cigarette poisoned stained hands. His introduction associates Christian purity as a matter of spiritual importance and we do well not to trifle with it or take it lightly. Then his statement on the proper kind of adornment — "modest apparel" — forbids women doing those things which attract undesirable attention. The very appearance of Christian women should suggest that they are "women professing godliness with good works." In Deuteronomy 22:5 we find that it is sinful for women to wear clothing which pertaineth unto a man "for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord." Overalls, slacks, slim jims, shorts and such like would fall under this condemnation. All these things — prayer, holy hands, meekness, faith, adornment in modest apparel — are every one important. If one can be dispensed with, then so can all the others.

Paul wrote these things before our present-day debauchee of immodesty in dress of which the modem bathing suit would have scandalized the theatre business and knee length dresses at religious meetings would have been shocking with its utter disrespect for the command to "adorn in modest apparel as women professing godliness." There is little reason to doubt but that the lack of respect for I Tim. 2:8-10 by women may have produced more immorality to more people than any of the other vicious customs of today because when people are robbed of their modesty they do not have much left upon which to create spiritual adornment, and such women show no more respect for I Tim. 2:8-10 than does a church yard full of cigarette fiends show for 1 Cor. 3:17 and I Cor. 8:19 and 2 Peter 2:11 and all the other Scriptures on holy living. God's word tells us to "study to show ourselves approved unto God" (2 Tim. 2:15). We can now choose to obey it or reject it, but at the last day in Judgment we will have no choice and we will be judged by God's word, not by what we think or what someone else may think. Jesus tells us that His word shall judge us all in the last day (John 12:48).

— 815 Elm Avenue, Yukon, Oklahoma