Due to its lack of true relationship with God and realistic hope for the future, the world has devised countless forms of pleasure-seeking. Those which seek to please the flesh should be shunned by those who are trying to develop a spiritual mind. "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh" (Gal. 5:17). Because of this fundamental opposition, it is impossible to reason that we can legitimately give way to the flesh and also claim to be following the Spirit. The world is structured around "the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life" (1 John 2:16). "Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God" (James 4:4). Having worldly friends, watching worldly films etc. is being "a friend of the world". The desires of the world will soon pass away, and those who have sided with the world in this life will pass with it (1 John 2:15-17). "The world (i.e. society) of the ungodly" will be destroyed by the second coming (2 Peter 2:5), seeing that "the whole world lieth in wickedness" (1 John 5:19). If we are to avoid that destruction, we must be "not of the world" (John 17:16 cp. Rev. 18:4).
Many of the world's ways of gratifying the flesh involve doing so at the cost of bodily health: smoking, hard drug taking and excessive drinking are examples of this. Our physical health, our money, indeed all that we have really belongs to God. We are therefore not free to use these things just as we wish, but must act as stewards of what God has given us. We will be asked to give an account of our management of them at the judgment seat (Luke 19:12-26). Habits such as smoking and alcoholic drinking are an abuse of both our finances and health. "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy...your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you...ye are not your own...ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body" (1 Cor. 3:16,17; 6:;19,20). Abuse of the body through habits like smoking is therefore a serious matter.
However, it is recognized that if habits like these were formed before conversion, it may not be possible to break them in a moment. What is expected is a recognition of the badness of the habit, and a realistic effort being made to stop it. The stresses of life should increasingly be met by recourse to the Word of God and prayer, rather than to any human form of relaxant.
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