How to Quit Smoking in 3 Difficult Steps
1. The first step is admitting you have a problem.
I just recalled something I learned from a coach from my high school years about smokers. Somebody (perhaps my coach himself) once told a smoker, “the next time you take out a cigarette to smoke it, I want you to look at and tell that cigarette:
‘Cigarette, you are my god. I worship you. I can't go a day without you. I can't stop thinking about you, since you are everything to me. I value you above everything else; you have power over me. I go to you for satisfaction, for I can’t be satisfied apart from you. Cigarette, you are my god; I adore you. I worship you. There is no other who can take your place…’”
My coach said of the guy that the next time he took out the cigarette and looked at it, he just couldn't bring himself to say such words to the cigarette. Why might that be the case?
Making such a confession or outwardly verbalizing such statements about one's bad habits forces one to be honest with oneself. Denial would be the path of least resistance, as one wouldn't have to deal with the hard truth about one’s lifestyle or bad habits.
This doesn't just apply to smoking. In the above prayer (that is, talking to a god), simply substitute [whatever is your bad habit] in for the word “Cigarette.” Whether that be another drug, marijuana, pornography, homosexuality, anger, pride, etc., can you be honest enough with yourself when tempted to give way to that habit or attitude that _________ is your true god? That you surrender your body as a living sacrifice for it to come have its way in your life?
2. Your friend is an enemy waiting to be made. Make a new enemy today. Hate your new enemy.
You won't kick a bad habit if you love and worship that bad habit too dearly. Anything that is most valuable to you in life (that you “can't live without”) is your god. That upon which you base your identity, design, and destiny, is your idol.
Thus, it is fair to say that smoking, homosexuality, money, or a million other things can be a god or idol. In India, for example, they worship millions of gods or idols. But in light of these truths, we can conclude that the situation is really the same in America or in any other country--we Westerners just tend to be in the denial stage of the aforementioned step one. That's why it was difficult for the guy to confess out loud the truth about his dependence on the cigarette.
But if we can get past the “denial stage” to the “anger stage,” where we declare war upon our idol, then we are ready to break up with our old “friend.” Like any long-term relationship, I understand that a break-up will be difficult emotionally. But as Darth Sidious told Luke Skywalker, “Let the hate flow through you.” Derek Prince has said that Jesus delivers you from your enemies, not from your friends. Draw a line in the sand when you get to that point where “Enough is enough.”
3. Destroy your enemy. Break up with your old god (idols). Replace your enemy with a Friend who sticks closer than a brother.
You might be impressed upon with the belief: “My habit is too entrenched. This addiction is too powerful. It makes me feel so good that there is nothing to replace it in my life. Nothing can overcome the neurological effects this drug or habit has had on my brain…”
Such a confession or statement of faith is akin to the prayer to the cigarette in step one. It is a confession of faith that smoking, homosexuality, pornography, anger, etc. is more powerful to shape your identity (or to affect your body, soul, mind, and spirit) than your Creator. That is called idolatry--having another god before the One True God. (1)
The following verse describes those who have pledged allegiance to Jesus Christ as their God:
“Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4 ESV
If “he who is in the world” means your idol or god, then “he who is in you” means Jesus. Jesus is more powerful than all other gods (idols including cigarettes, homosexuality, anger, greed, etc.) That is why Jesus regularly casted out demons, because those “gods” at the root of people's addictions are not as powerful as the Holy Spirit who rested upon Jesus. (2)
Are you ready to make Jesus your Friend by inviting Him into your life? Then God will enter you and give you the power to beat up your new enemies. Just as Jesus beat up the devil with two sticks when he died on the cross and rose from the dead, his love and friendship will have that same effect in your life as your idols get utterly destroyed. (3)
The following is a suggested prayer:
I want to know you personally, like I know a Friend. I’m sorry I’ve been hanging out with all the wrong “friends.” I don’t want them in my life anymore, since they only come to steal, kill, and destroy every good thing in my life that You gave me. Thank you for sending the Lord Jesus Christ to demonstrate Your love for me by dying in my place in the midst of my rebellion against You (while I was still a sinner). I believe in my heart that You raised Jesus from the dead to demonstrate Your power that will have the same effect in my own life. I pledge my allegiance to Jesus Christ, inviting You to come into my life. I turn my back on every other idol, false god, sinful desire, and demon from Satan’s kingdom of darkness. Thank You for opening my eyes, so that I may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that I may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified (cleansed and set apart from all defilement) by faith in You. As I commit to serve You, having no other gods besides You, make me into the kind of person you want me to be. [Having talked to God about your problem, now talk to your problem about God. Call out your false god, bad attitude, addiction, or sin specifically by name, commanding it to leave you in Jesus' name. (Mark 11:23; 16:17)]
In Jesus name,
For other summaries on starting a relationship with Jesus Christ, see
C.f. Exodus 20:3; Matthew 6:24
C.f. Acts 10:38
C.f. Genesis 3:15; Hebrews 2:14f; Isaiah 30:22; Ezekiel 36:25; Romans 8:11
C.f. James 4:4; John 10:10; Romans 5:8; 10:9; 8:11; Mark 1:15; Colossians 1:13f; Acts 26:18; Exodus 20:3; Matthew 6:24