I had my last cigarette five years ago today. Even now, there are times when I have a craving . And when I do, I remind myself that I am no longer a smoker. That isn’t who I am anymore .
Sounds overly simple, doesn’t it? No looking at how much money I’ve saved. No factoring of health improvements. Not even the social changes that come when you are no longer part of the smoking circle. My entire strategy to continue as a non-smoker comes down to a matter of identity.
Identity is a great tool in making any change. Sure, you can try harder. You can reward yourself. You can use any number of behavior modification techniques, but what finally got me to quit smoking after twenty years was a change of identity. I decided that not only was I going to quit smoking, I was no longer going to identify as a smoker.
I chose to remove any version of smoking from the list of my identifiers. In Biblical terms, I repented of my smoking. And I continue to repent regularly of my smoking every time I deny myself by reminding myself that I am no longer that person who smoked.
Smoking is an unwise behavior. Is it sinful for a Christian? It can be a form of idolatry, just as gluttony or sexual behaviors or a host of other things can be an idol that traps a person in failed promises. And just like anything that brings dishonor upon God, the only response we are to have is repentance.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20 ESV