Sins of the flesh seem to be conquered in three ways in the life of the believer. First, some are dropped easily at the time of salvation. Second, some are conquered slowly over a period of time as they become less and less powerful in the life of the believer. Third, some will be conquered after salvation at a time of crisis in the believer's life when the sin is once and for all given up. Unfortunately, there is one more category. That is the category of besetting sin. Hebrews 12:1 calls this "the sin which doth so easily beset us." This is a sin that seems to come back and haunt us for years. I call it the early warning system of our spiritual health. When we are strong in the Lord, we are able to conquer even this sin. When we begin to waver in our faith, this is the first sin that shows its ugly head.
Particular sins (like smoking or lying) cannot be automatically placed in the above categories. They work differently with different people. For instance, I have heard different testimonies about how individuals have gotten the victory over cursing. Sometimes, the victory is acquired at salvation. At other times, it is a gradual victory. In still other cases, it comes as the result of a later spiritual crisis where the believer is convicted concerning his sin and finally gives it up to the Lord entirely.
However, in your case, I think we can count out certain categories for how you will conquer smoking. First, we know you did not get the victory at salvation. Second, I doubt that you can get the victory gradually. Addictive sins usually have to be conquered all at once. Also, I would not look on this sin as a besetting sin. Besetting sins are usually the more subtle sins of the heart like bitterness or lust. Smoking is an outward sin that is obvious to all. In short, it hurts your immediate testimony for the Lord. God will not leave it in your life as a besetting sin. He wants you to have total victory.
Clearly, you need to come to a spiritual crisis by which you once and for all give up smoking. Please understand, I am not saying that this is going to be easy. Neither is this crisis something that you can create on demand. All I can do is give you some advice on how to seek after this crisis and prepare you to get the complete victory.
- Go to the Lord in a most serious manner and tell Him that you want Him to do whatever it takes to remove this sin from you. Pray this prayer in faith and expect that somehow in the future God will grant this request. This is a very serious and solemn matter. Do not take it lightly. I suggest that you take a pack of cigarettes and lay them before the Lord. Tell Him that you want Him to have the victory in this sin. Mean it. Then destroy that pack of cigarettes.
- From then on, every time you smoke a cigarette, confess it as a sin to God. I mean every cigarette you smoke. Not once a week or once a day. Confess every one as a sin. Admit with each cigarette that you are disobeying the will of God for your life. Call it a sin to the Lord and plead for His forgiveness.
- Make it a regular prayer that God would remove this sinful habit from you. Tell Him how much you look forward to the day when He gives you freedom from this bondage. Tell Him the reasons why you want this victory. Keep praying even when you do not see any results.
Now, one of two things will happen. Either you will stop confessing each cigarette as a sin and stop praying for victory, or else God will at some point (when He sees you are ready) give you complete victory over the habit. I pray you will hold out until the victory comes.