Working the 12 Steps of Recovery helps us discover the path that will change our life, enrich our recovery, and bring us closer to the heart of God. The principles supporting the 12 Steps are biblical; and there is no better way to recover from past hurts, addictions and dependency than to work the steps!
In 1 Timothy 1:15, Paul makes his confession as the result of completing the work of the 4th step: ‘Made a searching a fearless moral inventory of ourselves.’ In verses 8-11, Paul outlines the basis for a searching moral inventory – the 10 Commandments. He then confesses, ‘I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man.’ In verse 15, Paul explains why he can complete his moral inventory without fear: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst.’
In Luke 15:11-32, the prodigal son experiences the admission expressed in the 1st step – ‘We admitted that we were powerless over our problems and that our lives had become unmanageable‘ – when he comes to his senses and says, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!‘
The 5th step – ‘We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs‘ – is completely in keeping with James’ instruction in his letter to the early Christian church (James 5:16): ‘Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.’
The 12 Steps help us face our sin and apply the remedy of the Gospel.
Working the steps requires following a process that moves us from a life of isolation to one of healthy relationships with others. In working the first 3 Steps, we come to recognize the futility of our efforts to overcome our addiction through our own efforts; and we acknowledge our total dependence upon the Lord for help.
In Steps 4 through 6, we face the reality of our own brokenness due to sin and declare our readiness to have God transform us through the Gospel.
In Steps 7, 8, and 9, we work to repair relationships that have been broken as a result of our addiction.
And in the final 3 Steps, we advance the work we’ve done in the first 9 Steps by growing in our knowledge of God and sharing what we’ve experienced with other addicts.
Anyone who hopes to end addiction must work the steps personally but cannot work the steps without help from others. Recovery groups urge members to find a sponsor or mentor who has already worked the steps, or a partner who can work them at the same time to help provide accountability. Demonstrating a willingness to be in relationship through the steps is one of the most important foundations for completing the work because we are choosing to end our hiding and isolation. But we must begin by deepening our relationship with God. If we don’t really trust Jesus, we won’t be able to trust His people. In our recovery group meetings, we invite other members to walk with us through the valley of the shadow of death. Knowing the God who has walked that valley first is essential.
Following the well-trodden path outlined by the 12 Steps helps us escape the pattern of self-defeating behavior that has dominated our life and prevented us from experiencing wholeness through faith in Christ.