The Twelve Steps

The Twelve Steps

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23

During my first attempt at recovery, I encountered several well-meaning Christians who informed me that I didn’t need AA or treatment. All you need is the church and Jesus. I certainly didn’t want to argue that I needed more than God. I could be delivered, they said, if I just had faith. I wanted this to be true because I didn’t want to accept that I had a persistent life problem. I just wanted my addiction gone.

So, I read a Christian book on deliverance, accepting that I was free . . . and I relapsed again and again, going to outpatient treatment twice and finally, in an epic disaster, lost my job, nearly lost my family, and went to inpatient chemical dependency treatment.

It was in this misery, that I finally accepted what I had suspected to be true all along. I have a life problem: It is my nature to follow my destructive appetites, and unless I daily deny myself to follow Christ, I will fail again and again. I discovered that the church was focused on the following Christ part, but they just didn’t have much to offer in knowing how to deny my old flesh nature.

Christ taught that if part of me is causing me to sin, I must take radical steps to cut it out of my life (Matthew 5:29-30). He insisted I deny myself daily (Luke 9:23). Peter taught that my flesh is at war with my spirit (1 Peter 2:11). Paul commanded that I put off the old (Ephesians 4:22) and put to death the flesh nature (Colossians 3:5). They all insisted that I have a profound responsibility to abandon the old as I follow the new. The church though, was woefully inadequate at knowing how to kill the old life.

In a Christian treatment program, I finally accepted the AA principle that those who could help me were not necessarily inside my local church. Those in church weren’t addicts and thus, had little experience in dealing with it. Still, I was leery. Wasn’t AA a godless institution, following some generic higher power?

I was pleased to discover then, that the twelve steps were profoundly Biblical principles. I won’t go into the history – you can look it up if you want – but the twelve steps have deep Christian roots, taken straight from the Bible. We cannot do this on our own. We need God. We must surrender our lives to him.

In following the principles that other addicts have used to find recovery, faith, and God, I too found those things. So, now, I feel some burden to share this truth: God can and does use other addicts, those outside my church’s walls, AA, and the twelve steps, to help his children find life and recovery.

Recovery (and faith) is not only for only those afflicted with an appetite for alcohol or drugs. Everyone has something with which they struggle. We can be addicted to money, work, affirmation, pornography, anger, resentment, gossip, shopping, pride, or status. The daily denial of self to follow Christ, is not just for the drug addict. This is for anyone who desires to be a disciple.

The twelve steps are not the gospel. They are not the only way to deny self and follow God. They are though, a useful tool, written by those who have struggled and gone before us, finding life in faith and recovery. So, here, for the next twelve days of the blog, I’ll go through the steps, considering the Biblical passages behind each one. If you struggle with any habitual self-destructive thoughts or behaviors, this is for you.


Author’s Note: Having just finished the Old Testament, I plan to restart the New Testament, but first, I’m going to spend a couple weeks on the twelve steps of AA. Just give it a chance.



No Responses

  1. Sara Buboltz says:

    I believe this series is in God’s perfect timing. Thank you!

  2. Sam Greene says:

    Looking forward to the Biblical twelve steps.

  3. Teresa says:

    Amen, Scott!! Thank you! have always wanted to know what the 12 steps are and I need to know so to learn how to put off the old self.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

fourteen − twelve =