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12 Steps and the Bible

Many people who recover using the 12 Steps of Recovery
are unaware that they are founded upon Biblical Principles

When the co-founders and pioneers of what eventually became known as Alcoholic Anonymous first began, it was part of a home-based Christian group, known as the Oxford group. Prior to breaking off from the group and becoming what we now know as A.A., the co-founders and pioneers got sober by trusting in Christ and applying Biblical principles to their life.

Initially there were six basic principles that evolved into the Twelve Steps of Recovery after the "Alcoholic Squad" of the Oxford group became independent. These principles are outlined in one of the Personal Stories that is still included in the 'Big Book', Alcoholics Anonymous. In the story entitled, "He Sold Himself Short", the author notes the Six-Step program as it was at that time. The six steps were:

1. Complete deflation.
2. Dependence and guidance from a Higher Power.
3. Moral inventory.
4. Confession.
5. Restitution.
6. Continued work with other alcoholics.

Even throughout the 'basic text' of AA's Big Book, are subtle references to text from the New Testament of the Bible. One such example can be found in the first chapter, "Bill's Story", on page 14...
"Simple, but not easy; a price had to be paid. It meant destruction of self-centeredness. I must turn in all things to the Father of Light who presides over us all."
Of course, the "Father of Light" reference comes from James 1:17...
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."
James 1:17 (KJV)

In another article I will expound further on the Biblical Principles of Recovery, but for now, let's take a look at the original Twelve Steps of Recovery and Their Biblical Comparisons.

1) We admitted we were powerless over alcohol-that our lives had become unmanageable.
I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. (Romans 7.18)
2) We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
For it is God who works in you to will and act accordingly to His good purpose. (Philippians 2.13)
3) Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12.1)
4) We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord. (Lamentations 3.40)
5) We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. (James 5.16)
6) We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4.10)
7) We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1.9)
8) We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. (Luke 6.31)
9) We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First, go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5.23-24)
10) We continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! (1 Corinthians 10.12)
11) Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. (Colossians 3.16)
12) Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you may also be tempted. (Galatians 6.1)

These steps have been adapted (and slightly altered) by various recovery groups; which gives great testimony as to their effectiveness and the Biblical principles upon which they are based. If you feel you have an issue that you cannot seem to solve on your own - or without spiritual help - then I encourage you to find a group that still adheres to the BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES of these steps. Then along with the co-founders and pioneers of AA, you can joyfully declare, "God has done for me what I could not do for myself!"


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