The Twelve Steps for Christians

A friend sent me a message asking me about how the Twelve Steps of groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Overeaters Anonymous line up with Scripture and Christianity. 

I shared with her about the way the Twelve Steps are used in a specialized Study Bible called: The Life Recovery Bible. I’ve owned this study Bible for about a decade and refer to it often: professionally (as I work with others) and personally (as I continue to struggle often with my own addictive relationship to food).

The second resource I referred her to is a small book: The Twelve Steps for Christians. There are encouraging and inspirational meditations on each step. It also highlights Biblical passages that contain the principles embodied in the Twelve Steps. 

I highly encourage any Christian who struggles with any kind of brokenness (and we’re all broken aren’t we?) to delve into these resources and others like them.

1.        We admitted that we were powerless over our dependencies – that our life had become unmanageable.                           (Romans 7:18)  (Psalm 6:6-7)

2.       We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.                            (Philippians 2:13)  (Mark 9:23-24)

3.       We made a decision to turn our will and our life over to the care of God.                           (Romans 12:1)  (Galatians 2:20)

4.       We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.                           (Lamentations 3:40)  (Galatians 6:3-5)  (Psalm 139:23-24)

5.       We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.                          (James 5:16a)  (Psalm 32:3-5)  (Romans 14:12)  (Jeremiah 14:20)

6.       We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.                          (James 4:10)  (Psalm 37:4-7)  (Romans 12:2)

7.       We humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings.                          (1 John 1:9)  (Philippians 4:6)  (Psalm 51:10-12)  (James 4:6-8)

8.       We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.                                                                              (Luke 6:31)  (Luke 19:8)  (Matthew 7:3-4)

9.       We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.                           (Matthew 5:23-24)  (1 Peter 4:8-10)  (Romans 13:8)

10.   We continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.                        (1 Corinthians 10:12)  (Psalm 34:12)  (Ephesians 5:15-16)

11.   We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry it out.                       (Colossians 3:16a)  (Mark 11:24)  (Hosea 6:3)  (Matthew 7:7)

12.   Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.                       (Galatians 6:1)  (Philippians 4:8-9)  (Colossians 4:5-6)  (Ecclesiastes 4:9-11)

These Twelve Steps were adapted in the Life Recovery Bible (Tyndale: 1998) from the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

The Scripture passages cited for each of the Twelve Steps are from The Twelve Steps for Christians (revised). (RPI Publishing, San Diego, CA: 1994).


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