Summary: Recently I had a witnessing opportunity with an alcoholic who wanted nothing to do with Jesus but was devoted to the "god as we understand him" promoted in the 12 step program. This is a closer look at those steps and how they compare to Scripture.

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Recount the interaction between the alcoholic and me at the dinner we were catering with Barb in Collins Center.

He was drunk

He did not want to hear about Jesus

He kept referring to "god as I understand him"

12 Steps of AA (written in the past tense for some reason)

1) "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable."

2) "Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity."

3) "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him."

4) "Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves."

5) "Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."

6) "Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character."

7) "Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."

8) "Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all."

9) "Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others."

10) "Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it."

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."

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."

Try to put yourself into the mindset where you:

1) do not know about Jesus

2) you are of the opinion that all roads lead to God

3) you want “something spiritual” as long as Jesus is not involved

Those 12 steps would sound great, wouldn’t they?

But … they’re not.

The “power” of these concepts is not found in truth but in deception.

We are warned about this in

Colossians 2:8

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”

(Expand on each of the following a little if necessary)

The elemental spiritual forces of this world?

How are they involved in the 12 step process?

“god as we understand him?”

“Sought through prayer and meditation” without reference to the Bible?

“Having a spiritual awakening?

These all sound fine to the human mind apart from God.

But do they stand the test of Scriptures?

Let’s assume that we were going to rewrite the 12 step process in the Truth of Jesus and not just for alcoholics and drug addicts but for all who are in sinful rebellion against our Holy Savior.

All of the AA step are written in the past tense for some reason. As we look at them I have converted them to the present tense for the sake of consistency with the message of salvation and the breaking of the power of sin over our lives.


The first step of AA is:

1) "We admit we are powerless over alcohol and that our lives have become unmanageable."

The first step for all of us must be:

1) “We admit that we are sinners and are unable to free ourselves from the destructive power of sin in our lives.”

What Scriptures support the Christian version?

Romans 3:23 says,

“…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God …”

Romans 7:14-15 gives us a glimpse of the power that sin has over those who are not filled with the Spirit of God even when they try to live according to the law of Moses on their own power,

“We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

So for those enslaved to sin that first step, that realization of

1) “We admit that we are sinners and are unable to free ourselves from the destructive power of sin in our lives” is essential!


Step 2 in AA is:

2) "We must come to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity."

The Bible would say,

2) “We must come to believe that Jesus is the only hope for deliverance from slavery to sin.”

Romans 6:6 says,

“For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin”

Galatians 2:20 says,

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me gave Himself for me.”

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