Most people are aware of 12-step programs. (If not, see Wikipedia: Twelve-step program). The first one was, of course, established by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). These alcoholics and their program went from anonymity to notoriety with the 1939 publication of their seminal book Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered from Alcoholism.
Twelve-step programs have been used to deal with a variety of destructive behaviors: drug addiction, overeating, gambling, and much more. (For more examples, see Wikipedia: List of Twelve-step groups.) Of course, the biblical word for such destructive behaviors is “sin.”
I have taken the original twelve steps as formulated by Bill Wilson and Bob Smith for AA and modified them to focus on the Lord Jesus Christ – who saves us from our sins. Histories of AA reveal that awareness of Christ and the Bible were significant in the formulation of the twelve steps but I am not going to address that here. I simply want to present the twelve steps re-focused on Christ for those who find twelve-step thinking beneficial.
I have changed AA’s original wording as little as possible. My purpose was to get a clarity of focus on Jesus as the higher power, broaden the problem to be solved from alcohol to all sin, and remove the intermediary of a group. Regarding the last point, AA has a “church-like” approach which seeks to employ positive peer pressure and other group dynamics This is of some value in dealing with destructive behaviors, but faith in Christ Himself is far more powerful because it addresses destructive thoughts (which are, of course, the root of destructive behaviors).
Specific changes made:
- For first-person plural terms (e.g. “we” and “our”), substitute first-person singular terms (e.g. “I” and “my”). I also removed the reference to group dynamics in step 5.
- For “alchohol,” substitute “sin.”
- For terms relating to God (e.g. “Power greater than ourselves” and “God as we understood Him”) substitute “the Lord Jesus Christ.”
- Other than these, all words are as originally published by AA.
The Twelve Steps with the Lord Jesus Christ
- I admitted I was powerless over sin – that my life had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that the Lord Jesus Christ could restore me to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself.
- Admitted to the Lord Jesus Christ and to myself the exact nature of my wrongs.
- Was entirely ready to have the Lord Jesus Christ remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove my shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons I had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory, and when I was wrong, promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with the Lord Jesus Christ, praying only for knowledge of His will for me and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, I tried to carry this message to other sinners, and to practice these principles in all my affairs.
If you have previously practiced a twelve-step program successfully, just follow the same regimen with steps as modified as above. With Christ, prayer to Him takes the place of group meetings. That is, at the points you would go to meetings, go to praying. Of course, you will find prayer even more accessible and convenient than group meetings – no matter how accessible and convenient those meetings might have been. The only difference – and it’s not an insignificant one – is that it takes faith in Christ to go to Christ.