2002-09-04 - Twelve Steps for Christian Living
Romans 7:18 (NLT) I know I am rotten through and through, so far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn, I can't make myself do right. I want to, but I can't.
Over the next few months, I want you to take a journey with me along a path of recovery. I am going to "borrow" liberally from the original Twelve Steps program that was designed in the 1930s by Bill Wilson for recovering alcoholics. I have tweaked the steps to help us become more Christlike. I am not an expert on these steps, but the more I learn about them, the more I find they can apply to all of us, as a tool for helping us understand ourselves and manage our lives through God's help. The Twelve Steps is a spiritual program, and I pray that through this series, we can develop a closer relationship to our God Who is greater than us and is still in control. Come now; let's go on this journey and see where God takes us.
Step 1 - We admitted we were powerless over our sinful nature -- that our lives had become unmanageable.
Galatians 5:19-21a (NLT) When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin.
We are all born with this sinful nature. The sin of Adam is imputed to all his descendants; therefore we are all in need of recovery. Without God managing our lives, we cannot experience life to the fullest. Step One is a very difficult step, because it is both counterintuitive and countercultural. Certainly our American way is that we can do life how we want to do life. We don't need help from anyone, and certainly not from an unseen God. Maybe you are like me and play the part of the "Lone Ranger," falsely believing that you control everything around you.
But on our own, we are powerless over our sinful nature, and we need a catalyst to help us overcome this built-in desire to sin. That change agent, of course, is Christ. As Paul writes in the passage above, when we follow our sinful nature, our lives become unmanageable. Perhaps you are addicted to your work, and your home life has become unmanageable. The Christian way of living seeks a life like Christ -- a life that is balanced and submitted to God's will.
Romans 3:10,23 (NLT) As the Scriptures say, "No one is good-not even one." For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard.
The Bible is very clear that none of us can do life on our own, and we certainly cannot live an eternity with God, without admitting to ourselves and to God that we need a Savior. Have you at least taken that first step? If not, I will be glad to help you. Apart from Christ our Savior, these 12 Steps are not powerful from a Christian perspective. We Christians need the power of God living inside of us, in order to overcome our sinful nature. When we accept Christ as our Savior, He takes residence in us through the Holy Sprit, to help us live manageable lives.
But most of you on this mailing list probably have already accepted Christ. Now is the time for us to reflect, to go countercultural and to realize that we are powerless over something or some things in our lives. And here is the important part: Our lives have become unmanageable.
Father, help us to admit our shortcomings. Get us out of this unmanageable life journey that we are on and onto the path of recovery from our sinful nature and our out-of-control living. Help us to do life right. In Christ's name, Amen.