There is a deep empty hole in the heart of the soul that must be filled. How we fill that hole, or comfort ourselves with that empty space, will determine what sin we become addicted to. Without a godly direction and comfort in our life, the heart will begin to fill itself more all the time with sin. And as it does, it will become more addicted to that sin.
The purpose of this step series is to enable individuals to fully recover from sin and addictions. First it is designed to be a process for introducing and establishing the individual in an abundant life, because of a reconciled relationship with God and others. Secondly it is also a training workbook for Gospel workers: so they can understand how to work with the same individuals, to help them fully recover and establish themselves in a new life in Christ Jesus.
So throughout this process, you will see that it is addressed to two audiences at the same time. Those who need help over addictions, and those that are trying to help them. And there is an important reason for this. Because people who need help over addictions need to completely trust those that are working with them. And so if you are using this process to help them, these people also want transparency and understanding as to what they are being asked to do, and why. There can be no hidden agendas in helping people!
A Complete Gospel Work Must Include Individualized Work
Jesus had a very heavy burden concerning the need for individualized gospel work. And this burden came to Jesus as he visited and taught in the synagogue services, (which are also the model for much of what is done in church services today.)
“And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” ~ Matthew 9:35-36
In every synagogue they had:
- Teachers who would teach and exhort the people from the scriptures.
- Song leaders who would lead the singing.
- Prayer leaders who would lead the praying
These are the principal things done also today in church and fellowship meetings.
Jesus was not against these gatherings. He personally was faithful to partake with these “church like” gatherings. But what Jesus was expressing was that it was not individualized enough. That is why he said the people are like “sheep having no shepherd.” He was alluding to the individual work that a shepherd does, with each sheep in his flock.
Jesus is the example of a good shepherd. And this is how he described a good shepherd.
“But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.” ~ John 10:2-3
The Good Shepherd knows his sheep individually and personally: by name. They are not just a flock of people taught and led as a group. And as the flock grows bigger and bigger, it takes more individuals with the heart of a shepherd to help nurture and mentor them. Jesus also called these types of shepherds “laborers”. There was not enough of those type of laborers then (and there especially still is not today.) And so in the same scripture account, he requested for us to pray for more of these laborers to be sent into the field of labor.
“Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” ~ Matthew 9:37-38
So in the next chapter of the Gospel of John (which is a continuation of the same thought from chapter 9), Jesus sends his apostles to labor among the Jews. He specifically tells them at that time not to go to the gentiles. But he does not tell them to go to the synagogues, even though the Jews had a synagogue in almost every village and town. He specifically tells them to go into the homes that would receive them, to speak to them individually.
So what does Jesus mean when he says he knows them “by name?” It means that he knows who they really are.
Most people are not aware of who they really are. We think because of our upbringing, that is who we are. Or because of what we have accomplished in school, work, etc. That is who we are. Or because of my status in life, that is who I am. But that actually is not who you are. Because when you die, none of those things will go with you, and none of those things will matter.
You are a soul. And who you are in your soul is defined by your relationship with God. And your relationship with God is defined by what you did the last time his Spirit spoke to your soul need. God’s Spirit speaks to every heart and soul. He does not have to have a preacher or a Bible to get that work done.
In Genesis 6:3 God said: “…My spirit shall not always strive with man…”
Titus 2:11-12: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;”
God speaks in his own way to the heart of everyone. Long before the individual hears the Gospel from a preacher or a teacher, there is a message that has already been delivered to their soul. And who they are, is what they did with what God spoke to their heart about.
And so here is a bit of wisdom for the gospel worker that is humble enough to receive it. What you have to say, is not as important as what God has already said to the heart of the individual. As a matter of fact, what you have to say may be completely irrelevant, if it doesn’t agree with the way the Spirit of God is working with that individual. And to truly help people to overcome any addiction, we must find out where they stopped listening to the Spirit of God speaking to their heart. And we must help the individual go back to what God has clearly shown them, and restore that relationship with God so that they are now listening to him.
1 Corinthians 3:10 tells us: “For we are laborers together with God…” He is in the lead. We are to be following what he is doing. And so we must do more observing and inquiring, rather than talking. And if we could understand what God has already been doing, how much more successful would we be in the work!
So this 12-step lesson series has been developed to help gospel workers to be part of the answer to Jesus’s prayer request: “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.”
Part of our gospel calling is: we must go out and into the harvest, rather than expecting the harvest to come to our church building. Because many are too brokenhearted and untrusting of religion to step into our building.
We Need Healing in Our Relationships
It is sin (someone else’s, or ours) that ultimately first creates a void in the heart of the individual. The void is there because of broken relationships. And our own sin will definitely create a broken relationship with God.
Once sin becomes part of your life, you cannot stop. And as time goes on, it takes even more sin, to be able to find the same temporary “high” that the first sin created. And so we become more addicted to sin the further in life we continue in it. And sin does not care whether you go to church or not. All it cares about, is that you stay addicted to sin.
Jesus came so that relationships can be healed. He also sent the comforter of the Holy Spirit, so that every pain that sinful mankind could bring against us, could still be comforted in this life.
“If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” ~ John 14:15-18
Important: we cannot receive the Comforter, if we don’t come to know God. And we can only come to know and understand God, through Jesus Christ.
And because people don’t know the Comforter (the true Holy Spirit), they become addicted to sin in some way. And that also often leads to drugs, alcohol, or something else. And this usually happens because they are trying to sooth the empty hole of a painful void within. A pain in their heart that usually has happened due to some broken relationship in their past. Perhaps a parent or relative that betrayed their needs. Or a relationship in a marriage that became unfaithful. Or a relationship with a child that failed due to some circumstance or misunderstanding. Or that they lost a loved one. These are the things that often create much pain in our heart.
And so people often seek relief from that pain, through the wrong things, because they lack a close relationship with the Comforter.
Consequently everyone eventually becomes addicted to some kind of sin, or multiple types of sin. It could include an addiction to a substance, such as alcohol or drugs. But some people have other kinds of addictions. Some are addicted to fleshly things that promise them a thrill, but then soon disappoint them. Things like: gambling or pornography and sex outside of a devoted marriage relationship. Or even being addicted to an idol of some kind, such as following a popular personality, or hungering to become rich.
And yet others will soothe themselves in some socially acceptable activity, but to an extreme and unbalanced way. An imbalance is not necessarily sinful. Even a Christian could have unbalanced behaviors that they take on, that are not healthy both physically and spiritually. Some will over eat certain foods for comfort. Others will over drink tea, coffee, or “energy drinks” to the detriment of their own health. Some will over engage in exercise to an extreme level, or over engage in athletics with an extreme need to compete and win. And yet others will deny themselves basic things to an extreme way: either to draw attention, or to punish themselves; as even physical discomfort and pain can soothe their conscience because of some past thing that has happened in their life that they are ashamed of.
All of these conditions ultimately need the true comfort of God’s Holy Spirit to bring back a healthy balance and control into their lives.
But the reality is that they have been deceived by these things, because these things seem to give a measure of relief or excitement for a while. But then soon after, the emotional pain remains. And now they have to seek after their addiction in a greater way, to get the same kind of temporary relief they got before. And as this dependency becomes greater, the downward cycle continues, and it begins to destroy their way of living. Including the remaining relationships that they have with others.
“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” ~ Proverbs 20:1
This scripture shows us that it is not wise to be deceived by these things. But in seeking relief from the painful void within, many people become entrapped by something else. And sometimes: someone else. Someone who is “pushing” the addictive behavior upon them, so that they can control them.
Of course most of society does not like it when people are addicted to something. Especially an addiction to alcohol or drugs. They see the addiction destroying that person’s life and family. And they often see these addictions lead to other bad things such as lying and stealing. Or even people sexually selling themselves, so that they might get money to buy more of what they are addicted to.
“It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.” ~ Proverbs 31:4-5
People who have a sin addiction, seem to lose their sense of conscience and concern for anyone else, but themselves.
But very few people understand why an addict has become addicted.
“Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.” ~ Proverbs 31:6-7
This scripture above describes exactly why people become addicted. It is because they have a sense of “perishing” in their life due to some situation affecting their life. Or they have a very heavy heart because of emotional injuries, that have never been processed and healed. The addiction becomes their “quick release” from the ugly memory or the emotional pain, or both.
Some people suffer a traumatic physical injury or disease that causes them much pain. And in seeking relief from that pain, sometimes they get addicted to painkiller medicine.
Others may suffer a traumatic event in their life, that is emotionally painful from a fear perspective, creating in them what is commonly known as PTSD. And without the Comforter, they also can potentially take an addictive path.
But as stated before, what they are addicted to, deceives them. Even to the degree that others begin to sense that the addiction is destroying them.
“Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.” ~ Proverbs 23:29-35
As shown in the scripture above, while they are “drunk” they feel no pain. But as they withdraw from the alcohol and become sober, the pain returns. And so they seek to be drunk again. And as they realize the bondage of their own addiction, they begin to give up hope, because they have no way to stop it.
In most every case, before an addict will seriously seek to get free from their addiction (whatever it is), the shame of their addiction must become greater than the discomfort of withdrawal and soberness. It is when the situation of their addiction has completely humbled them.
It is interesting, because at the core of most of the programs to help people break an addiction, is a principle that was first put forth by the gospel.
“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” ~ James 5:16
This scripture states: if you want help with a fault or need, acknowledge your need. That way there can be agreement in prayer — so you can be healed
You cannot cover your addiction and expect to get healed. You must admit to yourself and to others that you have an addiction, and that you need help.
I have known of people who have gotten saved. And when God saved them, he also immediately delivered them from their addiction. And they never went back to it. And God is certainly able to do that for someone that is ready. But understand that the reason why that was able to happen, is because they have already counted the cost of what it would take to quit their addiction, and they were completely willing to bear that cross.
“And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” ~ Luke 14:27
But most addicts have not counted the cost yet. They first need someone to help them to go through that process.
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.” ~ Luke 14:28-30
Because most addicts have not completely accepted and assessed their own reasons for becoming an addict, they also do not know how to count the cost of what it will take to suffer through the withdrawals from their addiction. And they are not ready to make a complete commitment to living sober. So how could they take up the cross yet?
The Step Process
And so it often helps to work with them through a series of steps that are based on gospel principles.
These steps help them to take hold of faith in God and gradually understand their own need, and to take hold of their full responsibilities. They then can have faith to believe that God can comfort them, and help them to overcome their own addiction.
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” ~ Titus 2:11-12
But they must be ready and willing to work through this process: to learn. That means they must have come to the realization that they have no other hope. And that they must address their own sin addiction. Otherwise working with them through any process or study of the scriptures, will not solve the problem. Because they don’t want it yet. They still want to try to find their relief the easier way: through their addiction, or through their distracting activity (addiction).
A process is a series of steps, that if we follow the steps, we will be better able to understand and have our spiritual needs met. The Bible is full of process-step lessons.
Example: The Old Testament worship associated with the tabernacle and the law of Moses, was a process of steps given by God to be carefully followed. First they personally needed to fetch an innocent lamb, and carry it alive to the Tabernacle. There they were to first enter into the court of conviction, a place with the world “shut out” by the wall that was around the tabernacle. Their full attention was to be upon God. And then they were to wash themselves (like the washing of the water by the word) in a mirror like basin where they could see themselves as they really are.
Next the sacrifice for sin needed to be made on the altar of sacrifice. They would place their hands on the lamb as it was being sacrificed. And as the life flowed out of that lamb, they felt the personal responsibility for the Lamb’s death, because it was their sins that made it necessary. And so this process produced a deep understanding of the seriousness of their sin.
And then after this they were able to enter into the presence of Almighty God within the tabernacle. And in fully following this process, in the prescribed order, God would help them with their spiritual needs.
Jesus himself taught us lessons that show us a process of steps that we should pay attention to, and follow, to get our spiritual needs met. One important example is the story Jesus told of the prodigal son.
First the son left a home in which he had a loving father that gave him good direction for his life. Whenever we forsake a loving home; or whenever we leave a true and faithful congregation: the pathway is always downhill. And for the prodigal son, that is where his life went. As this young person ran with other young people in the thrill of sin, he became addicted to those sins. And soon those sinful addictions even ruined his relationships with those people. Quickly he found himself working as a slave for somebody who did not care for him. And in this place, he began to count the cost of what it would take to return to the Father’s house. And so finally he began to set out on that journey back home.
Additionally, beyond all the step lessons given by Jesus, let’s consider this multi-step process that the apostle Peter taught. In Peter’s lesson, you are not able to proceed to the next step, unless you have completed the prior step.
“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall” ~ 2 Peter 1:5-10
The purpose of a step program/process is to give direction to those that are addicted, and to also help those who are working with them, to know how to help them. To help them to know how to have faith, and to think differently. And how to make new decisions, and to establish new ways of living that will keep them from falling back into the old sin addictions again. And ultimately, how to make a full commitment in a relationship with God, through Jesus Christ.
A Christian Based 12 Step Program to Deliver from Addictions – Summarized:
- Honesty – admitting that I have a serious need
- Faith & Hope – realizing we need a Savior, and building faith in him
- Trust-Love Dedication – turning our lives over to a loving God, for his direction
- Courage – taking a complete moral inventory of what and who has affected us
- Integrity – admitting to ourselves, God, and someone else, the underlying nature of our wrongs.
- Complete Willingness – we identify our defects, and are ready to let God remove our defects
- Humility & Prayer – asking God to forgive us, and deliver us
- Accountability – making a list of those whom we have harmed
- Forgiveness & Restitution – making amends whenever possible
- Accepting Responsibility – continuing to take greater responsibility for ourselves and our relationships
- Knowledge & Consecration – our continued growing devotional life with God
- Service & Gratitude – we are now ready to carry this message of hope to others