The 12 Steps From A Biblical Perspective Series: Steps 4 & 5: Get Ready for Change


by Robert T. Tucker, PhD

Need to search your heart? Are you getting ready to do a “searching and fearless moral inventory?” Who is capable of helping you look deep within your inner most self? Who knows your heart better than you? If you want to know what’s going on inside you, why not ask your Maker? God knows your strengths, your weaknesses, and every detail about you. He even knows the exact number of hairs on our head. When it comes to your heart and mind, God is the only One capable of revealing the problems, and presenting the solutions. Without Him, there is no recovery. As a matter of Biblical fact, Jesus is the solution to all our problems. Psychology can, at times, analyze problems, but it can’t fix (heal) them. Only God has the power to heal. 

Before we begin to understand the purpose of Steps 4 and 5, let’s review the first 3 steps:

Step 1 was the realization that we were defeated and powerless over drugs and alcohol. It is a step of “coming out of denial.
Step 2 is the step of hope. Seeing we have a problem means nothing if we don’t believe we can find a solution to our problem.
Step 3 is a surrender of our will to God’s through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Once we’ve received Jesus Christ, we have all the tools necessary to continue through the process of biblical change. We are going to learn that steps 4 and 5 are critical in the “cleaning up” process of our life. This deals with our habitual sins and patterns, AND the deeper issues that drive these behaviors. We need to understand:
  • The exact nature of the things we’ve done wrong to self, to God and to others
  • The reasons why we do what we do (cause and effect)
A person can become a Christian, and even become sober, but if he or she never faces his or her issues, he or she will still experience internal conflict at a variety of levels. Anyone who has been a Christian for a longer period of time understands that simply accepting Jesus doesn’t instantly bring us the changes we desire. It is a process of change that happens over time through spiritual maturity. These steps are merely a “road map.” When empowered by the Holy Spirit, these steps guide us through the process of biblical transformation.
The Requirements
What is required in this process? There are simple ingredients: honesty, willingness and openness. On page 58 in the Big Book, it is written, “Rarely have we seen someone fail who has thoroughly followed these steps.  Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women that are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.  It is clearly written that; if we follow the suggestions of those that have successfully pioneered before us, we will recover.  
The Purpose of Step 4 and Step 5.
Step 4 is the reality check step. It is only when we have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior that we have power to perform this step. Prior to that, we were blinded by our sinful desires and lusts. Without a surrender to our Lord, we were without power. Now, we are capable of seeing the reality of our behaviors as well as others, and we are able to do something about them. As we look at this step, we must remember some important truths.
  • God loves the sinner, not the sin. He will never look at sinful behavior and approve of it. The behavior is just plain unacceptable in His eyes. He paid a hefty price for the forgiveness of it, and His position on this will never change.
  • God wants to forgive us. The purpose of exposing bad behaviors is to seek His forgiveness, not to experience shame. God desires that we repent so that He can wash us clean. We are sin stained rags, cleansed by His blood and presented to God as white as snow.
  • God wants to show us the roots behind our sin. We are actually living in the effects of another’s behaviors. God knows the summation of our life experiences and desires to clean us up and set us free at root levels.
  • God loves us unconditionally. There is nothing we can do past or present that will change His love for us.
  • God is asking us to face this step with Him, hand-in-hand, in order to experience a deeper level of His freedom. Choosing to do so allows us to become the person He created us to be as He proceeds to remove the various layers of dysfunction in our life.

Step 4: “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”

Why an Inventory?
As simplistic as it may sound, no one seeks solution for a problem they don’t believe exists. Step 4 and 5 are all about seeing things as they really are, not how we pretend them to be, and then properly dealing with them. Both steps require honesty and humility. Different sponsors utilize different approaches when it comes to the steps. In any case, the key ingredient necessary in experiencing a full healing is forgiveness. 
Doing a “searching and fearless moral inventory” requires a fear remover. There is only One! The Bible tells us that God is love and that “perfect love casts out ALL fear“. So literally, a Fear-less search is a God-full search. The objective of these steps cannot be properly accomplished without Him.  He not only helps with the search, but exposes, discloses, disposes and heals the wounds these behaviors have caused. 
Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
In step five, three very important things take place. 
  • We admit (confess) to God – to receive His forgiveness. (1 John 1:9) “But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”
  • We admit (confess) to our self, coming out of denial – and acknowledging the facts.
  • We admit (confess) to another person for healing (James 5:16) “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed”   
In order to guide and direct you in this process, we suggest that you take the following steps:
1.       Find a sponsor or spiritual mentor, a brother or sister who is spiritually mature and godly – not one just “sitting “in a 12 step meeting. A good candidate would be one truly exhibiting the characteristics of Jesus. Remember, a wrong choice may be costly  A sponsor/mentor should never try to replace the influence of the Spirit of God.
2.       Properly work through the first three steps, accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Then, and only then are you equipped to proceed to step four. 
3.       Begin by writing your life story from childhood to current. Focus on the things that have hurt you or traumatized you; abandonment, disappointments, heartaches, unmet expectations, fears and any form of abuse. Include decisions you made that were wrong, and specific ways you felt you were violated.
4.       Based on your story, focus in on specific people and situations that are painful. Write detailed lists expressing your thoughts, feelings and actions in those situations. For example, if a parent was verbally abusive, explain how you dealt with it. What were you thinking and feeling in that situation? How did you respond?
5.       Write a list of the ways you have caused harm or injury to others. Include sexual sins if applicable. If it’s helpful, keep scripture close by that reminds you of God’s faithfulness. The enemy is prone to attack as you face self. God wants us to face these things so He can offer His forgiveness.
6.       Write a list of how you have hurt yourself through your actions. Include sexual sins if applicable (sexual sins hurt us the most because they are sins against our body).
7.       Write a list of the people who have hurt you in ways you don’t feel you deserve. As you begin to feel sad or overcome by anger, review your list of the things you have done wrong.
8.       Realize that you can only be set free from sin through the blood of Jesus. You alone are powerless to stop sinning.
9.       Realize that the people who have sinned against you have the same condition as you. While you don’t need to forgive their behaviors (especially since you can’t anyway – only God can forgive sin), in the name of Jesus, choose to forgive the people.
10.   Prepare to share your list with God and your sponsor/mentor. You do not need to share it with another person in order for God to forgive you, but the Bible tells us that He heals us when we share our sin with others. (James 5:16)
11.   Read the Word of God continually throughout the process. Spiritual maturity is a requirement in order to keep the freedom God so generously bestowed upon us. As we do our part, He is faithful and just to do His.     
Full deliverance may not be immediate, but progressive as we begin to understand more about the sinful nature of our “flesh.” and as we continue to look into the various areas of our life that have been affected by demonic influence.  We can put a label on them, such as; “character defects,” or “short-comings,” but the bottom line is that they all stem from sin, and need to be addressed as sin in order for them to be properly dealt with.  All those unhealthy spiritual connections need to be addressed, confessed, and renounced, leading to new levels of freedom.
Remember, you can’t do this alone. You need your Creator to do this for you. He knows where you have been, and even more important, has a purpose and plan for your life. Give yourself to Him, allow Him to perform this process in your life and prepare for the transformation that will usher you into God’s peace, fulfillment and purpose.  

Dr. Robert Tucker is the Director of New Life Spirit Recovery. He also trains and equips men and women to become certified drug and alcohol counselors for the state of California, utilizing biblical principles.



The 12 Steps from a Biblical Perspective Series: Steps 1-3 From Powerless to All Powerful


From Powerless to All-Power in Christ

by Dr. Robert T. Tucker

As we prepare to take a deeper look at the 12 steps, the most important thing to remember is that Jesus loves each of us regardless of where we came from or what we’ve done. He understands exactly what happened, where things went wrong and wants to help us become healthy, productive members of His body. He wants us to come to Him for help just as we are. When we submit to Him, He changes us little by little from the inside out, one day at a time. What we get out of recovery will directly reflect what we put into it. Yes, it does require effort on our part.

Remember, it is God’s desire that we spend eternity with Him. If you are reading this, you can be confidently assured that He is calling you (tugging at your heart) and wants you. Do you know that not everyone will make it to heaven? Do you realize that you have been given the opportunity of a lifetime? The Bible says that narrow is the road to heaven, and here we are traveling it. This is truly a gift. As people caught up in bondage to addictive behaviors, our only hope for freedom is in Jesus. We must grab on to Him for dear life, and never let go. If and when we ask for help, we can rest assured that He will be right there at our side ready and willing to help every step of the way. His transforming power will not only set us free and keep us free, but will also change us into exactly who He created us to be. It is impossible for us to change on our own and God knows this, but He can and will change us if we allow Him to have His way with us. Jesus makes it clear that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. “All things” include staying clean and sober.
Do you have intentional sinful behavior in your life? Things you are doing you know are wrong, yet choosing to do anyway while trying to convince your self and others that your behavior is “not that bad” and that God “understands”? Yes, God does understand and will forgive you if and when you confess and repent, but there are always consequences for unrighteous acts. The Bible says that sin leads to death and eventually it will, and the path it takes you down can be long and painful. 
Understanding Steps One, Two and Three
The purpose of this lesson is to introduce the first three steps of the 12-step program, giving you a comprehensive biblical perspective of just what these steps are about. In essence, steps one through three take us from a state of powerlessness, helplessness and hopelessness to a state of having all power, help and hope in Christ! The first 3 steps must be fully and successfully accomplished in order for the remaining steps to properly work.

Let’s take some time to review these steps:

Step One – “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.”

Step Two – “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

Step Three – “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”


When I teach Step One as the most significant step, I’m often questioned why. My answer is fairly simple; a life changing third step cannot possibly be achieved without a proper first step. I believe the first step is not a time we choose but rather a divine appointment, a place we arrive at in life. Right around this time, the addict begins to see what everyone else was seeing all along. It is what is known as coming out of denial. The second part of the first step “that our lives had become unmanageable” is the much needed evidence used to properly accomplish the step’s overall objective We admitted we were powerless over alcohol.” We must be able to see it and believe it before we can honestly do something about it. A person is unable to successfully move beyond this point until this first truth becomes part of his reality. No one seeks a solution for a problem they don’t believe exists and God is the only one able to open blind eyes and deaf ears. Furthermore, just as it is written, NO one knows the Father but the Son and those the Son chooses to reveal Him to. The whole recovery process hinges upon this and only begins in God’s perfect timing. 

A thorough Step One properly prepares for the placement of The Foundation needed for a successful program to be built upon. It removes self from the throne in preparation for the True Rock to be set in place. As one successfully transitions through the first three steps, what transpires is a sincere belief that;

(1) he cannot possibly experience victory on his own

  • Step One – “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.”
    • (2 Corinthians 1:9) We had great burdens there that were beyond our own strength. We even gave up hope of living. 9Truly, in our own hearts we believed we would die. But this happened so we would not trust in ourselves but in God, who raises people from the dead.”
    • (Proverbs 28:26) Trusting oneself is foolish, but those who walk in [God’s] wisdom are safe.


 (2) there is One that can and will help if He is asked

  • Step Two – “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”
    • (1 Cor. 1:24,25) – But Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God to those people God has called—Jews and Greeks. 25Even the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
    • (1 Timothy 2:5-6) – For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and people. He is the man Christ Jesus. 6He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message that God gave to the world at the proper time.
    • (Romans 12:2) – And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.


(3) victory is found only in God’s gift of salvation by receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior

  • Step Three – “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” 

o    (Acts 1:8) – But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

o    (Romans 8:13-14) – If you use your lives to do the wrong things your sinful selves want, you will die spiritually. But if you use the Spirit’s help to stop doing the wrong things you do with your body, you will have true life. 14The true children of God are those who let God’s Spirit lead them.

o    (Proverbs 3:5-6) – Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will direct your paths.

o    (Philippians 4:13) –  I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength.

A successful third step depends on the God-given free will choice that is made. Without Jesus one can at most remain abstinent. With Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, true recovery begins. It is His transformation process that becomes our progress towards His perfection. 
Many that were misinformed wonder why the program is not working for them. Accepting God’s gift of salvation is an important choice that He always welcomes with open arms. This is just the beginning of a new life. The first problem surfaces when His Lordship is conveniently left out. Confession, profession, salvation and forgiveness are appealing ideals that are usually grasped, but two other very important ingredients, repentance and His Lordship are often overlooked. It is not uncommon for someone to want to be saved and forgiven, but not be the slightest bit interested in giving up the control they think they have and/or unwilling to repent of their ways. We eventually learn that half measures avail us nothing.       
We have a God of reconciliation that created each one of us specifically for His pleasure. Yes, He loves us that much and only wants the best for His precious children. He paid a high price to bring us out of captivity, snatching us back from the prince of this world like a father retrieving his children from a kidnapper.   

Have you already surrendered your life to Jesus Christ? If you have not, there is not a better day then today to do that. Steps One through Three can happen right now, if you allow God access.

Receive Jesus into your heart – ask for the gift of salvation, and make Him the Lord of your life!

Dr. Robert Tucker is the Director of New Life Spirit Recovery. He also trains and equips men and women to become certified drug and alcohol counselors for the state of California, utilizing biblical principles.

Please look for our next publication as we begin to study steps 4, 5 &6.  


The 12 Steps from a Biblical Perspective Series: Intro to the 12 Steps


Reprogramming Our Minds, Transforming Our Lives

by Dr. Robert T. Tucker

Salvation is a free gift from God to us that is secure in Christ for eternity. However, experiencing freedom, peace, and joy in fullness while living in this sick and dying world requires some level of effort on our part. Accepting Christ as Lord and Savior alone will not keep you from drinking or using.  This is the beginning of the process.  Removing all forms of bondage, including addiction occurs as we surrender to God on a daily basis allowing Him to guide and direct our path.  He provided for us, His Spirit and a book of instruction, His living word  that offers all the answers to all the situations we face. He also gave us the necessary power (His power) in Christ to carry them out.
The twelve steps (from a Biblical perspective) offer a simplified biblical formula for life-long change. When properly applied, these steps give us the ability to move from mere abstinence towards genuine transformation and deliverance. When achieved, the very things we’ve been searching for all of our life will be found; true freedom, inner peace and joy.  The God hole we all have right out of the womb can now be properly filled with Him, by Him and for Him.

What are the 12 Steps and how do they fit with the Bible?

The 12 Steps, when properly understood, are a framework (a formula) that point to verses of scripture specifically chosen for the addicted one.  These biblical principles with Christ at the center have the ability to walk men and women out of bondage, clean them up, teach them how to live and equip them to effectively help others find freedom.  A physically sick person would go to a doctor and get a medicinal prescription, and if taken as directed, would hopefully recover.  The addicted one in most cases, has damage in all three areas (body, soul, and spirit) and is in need of healing in each area.  The twelve steps are a “spiritual prescription for scripture” simplified for the afflicted one. The problems buried deep within the soul and spirit are spiritual and thus require a spiritual solution.  The only One that can expose and dispose (surgically remove the damage) is the Spiritual Surgeon, Jesus.

Steps 1 through 3 have the ability to take a person from a state of selfish self-centeredness, powerless, helpless, and hopeless, to a Christ-centered life, hopeful and all-powerful in Christ Jesus.  At step three, the all-powerful Helper comes to live within.  “Made a decision” has a deeper meaning to it.  To

Steps 4 through 9 house cleaning steps, a time to utilize the Helper (the Holy Spirit living within) in the cleansing process of inner self.  First, immoral behavior (sin) is dealt with, then the sinful nature (the defective character living within) that leads us to sin, and finally we face those that we have harmed with our sinful destructive behaviors.  Admitting our wrongs, repenting of that behavior, forgiving one’s self, forgiving others, and receiving God’s forgiveness as well as the forgiveness of others is the key to freedom.  What a freeing experience it is to clean up the wreckage of our sinful destructive behaviors.

Step 10 is the maintenance step, teaching us to evaluate our daily behavior, while encouraging us to clean up potential problems before they become problems.  Diligently revisiting this step keeps us from building a new inventory of lingering unresolved immoral issues.

Step 11 encourages continual spiritual growth, continuously improving our personal relationship with God.  It is His desire to have an ongoing personal relationship with each of us, and healthy relationships require good communication.  We communicate with Him through prayer and meditation.  In prayer, we speak to Him, and through meditation, He speaks to us.  Some of our biggest lessons come directly from Him through prayer and meditation.

Step 12 is about trying to help those still suffering in bondage to their addiction.  We become living, breathing testimonies of God’s transforming power.  Carrying the message of freedom, Biblically speaking, is known as the great commission.  Those that have experienced this new found freedom can’t help but want to share it with others.

Why are these Steps so important? The renewing of the mind requires a RE-PROGRAMMING.  We must begin to take a serious look at the quality of data we allow to flow into our minds. There is a strong possibility that what we allow in will eventually become a part of who we are. If we feed poison into our physical body, eventually we will get sick, and with larger amounts, we may die. The same goes for the soul and spirit. Men and women can easily find themselves spiritually or emotionally sick from the poison they allow to enter their mind. When we became Christians, our sins were washed away, but our predisposition to think and behave in certain ways (developed as we adjusted to life over the years) remains programmed in our mind. In fact, you can become a born-again believer and continue to live on the basis of the lifestyle you developed while living independently of God. That is why Paul insists that we be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). The twelve steps are a road-map of this process.

How does change occur?

The transformation process is something God does for us (in us) as we spend time with Him. We will eventually begin to realize that spending time with Him is our part in the transformation process. Salvation is a free gift, but transformation on the other hand requires effort on our part. We grow at a speed we set by the amount of time and effort we put into it. As we spend time with Him, reading His Word and in fellowship with Him and His family of believers, He begins to change us (transform us) into His likeness. The 12 steps help keep us on this journey as we learn to face ourselves and God honestly, fully surrendering to Him allowing Him to deal with the sin issues in our life.  The more time we spend with Him along this journey, the more (spiritual and emotional) growth we will experience. Day by day, moment by moment, we become more like Jesus.

What it’s all about

We must always remember how precious we are to God. He loved us first before we even knew Him or knew of Him. While we were still sinning against Him, He came to save us from the punishment (sin’s condemnation) we so rightfully deserve. He came so that we might have fellowship with Him. His perfect plan, simply put, was to bring us back to Him, (reconciliation), giving us an opportunity to be with Him for eternity. He did this by sacrificing His only Son, Jesus Christ. Even though we are saved by grace, through faith from sin’s condemnation, we are told to live a certain way. We must live in obedience to God just as He has commanded us to.

Remember, as you embark on the twelve-step journey, the process is entirely rooted and grounded in your relationship with Jesus Christ. Yet it allows us an opportunity to apply biblical principles in fellowship with other people going through the same thing.  How about you? Has your 12-step journey begun? Try it and experience the many blessings God has for His obedient children!

12 Steps Process

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The 12 Steps, properly understood, actually point to verses of scripture specifically chosen and simplified for the addicted one. When properly applied, they have the ability to walk a man out of bondage, clean him up, teach him how to live, and equip him to effectively help others find freedom. A physically sick person would go to a doctor and get a medicinal prescription, and if taken as directed, would hopefully recover.

The addicted one however, has damage in all three areas (body, soul, and spirit) and is in need of healing in all three areas. The problems buried deep within the soul and spirit are spiritual and thus require a spiritual solution. The only One that can expose and dispose (surgically remove them) is the Spiritual Surgeon, Jesus. He discloses the truth, exposing the lies; disposes the root and then heals the wound. The twelve steps, “a spiritual prescription of scripture” are twelve verses of scripture simplified for the alcoholic and the addict to understand, accept, and utilize.

This process, Biblically speaking, is known as deliverance. This simple formula has the ability to deliver an abuser from a life of bondage and insanity, to a place of freedom, peace, and joy. We find in Jesus, what most have been searching for in a bottle, needle or pipe.

Steps 1 through 3 have the ability to take a person from a state of selfish self-centeredness, powerless, helpless, and hopeless, to a Christ-centered life, hopeful and all-powerful in Christ Jesus. At step three, the all-powerful Helper comes to live within. “Made a decision” has a deeper meaning to it. To decide actually means to kill off the other option or options. In the process of deliverance, this term is called renounce. When we decide to turn our will and life over to the care of God, we are actually renouncing the connections we have with the other gods we were worshiping such as alcohol, drugs, sex, money, etc. The Gate Keeper, our Lord Jesus Christ, is the only One with the power to get them out, can and will get them out and will keep them out but only if He is asked. He is the giver and respecter of free will, leaving it up to us to choose how we want to live. When a spirit is removed (in the power of Jesus), the only way that spirit can return is through a (conscious or unconscious) invite back. God has given man a free will and He will certainly respect and protect it.

Steps 4 through 9 are house cleaning steps, a time to utilize the Helper (the Holy Spirit living within) in the cleansing process of inner self. First, immoral behavior (sin) is dealt with, then the sinful nature (the defective character living within) that leads us to sin, and finally we face those that we have harmed with our sinful destructive behaviors. Admitting our wrongs, repenting of that behavior, forgiving one’s self, forgiving others, and receiving God’s forgiveness as well as the forgiveness of others is the key to freedom. What a freeing experience it is to clean up the wreckage of our sinful destructive behaviors. We confess our sins to God for forgiveness and a cleansing (1 John 1:9), and to each other for healing (James 5:16a).

Step 10 is the maintenance step, teaching us to evaluate our daily behavior, while encouraging us to clean up potential problems before they become problems. Diligently revisiting this step keeps us from building a new inventory of lingering unresolved immoral issues.

Step 11 encourages continual spiritual growth, continuously improving our personal relationship with God. It is His desire to have an ongoing personal relationship with each of us, and healthy relationships require good communication. We communicate with Him through prayer and meditation. In prayer, we speak to Him, and through meditation, He speaks to us. Some of our biggest lessons come directly from Him through prayer and meditation. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly (Col. 3:16).

Step 12 is all about trying to help those still suffering in bondage to their addiction. We become living, breathing testimonies of God’s transforming power. Carrying the message of freedom, Biblically speaking, is known as the great commission. Those that have experienced this new found freedom can’t help but want to share it with others.