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  • Writer's pictureNathan Buckman

WHICH IS MORE IMPORTANT? GOD OR THE TWELVE STEPS?

My life was a series of broken cisterns that held no water, seemingly alluring and comforting to my sinful desires. I found myself trapped in a never-ending cycle of addiction, desperately seeking solace but left dissatisfied and entangled in sin, echoing the words of James 1:14-15, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death”.

It was during my journey through the Psalms that I realized the timeless connection between addiction recovery and the themes of sin, repentance, forgiveness, and a life of sanctification. Like David and the other Psalmists, I too cried out to God in my pain. Their experiences mirrored my own, and I began to compose my own prayers, pouring out my heart to God. With every prayer, I entrusted more of myself to Him, slowly beginning to see Christ's suffering on the cross from a multifaceted perspective. Through the eyes of faith, I beheld Christ daily, and the Holy Spirit convicted me of my sin. My repentance along with behavioral direction within the bounds of biblically based twelve step program was the synthesis I needed to begin my new life of freedom in Christ.

Through His Word, God has provided the resources we need to cultivate greater holiness amidst our intense suffering. More profoundly, we recognize that the Son of Man, who was sinless, learned obedience through His suffering, “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). The Man of Sorrows, who knew grief, is our God, Redeemer, and Lord, “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain”. (Isaiah 53:3). We understand that no depth of suffering or depravity of sin is beyond God's redemption, but it requires our humility and submission to His mighty hand for the salvation only He can provide, rather than relying only on an addiction twelve step program.

Scripture is fully sufficient for counseling, even in complex cases and should always be the apex of every counseling opportunity.

Many twelve step programs often see ongoing symptoms as forms of recovery insanity or merely continued unmanageability of one’s life. When an individual relies only on a program for their freedom from addiction they quickly find themselves under bondage to the law of the program. Galatians 2:16 emphasizes this,” Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified”. What does justified mean? An easy way to remember is this: Just-as-if-I’d never sinned; this is how the Lord sees those of us who have believed by faith in Jesus Christ. This biblical approach offers true, lasting, and eternal hope; it provides us freedom from the bondage of the law, even if it is a new law we have adopted in our recovery. Recognizing that each person is made in God's image, we can trust that Scripture along with solid fundamental recovery plans are sufficient for restoring individuals to the image of Christ. Our goal must be holiness, not mere wholeness. A deep understanding of suffering and sin, as revealed in Scripture, equips biblically based counselors to provide effective assistance. Let us not be captivated by human traditions and empty philosophies but seek the wisdom and revival found in the depths of Scripture, 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”, and Psalm 19:7,” The instructions of the LORD are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple”.

Whether you're just starting your journey of recovery or have been on this path for years, I want to emphasize the importance of seeking support from counselors, therapists, and coaches who integrate both clinical expertise and a strong foundation in biblical principles. It's crucial never to exclude God from your recovery process; in fact, He should be at the forefront of our hearts and minds as we navigate life and make choices that steer us away from a life of sin.

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