(This document can be downloaded in its original form by clicking biblical guide for the first 3 steps.)
Guide for the biblical study of the first three steps
“My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness… For when I am weak, then I am strong.”(2Corinthians 12:9-10). Step 1 tells us that the beginning of our recovery depends on “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable”. Recognizing our lack of power comes in conflict with many of the cultural messages that convince us that we have to be strong, that we have to be the masters of our own destinies, but it’s also conflictual with the message that our disease of alcoholism is giving us: “You can resist alcohol better than others! You can drink more! You can handle it!” This is how we get into situations where our drinking gets to unimaginable heights and gives us the most awful physical, emotional and spiritual pain. The St. Ap. Paul was phrasing to well this fight of ours: “for I really want to do what is right, but I don’t do it, Instead, I do the things I hate… But there is another law at work within me that is at war with my mind. This law wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. ” (Romans 7:15-24). “If you will continue to do what you’ve been doing, you’ll get what you’ve been getting.”
Still, the paradox of Step 1 tells us that overcoming our denial and admitting our defeat is the only way of transforming our lives and of overcoming our weaknesses. The wise king Solomon was saying that God will help anyone if he can be humble and ask for His help. As long as we are too proud to admit our powerlessness, we can not become the witnesses of God’s work in our lives. (Psalms 72:12-13).
Step 1 is asking us to shout our pain: “O, Lord, God of my salvation, I have cried out to the day and night…For my life is full of trouble and death draws near” (Psalms 88:1-3), so we can begin our spiritual journey toward the Shepard of our souls (Mathews 9:36).
The shout of Step 1: “God, I can’t take it anymore!”
Step 2. “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”
Step 2 is an extension of Step 1; after admitting our powerlessness, we need a new source of power to take care of our ‘insanity’ and to bring our hope back (“Hear me speedly, O Lord; my spirit failed” – Psalms 142:7). But this is possible only if we manage to overcome the temptation of self-pity, of blaming the others for our sufferance or if we stop seeing ourselves and our disease as the center of the universe. The tendency of always repeating in the groups the same stories or of still being chained to the past, betrays the fact that we have not really made Step 1. Step 2 is asking only for the willingness ‘to believe’ and to ‘search’ a Power greater than ourselves, one that wants and can free us from our misery. We have the freedom to believe or not to believe in God, to search or not to search a Higher Power. But “anything is possible is a person believes”, Jesus told us (Mark 9:23-24).
Most of the times, God comes to us only if He is invited. He does not impose His will upon us, even if He has the power to do so. “The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise to return… No, He is being patient” (2 Peter 3:9) and He encourages us to follow Him: „Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Mathews 11:28). Jesus came for the sick and suffering ones and is just waiting for us to tell Him “Lord, I believe; Help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24) to come and heal us and take our pain away.
After working Step 2, we find ourselves at a crossroad; on one side, our addiction doesn’t want to lose us and makes us believe that she is our last source of comfort; on the other side, we start seeing that her promises are fake and that the truth stays in “I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the darkness” (John 12:46).
The hope of Step 2: „God, I believe You can!”
Step 3. “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives to the care of God, as we understood Him.
Alcoholism, as many other personal troubles, transforms our lives into an ‘egocentric turmoil’. Anytime someone or something comes between us and what we desire, we let ourselves overwhelmed by resentments and we try to regain the control over them and ourselves. Our survival efforts have taught us not to trust anybody, still this is the one thing asked from us in Step 3 – to trust a Higher Power, one in which we are not completely sure about how much do we believe. We are promised, though, that if we will surrender our lives into the care of God, He – as opposed to the humans – will always keep His promises. It’s very hard for us to do so, since we still feel insecure and confused. The Step 3 prayer from the Big Book of AA (pg. 63) gives us an example about how could we begin: “God, I offer myself to Thee – to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love and Thy way of life. May I do thy will always! ”. He comes to our door, He knocks and He waits for us to open; if we do that much, He will come in and have dinner with us (Revelation 3:20).
We can not know God’s peace and serenity unless we regularly communicate with Him, through study and prayer. The decision of surrendering our will and lives into the care of God implies the surrender of our intellectual pride (Proverbs 3:5-6). Anytime we feel overwhelmed by doubts or by our anger that God might have abandoned us, we can remember King David’s conviction: “The Lord was watching over me” (Psalms 3:5).
Step 3 ends the process that has begun in Steps 1 and 2. Leaving from humiliation, from powerlessness, we end up receiving a new direction in life. We are now offered the insurance that we are not alone anymore and that “your Heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and He will give you all you need from day to day if you live for Him and make the kingdom of God your primary concern”(Mathews 6: 32-33).
The surrender of Step 3: „God, I’m gonna let You!”
More biblical readings on the first three steps:
Mark 4:35-41; Ephesians 2:1-2; 2 Peter 2:19;
Psalms 6:6-7; Psalms 10:14;
|Step 2||John 7:17;
Mathews 6:33; Hebrews 11:6; Luke 1:37;
Mark 9:23-24; Mark 10:51-52
|John 3:8, 14-18; Mathews 9:12-13; Mathews 12:18-21;
Mark 5:35-36; Mark 9:23-24;
Luke 11:5-13; Luke 13:10-13; Luke 18:35-43; John 6:63;
|2 Corinthians 1:8-11; 2 Corinthians 5:21;
Galatians 1:4; Ephesians 2:4-5; Philippians 2:13;
|Step 3||Mathews 11:28-30;
|Mathews 6:31-34; Mathews 10:37-39; Mathews 11:28-30;
Mathews 16:21-26; Luke 9:57-62;
|Luke 11:2-4; Luke 24:46-47;
Romans 4:20-25; Romans 5:1, 8-11;
Romans 10:9-13; 2 Corinthians 1:3-5; Ephesians 1:3-14