Romans 12:1-2

An intoxicated guy staggers into a Catholic Church, enters a confessional booth, slowly sits down, but doesn’t say, “Father forgive me for I have sinned” or anything. The Priest, on the other side, conspicuously coughs a few times to get his attention, but the inebriated sot continues to sit in silence. The Priest says, “I’m listening, my son,” but still no response. Finally, the Priest pounds three times on the wall. The drunk mumbles, “Ain’t no use knockin’! There’s no paper on this side either!”

There is a stigma associated with “Recovery Groups” because many of us wrongly assume that recovery groups are for people like that guy; for alcoholics and drug addicts. Well, I’ve got an eye-opener for you today!

According to Gerald May in his landmark book, Addiction and Grace, we are all addicted to something; it’s just a matter of what or whom.

I am not being flippant when I say that all of us suffer from addiction. Nor am I reducing the meaning of addiction. I mean in all truth the psychological, neurological and spiritual dynamics of full-fledged addiction are actively at work in every human being. The same processes that are responsible for addiction to alcohol and narcotics are also responsible for addiction to ideas, work, relationships, power, moods, fantasies, and an endless variety of other things. 1

What kind of other things? I’m glad you asked: controlling other people, hoarding, the internet, gambling, lighting fires, sex, smoking, spending money, stealing, thrill-seeking, seeking approval.

An on-line Reader’s Digest article, Surprising Addictions: says that people can become addicted to:

Visine, tattoos, tanning, on-line dating, pulling your hair, diet soda, shoes, television, taking selfies, extreme sports, apologizing, negative self-talk, romantic love, video games, chewing ice.” 2

In another on-line article titled Are These 7 Things Really as Addictive as Drugs?

People are naturally drawn to activities that produce feelings of happiness or euphoria—especially if the gratification is immediate. Shortly after the “high” wears off, feelings of remorse and guilt come flooding in. In an attempt to escape the comedown, people grow dependent on the behaviors or substances that offer relief. Before you know it, you’re locked in the vicious cycle of addiction.

Here’s a look at seven of those unique addictions:

  1. Fast Food Addiction
  2. Love Addiction: Scientists now firmly believe both love and drug addiction rely on completely identical psychological, chemical and neuroanatomical processes.
  3. Plastic Surgery Addiction
  4. Shopping Addiction: In 2006, 6% of Americans struggle with shopping addiction, but in 2008 the number had increased to include 9% of the population. Shopping addicts experience a high or sense of euphoria from buying things. It’s similar to when an individual with a substance abuse problem uses his or her drug of choice.
  5. Internet Gaming
  6. Exercise Addiction
  7. Compulsive Lying: The pleasure gleaned from lying causes euphoric physiological changes in the brain and body, making the act dangerously appealing and extremely addictive. 3

Gerald May again:

We are all addicts in every sense of the word. Moreover, our addictions are our own worst enemies. They enslave us with chains that are of our own making and yet that, paradoxically, are virtually beyond our control. Addiction also makes idolaters of us all because it forces us to worship these objects of attachment; thereby preventing us from truly, freely loving God and one another. Addiction breeds willfulness in us, yet, again paradoxically, it erodes our free-will and eats away at our dignity. Addiction, then, is at once an inherent part of our nature and an antagonist of our nature. It is the absolute enemy of human freedom. 4

Being addicted, in other words, is at least part of what Paul is addressing when he says, “Do not be conformed (shaped) to this world” (Romans 12:2).

But even though it is true that all of us are addicted in some way, there is hope.

Paul says, “Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed through the renewing (renovation) of our minds.”

The renewing of the mind is exactly what happens when a person engages in any kind of 12 step program. Working carefully through the 12 steps will help a person renew their mind. Neurologists are finding that going through a process like the 12 steps actually does prompt the brain to rewire itself.

The Apostle Paul would say, “Yes, the 12 steps fits nicely with what I had in mind, for those 12 steps are derived from the scriptures; which are, as he wrote Timothy (Tim 2 3:16):

“inspired by God and are useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”

Did you know that The Twelve Steps have been derived from scripture? Listen to them with that in mind:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol; that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. 5

Each and every one of The Twelve Steps can be directly tied to scripture. Because they provide such a great guide for living life as Jesus would have to, participating in a 12 step program will make any person more Christ-like.

Think of it like this. Many of you have participated in various kinds of Bible studies. I hope I am not assuming wrongly that you did so, not only to learn more about God’s will for your life but also to do God’s will. Well, think of a twelve-step group as a Bible Study that will enable you to live more like Christ.

I might also add that our Friday night Recovery Group is not strictly a Twelve Step group. The curriculum interprets the Twelve Step in light of the Holy Scriptures.

Gerald May, “Our addictions can lead us to a deeper appreciation of grace. They can bring us to our knees.” 6

Which leads us to the key to renewing the mind? One word: Surrender. Surrender to God.

Surrendering is what the first 3 steps are all about:

Step 1: We admit are powerless to effect meaningful change.

Step 2: Come to believe that only God can restore us to sanity.

Step 3: Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God.

Pastor Rick Warren says,

Everyone eventually surrenders to something or someone. If not to God, you will surrender to the opinions or expectations of others, to money, to resentment, to fear, or to your own pride, lusts, or ego. You were designed to worship God—and if you fail to worship him, you will create other things to give your life to. You are free to choose what you surrender to, but you are not free from the consequences of that choice. 7

I want to ask you if you have ever done this; ever made a decision to surrender your life and will over to the care of God through Jesus? If you haven’t, and if you’d like to, I want to invite you to do that today.

Our sin nature tempts us to negotiate with God where we are still in charge and we’ll call You God when we need Your help. In AA, anyone who says that today will be drinking tomorrow.

No addiction will yield to a headlong assault powered by you or me. We can’t stop the fast food thing by trying hard not to eat fast food. We can’t defeat lust by trying hard not to lust. We can’t stop lying by trying hard to stop lying.

Our only hope is to surrender our life and our will.

E. Stanley Jones says, “If you don’t surrender to Christ, you’ll surrender to chaos.” 8

People in AA have been using a phrase to describe this kind of surrender: “Let go, and let God.”

The famous Priest and author, Henri Nouwen, met a group of trapeze artists called the Flying Rodleigh’s. He had an opportunity to sit down with the leader of this group and later wrote about their conversation as a helpful way to illustrate what it is to surrender.

Rodleigh said, “As a flyer, I must have complete trust in my catcher. The public might think that I am the great star of the trapeze, but the real star is Joe, my catcher. He has to be there for me with split-second precision and grab me out of the air as I come to him in the long jump.”
“How does it work?” I asked.
“The secret,” Rodleigh said, “is that the flyer does nothing and the catcher does everything. When I fly to Joe, I have simply to stretch out my arms and hands and wait for him to catch me and pull me safely over the apron behind the catch bar.” “You do nothing!” I said, surprised.
“Nothing,” Rodleigh repeated. “The worst thing the flyer can do is to try to catch the catcher. I am not supposed to catch Joe. It’s Joe’s task to catch me. If I grabbed Joe’s wrists, I might break them, or he might break mine, and that would be the end for both of us. A flyer must fly, and a catcher must catch, and the flyer must trust, with outstretched arms that his catcher will be there for him. 9

Our part is to trust, surrender, give up our lives; God’s part is to catch, to hold, to do in us and for us what we cannot do for ourselves. In other words; letting go and letting God.

Have you abandoned your life to him? Will you let go and let God? Will you surrender yourself to God? Will you put yourself in the place of the trapeze flyer, who does nothing, but stretches out his arms and trusts that the catcher will be there for him.

1 May, Gerald. Addiction and Grace. [San Francisco: Harper and Row, © 1988]. Pages 3-4.



4 May, Gerald, page 4.


6 May, Gerald, page 4.