Friday, June 17, 2011

Step 4 scriptures

Step 4 - We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves

Psa 119:57  [Heth] You are my portion, O LORD: I have said that I would keep your words.
Psa 119:58  I entreated your favor with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to your word.
Psa 119:59  I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto your testimonies.
Psa 119:60  I made haste, and delayed not to keep your commandments.
Psa 119:61  The bands of the wicked have robbed me: but I have not forgotten your law.
Psa 119:62  At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto you because of your righteous judgments.
Psa 119:63  I am a companion of all them that fear you, and of them that keep your precepts.
Psa 119:64  The earth, O LORD, is full of your mercy: teach me your statutes.

Psa 139:23  Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
Psa 139:24  And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Pro 4:23  Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
Pro 4:24  Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and perverse lips put far from you.
Pro 4:25  Let your eyes look directly forward, and let your eyelids look straight before you.
Pro 4:26  Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established.
Pro 4:27  Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove your foot from evil.

This group of verses from Proverbs speaks to many issues in working our 4th step. These proverbs tell us how important it is to be protective of our heart, for out of our heart come the issues of life. In the 4th step, we examine how we have violated this advice. We look back to find the ways that we have not guarded our heart, ways that we have let foolishness and folly rule our feelings rather than a loving and careful spirit. We examine how to put away the deceitful words and ways that we have found in our addictive ways. We begin to see how to direct our lives in a straight path, not being distracted by the temptations of the world, the triggers of our addiction. Probably most to the point for the 4th step is verse 4:26. We are told to ponder the path of our feet and let all of our ways be established. In the 4th step we ponder where our feet have been, what we have done in our lives and how that has affected our lives. We examine the good and the bad. And in that examination, we begin to understand what was worthwhile and what was not worthwhile. Where was God in our lives trying to direct us and protect us, and how did we ignore or rebel against God's leading? In understanding how God has sought to work in our lives in the past, we can better understand how to walk in the future, to have all of our ways be established in the ways of the Lord.

Lam 3:39  Why does a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?
Lam 3:40  Let us search and examine our ways, and turn again to the LORD.
Lam 3:41  Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens.
Lam 3:42  We have transgressed and have rebelled: you have not pardoned.
Lam 3:43  You have covered with anger, and persecuted us: you have slain, you have not pitied.
Lam 3:44  You have covered yourself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through.
Lam 3:45  You have made us as the offscouring and refuse in the midst of the people.

It is fitting that these words are from the book of Lamentations, for the book describes the aftermath of falling away from the ways of righteousness, as we have done in our addictive behaviors. We are told in verse 40 to search and examine our ways and turn again to the LORD. This is what we are to do in step 4 of our program. We examine our life in the light of God's righteousness, making a moral inventory of our lives. In this inventory we will probably see at least some of these things in our lives that the subsequent verses talk about - how we have blocked God's pity, pardon and answered prayers from our life. As Christians we have hope that through the blood of Christ we can find forgiveness for these sins and a redeemed relationship with God. This examination of our lives also begins to set up a precendent where we can invite our God to examine our lives as well (Psalm 17:3, 26:2) that we might continue to be found in God.

Hag 1:5  Now therefore thus says the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.
Hag 1:6  You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but you have not enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he that earns wages earns wages to put it into a bag with holes.
Hag 1:7  Thus says the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.

The book of Haggai is about the need for the people of God to build the temple of God. At this time the temple was the physical structure in Jerusalem. In the Christian dispensation, we are told that our bodies are the temple of God () and that the church universal is the Body of Christ (). In this passage we are told to consider our ways - to reflect on how our lives are and ...

Mat 5:4  Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives many instances of how we are blessed. In this verse, He tells us that we are blessed when we mourn appropriately. Step 4 can be a step of mourning those places in our lives where we messed up and missed the good life that God would have liked to have given us. In this mourning, though, we become blessed as we find the healing and comfort from the Lord.

2Co 13:4  For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.
2Co 13:5  Examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith; prove your own selves. Know you not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, unless you are counterfeits?
2Co 13:6  But I trust that you shall know that we are not counterfeits.
2Co 13:7  Now I pray to God that you do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that you should do that which is honest, though we be as failures.
2Co 13:8  For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.
2Co 13:9  For we are glad, when we are weak, and you are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection.
2Co 13:10  Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord has given me to edification, and not to destruction.
2Co 13:11  Finally, brethren, farewell. Be restored, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.
2Co 13:12  Greet one another with a holy kiss.
2Co 13:13  All the saints greet you.
2Co 13:14  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

The apostle Paul here is ending his second letter to the Corinthian church, and giving them advice on how to live as Christians. There were many struggling Christians in this congregation, just as we may also struggle in our attempts to be true to the teachings of Christ. Yet we are told that in our weakness we can live by God's power in us, even as Christ Himself was crucified in weakness and yet lives by God's power. Furthermore, to carry this out we are told to examine ourselves (v5) that we may prove ourselves in the faith or not. This is relevant to step 4, because in step 4 we examine our lives and determine when we were or were not acting in faith and obedience to God's moral standards. This would be most pointed at those who were Christians during the time of their ...

Gal 6:3  For if a man thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
Gal 6:4  But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
Gal 6:5  For every man shall bear his own burden.
Gal 6:6  Let him that is taught in the word share with him that teaches in all good things.
Gal 6:7  Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.
Gal 6:8  For he that sows to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that sows to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

The Spirit of God writing through the apostle Paul exhorts us here to be honest and objective with ourselves. Especially when we have become used to being seduced by the lies of our addiction, we then find it more difficult to separate truth from fiction. One of the easiest ways to deceive ourselves is to have a false sense of ourselves and how we relate to others and especially to God. For many of us, it is easy to get in the habit of thinking more of ourselves in order to give us permission to indulge in our addictive behaviors and think that it is OK. We may think that we are special or have special privileges because of reason 'XYZ', and 'XYZ' might be different for each one of us. But the common thread to this excuse is that whatever we may use to justify our being special, it can lead us to pride and an unwarranted sense of privilege. We may have this attitude also to temporarily keep us from facing the shame and guilt of our addictive activities.

But instead of a false sense of ourself, we are admonished to prove our own work. The NKJV translates this word as "examine" instead of "prove". This is the value of the 4th step. We can prove or examine our own work by looking back on our life and try to get an objective picture of what was wrong in our past (and that may still linger in the present), as well as what was and is right in our life. We try to look at our life from God's perspective, knowing that Christ died for millions of other people throughout the world and throughout history. It is to His credit that He can be so intimate and loving with us and also be intimate and loving with millions of other people. In this we are special - in our relationship with God. But we are no more special than the millions of other people whom God loves and cares for, and our being in this special relationship does not put us above the laws that He has given us. In looking at our life from God's perspective (a "moral" perspective, as the 4th step is worded), we get a more objective and truthful sense of who we have really been. We examine with our own conscience before God what has been good and what has been evil in our life.

In this passage, we are further warned that God is not mocked. Looking back on our life as we do our inventory, we can see how God has been faithful and just. He has chastened and disciplined us when we have gone against His ways, especially when we have done this willfully. Even when we thought we might have been getting away with something, we actually were not. We may have survived, but we missed the larger picture of how God wanted to bless us in extraordinary ways. We also now have a choice by His grace to sow to the Spirit instead, and reap the reward of life everlasting. Part of this process of growing in God's ways is by taking our inventory - proving our own work. Then we can go forward with a realistic picture of our own lives from a God's moral perspective and find the peace and mercy of God (vs. 16). 

Rev 2:4  Nevertheless I have somewhat against you, because you have left your first love.
Rev 2:5  Remember therefore from where you are fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto you quickly, and will remove your lampstand out of its place, except you repent.

These verses will apply to the 4th step in greatest measure if we were Christians or had an affection for Christ before we started down the path of our addiction. In these verses, Christ is admonishing the Church at Ephesus to return to their first love and remember from where they were fallen. Perhaps in remembering where they had fallen from, they would again be able to rekindle the devotion to Christ that they had once known. In the 4th step, we work on remembering all of our life and later laying it before the eyes of God, ourselves and at least one other person. If this remembering of our life brings us memories of a broken relationship with God, then it becomes bittersweet. There is the bitterness of knowing that we have turned away from the ways of God's truth. Yet there is also a sweetness of remembering how sweet it was to trust in Jesus and how full of grace and love He is. The remembering and the healing of those memories is an important part of our recovery process.

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