For the next three years, Bill Wilson pursued his recovery through the Oxford Group, which emphasized the following:
1. Complete deflation (of false pride)
2. Dependence on and guidance from God
3. Moral inventory
4. Confession Restitution
5. Continued work with other suffering persons
This week at ‘Celebrate Recovery’ we looked at ‘Step Four’ and what it means to take a ‘MORAL INVENTORY’
John 2:9 says “Suppose someone claims to be in the light but hates his brother or sister. Then he is still in the darkness.”
Not everyone you meet on the journey of recovery is on the right path. In the Bible hatred and love as moral qualities are not primary emotions. They are attitudes expressed by our actions. In recovery knowing who’s on the right path is expressed in how they live, not what they say.
Recovery means more than just knowing the process. It means putting the process into daily living.
Proverbs 21:2 We justify our actions by appearances; God examines our motives.
None of us set out to do the wrong thing. Generally, we believe we are doing what is right for us. But God sees the motives of our hearts. Often we make choices in areas of life where the right actions are difficult to discern. In our lives, we would do well to learn to take inventory of our motives by asking the question “Would God be pleased with what I am thinking or about to do?” It doesn’t please God when we are living just for our own selfish ambitions.
Matthew 7:17-20A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.
The Word of God often likens people to trees. People trying to constantly live under the guidance and instruction of ‘Gods Word’ are said to be Psalms 1:3‘like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.’ A lovely picture for people walking daily in the recovery process, planted and sustained by God. Producing lives that reflect something of what Jesus spoke about in the ‘Sermon on the Mount.”
Many of us, if totally honest have to admit we have little to show for the years of our mere existence. “nothing but leaves” is one of the ways the Bible explains it. Our ability to produce fruit that benefits others just wishful thinking. Because we have no life-source within.
Before we can aspire to God’s expectations of us changes are required. Placing ourselves at the disposal of God a necessity. In John 15:4 Jesus says “Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in Me.”
Step Four says “In order to help me change, I will investigate and record with God’s help – my sinful habits and attitudes.” When you take an honest look at your sinful habits and attitudes. What do you see? and what do you need to change?
Lamentations 3:40–41 Let’s take a good look at the way we’re living and reorder our lives under God. Let’s lift our hearts and hands at one and the same time, praying to God in heaven.
STEP FOUR: In order to help me change, I will investigate and record with God’s help – my sinful habits and attitudes.
STEP SIX: After discovering my sinful habits and attitudes and confessing them, I am now willing to let God change me.
While Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch, some men from Judea arrived and began to teach the believers that unless they adhered to the ancient Jewish custom of circumcision, they could not be saved. Paul and Barnabas argued and discussed this with them at length, and finally the believers sent them to Jerusalem, accompanied by some local men, to talk to the apostles and elders there about this question. After the entire congregation had escorted them out of the city, the delegates went on to Jerusalem, stopping along the way in the cities of Phoenicia and Samaria to visit the believers, telling them—much to everyone’s joy—that the Gentiles, too, were being converted. Arriving in Jerusalem, they met with the church leaders—all the apostles and elders were present—and Paul and Barnabas reported on what God had been doing through their ministry. But then some of the men who had been Pharisees before their conversion stood to their feet and declared that all Gentile converts must be circumcised and required to follow all the Jewish customs and ceremonies. So the apostles and church elders set a further meeting to decide this question. At the meeting, after long discussion, Peter stood and addressed them as follows: “Brothers, you all know that God chose me from among you long ago to preach the Good News to the Gentiles so that they also could believe. God, who knows men’s hearts, confirmed the fact that he accepts Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he gave him to us. He made no distinction between them and us, for he cleansed their lives through faith, just as he did ours. And now are you going to correct God by burdening the Gentiles with a yoke that neither we nor our fathers were able to bear? Don’t you believe that all are saved the same way, by the free gift of the Lord Jesus?” There was no further discussion, and everyone now listened as Barnabas and Paul told about the miracles God had done through them among the Gentiles. When they had finished, James took the floor. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me. Peter has told you about the time God first visited the Gentiles to take from them a people to bring honor to his name. An this fact of Gentile conversion agrees with what the prophets predicted. For instance, listen to this passage from the prophet Amos: ‘Afterwards’ (says the Lord), ‘I will rdeturn and renew the broken contract with David, so that Gentiles, too, will find the Lord—all those marked with my name.’ That is what the Lord says, who reveals his plans made from the beginning. “And so my judgment is that we should not insist that the Gentiles who turn to God must obey our Jewish laws, except that we should write to them to refrain from eating meat sacrificed to idols, from all fornication, and also from eating unbled meat of strangled animals. For these things have been preached against in Jewish synagogues in every city on every Sabbath for many generations.”Acts 15:1-21
RULES There is one rule in the process of recovery we all need to obey. That is: ‘Whatever is messing up your life STOP DOING IT!’
Step One in the Living Life Recovery Steps says: “I admit that my life is a mess and I am out of control.” Step Two says: “I believe God exists, that He cares about me and He can help me to regain control of my life.” Step Three Says: “I am making a decision to let God help me change and commit to working with Him to do so.”
Acts 15:9-10 says “He made no distinction between them and us, for he cleansed their lives through faith, just as he did ours. And now are you going to correct God by burdening the Gentiles with a yoke that neither we nor our fathers were able to bear?”
I think it can be like that is certain recovery fellowships we set a lot of rules for people to follow and make the process of recovery too difficult for people to ever achieve anything like lasting, growing recovery. Bill Wilson on realising His life was a mess and out of control had one thought: “Find another alcoholic and talk to them about their life and how they can improve it.” With one rule in mind: “No matter what happens to me I WILL NOT DRINK.” Simple but not always easy. Bill Wilson also realised recovery was about putting our faith in our Creator, believing He could and would help us recover.
What the Bible says about rules
OBEY GOD If you obey My decrees and My regulations, you will find life through them. I am the Lord.Leviticus 18:5
OBEYING GOD WILL BRING YOU PEACE AND MERCY May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.Galatians 6:16
OBEYING GOD IS A LIFELONG PROCESS OF PROGRESS We must hold on to the progress we have already made. Philippians 3:16
Obey your spiritual leaders and be willing to do what they say. For their work is to watch over your souls, and God will judge them on how well they do this. Give them reason to report joyfully about you to the Lord and not with sorrow, for then you will suffer for it too. Pray for us, for our conscience is clear and we want to keep it that way. I especially need your prayers right now so that I can come back to you sooner. And now may the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he who became the great Shepherd of the sheep by an everlasting agreement between God and you, signed with his blood, produce in you through the power of Christ all that is pleasing to him. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen. Brethren, please listen patiently to what I have said in this letter, for it is a short one. I want you to know that Brother Timothy is now out of jail; if he comes here soon, I will come with him to see you. Give my greetings to all your leaders and to the other believers there. The Christians from Italy who are here with me send you their love. God’s grace be with you all. Good-bye. Hebrews 13:17-25
Step Four of the Life Recovery Steps says: “In order to help me change I will investigate and record with God’s help my sinful habits and attitudes.” Step Five says: “On completion of my list of sinful habits I will confess them to God and to someone that I trust.”
In the process of recovery we all need role models and we all need support people. People who are going to lead us, point us in the right direction and walk with us. None of us can recover on our own. Nor can we recover just by says “God knows all about it.” and doing nothing to change. We never ended up in recovery by mistake. It is a God directed process on making the decision to let God help us change and committing to the process (Step 3). And, in the process He has already appointed spiritual leaders to be His leaders in showing us how to live according to His will for our lives. Our part in the process is to listen, learn and apply what we learn to our lives.
What the Bible says about listening, learning and applying what we learn.
YOU WON’T LEARN ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW FROM ONE PERSON Get all the advice you can and be wise the rest of your life. Proverbs 19:20
GOD WILL REVEAL TRUTHS TO YOU HE WON’T REVEAL TO OTHERS Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you. 2 Timothy 1:14
AS WE LISTEN, LEARN AND APPLY WHAT WE LEARNED GOD EXPECTS US TO TEACH THE TRUTH TO OTHERS He sent us to preach the Good News everywhere and to testify that Jesus is ordained of God to be the Judge of all— living and dead. Acts 10:42
1 John 1:5-10This is the message God has given us to pass on to you: that God is Light and in him is no darkness at all. So if we say we are his friends but go on living in spiritual darkness and sin, we are lying. But if we are living in the light of God’s presence, just as Christ does, then we have wonderful fellowship and joy with each other, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from every sin.If we say that we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he can be depended on to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. And it is perfectly proper for God to do this for us because Christ died to wash away our sins.
Unless we change our character we cannot successfully acheive recovery. Step Four says “In order to help me change, I will investigate and record with God’s help my sinful habits and attitudes.” We cannot progress in the process unless we are willing to change and seek God’s will for our lives, put all of our efforts into achieving it. As we learn His will and put it into practice the way we relate to others should be evidence of His saving grace in our lives and our dependence on Him.
Luke 11:36 If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.
The only way to work out what in your life is stopping you from following God is to take inventory, Step Four says “In order to help me change, I will investigate and record with God’s help – my sinful habits and attitudes.”
The first time I took an honest inventory of my life, my habits and attitudes were whilst staying in the William Both Men’s Hostel in Adelaide. I had decided before I ever got to recovery if I really wanted to change my life I needed to know and to understand me. I still have a copy of that inventory. The language is colorful. Some of the things I wrote were untrue but I believed them at the time based on how I was feeling back then.
When was the last time you took an honest look at yourself?
John 3:19-21This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.
Step Four says “I made a searching and fearless MORAL inventory of myself.”
Billy Graham said “Don’t be bound by your guilt or your fears any longer, but realize that sin’s penalty has already been paid by Christ completely and fully.”
Sin destroys character. When we yield to our own selfish desires and ambitions we suffer. Maybe not right away, but eventually living for self catches up with us and brings us unstuck. Disobedience to God invites disaster into our lives. We don’t necessarily set out to do the wrong thing but it usually ends up that way. We usually start out with right motives and motivations that get distracted and clouded by our own selfish desires. Sometimes we justify sin by categorizing our wrongs and mistakes into ‘big’ and ‘little‘ There is no such thing as a little white lie. All lies are lies and they are not white.
Sin comes in all shapes and sizes. And, in Step Four we are being challenged to look at what is wrong in our character and do something about it. Andrew Murray said “Abide in Jesus, the sinless one. Which means, give up all of self and it’s life, and dwell in God’s will and rest in His strength. This is what brings the power that does not commit sin.”
A MORAL INVENTORY is concernedwiththeprinciplesorrulesofright conductorthedistinctionbetweenrightandwrong living. What do you need to change to live God’s Way of living?
Job 31 2-37 “what can I expect from God? What do I deserve from God Almighty above Isn’t calamity reserved for the wicked? Isn’t disaster supposed to strike those who do wrong. Isn’t God looking, observing how I live? Doesn’t he mark every step I take? “Have I walked hand in hand with falsehood, or hung out in the company of deceit? Weigh me on a set of honest scales so God has proof of my integrity. If I’ve strayed off the straight and narrow, wanted things I had no right to, messed around with sin,Go ahead, then—give my portion to someone who deserves it.
“If I’ve let myself be seduced by a woman and conspired to go to bed with her, Fine, my wife has every right to go ahead and sleep with anyone she wants to. For disgusting behavior like that, I’d deserve the worst punishment you could hand out. Adultery is a fire that burns the house down; I wouldn’t expect anything I count dear to survive it.
“Have I ever been unfair to my employees when they brought a complaint to me? What, then, will I do when God confronts me? When God examines my books, what can I say Didn’t the same God who made me, make them? Aren’t we all made of the same stuff, equals before God?
“Have I ignored the needs of the poor, turned my back on the indigent, Taken care of my own needs and fed my own face while they languished? Wasn’t my home always open to them? Weren’t they always welcome at my table?
“Have I ever left a poor family shivering in the cold when they had no warm clothes? Didn’t the poor bless me when they saw me coming, knowing I’d brought coats from my closet?
“If I’ve ever used my strength and influence to take advantage of the unfortunate, Go ahead, break both my arms, cut off all my fingers! The fear of God has kept me from these things— how else could I ever face him?
“Did I set my heart on making big money or worship at the bank? Did I boast about my wealth, show off because I was well-off? Was I ever so awed by the sun’s brilliance and moved by the moon’s beauty that I let myself become seduced by them and worshiped them on the sly? If so, I would deserve the worst of punishments, for I would be betraying God himself.
“Did I ever crow over my enemy’s ruin? Or gloat over my rival’s bad luck? No, I never said a word of detraction, never cursed them, even under my breath.
“Didn’t those who worked for me say, ‘He fed us well. There were always second helpings’? And no stranger ever had to spend a night in the street; my doors were always open to travelers.
Did I hide my sin the way Adam did, or conceal my guilt behind closed doors Because I was afraid what people would say, fearing the gossip of the neighbors so much that I turned myself into a recluse? You know good and well that I didn’t.
“Oh, if only someone would give me a hearing! I’ve signed my name to my defense—let the Almighty One answer! I want to see my indictment in writing.Anyone’s welcome to read my defense; I’ll write it on a poster and carry it around town. I’m prepared to account for every move I’ve ever made— to anyone and everyone, prince or pauper.
Job 31 asks a lot of questions about our character and the way we lived prior to recovery. In the midst of our addictions and problems most of us have experienced loneliness and rejection. Not because people didn’t love us, didn’t like us. But, because our behavior, our attitudes and the way we hurt ourselves and others were too much for them to stand by and watch without interfering.
Job wanted God to show him his failures. He was tired of suffering (if you don’t know the sufferings of Job I suggest you read the book of Job) But Job knew God was merciful and God could show him what he needed to change.
And God can show us too what needs to change in our character to help us become the people He created us to be and living the lives He has planned for each of us.
In recovery we need to take inventory and we need to wrote it down look at verses 35-37 again.
“If only someone would give me a hearing! I’ve signed my name to my defense—let the Almighty One answer! I want to see my indictment in writing. Anyone’s welcome to read my defense; I’ll write it on a poster and carry it around town. I’m prepared to account for every move I’ve ever made— to anyone and everyone, prince or pauper.”
We record our sinful attitudes and behaviors so we “can see our indictments in writing.”
We record our sinful attitudes and behaviors so when it comes to the process of confession to God and to someone that we trust we won’t be tempted to lie or justify them.
We record our sinful attitudes and behaviors to keep us accountable for what we have done and doing something about repenting and making amends for our past.
We record what we our sinful attitudes and behaviors so we can see spiritual progress as we walk the road of recovery with God.
We record our sinful attitudes and behaviors to stop us from falling back into them.
We record our sinful attitudes and behaviors to help us to deal with the shame they have installed in us and with God’s help uninstall them.
Job says “I am prepared to account for every move I ever made.”
Are you? Because that is what it takes to ‘Take an open and honest inventory of our lives.” and let God show us how to change and help us to do it.
We need to honestly examine our character and pray that God will reveal to us anything that exists in our us that we may not have seen up to this stage of our progress in the recovery process.