In Principle 1, we realize we’re not God. We admit we are powerless to control our tendency to do the wrong thing and that our lives have become unmanageable. As soon as we take this step and admit that we are powerless, we start to change. We see that our old ways of trying to control our hurts, hang-ups, and habits didn’t work. They were buried by our denial and held on to with our false power.
Tonight we are going to focus on four actions: two things we have to stop doing and two things we need to start doing in our recoveries. We need to take these four actions to complete Principle 1.
In Lesson 1 we talked about the first action we need to take.
1. Stop denying the pain.
We said that our denial had at least six negative effects: It disables our feelings, wastes our energy, negates our growth, isolates us from God, alienates us from our relationships, and lengthens our pain.
You are ready to accept Principle 1 when your pain is greater than your fear. In Psalm 6:2–3 (TLB) David talks about a time when he came to the end of his emotional and physical resources: “Pity me, O Lord, for I am weak. Heal me, for my body is sick, and I am upset and disturbed. My mind is filled with apprehension and with gloom.” When David’s pain finally surpassed his fear, he was able to face his denial and feel the reality of his pain. In the same way, if you want to be rid of your pain, you must face it and go through it.
The second action we need to take is to:
2. Stop playing God.
You are either going to serve God or self. You can’t do both! Matthew 6:24 (GNB) says, “No one can be a slave to two masters; he will hate one and love the other; he will be loyal to one and despise the other.”
Another term for serving “ourselves” is serving the “flesh.” Flesh is the Bible’s word for our unperfected human nature, our sin nature.
I love this illustration: If you leave the h off the end of flesh and reverse the remaining letters, you spell the word self. Flesh is the self-life. It is what we are when we are left to our own devices.
When our “self” is out of control, all attempts at control―of self or others―fail. In fact, our attempt to control ourselves and others is what got us into trouble in the first place. God needs to be the one in control.
There are two jobs: God’s and mine! We have been trying to do God’s job, and we can’t!
On the flip side, He won’t do our job. We need to do the footwork! We need to admit that we are not God and that our lives are unmanageable without Him. Then, when we have finally emptied ourselves, God will have room to come in and begin His healing work.
Let’s go on now to the third action we need to take:
3. Start admitting our powerlessness.
The lust of power is not rooted in our strengths but our weaknesses. We need to realize our human weaknesses and quit trying to do it by ourselves. We need to admit that we are powerless and turn our lives over to God. Jesus knew how difficult this is. He said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
When we keep doing things that we don’t want to do and when we fail to do the things we’ve decided we need to do, we begin to see that we do not, in fact, have the power to change that we thought we had. Life is coming into focus more clearly than ever before.
The last action we need to take is to:
4. Start admitting that our lives have become unmanageable.
The only reason we consider that there’s something wrong, or that we need to talk to somebody, or that we need to take this step is because we finally are able to admit that some area―or all areas―of our lives have become unmanageable!
It is with this admission that you finally realize you are out of control and are powerless to do anything on your own. When I got to this part of my recovery I shared David’s feelings that he expressed in Psalm 40:12 (TLB): “Problems far too big for me to solve are piled higher than my head. Meanwhile my sins, too many to count, have all caught up with me and I am ashamed to look up.”
Does that sound familiar? Only when your pain is greater than your fear will you be ready to honestly take the first step, admitting that you are powerless and your life is unmanageable.
The power to change only comes from God’s grace. Are you ready to truly begin your journey of recovery? Are you ready to stop denying the pain? Are you ready to stop playing God? Are you ready to start admitting your powerlessness? To start admitting that your life has become unmanageable? If you are, share it with your group tonight.
I encourage you to start working and living this program in earnest. If we admit we are powerless, we need a power greater than ourselves to restore us. That power is your Higher Power―Jesus Christ!