We are going to use the acrostic VICTORY.
Identify character defects
Change your mind
Turn over character defects
One day at a time
Recovery is a process
You must choose to change
The V is VOLUNTARILY submit to every change God wants me to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my shortcomings. The Bible says that we are to make an offering of our very selves to God. “Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him.… Let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind” (Romans 12:1–2, GNB).
When you accepted Principle 3, you made the most important decision of your life by choosing to turn your life over to God’s will. That decision got you right with God; you accepted and determined to follow His Son Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
Then you began to work on you. You made a fearless and moral inventory of yourself. The first step in any victory is to recognize the enemy. My inventory showed me that I was my greatest enemy.
You came clean by admitting and confessing to yourself, to God, and to another person your wrongs and your sins. For probably the first time in your life, you were able to take off the muddy glasses of denial and look at reality with a clear and clean focus.
Now you are considering what Step 6 says: that you are “entirely ready to have God remove all of your defects of character.” You’re at the place in your recovery where you say, “I don’t want to live this way anymore. I want to get rid of my hurts, hang-ups, and habits. But how do I do it?”
The good news is that you don’t do it!
Step 6 doesn’t read, “You are entirely ready to have you remove all of your defects of character,” does it? No, it says, “You are entirely ready to have God remove all your defects of character.”
So how do you begin the process to have God make the positive changes in your life that you and He both desire?
You start by doing the I in victory: IDENTIFY which character defects you want to work on first. Go back to the wrongs, shortcomings, and sins you discovered in your inventory. Falling down doesn’t make you a failure, staying down does! God just doesn’t want us to admit our wrongs, He wants to make us right! He wants to give us a future and a hope! God just doesn’t want to forgive us, He wants to change us! Ask God to first remove those character defects that are causing you the most pain. Be specific! “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).
Let’s move to the C, which stands for CHANGE your mind.
Second Corinthians 5:17 tells us that when you become a Christian, you are a new creation, a brand new person inside. The old nature is gone. The changes that are going to take place are the result of a team effort. Your responsibility is to take the action to follow God’s direction for change. You have to let God transform (change) you by renewing your mind.
Let’s look at Romans 12:2: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
To transform something means to change its condition, its nature, its function, and its identity. God wants to change more than just our behaviors. He wants to change the way we think. Simply changing behaviors is like trimming the weeds in a garden instead of removing them. Weeds always grow back unless they are pulled out by the roots. We need to let God transform our minds!
How? By the T in victory: TURNING your character defects over to Jesus Christ. Relying on your own willpower, your own self-will, has blocked your recovery. Your past efforts to change your hurts, hang-ups, and habits by yourself were unsuccessful. But if you “humble yourselves before the Lord, … he will lift you up” (James 4:10).
Humility is not a bad word, and being humble doesn’t mean you’re weak. Humility is like underwear: we should have it, but we shouldn’t let it show. Humility is to make the right estimate of one’s self or to see ourselves as God sees us.
You can’t proceed in your recovery until you turn your defects of character over to Jesus. Let go! Let God!
The next letter is O: ONE day at a time.
Your character defects were not developed overnight, so don’t expect them to be instantly removed. Recovery happens one day at a time! Your lifelong hurts, hang-ups, and habits need to be worked on in twenty-four-hour increments. You’ve heard the old cliché: “Life by the yard is hard; life by the inch is a cinch.” Jesus said the same thing: “So don’t be anxious about tomorrow, God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time” (Matthew 6:34, TLB).
When I start to regret the past or fear the future, I look to Exodus 3:14 where God tells us that His name is “I am.”
I’m not sure who gets the credit for the following illustration, but it’s right on. God tells me that when I live in the past with its mistakes and regrets, life is hard. I can take God back there to heal me, to forgive me, to forgive my sins. But God does not say, “My name is ‘I was.’” God says, “My name is ‘I am.’”
When I try to live in the future, with its unknown problems and fears, life is hard. I know God will be with me when that day comes. But God does not say, “My name is ‘I will be.’” He says, “My name is I am.”
When I live in today, this moment, one day at a time, life is not hard. God says, “I am here.” “Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Let’s look at the letter R: RECOVERY is a process, “one day at a time” after “one day at a time.”
Once you ask God to remove your character defects, you begin a journey that will lead you to new freedom from your past. Don’t look for perfection, instead rejoice in steady progress. What you need to seek is “patient improvement.” Hear these words of encouragement from God’s Word: “And I am sure that God who began a good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns” (Philippians 1:6, TLB).
The last letter in victory is Y: YOU must choose to change.
As long as you place self-reliance first, a true reliance on Jesus Christ is impossible. You must voluntarily submit to every change God wants you to make in your life and humbly ask Him to remove your shortcomings. God is waiting to turn your weaknesses into strengths. All you need to do is humbly ask!
“God gives strength to the humble, … so give yourselves humbly to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. And when you draw close to God, God will draw close to you” (James 4:6–8, TLB).
To make changes in our lives, all I had to do and all you need to do is to be entirely ready to let God be the life-changer. We are not the “how” and “when” committee. We are the preparation committee: all we have to be is ready!
Tonight, Jesus is asking you, “Do you want to be healed, do you want to change?” You must choose to change. That’s what Principle 5 is all about! Let’s close with prayer.
Dear God, show me Your will in working on my shortcomings. Help me not to resist the changes that You have planned for me. I need You to “direct my steps.” Help me stay in today, not get dragged back into the past or lost in the future. I ask You to give me the power and the wisdom to make the very best I can out of today. In Christ’s name I pray, Amen.