Cleaning House

The Inside job

“Okay, now what? I’ve given my life to God as I understand Him (Jesus).” The trashcan cannot be “clean” until the garbage is dumped. It does not matter how much we polish the outside, the trash will continue to ripen unless we get rid of it! We need to examine ourselves to find out what brought us to this state of brokenness and offer our future to the care of God.

Step 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Let us examine ourselves and repent and turn again to the Lord. Let us lift our hearts and our hands to Him in heaven
Lamentations 3:40-41

Searching– Examining closely or thoroughly; probing.
Moral– Having to do with right and wrong in conduct.
Inventory– An evaluation or a survey, as of abilities, assets, or resources.

Surrendered to the fact that we cannot manage our own lives in our present state, we face our fears of the future, changes, and our past. We pray for guidance from God and ask for suggestions from others. We honestly rely on our new-found hope that we can change, bolstered by our faith that this is what God would have us do. We find the courage to reach out to God and others for help and to look at our past. Courage is not acting without fear but rather acting in spite of our fears. We list our resentments-who and what we don’t like, and why. We look for our part in the resentment and see where we were selfish, dishonest, self-seeking and frightened. We list our faults, our fears and harms done others. We come to rely on God to guide us, to show us how to see things with faith in His absolute control, and fear and shame begin to leave us.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 
Psalm 139:23

Step 5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Admit your faults to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
James 5:16
Exact– Strictly and completely in accord with fact; not deviating from truth or reality
Nature- the appearance or aspect of a person, place, or thing that is considered to reflect reality
Wrongs– To treat unjustly or injuriously.

With God’s help we have discovered a lot about ourselves, especially where we had been selfish and self-centered. Being honest about ourselves with another person will confirm that we have been honest with ourselves and God, while also allowing us to become more willing to take advice and direction from others. Our own perception of reality can be a little “blurry” if we don’t share our inventory with someone we trust. Establishing accountability in this way, we determine factually the kind of unjust or injurious treatment we have inflicted on others. The actions we should avoid in the future and the direction we should take to improve our behavior become apparent. Our total and complete honesty with another will strengthen our faith, and therefore build up our courage to be free of all of our secrets, fears and egoism.
  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
Romans 10:10
We resolve to do what God would have us do to best serve Him and our brothers and sisters alike, so we carefully choose who we share with, being mindful to not cause undue pain or discomfort to that individual. We hold nothing back and get everything out into the light and discover that the past begins to lose power over us, that our burdens are lifted and we can walk into a new freedom and know new happiness. We begin to feel the nearness of God in new ways, and our faith grows even more.

Step 6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
So give yourselves humbly to God… then, when you realize your worthlessness before the Lord, He will lift you up, encourage and help you.
James 4:7-10
Ready– Mentally disposed; willing:
Defect– An imperfection that causes inadequacy or failure; a shortcoming.
Character– Moral or ethical strength.

We started on this path willing to have our circumstances change and have discovered along the way that what needs to change is us. We admitted that we cannot change ourselves but came to believe that God can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.  Drawing on our new-found courage, we become ready to “let go” of our old ways. Our inventory disclosed much of what brought us to our bottom and we have discovered the cause of our behaviors as well as their effect on others. Through confession to another we find the flaws which have developed into our lack of moral or ethical strength in the various areas of our life. We also see that these very flaws have become a big part of our being, and to give them up completely and absolutely is a very uncomfortable proposition. We must rely all the more on God to not only remove our defects but also provide His grace to replace them. And we are not disappointed. Our new found hope, faith and courage continue to strengthen. The very fruit He blesses us with is increased before our eyes, as we become willing to participate in His miracles.

Five key points which lead to readiness are:

  • Admit He knows best (honesty)
  • Anticipate it will be better (hope)
  • Accept these changes as needed (faith)
  • Acknowledge He will change you (courage)
  • Act on these principles (integrity)

My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.

Proverbs 2:1-5

As we sort through our past, we look at what has helped us as much as what has hurt us. We are searching for where we were wrong in word, deed or perception. We seek God’s wisdom in what is revealed to us while we list and then confess to another the exact nature of our wrongs, so that we may gather up “the trash” (those flaws we have discovered) and get ready to have it taken away. Now our house is nearly ready to receive the “makeover” so desperately needed.

First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
Matthew 23:26

Each step we take builds on the previous step and we draw ever nearer to God as we continue on our journey. The past begins to look not quite as bad as it did, and the future is looking just a little better than it did. What we have done or used to be like begins to lose power over who we are now. What we should be or could be loses power over who we are now as well. We are learning to look less at our past or our future and we begin to live as we are now, today. We have much to do still, but we are already halfway through the steps. We have begun to emerge from our guilt and shame of our past while also reducing our expectations of the future. Our focus is on the here and now, looking to do the very next right thing indicated, secure in the knowledge that God is in charge of all outcomes.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11

Overcomers Outreach uses the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Holy Bible to discover the wisdom of God and apply His teachings to our daily lives. We claim Jesus Christ as our “higher power” and share our trials and victories with one another in a confidential and secure environment. We meet weekly in loving support of one another, not as a substitute for, but rather a supplement to other 12 step groups. We are non-professional and non-profit, and we welcome anyone who is not opposed to our general method of recovery, whatever his or her presenting problem.

The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous teach us how to apply principles of living as God would have us live. One way to understand the steps is to group them into four parts: give up, clean up, make up and grow up. First we learn the principles by “working” the steps, then apply these same principles to our daily walk.

For more information or to find a meeting, contact us:
OVERCOMERS OUTREACH
6528 Greenleaf Ave., Ste. 223
Whittier, CA  90601
1-800-310-3001
www.overcomersoutreach.org