Over the years I’ve often heard of the “Twelve Steps” of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). One day I decided to look them up and couldn’t help but see that the steps echo principles of biblical repentance such as turning from sin and ourselves to God in both heart and mind. For example, step 1 states, “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable” (see Romans 7:18, Romans 8:13). Step 2 is, “[We] came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity” (see John 10:10; 2 Corinthians 12:9).
Skipping to step 5: “[We] admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” Step 5 emphasizes robust confession involving God, ourselves, and others (James 5:16). Then step 10 takes AA’s repentance further: “[We] continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”
When I first heard the gospel, people emphasized initial confession and repentance. I thought repentance was a one-time thing when I heard, “Repent . . . for the Kingdom of Heaven is near” (Matthew 3:2). So I repented by making a general sort of confession about me being a sinner, accepted the gift of salvation, and vowed to follow Jesus with all my heart.
Since then, however, I’ve learned that becoming like Christ (see Romans 8:30) involves continual repentance—naming particular sins and turning away from them and toward Jesus. While we live, the kingdom of God is ever near to us (Matthew 3:2; Acts 17:27). Thus, we are to repent. As James 5:16 tells us, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” And as we live out lives of ongoing repentance, God graces us with profound healing.
Taken from “Our Daily Journey”