New Light on the Twelve Steps
Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Step 6 is often referred to as a companion of Step 7. Ice McQ, in his book, The Steps We Took, states Step 6 is walked out alongside Step 7. It is a step of great hope, for as Ice and Charlie say in the "Big Book Study Tapes;" "There is no excuse now for your life not to work, because you have made God responsible for changing you, and He will if you let Him."
What defects of character? When we first read through the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, before we have begun to work them, this step is puzzling. What defects of character? We have not been asked to make a list of our defects of character. A searching and fearless moral inventory of our-selves, yes, and an admission of the exact nature of our wrongs, yes. But a list of our character defects? It takes working the steps to see the implication of step five’s "confessed…the exact nature of our wrongs." We are asked to name the exact reason we acted the way we did when we wronged someone else. There it hits us. at made us act that way? at "defect in our character" caused this selfish reaction that harmed others to protect ourself? How do we discover specifically what these "defects" are?
Page 64 in AA’s Big Book tells us, "We searched out the flaws (defects) in our make-up which caused our failure." It is understood the flaws are causing the failure of our lives. How do we discover these flaws and become willing to have them removed? We have to know exactly what they are before we can honestly say we are ready to have them removed. After receiving the salvation of Jesus Christ through the Cross, as a vessel we contain the perfection of Jesus Christ, "Presenting every man perfect in Christ Jesus" (Col. 1:28). So what are these imperfect characteristics that cause so much pain and which we obviously cannot control? The Big Book continues in the same paragraph on page 64, "Being convinced that self, manifested in its various ways, was what had defeated us, we considered its common manifestations" So it was self, (manifested in its various ways) the Big Book refers to as our "character defects" We know it is not just "self," but "self-for-self," or Satan, manifested in his various ways, who is the root of the problem.
Paul explains in Galatians 5:17, "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh and these are contrary the one to the other…" So Satan operates us through our unbelief that we are a bad self; He stirs up trouble by tempting us to believe that it’s just us that wants to act out in a "character defect," when in reality it is him and his deeds that are being expressed. "Ye are the children of your father the devil, and his deeds ye do" (John 8:44). Paul gives a detailed list in the fourth and fifth chapters of Ephesians of the character defects we are to avoid.
"Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more" (4:19). "Therefore each of you must put off falsehood.." (Eph. 4:25), and "He who has been stealing must steal no longer" (4:28), "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth" (4:29), "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice" (4:31). He includes his instructions on the subject, warning strongly, "So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles (unbelievers) do, in the futility of their thinking" Paul explains their thinking is futile and darkened as a con-sequence of hardening their hearts. "They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.." (Eph. 4:17, 18). So what is our hope? We cannot keep these orders! As the Big Book exclaims in the "How it Works" chapter, "What an order, I can’t go through with it!" As hopeless as this cry sounds, it is the perfect place to be. Only when we admit powerlessness can God begin to do for us what we cannot (and were not meant to be We to) do for ourselves.
First Corinthians 10:13 assures us first of all that "there hath no temptation taken you but such is common to man…." We are not special and Satan is not original. The character flaws he has acted out by us have been acted out by thousands of others since the Garden of Eden. We find comfort in knowing others have faced and been freed from the same behaviors that seem to defeat us today. We can be delivered from them if we are truly willing. As 1 Cor. 10:13 finishes, "but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able: but will, with the temptation, also make a way to escape, that ye may be We to bear it."
So now we face Step 6. God has promised deliverance if we "were entirely willing…" How do we become entirely willing? If we are seeing our-selves as independent selves that have to choose to be good or change wrong behaviors, we are already doomed. As Rees Howells puts it in the book, Rees Howells, Intercessor, on page 43, "…How can self be willing to give up self?" His answer comes from the Holy Spirit, and it is an answer that is used in step meetings world-wide today. The Spirit told Rees, "If you can’t be willing, would you like Me to help you? Are you willing to be made willing?" Rees continues the story with Satan’s counter attack. "Take care," Rees said Satan whispered to him. "When a stronger person than yourself is on the other side, to be willing to be made willing, is just the same as to be willing."
This is how Step 6 works. We let the Spirit, who has all strength, do for us what we cannot do for ourselves, because, as we realized in Step one, we are powerless; we have no strength of our own. We can only contain Christ and let Him express His strength through us.
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 11 No 2
- God’s Obsession
- Isaiah 45:5-8
- Editor’s Note
- Moments with Meryl
- Excerpts from The Intercession of Rees Howells
- Thoughts on Abraham
- The Single Eye
- The Letter to the Romans
- My Story
- Questions & Answers
- The Key To Everything
- God’s Promises
- The Mailbox
- New Light on the Twelve Steps
- Tape Talk
- Words to Live By