In Alcoholics Anonymous we speak of the God of our understanding. From the point of view of recovery, the nature of that understanding is irrelevant. The organization, though, arose based on the precepts of a Christian movement called the Oxford Group, and for a large majority of members of 12-step programs, their perception of the nature of God is informed by a Christian background. There are numerous bible verses that can and do apply to drinking and recovering addicts.
Without any disrespect intended to any other faiths or any specific understanding of a Higher Power here are some verses from the Bible that may be of benefit to those suffering from alcohol addiction. God’s word can bring solace to the Christian but can also be valuable to those of a different faith. All quotes are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.
1. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1)
Our Higher Power is benevolent and shepherds us toward sobriety. He takes away our “want” of alcohol.
2. Jesus wept. (John 11:35)
The shortest verse in the bible and taking it as it stands and without the context, it shows the compassionate Christ.
3. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:2)
As substance abusers, we had another god, one we gave power to, but was not our higher power.
4. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11: 1)
W/we cannot reach out and physically touch God. We rely on faith as so eloquently defined here and believe contrary to the evidence of our senses that our Higher Power is there and will guide us.
5. (For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee (Deuteronomy 4:31)
Our Higher Power never turns away from us, but always looks toward us. It is we who turn our backs.
6. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)
Addiction to us is the thief. It steals joy, kills pride, and destroys families. Our Higher Power does the opposite and in helping us against addiction provides a new and very abundant life as shown in the ninth step promises.
7. A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (John 13:34)
Our Higher Power showed love by setting us free. This verse adjures us to love others. One way we do this is to carry the message to the still suffering alcoholic.
8. Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? 30 Those who linger long at the wine, those who go in search of mixed wine. (Proverbs 23:29-30)
There is no space for the entire quote which is Proverbs 23: 29-35, but it captures the issues of drunkenness very well and ends, “when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.”
9. And wine that maketh glad the heart of man (Psalm 104:15)
Our Higher Power is not opposed to alcohol use but against alcohol abuse.
10. Drink no longer water but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities. (1 Timothy 5;23)
Here the Apostle Paul acknowledges that wine can be used for medical reasons.
11. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32)
As we follow the 12 -step programs we learn the truth of what we were and what we can become and that brings so much freedom. Redemption is freedom.
12. Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing, (Judges 13:4)
This is one of many places where the bible speaks against strong drink.
13. That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1: 12)
In our sobriety, we should be an example of what God can do for us.
14. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 4:19)
This is sometimes used to say that God will provide material wealth, but the needs He supplies are far more important. I was a sick person and my Higher Power gave me the sobriety I needed.
15. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:19)
It is for the Christian, the Holy Spirit with which they are now filled.
16. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:13)
When we acknowledged that only a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity then we started the search.
17. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: (1 Peter 5:8)
This is a good bible verse for cautioning vigilance. For those of us who have a substance abuse problem if we slip, it can devour our very souls.
18. Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. (James 1:12)
There are benefits to overcoming the temptation to relapse. These are not just physical, financial, and social but spiritual as well.
19. Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:21)
This is harsh! To place murder and drunkenness together is the harshest condemnation of excessive alcohol consumption in the bible. These form part of what Paul calls the works of the flesh.
20. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (1 John 2:16)
Desires of the flesh are not the way to a closer relationship with God.
21. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (1 Peter 4:10)
This goes back to spreading the word, we become apostles of sobriety. This is how we show God’s love manifested in the world.
22. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you. (1 Peter 5:10)
God in the wake of our sufferings will make us whole.
23. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8)
I like this for the eleventh step which calls on us to make conscious contact with God through prayer and meditation.
24. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened
We ask for help with our addiction and it is guaranteed to be given.
25. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. (1 Corinthians 13:13)
Paul puts charity (in modern translations, the word love is used) ahead of hope and even faith. That like many verses here could be the foundation for an entire sermon.
26. No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light. (Luke 11:33)
Hiding the gifts that we have received does not make sense. We don’t hide the DVDs we were given for Christmas, why hide the gifts that our Higher Power has given us.
27. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. (Mark 9:24)
For me, this is such a powerful statement. Who imagines asking God for help believing? Yet we can.
28. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all. (John 18:38)
I have always found this question the most profound question in the Bible. What is truth? There is no simple answer, but by following the right path we can begin to explore the answer.
29. For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags. (Proverbs 23:21)
There is a consequence to our alcohol addiction.
30. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: (Luke 6:37)
When we do our personal inventory, we will find that we want to judge and condemn, yet we must forgive.
31. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. (Psalm 23:6)
This brings the post full circle as we return to the psalm that started it. This is the gift that our Higher Power and sobriety give us.
32. The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)
And here as a final verse is a great verse that we offer a simple prayer for all those we know including the still suffering.
Loosely speaking, Christian perceptions of God fall into two categories. On the one hand, is a loving God and on the other hand a stern forbidding Lord. Some people may have a perception of a Higher Power as a whip-wielding figure. These selections are based largely on my perception of a God who cared enough to bail me out of addiction.
As much as these verses apply to alcohol addiction, they can apply equally to all substance abuse disorders and all sorts of addictions. They can also inspire addiction recovery. I have managed to avoid deep exegesis in many of these verses and hope they can be a blessing.
Note: For those unaware of the conventions of biblical referencing, it works like this:
Name of the book in the Bible followed by chapter and a colon followed by the verse or verses. As an example, Zephaniah 3: 5 refers to the fifth verse of the third chapter in the book of Zephaniah.