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John Doyle wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have been attending a 12-step program (Celebrate Recovery) at a Protestant church.

The first step reads:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable.

Followed by a corresponding Bible verse Romans 7:18:

I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.
For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

Romans 7:18 NIV

This bothers me because included in my daily prayers are the words:

Behold I stand at the door and knock. Whomever opens the door I will come to him and dine with him. My Father and I will make our dwelling place within him.

(John 14:23, Revelation 3:20)

I wonder if I should share this with the group.


  { Should I share these passages with my addiction group though they seem to contradict each other? }

Mike replied:

Dear John,

You quoted: Romans 7:18 but let's step back and see the wider context of this verse by viewing Romans 7:14-20.

Bob or someone else on the team can correct me if I'm wrong, but in this passage St. Paul is talking about the internal fight going on within all of us between our natural inclination to sin due to concupiscence and the good we want to do by following the Lord.

14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

Romans 7:14-20

If one is truly striving on a regular basis to follow the Lord with all his heart, indeed, as you referred to in Revelation:

20 [he] will come to Him and dine with Him and [His] Father and I will make our dwelling place within him.

(Revelation 3:20)

So there is nothing to be concerned about. The only time we won't have to deal with the struggles St. Paul is referring to is when we are six feet in the ground : ) so don't let this passage from Romans bother you. There is no real need to share this will the group and they may misinterpret the verse.

  • Stick with whatever addiction program you are involved with
  • Persevering in prayer during the process, and
  • Keep reading the Scriptures and praying the Rosary.

I hope this helps,

My colleagues may have more to add.


Bob replied:


Don't worry; the verse is intended to show that without God we are incapable of becoming who we are called to be.

Protestants tend to have a view of humanity that is called total depravity, that is, totally bad.

Catholics have a different perspective; we see humanity as ontologically good, but broken.

God made us essentially good; our existence is good (even all the damned souls and spirits are good in this sense), but we broke it and now we can't fix it unless God empowers us to do so.

He is the power, strength, and source of our new self.

So, the verse you find solace in, . . . I stand at the door and knock, is really the human being moved by grace to reach out to God. It is a positive all around. God reaches down, and like an open child, we reach back up. It is a cooperation with the grace of God. That is Catholic theology at it's best. God moving in the individual, and the individual saying yes.

So, share it, you may touch someone — but there is a fundamental difference in the theology of human nature between Catholics and Protestants, so you could find some raised eyebrows in that kind of a discussion.

In this context however, I don't think it would be an issue.


Bob Kirby

John replied:

Thanks guys,

I'm still thinking abut it and how God declared His creation Good after each day.


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