Being a Moral Inventory Are We Making a Confession of Our Sins in Step Five

12 step addiction treatment

By Jamie Moon

Many have asked the question, “Is it a Confession of our sins in Step Five?” Well the answer to that is not as straight forward as it might seem. Firstly, we will have to understand the origins of the word sin. The world gets most of its focus on the word sin from the ancient writings. The Greek word hamartia is translated as sin in the New Testament of the Bible; which was mostly originally translated from ancient Greek. In Greek, it means "to miss the mark" or "to miss the target"—the term sin was also used in Old English archery terms. So, using that definition I would definitely say, yes we confess our sins in Step Five. However moral errors (or missing the mark) are only a part of our Confession.


Confession is the difference between our intentions/our decisions, and our actions. There is also the difference between those decisions that have not brought us what we really wanted in our lives and those that bring us what we really wanted in our lives. Then in order to understand a moral inventory we will also take a look at the word moral in a slightly different way. The definition of moral is usually set by a particular philosophy, religion, culture, or the like. So moral is subjective; as is our personal inventory. I myself don’t like the words good and bad/evil, right and wrong, though they are the words they use in many inventories. I prefer error or mistake not to reduce our responsibility but to make that responsibility—right sized.

Our inventories are a fact finding, fact facing process. So with that in mind, a Confession is a statement made by us conceding some delicate fact that we would rather keep hidden; a fact generally associated with an admission of an error in judgment. The acknowledgement of our part in the creation of our lives is a primary step in our path to forgiveness and atonement for any mistakes made on either side of any situation. Our Confession involves three elements. The first is the act of Confession itself, (which is simply telling on ourselves) it recognizes the act as an error and has our Acceptance of responsibility for our part. The second part is the feeling of regret and repentance by us (which may not come in this stage of the Step process). The final element in our Confession is the resolve not to repeat the error, which usually means getting help through a commitment to continued practice of the Twelve Steps. Without having all three parts the Confession is of little value.

We are learning much about the Principles and therefore about the Twelve Steps. Confession as I said is just plain telling on ourselves—which simply means NOT keeping secrets. Secrets are the downfall of every individual that hopes for sanity. Secrets are the basis of insanity. If you have been following these articles you may have noticed the gentle movement toward a more conscious and therefore a saner life. Inch by inch—Step by Step—we get closer to the awakening of our consciousness. Instead of our consciousness being—mostly run by our unconscious past faulty beliefs—it is more and more run by our conscious mind.

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