Posted: Oct. 19, 2012 at 9:04 AM

Andrée Seu Peterson

‘Fake it till you make it’


Alcoholics Anonymous has a lot of good advice because they took it from the Bible. All Twelve Steps are shamelessly cribbed from Scripture—from the counsel to surrender to a “Higher Power” to the exhortation to “make amends” to the people we have harmed.

AA also has cool sayings, which you may have noticed on the bumpers of cars, next to the faded “Obama ’08” campaign stickers: “Easy does it,” and, “One day at a time.”

One such saying is “Fake it till you make it.”

On the surface this saying would seem to be antithetical to the Bible and not derived from it. Faking is pretending, is it not? It is counterfeit, a sham, false appearances, fraud, bogus, and deceit, whereas God is all about truth (John 14:6)?

But the advice to “Fake it till you make it” is for when you are feeling shaky on that third day of sobriety, encouraging you to persevere with the counsel of the program until someday it becomes second nature to be sober. Grow into the fullness of what you are becoming by walking in the footsteps of it one day at a time. To put it another way, learn to be sober by being sober.

Where is the Bible root of “Fake it till you make it”? It is this:

“… put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life … be renewed in the spirit of your minds … put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24).

“Put to death what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire. … Put on … compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Colossians 3:5,12).

“But how can we do these things!” you protest. “How can we change ourselves by our own strength!” Answer: It isn’t by your own strength but by the strength of God within you by His Spirit, by which you declare: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Consciously “putting on” kindness when it doesn’t feel like “me” is not hypocritical; it’s obedience. Walking by the commands of God and not our feelings, we gradually grow into the new creation Jesus died for us to be. AA’s “Fake it till you make it” is a cheap imitation of this: Obey God with all your heart—and watch him change your heart.