With Submission - James 4:4-17

(I realize our focal passage doesn’t start until verse 6 but I felt like we need to start back at verse 4.)

 

Write the word SUBMISSION on the board or a large sheet of paper. Ask the class the following questions.

1.      What words or phrases do you associate with “submission?” (Give up; Yield; Surrender; acceptance; consent; compliance; etc.)

(Write the responses on the board. There may be both negative and positive words and phrases.)

2.      Why do you think “submission” is such an emotionally-charged word?

3.      Is submission a good thing or a bad thing? (I just read this week a statement by President Reagan. “Peace is America’s highest aspiration. We will fight for it, we will sacrifice for it, but we will never surrender for it.”)

4.      How can submission in the right circumstances be advantageous to the one submitting? (In a sense we all submit under some circumstances: to our mate; our boss; and ultimately to our Lord.)

Draw a slash between the first two syllables of the word SUBMISSION, so it reads SUB/MISSION.

Explain: When you break the word down, you see that “submission” simply means placing one goal or purpose (mission) underneath (sub) another.

Submission to God means placing our own desires beneath God’s desires. James 4 shows us why that is so difficult as well as how to do it!

 

Through Desire! Read James 4:4-5

 

1.      In what sense were the Christians James was writing to “adulteresses?” (They were “two-timing” God! They were trying to hold on to the world and God at the same time.)

2.      How did James describe what “friendship with the world” is in relationship to God?

The Christian who wants to hang on to the worldly lifestyle is, in fact the enemy of God!

3.      How would you describe the lifestyle of a Christian who wants to hold on to the world and God at the same time? (No matter how hard one tries you can’t live in both worlds! See Matt. 6:24)

4.      In what sense does the Holy Spirit, Who lives in us, “yearn jealously”? (See Deut. 6:15 and Ex. 34:14.)

 

Our passions and selfish desires are always at odds with God’s will and desire, which is why verse 6 is so important.

Class, count the number of direct commands as we read these verses.

Through Humility! Read James 4:6-10

 

1.      Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness is recorded in Matt. 4:1-11. How did Jesus resist the devil when He was tempted?

2.      How have you resisted the devil’s temptations with the Word of God?

3.      What is the relationship between being humble and being able to resist the devil?

4.      Can a person do one without the other? (“Pride goes before a great fall!” It is only as we humbly yield our will to God that we can defeat Satan’s temptations!)

5.      How do attitudes of pride and humility impact spiritual disciplines, like prayer, quiet time and Bible study? (Pride says we can do things on our own and prevents us from depending on prayer, quiet time, and Bible study for growth. Humility recognizes that we have responsibilities to protect ourselves from sin and to seek God’s help.)

In verses 9-10, James was not suggesting that Christians must go around being miserable all the time. That would contradict what he taught in James 1:2 about trials producing joy. The key to understanding these verses is realizing that James was addressing sinners. Our misery, mourning, and weeping are related to our grieving over our sin the way God does. When we humbly deal with our sin, God will exalt us!

 

Through Grace! Read James 4:11-12

 

1.      How does the gospel make us humble? (We remember that, as believers, our sins were severe enough to warrant death. We are unable to overcome sin on our own and unable to save ourselves from our deserved punishment. When we mourn over our own sinful state, we more likely will be slow to judge others who struggle with obedience.)

2.      Read Gal. 6:1. How does this verse help us understand these two verses in James? (We are not to turn a blind eye to a fellow believer’s sin, but don’t use their struggle as an opportunity to be prideful and slander them.)

We don’t talk about people whose lives are better than ours. We always want to pick someone who, in our opinion is worse than us!

3.      Who is the only One able to judge?

 

Now James talks about God and why we are to surrender to His sovereign plan.

 

Through Submission! Read James 4:13-16

 

Have class members read: Prov. 3:5-6; 16:1-4; 19:20-21; 21:5.

 

1.      Was James telling us not to make plans? (No)

2.      If not, how are we to make plans? (Submit to God by asking Him what plans I should make, and then follow His direction.)

3.      How does a posture of submission help us balance thoughtful planning with uncertainty in the future? (We are to be good stewards of our resources, while maintaining a humble attitude that acknowledges God is in control.)

As believers, we must submit our own will to His. God’s plans are the best plans. He knows the future!

4.      What do these verses say about leaving a legacy? (We likely won’t be remembered for long here on earth, no matter the legacy we work to build up. However, as unknown and fleeting as our time on earth is, we know our eternal future and, therefore, focus on storing eternal treasures. See Matt. 6)

 

Through Obedience! Read James 4:17

 

Living life outside of the will of God is the ultimate expression of arrogance. It turns the believer into a judge and purveyor of truth to others, when that is really God’s role. It plans a life that is not promised to be there tomorrow. Obedience is a key attitude that believers must embrace.

1.      Do you believe what I just read is true?

2.      Which of the attitudes mentioned in today’s lesson is the most difficult to sustain?

3.      How have you found pride to be an obstacle to doing the good you know you ought to do?

God reveals His will to us, and when we respond with delayed obedience, we are actually responding in disobedience. We arrogantly think we can find the right time to obey, but we need to humbly submit to God’s direction and His timing.

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

What has God been calling you to give up or to take up?

Is there an area where you have been delaying in obedience?

 

We are called to humbly submit to God’s will. This includes resisting sin and submitting to God’s plans and direction.

 

What is the first step you need to take to obey God today?

Write that down, and plan to follow through this week.

Be encouraged that when you come near to God, “he will draw near to you”!

With Control - James 3:1-12

1.      On a scale from 1 to 10 with 10 the most; how powerful are words?

2.      When you think about words that have made a difference in the world around us what comes to mind?

We just finished a mid-term election. I heard words that were hateful, vindictive and borderline downright criminal.

3.      Consider the last time you were hurt by someone’s words. How did the impact of this compare to the impact of a compliment?

We all have opportunities to speak words that are healing rather than words that tear down and humiliate.

4.      When was the last time you chose to use negative words when you could have used positive words that would help bring healing?

Our words influence others. They can teach and encourage others, but they are also dangerous and able to quickly tear others down. James warned believers to guard their speech!

James skillfully packed over six analogies into just twelve verses. All of them deal with one subject—the difficulty of controlling the tongue.

5.      In your opinion, why is controlling the tongue such an important issue for Christians?

Today we will discuss “Genuine Maturity,” especially as it relates to our speech!

 

When Teaching the Truth! Read James 3:1-2

 

Many, if not most, of the Christians at this point were Jewish converts. The Jews had a high regard for their teachers or rabbis. The indication here is that there may have been many desiring to be teachers for the wrong reasons.

1.      What does it mean that teachers will be judged strictly?

2.      What danger is there for a teacher who really is not ready to teach but insists on teaching? (They may not be teaching the truth, and thus leading people astray!)

If one claiming to be a teacher leads someone astray, that person may leave the church having lost faith in the leaders.

3.      If teachers are held to a high standard, why would someone want to assume that role? (Our speech has an unusually strong power to influence others. Teachers have a special place in this, and must be careful that their teachings are biblically accurate.)

Teachers need to be given positive comments from time to time. Of course, no two people will teach the same, so we must realize God uses different personalities in His kingdom.

The phrase “does not stumble” is interpreted “perfect” in some translations. Of course, this does not mean without sin. It is translated “mature” in some translations.

4.      How does mastery over the tongue prove one fit to teach?

 

Teachers need to be careful about both their teaching and their speech in general, since they occupy a place of influence. Watch out for false teaching, gossip, hateful speech, and hypocrisy.

 

When Influencing Others! Read James 3:3-6

 

James uses three metaphors here: the bit in the horse’s mouth, the rudder of a large ship and a small fire. In each illustration, something very small is controlling something very large. While the bit and rudder can have both positive and negative uses the fire is all negative. While James didn’t say anything positive about the tongue in verse 6, we know that the tongue can be used for good. But James spoke in absolutes.

His point is very clear: Human beings, in their own strength, cannot tame the tongue!

 

1.      How does the skill required to ride a horse or to navigate a ship compare to skillful use of words?

2.      When you think about a small fire burning a large forest, how can words have an equally devastating effect?

3.      What are some strategies we can use to control our speech? (James warned us of the potentially destructive nature of the tongue. Some suggestions for controlling our tongues can include pausing before speaking, prayer, and Scripture memorization.)

4.      When is harsh language acceptable? (Jesus and even Peter and Paul were not always tame in their speech. We should always be thoughtful and controlled in our speech, especially in difficult situations.)

 

Words are Important

 

Words are powerful.                                    Prov. 12:6, 18; 15:4; 18:21

Eph. 4:29

 

Words are a window into                Matt. 12:34; James 1:26;

the heart.                                            James 3:11-12

 

Controlling the tongue is key           Proverbs 13:3; 21:23

to a successful life.

 

God will hold us accountable for    Matthew 12:36-37

every careless word spoken.

 

We need God’s help to control        Psalm 19:14

the tongue.

 

(Read some of these passages as time permits!)

 

When Offering Praise! Read James 3:7-12

 

According to verses 9-10, even our praise of God is corrupted by our uncontrollable tongue.

1.      Why does the praise of God demand a tongue that is under His control?

2.      Why do you think people have this double standard in the way we speak to God and the way we speak to those created in His image?

No human being can control his or her own tongue, but that doesn’t mean it is uncontrollable. In order for a horse’s bit or a ship’s rudder to be effective, what is required?—Someone who takes the reins or has a hand on the ship’s wheel. If a human being can’t do it, who can? See James 3:15-17.

 

The ability to control the tongue must come from outside ourselves, since it cannot come from within. We must constantly ask the Holy Spirit to take control of our speech, since we are not capable of controlling it on our own. The good news is the Holy Spirit can and will help us control our speech if we ask Him to.

 

3.      How can we use our speech to measure the consistency of our walk with God?

4.      How is a person’s speech a mirror of a person’s character?

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

Ask the class to keep you in their prayers as you try to teach the Word accurately.

 

What are some areas where you need to repent of poisonous speech?  The tongue is disproportionately powerful!

 

What are some practical ways you can use your words this week to help others?

 

A true believer’s speech will reflect a heart changed by the gospel.

 

We all need the transformation process to continue in us.

 

Try to see the image of God in everyone you encounter this week, whether in person or through the media. Speak accordingly!

With Works - James 2:14-26

1.      What defines a hypocrite? (Hypocrisy is claiming to believe one thing but then acting in a way that is not consistent with those beliefs.)

2.      When have you seen hypocritical behavior?

Christians are often called hypocrites by society. While we are unable to live perfectly, true Christians should strive to live humbly and consistently with their beliefs.

The second chapter of James deals with the relationship between faith and works. As we study this passage, we need to continually ask, “What is the difference between saving faith and tangible evidence of our faith?”

 

Dead Faith! Read James 2:14-17

 

1.      What were James’ questions?

2.      How might people try to answer these questions?

3.      Why might a person claim to have faith without any resulting works?

4.      What’s the significance of the phrase “claims to have faith” in verse 14?

At first glance, it may appear that James said faith alone is not enough, and we also need works or deeds for salvation. A closer reading, though, reveals that James was actually speaking out against a claim of faith that’s not demonstrated by works.

Last month, in the book of Galatians, we studied how strongly Paul taught against those who would say, “Faith plus works” saves a person. James is saying “our actions provide proof of a true faith.”

Works are not required for our salvation; they are the proof of our salvation. A transformed life produces fruit!

5.      What is the relationship between what a person claims to believe, what a person truly believes, and how a person acts? (You can claim to believe something but not truly believe it. You can claim to believe something but not act on those beliefs. However, when people truly believe something, their actions will reflect those beliefs –though not always perfectly.)

 

Most of us have been to a funeral. We often say that the person in the casket “looks so natural,” or that they look like they are just sleeping. But we know that there is not life in that body. No matter how good a job the mortician did, no one can deny the person is dead!

6.      If we were looking for evidence that the person described in verses 15-16 truly desired that the brother or sister be taken care of, then what would we expect to find?

7.      What evidence might a person point to as proof that his or her faith is alive?

8.      How do the works of a person reveal the genuineness of his or her faith?

James seemed to anticipate people would want to argue with him on this point. So in the next section, he dealt with the objections people would have.

 

Working Faith! Read James 2:18-19 and Deut. 6:4-5

 

James reminded his readers of the most important faith statement in the Old Testament—Deuteronomy 6:4-5. Notice that in the Old Testament Moses didn’t just tell the Israelites to listen to the truth that the Lord our God is one but also to love God. Recall that last week, we studied James’s command that we not merely listen to the Word but that we do what it says!

 

1.      How does it impact you to know that demons believe the same thing about God that you do? (Intellectual ascent to a fact does not mean you place your faith in that fact.)

2.      Why did James point out that they both believe and shudder? (The demons’ belief in God didn’t bring them peace with God but only multiplied their fear of Him.)

3.      How should our belief in God be different from the demon’s belief?

4.      How should our fear of God be different from the demon’s fear of God?

5.      Why might someone recognize the truth of God’s existence but not follow Him? (The demons exemplify how head knowledge of God does not guarantee a heart that trusts God.)

The demons not only believe that God exists, but they understand His power and “shudder” in response. Nonetheless, they do not respond in faithful trust of God.

 

Saving Faith! Read James 2:20-26

 

1.      How do Abraham and Rahab illustrate the relationship between faith and works? (Abraham was a well-respected Jewish male patriarch while Rahab was a poor Gentile female prostitute. Both believed in God and put their faith in Him. This was seen in their actions.)

2.      Read Romans 3:28 and James 2:24. How do these verses give us a full view of salvation? (Paul was adamant that we are saved only by faith in Christ, not by works or good deeds. James appears to have said that faith is not enough and that we need works, too. However, as we have seen, James was actually saying that a faith that does not produce good works is not a true faith.)

Once again, we do not perform good deeds to be saved; we perform good deeds because we are saved! Good deeds have nothing to do with our salvation but they have everything to do with demonstrating to the world that our faith is genuine. Our faith is truly what it is said to be, or authenticated by our good deeds!

3.      How does understanding that we are saved by faith alone spur us to good works? (A grateful heart will be devoted to following Christ in action.)

 

Summarize and Challenge!

True faith is more than intellectual adherence!

How do we explain that salvation is truly by faith alone in Christ alone but that the evidence for saving faith is action?

Pray, asking God to help us know how to put our faith in action!

With Obedience - James 1:19-2:4

Yesterday Linda and I were talking about the rest of the day and what we needed to do. I asked her what time the Storm Chaser presentation would start this evening. Her response was, “I just told you not more than 10 minutes ago that it was 7 PM!”

1.      How can you tell if someone is really listening to you? (A good listener is quiet and focused, not distracted by surroundings or their own thoughts.)

James encouraged believers to listen carefully to God and respond by acting on what God has revealed.

In the day James wrote his letter it took literally months sometime for it to reach its destination.

2.      What is the time frame today we expect a communication to arrive at its intended destination? (Seconds, or perhaps minutes!)

3.      How do we respond if correspondence isn’t answered within minutes?

4.      How does the source of the message impact your response speed?

 

Today’s discussion from James will cover Genuine Faith!

As we have already seen in our study of James, this short letter is full of commands. And the first command we will study in this session is very practical but also very difficult.

 

Heeding! Read James 1:19-21

 

1.      What three qualities will increase our ability to hear? (Quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.)

I’m sure you have heard the saying “God gave us two ears and one mouth, and we should use them in proportions.” But so often, the angrier we get, the less we listen. James warned us that human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. If someone thinks we are ignorant, don’t open your mouth and prove it!

Read Proverbs 29:22 and Eph. 4:26.

James did not say never get angry but be “slow to anger.” The anger Paul talked about in Ephesians would not stir up conflict or increase rebellion, since that would be sinful. (Even Jesus got angry!)

2.      Which is easier—being quick to listen, slow to speak, or slow to anger?

3.      Which is the most difficult? (Difficult, stressful times often make us anxious and more likely to lash out in anger. We may seek immediate answers without truly taking time to listen.)

There is a difference between quickly losing our temper and the slow and righteous anger of God, which is directed toward sin.

4.      What commands did James give in verses 20-21? (“Rid yourself of all moral filth and evil. Humbly receive the implanted word.”)

The idea here is that the seed is planted and we must allow it to grow in us and produce righteous fruit!

5.      How do we help that seed to grow in us? (“Water” it daily with the “Living Water” from the Word of God!)

 

James instructed his audience to be quick to listen. But that doesn’t mean we should only listen. In the next passage, he will emphasize the importance of acting on what we hear.

 

Doing! Read James 1:22-25

 

1.      What command do we hear James give in these verses? (Be doers of the Word!)

Someone who only listens to the Word without doing anything about it is like a college student who audits a course but doesn’t receive any credit for it. But even worse, according to verse 22, they are deceiving themselves, which would be like a college student who expected to get credit for a course she didn’t do any work for.

2.      Can anyone think of another analogy that illustrates James’s point?

James gave another vivid word picture for this same concept in verses 23-24.

3.      What are you looking for when you look at yourself in the mirror?

4.      What might be some of the reasons people would give for not doing anything about what they saw in a mirror? (That’s what happens when you get old—I’m only human!)

5.      How does looking in a mirror parallel the reasons why we look into the Word of God? (Similarly, Scripture reveals our flaws, but it can also encourage us in knowing that we are growing to look more like Christ.)

6.      Why do we sometimes fail to act on the convictions we receive from studying God’s Word? (When this happens, we deceive ourselves. We may think no action is necessary or at least not from us. Maybe we don’t believe we can make a difference or don’t have the power to change.)

In verse 25, James wasn’t just speaking of future blessings in heaven. He said we will be blessed in what we do in response to God’s Word if we are following Him.

 

Once James established the importance of being doers of the word, he then gave his readers a specific example of how to be a doer.

 

Loving! Read James 1:26-2:4

 

1.      If you have a different translation of the Bible with you, what different words are used for “useless”?

2.      Why would failing to control his tongue make someone’s religious acts useless? (Loose tongues—gossip, angry speech, filthy talk, criticism and such—indicate a heart that has not been changed by the Holy Spirit.)

3.      Why do you think the care for orphans and widows is such a clear indicator of whether someone has truly responded to the gospel? (Compassionate care of those in need and a desire to keep from being polluted by the world indicates a heart that is following God, because God cares for these less fortunate!)

4.      How do we keep from being prejudiced because of race, ethnic origin, social standing, economic status—any dividing factor? Keep our eyes on Jesus and follow His example. It is particularly difficult to visit with guests who come into our worship setting or Bible Study class because we want to visit with our friends. But we must go out of our way to make them feel welcome!)

5.      How does expressing love to others regardless of social standing or life situation demonstrate the gospel?

6.      How does a person’s failure to show compassion to others demonstrate his or her need for the gospel?

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      Which of the commands we read about today—be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, rid ourselves of moral filth and evil, receive the implanted word, do the word, see yourself and what needs to be changed in God’s Word, look after orphans and widows, don’t be prejudiced—do you find most difficult to keep?

2.      What did this passage teach us about responding to Jesus’ work in our lives? (We need to let the Holy Spirit have the freedom to transform our hearts!)

3.      What are some ways we can demonstrate care and concern for either orphans or widows or the poor?

Without listening, we will not know what truly pleases God. However, if we listen but then don’t follow through in action, we haven’t truly heard.

4.      What are some strategies that have helped you improve in listening or action?

 

Pray asking God to strengthen our resolve not to merely listen to the Word but to do what it says!

 

With Perseverance - James 1:1-15

(Write “Joy,” “Trials,” “Testing,” and “Temptation” on the board.)

 

One of these is not like the other. Which one seems to be different, at least on the surface?

 

Very few people would consider going through a test, a trial or enduring a strong temptation to do wrong to be a positive experience, much less a great joy. Yet, that is exactly what James, the writer of this letter, tells his readers to do!

Read the opening paragraph on page 73 of the PSG.

 

1.      In what situations have you found yourself forced to decide whether to persevere?

2.      What motivated you to keep going?

In 2 Cor. 5:14 Paul says, “For the love of Christ constrains us…” In the context Paul is talking about sharing the gospel, but I think we could use that same phrase to say, “For the love of Christ constrains us…” to keep on keeping on for the sake of Christ’s love for us and the debt we owe but can never repay!

 

James wasn’t writing to a group of people who might someday face a trial. He was writing to people who were in the midst of trials—in this case, persecution—just as he was himself.

Read James 1:1. He was writing to the Christians dispersed throughout the known world. This letter was most likely written in the 40s after the persecution of the Christians started in earnest!

 

Joy Over Progress! Read James 1:2-4

 

1.      Why do you think James wasn’t specific when he wrote about “various trials”?

2.      What might someone’s response be if James had named a specific trial?

What James commanded them, and us, to do is not easy. James said “whenever” you face trials, not “if.”

3.      How many people do you know who would naturally consider facing hardships to be joyful?

This is a battle of the mind. This joy is not optional, and it originates in the mind rather than the emotions.

4.      Why is it important to win the battle in the mind when facing trials?

5.      How can trials strengthen a person’s character?

6.      In what ways do trials move a person toward maturity? (Someone training to run a marathon would not start running the entire 26.2 mile. You start with shorter distances and build up your endurance to your ultimate goal. The same is true in our spiritual walk. We will undergo trials and testing to help us grow spiritually to be more like Jesus.)

Notice the trials and testing is not the same for every person. God knows exactly what each one needs and is there with them through it all!

7.      What signals a mature faith? (As Christians, we strive for sanctification, to become more like Christ—producing the fruit of the Spirit!)

Some of the most mature Christians I know have been through many trials and tests! They are generally soft spoken and wise!

Read Romans 5:3-4!

 

Confidence in Him! Read James 1:5-8

 

1.      What promise do we find in these verses? (We will receive wisdom if we ask God for it.)

2.      What condition do we find here as well? (We must ask in faith, without doubting.)

Wisdom is not the same as knowledge. God may not give us the knowledge of why we are enduring a trial, but He will give us wisdom for enduring it.

3.      Look closely at verse 5. To whom does God give wisdom?

4.      How does He give it?

5.      Which part of the promise is most encouraging to you?

Has anyone been out on the sea during a strong storm? I’m sure we have all seen movies depicting a ship or fishing boat is caught in a strong storm. The boat is at the mercy of the sea. It is tossed about at the mercy of the waves. The Perfect Storm is a movie that gives a great example of such a situation.

6.      What life problems can spiritual doubt cause?

7.      What deceptions can lead to doubts during trials? (James warns us not to be double-minded doubters when we ask for wisdom.)

8.      Why do you think people often question the goodness of God when facing trials?

I don’t pretend to know why we undergo such horrific trials and testing! But, when we ask God for guidance, we need to be willing to follow through in obedience, trusting His goodness however He responds. I can’t help but think of Job when we talk about trials and testing. When God was silent His faith remained strong!

 

Remember, James is writing to believers who had been scattered because of persecution.

Focus on the Crown! Read James 1:9-12

 

1.      How does the gospel give those in humble situations a reason to find contentment? (No matter how humble your current situation, you are an heir of God the Father, a co-heir with Christ for eternity.)

2.      How does the gospel remind those in rich situations to be humble? (No matter how high or low your current position, Christians remember that their true standing with God is one of total dependence on Christ and His grace.)

3.      How do these verses encourage believers to persevere through trials? (The things of this world are temporary, whether good or bad. The crown of eternal life with our loving Father is all that matters.)

4.      How do trials cause us to refocus and redefine his or her goals?

5.      How does the promise of eternal life give hope when facing trials? (No matter how difficult or long our trials are in this life, they are only temporary!)

 

Guard Against Sin! Read James 1:13-15

Notice the life cycle of sin—conception to birth to fully grown to death.

1.      Where is sin conceived? (It is in our mind.)

2.      How do we stop sin at its very beginning in our mind? (Phil. 4:6-9.)

3.      What temptations might we face in the middle of trials? (Giving in to our own evil desires is not inevitable. There is always another choice.)

4.      Compare the life cycle in verses 3-4 with that in 13-15. How are the two similar? How are they different?

5.      Why do people often try to blame God for their sin?

6.      What does the birth process James described say to us about the way we should respond to evil desires in our lives?

7.      Why is it important to recognize the true source of sin in our life? (Humanity has been blaming others and God for sin since the Garden of Eden. We may blame God for the way He made us, our genetics, our upbringing, or our surroundings. In order to break free from sin, we must recognize that it is our own evil desires enticing us to sin. We cannot overcome temptation if we are too busy pointing our finger at other people or God!)

We must take responsibility for our thoughts and actions and see God’s help to escape temptation.

 

Summarize and Challenge!

·         God uses the trials of life to mature our faith.

·         Believers can confidently ask God to provide them with His wisdom.

·         Believers can endure the trials of this life, knowing that eternal life with our loving Father awaits them.

·         Believers must guard against allowing life’s trials to entice them into sin.

How have trials pressed you toward spiritual maturity in your life?

Identify some tests you are facing. Think of potential ways these tests can move you toward maturity.

Pray, thanking God for the crown He has promised to those who persevere.

True Compassion - Galatians 6:1-18

Who would like to share a way you have shown concern to someone this week who was not a family member or friend? You will not be bragging, we’ve asked a question and you can honestly answer by sharing a way you’ve helped someone!

 

This is our last study in Paul’s letter to the Galatian churches. The bulk of this letter addresses the issue of the Judaizers false gospel of grace plus works of the Law. Of course, Paul proclaimed the truth that salvation comes only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice on the cross.

 

In this closing passage today we’ll discover, even though we don’t know the outcome when we choose to take action, we are called as believers to be just as concerned with our brothers and sisters in Christ as we are about ourselves!

When you need help, where do you look first? (Most likely to family, then close friends then to Christian brothers!)

Paul reminded his readers that being followers of Christ means loving your neighbor as yourself. This includes helping others overcome sin, providing financial help, and not turning away from those who are struggling under a burden. Ultimately, loving others means we must share the truth of the cross with them!

 

Guards! Read Galatians 6:1-5

 

1.      What actions are believers to take in this passage?

2.      How are the characteristics of the Fruit of the Spirit to be applied in this passage? (Almost everyone comes into play here.)

3.      How was Paul treating the person mentioned in verse 1 differently from people who live according to the flesh? (This is a person who slips up, but does not have a lifestyle of sin.)

4.      Those who are walking in the power of the Holy Spirit have a responsibility to restore those who are caught in sin! How strongly do you agree with this statement on a scale of 1-5?

5.      How can spiritually minded Christians restore those who have succumbed to sin?

6.      Did anyone share anything in the group today that impacted how you would respond to that question now?

The Holy Spirit cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, and bestows the spiritual gifts by which they serve God through His church.

7.      How would you describe the difference between being used by the Holy Spirit and trying to act as the Holy Spirit for someone?

8.      Paul addressed the two mistakes that those who seek to restore others can experience if they are not guarded: conceit and boastfulness. How can a believer help others who are caught in sin without looking down upon them? (We should view them as a dearly beloved brother or sister and respond as we would want someone to help us be restored if we slip up.)

9.      Look at verse 1 and 5. Paul encouraged the Galatians to carry their own weight as much as possible, but when that weight became too heavy, he admonished brothers and sisters to help carry their weight. How do we find a balance between the two?

We must remember that it is only by the grace of God that we are not in that same situation ourselves!

 

The work of helping other Christians is not an easy process. It can be taxing with not many visible results. Paul continued by encouraging the church in its work and responsibility.

Stewards! Read Galatians 6:6-10

 

1.      How are those who walk in the Spirit to support their church leaders?

One of the ways God provides help during restoration is through the teaching of the Word of God by His called pastoral leaders. Paul reminded the church of the purpose of their work in bringing about a harvest for God. Those who help Christian brothers and sisters will reap a harvest from God, but those who refuse to help will have nothing to reap when the harvest comes. The final way that God provides help to the church is through the encouragement we receive by the Spirit and one another!

2.      Without mentioning a name, think about a person who actively restores and pastors people in the congregation. What characteristics or actions do you see this person doing on a regular basis that gives evidence of a concern for other believers?

3.      How can a local congregation fulfill the directive given by Paul in verse 6? (Take care of the church pastors’ financial needs.)

4.      What good things and opportunities have you been given stewardship over that you can share with others? (We are all in different situations and have different blessings and struggles. Just as we must each carry our own loads, we must also be generous with the blessings the Lord has given us. We are reminded in Luke 21:1-4 that our generosity is not a question of who gives the most money, the most time, or who does the most good deeds. We must give from generous and willing hearts.)

5.      How is tithing to support the work of our church different than paying a membership fee? (Rather than just giving money to consume something, we are called to “share” our good things with those leaders who share their instructions with us.)

6.      How do verses 8-9 encourage you?

7.      What specific situations in your life do these verses speak to right now?

We may see people who appear to be flourishing even though they are not following God. It can feel like their lives are mocking God. We should not be discouraged by this. God is aware of exactly what is going on. Reaping does not necessarily happen immediately after sowing.

At the same time, our good works may not always show immediate results. God reminds us that all the good we do to glorify Him will result in a good harvest.

What we do for God will not go unnoticed by Him!

8.      What other factors might discourage a person from continuing to sow in God’s kingdom?

9.      What factors might serve as motivators for continuing to sow?

10.  How can a believer keep from losing heart in doing good?

Paul finished the letter by encouraging the Galatians to remain focused on Christ!

Proclaims! Read Galatians 6:14-15

 

1.      What do the things we boast about reveal about our priorities? (We boast about those things we think make us worthy, whether it be worthy of acceptance by our peers or by God.)

2.      Why shouldn’t we boast in anything except the cross? (In the gospel we understand that nothing we have done make us worthy. It is only Jesus’ work on the cross that has made a real difference in who we are or what we can accomplish!)

3.      How might a person boast in the cross? (I am a new creation because of what Christ did on the cross!)

We do not need to be intimidated by those who may appear to be more religious than us. Nor should we consider ourselves superior to those who are struggling. What God is doing through us as His new creation is all that matters!

 

Paul delivered his final words to the root of problems in the church, stressing that neither circumcision nor keeping the law made a person right with God. What made people right with God was becoming a new creation—born again!

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

Ponder silently these questions as we close:

1.      Examine your life, paying particular attention to the seed you are sowing in your life. Based on what you are sowing, what should be expected in your life in the next five years?

2.      What changes do you need to make in light of your study of Galatians?

 

Close in prayer, that all group members would be good stewards of their God-given opportunities, using them to point others to Jesus!

 

True Fruit - Galatians 5:13-26

 

(Display a Christmas ornament and a piece of fruit—orange or apple.)

We put Christmas ornaments on a tree and call it a Christmas tree, but it does not actually grow Christmas ornaments. It is still just a pine tree. An orange tree, on the other hand, produces oranges.

1.      How can we tell what kind of tree a particular tree is? (By the fruit it produces.)

2.      What are some characteristics of an orange?

When all of these characteristics are present together you know you have an orange, and therefore you know you have an orange tree. The fruit of the Spirit is similar. The list Paul gave in Galatians 5:22-23 does not represent several different types of Christians but characteristics that all Christians should embody at once—as a result of being connected to the Spirit!

As we study this passage today look for ways that the freedom given in salvation moves us to display the different characteristics of godly character.

 

Freed! Read Galatians 5:13-15

 

1.      What are some ways believers should not use their freedom? (We should not use our freedom as a license to sin! When we sin intentionally, thinking God will always forgive, we place ourselves in a very precarious situation. Sin isn’t forgiven when there is no confession and repentance. See Heb. 10:26. All Christians sin but this passage is talking about a lifestyle of sin!)

Paul emphasized how freedom in Christ does not mean that we get to do whatever we want and abuse the grace that God has richly bestowed upon us as believers. The flesh and the Spirit-filled life are opposites in Scripture (see Rom. 8:5-9). According to Paul, to live by the Sprit can be seen by the love evident in our life!

 

2.      What are we to use our freedom to do? (“Serve one another in love.” There is no law against loving each other and that love produces a servant’s heart toward our fellow believers!)

3.      Legalism is a work-based salvation. How does legalism breed selfishness and freedom breed love?

4.      There are two churches portrayed here—one lovingly serving each other and the second devouring one another. What are some ways church members can express love toward one another versus devouring one another? (Loving other as we love ourselves involves practicing loving-kindness, respectfulness, and forgiveness—treating others the way we want to be treated!)

5.      What stops you from loving others in the church?

6.      How does freedom from the law open the door for a person to love others genuinely? (The gospel reminds us of our complete acceptance by God. We do not need to compete with others to find our place in God’s love. We can rest, completely assured of His love for us. We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19.)

 

Paul continued by explaining how the work of the Spirit in our lives is freeing and has an expression in our lives.

Controlled! Read Galatians 5:16-18

 

1.      What is the difference between the desire of the flesh and the desire of the Spirit? (Our fleshly nature desires sin and to glorify self. The Spirit desires God and seeks to bring glory to Him!)

2.      Notice the word “Spirit” is capitalized. What does that mean? (The Spirit we are talking about is the Holy Spirit who indwells every Christian!)

3.      How can we overcome the desires of the flesh? (To be victorious over sin we must follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and gives us the strength to overcome temptation. This is a continual process until we are called to our Heavenly Home!)

 

Paul continued to emphasize the Spirit’s work in relational terms!

 

Abandoned! Read Galatians 5:19-21

 

Every word Paul uses here has a picture behind it! William Barclay says in relationship to the first three “works of the flesh”: “it has been said, and said truly, that the one completely new virtue Christianity brought in to the world was chastity.” In fact, during the time Paul was writing these words sex outside marriage was not only accepted as normal it was almost as if it was expected!

 

Every characteristic of the works of the flesh listed here is a perversion of God’s good gifts to mankind. Each sin that he lists, is a characteristic of someone concerned only about the flesh.

Read Gal. 5:19-21 again, but this time slowly!

1.      What stands out to you about this list? (This is not a comprehensive list of all sins, but it shows various types of sins, including sexual sins, religious sins, relational sins, and addictive behaviors.)

2.      How are the actions of the flesh the opposite of God’s design for His creation?

3.      How do these characteristics reflect humanity’s rebellion against God?

4.      What does the word “practice” seem to imply about these sins? (A life-style of sin. A true believer may sin but desires the things of the Spirit and wants to turn away from sin. Someone who is not repentant of sin and is not being renewed by the Holy Spirit is not a part of God’s kingdom!)

 

Paul then described the ingredients of a Spirit-filled life!

Produced! Read Galatians 5:22-26

 

Notice that works is plural while fruit is singular. A person operating in the flesh may not exhibit all of the works of the flesh, but the Spirit will begin to produce all of His fruit or characteristics in the life of a believer.

 

1.      How do the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit manifest themselves in Christians differently than in non-believers? (The fruit of the Spirit comes through following Christ. Personality traits can come from our genetics, our upbringings, and our experiences. Even before we became Christians we may have had tendencies toward some of these traits. Once we follow Christ, the power of the Spirit works to make us more like Christ, who perfectly displayed all of these characteristics.)

2.      We add fertilizer to our trees to help them grow to maturity. What “fertilizer” can we apply to our lives to help in the Spirit’s production of fruit in our lives? (Feed upon the Word of God daily to add “fertilizer” so the “fruit” will become evident more quickly in our lives.)

3.      In what sense have we crucified the flesh with its passions and desires? (When we trusted Christ in faith we died to our old self to walk in the Spirit. We want the things of God not this old sinful nature!)

4.      Why would Paul add this final warning in verse 26? (The ruler of this world—Satan, will do everything he can to trip us up. The old sinful nature delights in seeing us get conceited and provoking one another and envying each other. This is a big caution sign Paul gives them!)

5.      How does keeping in step with the Spirit improve our relationships with each other? (If we are all being led by the Holy Spirit we will be in perfect unity and harmony because we are all following the same Leader!)

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      In what area of your life are you relying on yourself and not the Holy Spirit?

2.      What needs to happen for you to rely upon the Holy Spirit to live a Christ-honoring life in those areas?

3.      How can we encourage others when we see the fruit of the Holy Spirit in their lives?

Read Heb. 10:25

Followers of Christ will desire to be more like Him. Sanctification is not an instant change, but a gradual growth.

Prayer!

True Freedom - Galatians 4:8-20

There have been numerous opportunities for people to act heroically in recent days, and some have done so. During floods, fires, and storms heroic acts have been witnessed and recorded.

1.      In what sense could we say, “Paul is acting heroically” in our study of Galatians? (Paul knew the Galatians were in danger, and he wasn’t afraid to act. He spoke up and pleaded with them to turn back to the freedom of Christ.)

In a sense Paul was acting as a coach who had prepared his team to go out and play the game well. Although the issue at hand was no game, to Paul, it seemed like he had prepared them and now someone else is coming in and taking away the truths Paul had taught them.

2.      Which impacts an outcome more, talent or passion?

3.      When is ambition good and godly and when is it wrong and selfish? (When self is promoted above the good of the whole it is both wrong and selfish!)

Today look for how Paul transitioned from explaining the gospel to the Galatians to seeking to direct their passion toward the best goal of all—Christlikeness.

 

The Problem! Read Galatians 4:8-11

 

1.      What had the Galatian believers turned back to doing?

Paul recognized the Galatians as believers by stating their condition before Christ and their new position in Christ.

2.      Why was Paul so upset with the Galatians? (They were choosing to go back into the “jail” of legalism. They were putting their faith in their actions rather than Christ!)

3.      How would you describe the difference between slavery and freedom?

4.      How was the Galatians’ pagan past similar to the legalism that bound them?

5.      How might a person’s past religious views continue to be an issue after accepting Christ?

Paul feared that the Galatians were trusting in religious observances to establish a relationship with God, meaning that they were trying to achieve their salvation by working for it rather than trusting in what Jesus did on the cross.

6.      What was the point of Paul qualifying his statement in verse 9 with the phrase “or rather have become known by God”? (Just as He had with everyone else, God had taken the initiative to bring them into relationship with Him.)

It isn’t just head knowledge about God it is “to know by experience”!

7.      What religious practices might people today falsely trust to achieve salvation? (Tithing, church attendance, helping the poor, reading the Bible, etc)

8.      How do the practices of today compare to the practices addressed by Paul?

We don’t just say we place our faith in Jesus to be sure we’ve covered all the bases, so to speak! When we come to “know” God we place our trust in Jesus alone and relinquish all other so called paths to God. God is a jealous God and will share His glory with nothing or no one else! See Exodus 20:5.

 

The Plea! Read Galatians 4:12-14

 

The request to be like him served as a common refrain for Paul (see 1 Cor. 4:14-16, 11:1; Phil. 3:17; 1 Thess. 1:6).

 

1.      How did Paul become like the Galatians? (In his mission work, Paul tried to relate to the people he was reaching in whatever situation they were in. This included Jews and Gentiles. Paul was a student of culture.)

2.      In what way does he want them to become like him? (Paul reminded the Galatians to treat salvation and the law as he did—not depending on the law for salvation. When Paul first went to the Galatians, they were not under the law because they were Gentiles!)

3.      We don’t know what Paul’s physical ailment was, but regardless of what it was, how could the Galatians have chosen to treat him? (Sometimes physical ailments were seen as God’s curse on a person.)

4.      What attitude or tone do you see expressed by Paul as he confronted the Galatians?

5.      How does the attitude and tone used to approach people impact their willingness to listen?

Paul wanted them to remember how they felt when they originally heard the gospel and put their faith in Christ!

 

The Passion! Galatians 4:15-20

 

1.      What kind of relationship did Paul have with them while he was there according to these verses? (They cared for him so much that they would have taken on the infirmity themselves so that Paul would be freed from it if it were possible!)

2.      How does concern and serving others grow out of a love of Christ in someone?

3.      What does Paul’s statement in verse 19 about his suffering express to them?

4.      According to verse 19, what was Paul’s deep desire for them? (To become more and more like Christ!)

5.      What heartfelt emotion does Paul’s last statement in verse 20 express?

6.      How can we follow Paul’s model when we see other believers struggling in their faith? (Paul did not shy away from calling out the fallacy in the Galatians’ new thinking. However, he did not shun them, but pleaded with them to turn back to Christ alone.)

Paul reminded them of the abundant freedom they had already experienced in Christ. It isn’t always easy to speak the truth—Paul compared his distress to the pains of childbirth—but it is necessary!

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      What are some ways our class can serve as a safeguard against a gospel that becomes less than faith in Christ alone for salvation?

2.      What adjustments need to be made to strengthen this safeguard?

There are believers in our lives who may look like they are enslaved more than they are free. What the Lord calls us to do as a body of believers is to go to them with pure hearts and motives and seek to restore them gently to the fellowship of believers.

 

Pray for an opportunity this week to speak the truth in love to someone and help that person grow in Christ.

 

True Heirs - Galatians 3:23-4:7

(If possible have a family who has adopted a child come give a short testimony about the experience.)

1.      What factors make an adoption hearing so joyful?

2.      How does the status of the child change with legal adoption, and why is that important?

As we will learn today we are all adopted into the family of God if we have trusted Jesus as our Lord and Savior. He is not only our Lord, Savior and Creator of all that exists, but He is our elder Brother! No one is above another; we are all brothers and sisters in Christ! By the blood of Christ we are children of God who share in the blessings promised to Abraham and the salvation Jesus provides. God’s plan includes the promise given to Abraham, then the law given to Moses, and then the inheritance through Christ. The law did not abolish the promise of a Savior, and Christ’s coming did not abolish the law but fulfilled it.

 

As we study, look for different ways God describes a believer and the benefits tied to those descriptions!

 

An Old Guardian! Read Galatians 3:23-25

 

Paul used two metaphors in these verses to describe the law: a prison guard and a guardian. Both take away freedom. Both put us in position where we are trying to earn favor.  The prison guard keeps us detained, while the guardian instructs and disciplines, pointing us toward freedom. Sometimes a person is put in protective custody for the good of the individual. So there are some benefits to both.

 

1.      What do we learn from the law as a tutor? (The law shows us our need for a savior. When we compare ourselves to Christ, we see our need for Him!)

2.      How can we tell when we are ready to “graduate”? (Those who are not studying the law often don’t see a need for a savior. They think they are doing alright on their own. We never truly graduate. We always need the law to show us how wretched we are, how perfect Christ is, and how desperately we need to place our faith in Him!)

3.      What use is the law after we have recognized our need for Christ and have been saved? (As we grow in our understanding of the law, we grow in our understanding of our sins and Christ’s perfection. As we continue to study the law, we see more clearly where our hearts fail and where Christ triumphs. This should lead to a deeper love for Christ and His sacrifice!)

Paul then explained how faith in Christ defines our position in Christ.

 

A New Community! Read Galatians 3:26-28

 

1.      Read Romans 6:3-4! What is the purpose of baptism? (It is the outward symbol of a radical inward transformation! Paul did not show baptism to be necessary for salvation. Instead, he spoke of how baptism is an outward symbol of an inward change and that it unifies believers. See Eph. 4:4-6)

This picture of putting “on Christ like a garment” may be difficult for us to understand. Paul’s illustration of taking off old garments and putting on new garments reflects a spiritual reality. “In Roman culture, when a minor child became an adult he removed the child’s clothing and put on a style typically worn by adult males. He stripped off the old and replaced it with the new. Believers had stripped off the old clothing of the law and put on Jesus’ robes of righteousness!” Leaders Guide pg. 46

2.      Reflect on your salvation experience. Why were you baptized?

3.      What distinctions have been removed by the gospel? (All racial distinctions have been abolished. There are no social distinctions in Christ. There are no gender distinctions.)

To say there are no gender distinctions held potential for division in the family of God but there are distinctions as to what roles are assigned within the Body of Christ!

4.      What are some reasons some Christians might exclude certain people from their circle, including the church?

5.      How would you address that issue based on this passage?

We may wonder about what happens when the walls are broken down and we receive the grace and mercy of our Lord. Paul addresses this in the next few verses.

A New Position! Read Galatians 3:29-4:7

 

1.      What is the believer’s new status in verse 29?

2.      According to these verses what words or phrases might be used to describe a person’s life without Jesus? (Orphans, lost, and without any purpose.)

3.      How is our identity different after we have placed our faith in Christ? (List differences next to each word listed, i.e., slave to heir.)

In these verses Paul was describing how before Christ the Jews were children underneath the law, even though they shared in the same faith as Abraham. But when Christ came, He redeemed the children from slavery and adopted them as children of God.

4.      What are the implications of God being our “Abba”? (Paul says the Spirit in us cries out “Abba,” which is Aramaic for “Daddy.” Picture a young child who cries out “Daddy.” Paul wrote in Greek but used the Aramaic word for “Daddy.” Paul was pointing us to when Christ prayed in Gethsemane, “Abba, father”—Mark 14:36)

As His children, we can approach God with the same confidence as Christ does.

5.      How can you use the illustration of adoption in sharing the gospel with someone?

6.      Based upon Paul’s writing, he is describing the work of the Trinity in salvation. What roles do the Father, Son, and Spirit each play in salvation?

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

What excites you most about being a cherished child of God? (I was chosen specifically by God Himself to be His child!)

We are co-heirs with Christ and free from the chains that previously enslaved us under the law!

How might you be living like a slave and not an heir? Choose to live in the freedom and security found in Christ!

 

True Life - Galatians 3:1-14

I love to watch “The Little Rascals”. It is not uncommon to see a scene where Spanky or Buckwheat or Alfalfa would do something and one of the other children would be blamed for it and even receive the punishment. Generally the real perpetrator would not confess but relish in the other person being punished.

1.      But what would make watching someone receive a severe punishment because of your mistake so difficult?

2.      How can knowing that someone else will be impacted by your actions serve as motivation?

In our passage today Paul is still talking to the Galatians about their stupidity of turning away from salvation by grace through faith in Jesus alone. Here Paul uses the same tool the Judaizers used—Old Testament Scripture! Again Paul uses contrasts—the deficiency of the law and the sufficiency of faith! The Judaizers were practicing insanity, that is, doing the same thing again and again but expecting different results.

Paul uses three main points today: 1) The Holy Spirit confirms our salvation; 2) Abraham believed it; 3) The curse demands it.

 

(Divide the class into three groups. Assign each group one of the main points of the lesson. Ask them to search their portion of the Scripture text and answer the questions you provide them. Give them approximately 10 minutes to complete their work then call them back together to give their report.)

 

Group 1—The Spirit Confirms it! Galatians 3:1-5

 

Paul was using rhetorical questions to highlight the Galatians’ foolishness in returning to the law for righteousness apart from Christ. He was making them aware of how their faith was becoming legalism.

Having a part in one’s own salvation by works was, and is, appealing to new believers. We all have a tendency to want to achieve for ourselves. Until the Judaizers came they had never heard of the law.

1.      Search Ephesians 1:13 and 4:30. What do these two verses have to say about the Holy Spirit’s work in the life of the Christian? (They were “sealed by Him until the day of redemption.”  “In the early Church converts nearly always received the Holy Spirit in a visible way.… That experience (receiving the Holy Spirit) had happened to the Galatians and had happened, said Paul, not because they had obeyed the regulations of the law, because at that time they had never heard of the law.”—The Letter to the Galatians by Dr. William Barclay. The Scripture does not say these Christians had received the Spirit in a visible way but they certainly knew they had received the Holy Spirit.)

2.      Create one-sentence summaries of each verse in this section. (Summaries could include: Verse 1: Paul was correcting the Galatians on believing in the insufficiency of Christ’s death. Verse 2: Paul showed how the Spirit came by faith and not by the works of the law. Verse 3: Paul spoke of how the people were reverting to the law, which Jesus had saved them from.   4: Paul spoke of how their suffering for Christ was not to be in vain. Verse 5: Paul shared how the means for God’s work is not based in the law but in the Spirit.)

3.      What are the dangers of trusting in our own efforts for sanctification?

4.      If people are saved by faith, what pressures might cause them to start trusting in works after their salvation? (If they are new Christians a smooth talker might come in and tell them he wanted to help them grow deeper in their Christian walk by convincing them they had to follow a set of rules.)

Through these series of questions, Paul challenged the Galatians to look to their initial salvation experience and their continuing walk of sanctification.

5.      To what evidence could a person point as proof that he or she had received God’s forgiveness?

6.      What makes this assurance so important?

 

Group 2—Abraham Believed it! Galatians 3:6-9

 

1.      Read Gen. 12:1-3. What promise was given to Abraham in these verses?

2.      Read Gen. 15:2-5. What promise did God give Abraham in these verses that seemed impossible?

3.      Read Gen. 15:6. What was Abraham’s response to all that God had promised him in spite of how impossible it seemed? (All of this happened before the law was given and before he was circumcised. By faith alone Abraham was declared righteous!)

4.      Who was thought of as being sons of Abraham until this time by most people? (Only the Jews!)

5.      Who are the sons of Abraham according to these verses?

Justification by faith knows no prejudice!

6.      Why do some people consider themselves Christians because they are born into a Christian family?

7.      How do Paul’s words here instruct them?

8.      How does faith in Christ push us toward righteous living? (All who express genuine faith in Christ Jesus should therefore strive to be like Christ. This process is called sanctification, and is a lifelong endeavor!)

9.      Verse 9 points out how as believers we share the same faith as Abraham. What does that tell you about how God views the faith we express in Jesus Christ?

10.  Why is Jesus, not Abraham, the central figure in all of history?

 

Group 3—The Curse Demands it! Galatians 3:10-14

 

1.      Last week we talked about the purpose of the law. What did we discover? (To show us what sin is!)

2.      What does the law bring to us if we rely on it for salvation? (Curse.)

The purpose of the law was to show people their need of faith!

3.      How does the law itself point to the inadequacy to save? (Those who tried to keep the law were condemned by the very law they tried to keep because they could not keep it all.)

This necessitated a work of grace for salvation rather than human effort or achievement.

4.      Read v.13 then read 2 Cor. 5:21. What comparisons do you see in these verses?

There is no salvation apart from Jesus Christ our Lord! When we can admit our inability to follow the law completely, we can admit our need for a savior!

5.      What does trusting in Jesus produce in a person’s life? (“That the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles by Christ Jesus, so that we could receive the promised Spirit through faith.”)

6.      Why was it important for Paul to remind his readers that Christ took on the curse? (Christ received the curse that we had earned. Our sins were imputed to Him. Our sins were taken away, but we also received Christ’s righteousness. It was imputed to us by God’s marvelous, matchless, amazing Grace!)

 

When we begin to learn and fully comprehend how our faith is based on the finished work of Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection, we find a reason to live for Him every day!

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

When we begin to think of specific ways we can make a choice to live by faith and not by legalism, we are moving forward in our efforts to express love because of God’s grace not to earn grace!

When we look to good deeds or rule following for our sense of security, then we are not looking to the finished work of Christ!

Consider: How can we engage people who are trusting in things other than the grace of God and teach them about justification by faith?

 

Prayer.

Group 1—The Spirit Confirms it! Galatians 3:1-5

 

Paul was using rhetorical questions to highlight the Galatians’ foolishness in returning to the law for righteousness apart from Christ. He was making them aware of how their faith was becoming legalism.

Having a part in one’s own salvation by works was, and is, appealing to new believers. We all have a tendency to want to achieve for ourselves. Until the Judaizers came they had never heard of the law.

1.      Search Ephesians 1:13 and 4:30. What do these two verses have to say about the Holy Spirit’s work in the life of the Christian?

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.      Create one-sentence summaries of each verse in this section.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.      What are the dangers of trusting in our own efforts for sanctification?

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.      If people are saved by faith, what pressures might cause them to start trusting in works after their salvation?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Through these series of questions, Paul challenged the Galatians to look to their initial salvation experience and their continuing walk of sanctification.

5.      To what evidence could a person point as proof that he or she had received God’s forgiveness?

 

 

 

 

6.      What makes this assurance so important?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Group 2—Abraham Believed it! Galatians 3:6-9

 

1.      Read Gen. 12:1-3. What promise was given to Abraham in these verses?

 

 

 

 

2.      Read Gen. 15:2-5. What promise did God give Abraham in these verses that seemed impossible?

 

 

 

 

3.      Read Gen. 15:6. What was Abraham’s response to all that God had promised him in spite of how impossible it seemed?

 

 

 

 

4.      Who was thought of as being sons of Abraham until this time by most people?

 

 

 

 

5.      Who are the sons of Abraham according to these verses?

Justification by faith knows no prejudice!

 

 

 

 

6.      Why do some people consider themselves Christians because they are born into a Christian family?

 

 

 

7.      How do Paul’s words here instruct them?

 

 

 

8.      How does faith in Christ push us toward righteous living?

 

 

 

 

9.      Verse 9 points out how as believers we share the same faith as Abraham. What does that tell you about how God views the faith we express in Jesus Christ?

 

 

 

 

10.  Why is Jesus, not Abraham, the central figure in all of history?

 

 

Group 3—The Curse Demands it! Galatians 3:10-14

 

1.      Last week we talked about the purpose of the law. What did we discover?

 

 

 

 

 

2.      What does the law bring to us if we rely on it for salvation?

The purpose of the law was to show people their need of faith!

 

 

 

 

 

3.      How does the law itself point to the inadequacy to save?

This necessitated a work of grace for salvation rather than human effort or achievement.

 

 

 

 

 

4.      Read v.13 then read 2 Cor. 5:21. What comparisons do you see in these verses?

There is no salvation apart from Jesus Christ our Lord! When we can admit our inability to follow the law completely, we can admit our need for a savior!

 

 

 

 

 

5.      What does trusting in Jesus produce in a person’s life?

 

 

 

 

 

6.      Why was it important for Paul to remind his readers that Christ took on the curse?

 

When we begin to learn and fully comprehend how our faith is based on the finished work of Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection, we find a reason to live for Him every day!

 

 

 

True Grace - Galatians 2:11-21

The focus of our study today is not only defining what grace means but understanding how it applies in our lives.

“Various requirements exist for inclusion into some groups. The military sets age requirements for recruits, along with physical restrictions. Lawyers must pass an exam to be admitted to the bar. Nurses and doctors must pass an exam to be able to practice medicine. Many organizations charge fees for membership. Inclusion into God’s family operates differently. The gospel of grace means God welcomes all people into His family. He excludes no person who responds to Him in faith.”—PSG pg 19

            Today’s study will cover “The Gospel Revealed.” From the end of our focal passage last week to our passage for today, Paul clarified his authority to speak as an apostle. He explained the origin of his apostolic commission in response to questions and accusations about the validity of his apostleship.

Read Gal. 2:1-10.

 

Have you ever been called out publicly for doing something you knew was wrong and yet for some reason you did it anyway? Let’s see what happened in our focal passage today.

 

Confronted by Truth! Read Galatians 2:11-14

 

It is evident that Paul and Peter shared the same mission, that is to go and share the gospel—Peter to the Jews and Paul to the Gentiles. Paul stated, though, how there arose a disagreement between Paul and Peter. The issue at hand was that Peter associated with the Gentiles in Antioch; that is, until some Christian Jews came from Jerusalem to visit Peter. He then immediately disassociated with the Gentiles at a fellowship meal, evidently held at a church gathering. Paul basically revealed the hypocrisy that Peter demonstrated!

1.      What compelled Peter to separate from the Gentiles and eat at another table with only Jews?

2.      What in this passage leads us to believe that these Jews from Jerusalem were Judaizers? (Verse 12, “…from the circumcision party.” Although not stated, they thought they were more acceptable to God because they were Jews than the Gentiles who did not keep the law.)

3.      What factors might have made confronting Peter a difficult decision for Paul? (Peter was perhaps considered the main leader among the Jewish Christians. He had actually walked and talked with Jesus.)

4.      What had happened to Peter that should have been a lesson learned concerning accepting Gentiles just as Jews? (Peter’s experience in Acts 10 that records the conversion of Cornelius.)

5.      Why did Paul need to confront the situation with Peter, and do so publicly, rather than just ignore it? (Sin needs to be addressed at the same level it is committed. If it was public then address it publicly. There are no different classes of Christians. All people—Jews and Gentiles—are sinners in need of God’s saving grace!)

This issue was serious enough to gather the church and make sure that the truth of the gospel had a proper defense.

6.      What do you do when opposition arises among believers?

7.      How should we express boldness and love to address issues with confrontation rather than allowing them to slip by? (We speak the truth in love. We speak respecting the other person while speaking the truth about the falseness of their position.)

8.      What might have led some of the other Jews to join Peter and the Jews from Jerusalem? (Without thinking about how it looked they just wanted to visit with these fellow Jews. But, we must quickly say that does not seem to be the case based on what Paul says about the issue.)

9.      Are we ever guilty of this same sin without thinking? (When we walk into a room and our friends are in one area of the room and a new person or someone “different” is sitting alone in another part of the room, where do we sit?)

10.  How can a bias get in the way of us sharing the gospel?

Paul had a purpose in showing the people of Galatia the details of the confrontation with Peter. Let’s see where Paul goes with this!

Justified By Grace! Read Galatians 2:15-18

 

As we read these verses we might wonder, “What was the purpose of the law in the first place?” Read Romans 7:7 for that answer.

(Lecture briefly on Gal. 2:15-18.)

The Law is God’s standard. No one can meet it! See Psalm 143:2.

1.      How would you define “justification”? (“The action of declaring or making righteous in the sight of God.”)

2.      How would you define justification by faith?

3.      What makes this so important to understand? (We can never achieve a right standing with God apart from faith in what Jesus did for me at Calvary. No amount of human effort can make us right with God!)

Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Jesus.

4.      How is this statement seen in Galatians 2?

5.      Why are people often resistant to the message of salvation by grace?

6.      What are some things people today attempt to add to Jesus for salvation? (Church attendance. Tithing. Serving—teaching, being a deacon, etc. Not doing some things like drinking, swearing, gambling, etc.)

7.      How do some people respond to knowing they are unable to earn salvation? (Freedom comes once we rest in the truth of Christ’s ultimate work on our behalf. This in unlike anything else we will experience in our lives, and it may seem difficult at times to accept this gift as entirely free with no strings attached.)

When we try to earn our salvation, even just a small part, we will find that all our efforts fall short. Recognizing this can lead to complete faith in and dependence on Christ. Faith is the opposite of independence. Faith accepts that we cannot do it, and we trust Christ to do it for us.

Can you imagine the freedom Paul must have felt when he finally realized his standing with God did not depend on his effort!

We do not receive grace because we obey; we obey because we have received grace. And there is a world of difference in the two!

 

Crucified with Christ! Read Galatians 2:19-21

Paul’s argument was for the gospel to be expressed by death to the law and living by faith in Christ!

Paul uses a lot of pairs in Galatians:

·         The gospel vs. false gospels

·         Law vs. freedom

·         Law vs. faith

·         Sons and heirs

·         Works vs. grace

·         Slave vs. free

·         Spirit vs. flesh

1.      What are some opposites if following the law versus faith? (Bondage and freedom. Condemned and justified.)

2.      What would be the point in Jesus’ death if people could be justified by their own efforts?

3.      How does “dying to the law” help you to “live for Christ”? (We die to trusting the law to save us or attempting to earn our salvation by following the law! We are free to be obedient to the leadership of the Holy Spirit with great joy!)

4.      In what sense were we crucified with Christ?

Later in his letter Paul will clarify the purpose of the law. Paul’s statement in verse 21 is used to explain the love and power of Christ’s death on the cross.

5.      Why does the gospel demand absolute trust in Jesus’ death on the cross? (That was the price paid for our freedom!)

 

Summarize and Challenge!

1.      How does the truth of the gospel impact how we treat others who are lost? Even our very faith is a gracious gift from God. Once we recognize this, we are free from the condemnation of the Law in our own lives, but we must also embrace this truth with regard to others!

2.      How does the truth of the gospel impact how we treat others who are already saved?

Spend some time in prayer this week, asking God to search your heart and open your eyes to areas where you are harboring biases toward others. Ask God to remove them from your heart.

The True Gospel - Galatians 1:1-10

Today we begin a study of the book of Galatians. This book was written to a group of churches in the province of Galatia. Paul had gone through southern part of this province on his first missionary journey. He established churches in Antioch in Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe.

The purpose of this letter was to remind the churches about the one true gospel. There was a group of people who came after Paul called the Judaizers. They brought doubt on Paul’s authority as an Apostle and his message about the gospel. They were teaching that what Paul said was true but not the whole truth. They were teaching that an individual who accepted Christ as his Savior also had to follow the Jewish Law to be a true Christian. Paul wrote this letter to expose the untruths of the gospel of grace plus law and to defend his apostleship as a calling and appointment from God Himself.

Reading the letters in the New Testament is much like listening to one side of a phone conversation. You don’t know what the person on the other end of the call is saying or the questions they may be asking, you only hear the answers being given. The letter was written most likely in the mid AD 40s. Most likely before the Jerusalem Council, out of which came a clarification of the true Gospel, that salvation came only by faith in Christ, period!  

The focus of our study today is defining the true gospel. As we approach the letter to churches in Galatia and understand its context, we can begin to recognize how diligent Paul was going to be to defend and apply the meaning of the true gospel to the people in these churches.

We find the following Major Themes in Galatians:

·         Paul defended his authority as an apostle of Jesus Christ.

·         Paul argued that salvation is solely by God’s grace through His Son Jesus Christ, received by faith.

·         The Christian life is one of freedom, directed and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Appointed by God, Himself! Read Galatians 1:1-2

 

Based on how Paul opened this letter, the Judiazers had brought into question Paul’s authority as an apostle. An apostle was generally defined as “one who had walked with Jesus while He was here on earth and was a witness to Jesus’ resurrection.

1.      When might a person need to set forth his or her credentials to speak authoritatively on a subject? (When it’s brought into question.)

2.      How might a believer introduce himself or herself to establish credibility as one who knows the truth about Jesus?

Not only did Paul speak about his credibility, but he also discussed how he was not alone in what he believed and affirmed. But, noticeably missing is any thanksgiving for or about the churches in Galatia, which was a part of several of Paul’s letters to other churches and individuals.

3.      How important is it for you and our church as a whole, to know what the Bible says about Jesus? (It is absolutely essential! I am shocked by the lack of knowledge of some church members concerning Jesus and the Bible in general. This shows they either don’t attend Bible study or they don’t pay attention when they do come.)

4.      What do you do as a body of believers to express these truths? (These truths are the power of God unto salvation! The world must hear these truths and we must be the messengers!)

5.       How was Paul’s calling different from the calling ministers receive today?

6.      How does this impact the authority of Paul’s teaching? (Paul, along with the other selected apostles, had the authority to write Scripture. Those who are called today have authority to proclaim what is already in Scripture!)

7.      In a sense all Christians are called. For what purposes does God call all believers? (We are first called to salvation by God’s grace. Secondly, we are called to follow a path of good works which God has prepared for us—Eph. 2:10. All believers are called to deliver the gospel to others!)

 

Paul continued his introduction to the church and began to make an exhortation to the people.

Through His Grace! Read Galatians 1:3-5

 

1.      What attributes of Jesus do we see here relative to the gospel? (“Gave Himself for our sin”; “rescue us from this present evil age”; “according to the will of our God and Father”.)

2.      What is the relationship of grace and peace to the gospel? (It is only by God’s mercy that He showered His grace upon us that by accepting His free gift we might have peace with God the Father!)

3.      How would you define the word “grace”? (God’s abundant, underserved favor. God’s Riches At Christ Expense! Mercy is not getting the punishment we deserve for our sin and grace is getting what we do not deserve—God’s forgiveness!)

4.      What are the dangers of embracing a religion, like the Galatians did, that is centered on legalism?

5.      How do we avoid falling into the same trap the Galatians succumbed to? (We realize and understand that our salvation is by grace alone through faith in Jesus. Certainly, we are to be obedient to God after accepting Jesus but it isn’t to earn our salvation, it is an act of obedience through our love for Jesus.)

6.       How do the statements in verse 4 reflect Jesus’ power and authority to save?

7.      What does it tell us about any message that focuses on man’s achievement versus the power of Jesus?

8.      How does verse 5 come into importance? (Our forever and ever God is permanent. Unlike the gods of this world, He is no temporary savior. God and His salvation endure throughout all time. We receive eternal benefit!)

 

As Paul demonstrated the grace, peace, and power of Jesus Christ, he began to condemn the people for their desire to embrace legalism in the application of the gospel. It is difficult for us to believe there is nothing we can do to earn what we receive from God!

 

Distorted by Some! Read Galatians 1:6-10

1.      How would you describe Paul’s tone here?

2.      Verse 7 speaks about the influences that were affecting the people of Galatia as they wanted to try to change the good news of Jesus. What might cause a person to turn away from following Jesus today? (A well polished speaker who can make the false gospel sound so very true. That is why it is so important for us to know what we believe and why we believe it.)

3.      Why did Paul emphasize that the gospel is grace through faith-based salvation and not works-based? (The Galatians were being presented a false gospel and if this false gospel was not immediately exposed and cast aside the spreading of the true gospel would be halted and the truth may have not ever reached us.)

Paul warned that if you change the gospel at all it is not gospel at all! The gospel is entirely grace. We either believe in a works-based salvation or a grace-based salvation.

4.      Verses 8-9 refer to a curse that is upon any person who tries to preach and cause others to embrace a message that distorts or denies the power of Jesus Christ. How does spending time in God’s Word as a group of believers help to protect the integrity and truth of the gospel in the church?

5.      How do we test teaching to make sure it is true? (We measure what is being taught by Scripture and Scripture alone!)

The message is more important than the messenger or delivery method!

6.      What impact should culture shifts have on the church’s teaching? (Scripture is the authority and should not bend. Our methods of delivery may change but the message is the same!)

7.      What truths can we learn from Paul about being bold when sharing the gospel? (We confront false teachings with courtesy and respect and do not waver from the truth!)

Just as Paul was concerned with safeguarding the faith for the churches in Galatia, we have the call as believers to guard the integrity of the gospel that is being shared.

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

·         God appoints all believers to deliver His gospel message.

·         True peace comes only by the grace of God through faith in the sacrificial death of His Son.

·         Believers must safeguard their faith, resisting those who teach a salvation that comes through any means other than faith in Jesus!

 

1.      To whom has God appointed you to be a messenger of the gospel?

2.      How can you encourage class members to distinguish between the true gospel and the works-based gospel embraced by the Galatians?

3.      What similarities do you see between the perversions of the gospel in Paul’s day and in our day?

 

Pray.

Disciplined - 2 Samuel 24:1-25 (1 Chronicles 21:1-30)

1.      What are some things that get out of alignment from time to time and need to be adjusted? (Wheel adjustment; Attitude; Spiritual life; etc.)

2.      If we fail to get these things back in alignment there are consequences that we will face. Why do we often ignore consequences as we cling to sinful and/or unhealthy behaviors?

3.      How can God use the consequences to discipline us?

4.      What consequences have you experienced or seen that prompted a change in your behavior?

In our passage today David called for a census against God’s will, bringing severe consequences on him and his people.

In Exodus 30:11-16, God gave instructions about taking a census of Israel. The Law states when you take a census each man 20 years old or older must pay half a shekel as a ransom. Notice they were not told to take a census or how often to take a census. The money was used “for the service of the tent of meeting.”

            In the first nine verses of 2 Samuel 24 we find David decided to take a census of all of Israel. He summoned Joab and ordered him to conduct the census. Joab disagreed and tried to talk David out of taking the census but David would not relent, so the census was started.

            I was having a hard time with this passage, so I turned to Bob Beckel. He helped me understand it a little better. First Chronicles 21 also gives an account of this event. There we find Satan “incited David to count the people of Israel.” After David had the census taken he realized it was against God’s will so he asked for God’s forgiveness. We don’t really know why the census was wrong. Here God used Satan much as He had with Job to test him.

 

There are different ideas about what was wrong with David taking the census. Sometimes we want to “count” what we have because of a prideful attitude. Let’s see what happened.

Confession! Read 2 Samuel 24:10

 

1.      How would you describe what was going on in David’s heart?

2.      What did David’s actions indicate about his heart? (He wanted a right relationship with God; He knew something was wrong about taking the census!)

3.      What emotions might we experience when we recognize we’ve done wrong? (Shame, guilt, embarrassment, etc.)

4.      What does a reluctance to confess sin indicate about a person?

5.      What excuses do we use to justify our sins and avoid confession? (Moment of weakness; I’m only human; they deserved it; they would have done it to me; etc.)

6.      Why aren’t these valid excuses? (We are comparing our actions to the wrong “measuring stick.” God’s standards are what we need to measure ourselves by!)

7.      What will likely happen if we continue to postpone a confession? (Our fellowship with God will suffer greatly. Until we get things right with Him we will not have any peace.)

1 John 1:9.  “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

 

God was at work in David’s heart that night and in the heart of the prophet Gad.

 

Consequences! Read 2 Samuel 24:11-15

 

1.      Why do you think the Lord gave David the choice over which consequence he and the nation would have to endure?

2.      Notice the last few words of verse 12, “I will do it to you.” Why do you think God said “to you” rather than “to Israel.”?

3.      What were the pros and cons of each choice? (Three years of famine? Three months of fleeing from your enemies? Three days of plague throughout the land?)

4.      Consider these sins: Sexual immorality; Alcoholism; Dishonesty; Drug abuse; Wide spread atheism; human trafficking; etc. What are the consequences of these sins on the individual, the community, the nation, the world?

5.      In what ways can we show compassion for those who struggle with such sins?

6.      I read some this week about the influenza outbreak of 1918-1919. The world wide death toll was somewhere between 20 million and 40 million—more than died in the Great War. There were reports of people dying within an hour of showing symptoms. If it possible that it was God’s judgment on us?

 

Compassion! Read 2 Samuel 24: 16-17

 

As the angel delivering the pestilence approached Jerusalem, God mercifully stopped the angel from proceeding.

1.      What attributes of God are evident in these verse?

2.      What is the importance of the threshing floor of Araunah? (This is the site were Abraham was prepared to offered Isaac as a sacrifice to God. It is the site where Solomon would build the great Temple to God! Perhaps part of the results God was orchestrating was the purchase of the site for the future Temple.)

3.       How do these verses show how David showed the qualities of a good king? (David’s heart was breaking because his people were suffering because of his sin. It is important for leaders to remember the people they lead must live with the consequences of their decisions!)

4.      How is experiencing compassion humbling?

5.      How do God’s holiness and compassion work together in this passage?

6.      What are some ways people respond to God’s compassion? (Hopefully with humility and worship. But there are always those who want to take advantage of God’s compassion.)

7.      How does humility give us the courage to change our behavior? (One aspect of humility is yielding our heart and obedience to God.)

8.      What makes a person too stubborn to heed discipline?

 

Contrition! Read 2 Samuel 24:18-25

The word “contrition” comes from an old French word meaning “to grind down,” but today it means “sincere remorse.”

1.      How does the original meaning relate to today’s meaning? (When we feel remorse, we feel like the lowest of the low or that we have been “ground down.”)

2.      How did David show contrition in these verses?

3.      How did Gad and Araunah contribute to David’s contrition?

4.      Why didn’t David take Araunah’s offer of free land and sacrificial animals?

5.      In what ways can we offer a sacrifice to God that cost us nothing? (“Well, this is something I don’t need so I’ll just give it to the church!” “I’ll just prepare Saturday night, I already know that passage of Scripture well enough.”)

 

Summarize and Challenge!

Spend some time this week asking God to reveal any sins you have failed to confess to Him or ignored. Thank Him for providing forgiveness through His Son.

List some ways God has demonstrated His compassion to you. Reflect how these acts of compassion impact your life.

1.      What changes in your life need to be made in light of receiving God’s compassion?

2.      How can we encourage each other to give our best to God at all times?

There is a song that puts the words of David here to music.

I Will Not Offer Anything That Cost Me Nothing!

I cannot come before my righteous holy Lord

And offer to Him worldly things I do not need

And hope He’s pleased.

For He wants me to give a heart that’s truly His,

An offering of highest price, a servant who the Lord can use.

I will not offer anything that cost me nothing

I’ll place before Him nothing less than my very best.

If I am called to sacrifice, it will be worthy of my Christ,

I will not offer anything that cost me nothing!

To serve Him is my goal, how could I withhold?

Whatever’s mine, He’s given me. It’s not my own, it’s His alone.

Whatever He requires, that is my desire.

Whatever He may need from me, I’ll pay the cost, gain or loss.

 

 

—Pray this will truly be our desire!—

 

Thankful - 2 Samuel 22:1-51

Write the word “THANKFUL” vertically down the left side of your board or a large sheet of paper. Ask the class the following:

1.      What words can you think of, starting with each letter here, that shows how thankfulness can change a life? (Tactful, Helpful, Agreeable, Nicer, Kneel in prayer, Forgiving, Understanding, Loving.)

2.      How will being thankful to God affect our relationship with Him?

3.      How would you describe a person without an attitude of thankfulness toward God? (Prideful, haughty, self-centered.)

God is worthy of our praise and thanksgiving for how He blesses us. In today’s study, we will see how David expressed his thankfulness to God.

 

Today’s text seems to have come from David early in his kingship. God had provided for him and protected him from a wide variety of dangers that could have easily taken David’s life. Especially early in David’s reign he seemed more in tune with God and continually gave God the praise for all of his successes. 2 Samuel 22 and Psalm 18 are very similar. We will look at just a few verses in our focal study today.

 

Holy! Read 2 Samuel 22:26-29

 

1.      What three virtues are mentioned here? (Faithfulness. Blameless. Pure.)

2.      How does God respond to human virtues? (Aren’t we drawing on God for strength to live with these virtues? Didn’t God demonstrate them to us before we lived them out in our lives?)

3.      What vices are listed here? (Crooked. Proud.)

4.      How does God respond to each of these vices here?

Much of God’s matching is due to our openness to Him. God does not force His goodness on us. He waits for us to welcome it!

5.      How does the way we live impact how God responds to us?

6.      What does God’s response reveal about God’s desire for His people?

7.      Look at verse 28. When have you seen this truth lived out today?

8.      Read verse 29. How can life be like finding yourself in a room with no light whatsoever?

9.      Is God more like a small flashlight or a large flood light?

10.  How is God like this big flood light in our lives?

11.  What darkness do you think David needed illumined?

12.  How did David use his “lamp”? (To show him where and how to get to where God wanted him to go.)

We are surrounded by darkness today, it is everywhere we look; drug abuse, sexual immorality, lack of civility, violence, terrorism, etc.)

13.  What is the “lamp” we should use to illumine the path for us? (Psalm 119:105. “Thy Word …”)

Notice that God doesn’t promise we will never have difficulties but that He will be with us through it all.

 

Shield! Read 2 Samuel 22:30-36

 

1.      What does David say he can do when God is with him? (Attack a barrier, leap over a wall, feet like the deer, secure on the heights.)

2.      What images of strength and protection can you find in these verses? (Shield, rock, refuge.)

3.      What does God do for David? (Makes way perfect, trains for war, bend bronze bow, give him salvation, exalts him.)

4.      Does this mean that David had some kind of superhuman powers? (Certainly not. He did, however, have whatever ability he needed to accomplish the task that was before him.)

5.      Why did God do all of these things for David? (David’s desire was to follow the will of God for his life. Although at times it was difficult God was with him and sustained him, even in battle.)

6.      To whom did David give credit for his successes?

7.      David described his salvation in terms of a shield. What other metaphors might be used to describe God’s salvation? (God is my firewall; God is my GPS.)

David expressed his reliance upon God, knowing that all David had accomplished was a result of God working through him. Salvation comes from God and God alone!

 

Eternal! Read 2 Samuel 22:50-51

 

1.      What does it mean to live a life that praises God? (Praising God is more than words and songs. It is a life lived in willing obedience to Him!)

2.      How does knowing the lengths God would go to for you affect your motivation and ability to praise Him?

We honor God when we love others and express our thankfulness to Him for all He has given us. If our attitude is one of humble thankfulness others will see it as we live out our lives!

3.      In what sense are we descendants of David? (We have placed our faith and trust in God also.)

Praise God, He shows His loyalty to us forever!

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

·         We can trust God to be true to His holy character!

In what ways has God been faithful to you and how can you communicate God’s faithfulness to those around you?

·         Salvation comes from God and God alone!

How challenging is it in our world today to communicate the truth that salvation comes from God and Him alone?

·         Believers should offer praise to God for His salvation provided through His Son, Jesus!

Are we living our life so as to be an example to those around us of God’s saving grace?

 

Close with prayer, thanking God for His love and provision.

 

Resolved - 2 Samuel 21:1-14

1.      How many natural disasters can you list in one minute? Write them on your book or note pad. Ready? Go! (Share with the class as a whole after one minute.)

2.      Why do natural disasters occur? (Most natural disasters occur simply because we live in a fallen world. Generally speaking, they impact all people to some degree.)

3.      How does God provide during such disasters and how does God use them to bring about His will? (God is present with His people in the midst of these disasters. He uses them in a great variety of ways to touch people’s hearts and draw them to Him.)

God’s purpose is always to lead His people back to Him and to seek His favor.

4.      How can disasters we’ve seen today lead people back to God? (Sometimes when God is all we have left we realize God is all we ever really needed in the first place.)

Anytime we, as God’s people, encounter a difficult time in our life, whether it is widespread or only affecting me, we should seek God. He will provide direction and strength when we face the storms of life.

In today’s study, we will see how “God provides direction and strength when His people face trying times.”

 

In Joshua 9:1-27 a people group living in the Promised Land deceived Joshua and all of Israel into making a treaty with them. A key verse in this passage is verses 14 and 15, “Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions, but did not seek the Lord’s counsel. So Joshua established peace with them and made a treaty to let them live and the leaders of the community swore an oath to them.”

By the time Joshua discovered they had been deceived it was too late. But the Gibeonites did become servants to Israel. Some 400 years later while Saul was king of Israel, he decided to eradicate them. He was not totally successful but God brought judgment on Israel for not honoring the treaty Joshua had made with them.

 

The Cause! Read 2 Samuel 21:1-3

 

A famine that last one or two years may just be the cycle of nature but one that lasted three years was seen as God’s actions. You may recall Elijah and the three and half year drought God brought on Israel because of the sin of Jezebel.

 

1.      Why did Saul decide to carry out this annihilation of the Gibeonites? (His “zeal for Israel and Judah”.)

2.      Is zeal a good or bad characteristic to have? (Zeal is good if it isn’t misplaced zeal. Zeal for God and following His will is always good, but when we go off on our own without checking with God we almost always find ourselves in trouble.)

3.      How does a person know if a natural disaster is an act of God’s direct judgment or simply the result of living in a fallen world?

4.      What is the difference between a confrontation that leads to condemnation and a confrontation that leads to redemption? (The attitude of the one being confronted.)

5.      What’s good about going directly to the person who has been wronged to work toward reconciliation? (Honestly seeking a way to make things right can bring good to both the asker and the answerer. But the solutions can be complicated.)

It is important for us to remember that God defines what is right. Otherwise the strongest or most powerful will prevail, whether right or wrong.

6.      What can we learn from David’s approach to this problem?

David wanted to stop the famine. He also could have cared about mistreatment. We should continually ask God how our actions can make situations right for all concerned!

7.      Are you willing to do the right thing regardless of the cost?

 

The Request! Read 2 Samuel 21:4-6

 

1.       Was the request of the Gibeonites appropriate?

2.        Why was it important to honor this 400 year old covenant?

3.       Why was it still valid? (It wasn’t between two individuals; it was between the Gibeonites and the Israelites.)

4.       What factors should be considered when looking for a way to right a social wrong?

5.       What role should past promises play in those considerations? (What about the race issue our mistreatment of Native Americans in the past in our nation?)

6.       What makes a person act justly even when everyone around refuses to do so? Consider Vice versa?

 

Summarize verses 7-9.

 

The Resolution! Read 2 Samuel 21:10-14

1.       What did Rizpah do? Why? (According to the customs of that day she could not take the bodies. Part of the disgrace of hanging was that the bodies would not be given an honorable burial.)

2.       How long was she out there? (After approximately six months the Gibeonites evidently gave permission for the bodies to be taken and buried.)

3.       What did David do? Why?

4.       What obstacles did Rizpah have to overcome in the vigil she performed for her sons’ remains?

5.       What did you think she hoped to achieve through this vigil?

6.       When David learned about Rizpah’s vigil what did he do?

7.        Why did David help both sides: Saul’s family and the Gibeonite families?

8.       What advice would you give for helping two people who had been enemies for any reason? (Setting aside grievances is often necessary to allow room for respect and healing. If hatred is allowed to continue it festers in the person and destroys them, not the one they hated!)

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.       How does God want you to right a wrong?

2.      How does God want you to prevent a wrong?

Our actions affect others, not just for the present but for generations to come.

Most of us Christians are good at giving right answers. When it comes to actually living according to God’s guidance, we’re not as consistent.

3.      How can we make our lives as true as our words?

Read Psalm 37:28

4.      What spiritual disciplines can you practice to better understand God’s justice?

5.      How will you practice that discipline over the next week/month?

 

Prayer: Thank God for His provision during trying times and that we will always trust God in difficult situations.

 

Averted - 2 Samuel 20:1-21

As I look around the room I see people with a variety of talents, skills and spiritual gifts. (Name a few.) God gives skills, talents and spiritual gifts to each of us. God uses the skills of people to accomplish His purposes.

1.      What is the purpose of the talents and skills we possess?

2.      Is the purpose different for everyone or the same? (God’s general purpose is the same—to bring glory to God and accomplish His will on earth. God’s specific purpose for each of us is carried out in different ways depending on the specific talent, skill or spiritual gift.)

 

Last week we saw how David reclaimed the throne and headed back to Jerusalem. Second Samuel 19 ended with anger and recrimination between the tribe of Judah and the ten northern tribes. There was a perception that David showed favoritism toward his own tribe, Judah, even though they were the last tribe to recognize David as king again. There was great discord between the tribes.

3.      What does maintaining a strong tribal identity lead to without a strong, unifying leader? (Chaos and division.)

In today’s study, a story about the rebellious Sheba, we will see how God uses people’s skills to accomplish His purposes. Listen specifically for the skills used by David, Joab, and the woman of Abel to resolve the situation.

Read 2 Samuel 19:43

Let’s see what happens in the midst of this chaos!

 

Division! Read 2 Samuel 20:1-2

 

1.      What words and actions reveal Sheba’s character? (He was Benjaminite, was known for wickedness.)

2.      People can use their skills for good or for evil. What skills did Sheba use and for what end? (He took advantage of the conflict and further divided the 10 northern tribes, named Israel, from the tribe of Judah.)

3.      What could have happened if he had used his skills for good? (He could have helped to unite all 12 tribes—the tribe not counted for is Levi—the priests.)

4.      How did sin play a role in Sheba’s actions? (Sheba became the voice of those who questioned the good work of God through His anointed one.)

5.      How did the past get in the way of the future?

6.      How can a person make sure that when a leader is questioned the concerns are legitimate and not based on a past bias?

Consider these statements: “We’ve never done it that way before.” “The way we used to do it worked so why should we change?”

7.      How can these statements lead to questioning God’s provision?

8.      How can they be a stumbling block to the future?

9.      How can the church address the issue of change in a positive fashion?

10.  How do we see some of these issues coming to the surface in our nation? (The race issue especially!)

11.  Why do people take advantage of conflict? (It is wise to consider the motives behind others’ actions. Sometimes we must question provisions and leaders. More often we must show trust in provisions and leaders.)

 

Read 2 Samuel 20:4-13 (Discuss briefly. I personally believe Joab had the best interest of the unified nation in his heart!)

 

Civil War! Read 2 Samuel 20:14-16

 

Although the passage does not expressly say this it seems the further Sheba went north the more support he lost. The city he finally stopped in was on the northern border of Israel.

1.      Why does a position or office of leadership not always guarantee a high degree of influence?

2.      Why does the situation seem dire for Abel? (A city under siege that has no force outside the walls to attack the enemy will be cut off from their water supply and food. They will slowly die or surrender to their enemy.)

3.      Why are we surprised that a woman is the spokesperson for the city? (We assume women had very little influence in ancient Israel but that is not the case in several situations.)

4.      How does a crisis bring out the best and worst advice?

5.      How can you tell the difference?

 

Wisdom Conquers! Read 2 Samuel 20:17-21

 

1.      Why would a “peaceful and faithful” person agree to throw the head of Sheba over the wall?

2.      What can we appreciate about the ways this woman used wisdom? (She halted violence, asked questions, requested that Joab listen to her, revealed her character, asked Joab about his intentions, listened to the problem, and accepted a proposed solution.)

When compromising take care not to compromise core values and beliefs.

3.      What skills are necessary to avert revolt in churches or other groups of believers? (Godly people who are willing to compromise on issues that are not biblical principles. We must stand firm on the Word of God but be willing to compromise on lesser issues to keep unity.)

4.      In an age of moral confusion and political polarization, why is it important to show wisdom, restraint, and the ability to compromise in the face of a crisis?

5.      How strong is the temptation to compromise on core principles at such a time? (Not much at all—IF you have already made the decision not to compromise your core principles before a crisis arises! The decision is already made!!)

6.      Is there a relationship between political polarization and a widespread decline in moral integrity?

7.      What about the racial issues our churches and nation faces?

 

Summarize and Challenge:

 

We are each gifted in different ways. Every person has gifts and abilities given to them by God. These gifts are typically given in seed form and we have to develop them through experience. However, the pressing question is not how we can recognize our capabilities, although that is an important issue. The greater question is, “To what end?” What is the ultimate purpose of our abilities?” PSG pg 91

 

God uses the skills of people to accomplish His purposes. We see Joab using his leadership and warrior skills. We see this woman using her leadership skills and negotiating skills.

 

1.      What are some potential problems in a family?

2.      What are some potential problems in a church?

3.      What are some potential problems in a community?

4.      How can I play an active part in being part of the solution and not the problem?

 

Pray, asking God to help us seek peace and godly compromise as needed in the conflicts we encounter daily.

 

Restored - 2 Samuel 19:1-15

   Last Sunday our lesson was from 2 Samuel 15 and we saw that another of David’s sons, Absalom, was the featured character. We saw Absalom orchestrate a pronouncement of himself as king. In so doing, he shows just how cunning, crafty and insubordinate he really was. When word of this attempted coup reached David, he and his loyal followers fled Jerusalem. David was forced to demonstrate trust in God as opposed to trusting in items, such as the ark, to worship God.

 

   Today’s lesson is “Restored” in 2 Samuel 19 and focuses on how David’s people lost trust in him and how he regained it. As we saw last week, Absalom’s insurrection against his dad, David, forced the king to flee from Jerusalem with his household and a contingent of loyal mercenary soldiers. 2 Samuel 18 is skipped in our lesson plans but it sets the scene for today’s lesson.

 

Read 2 Samuel 19:1-4 “Mourning”

   Why would David have been sad to lose a son who had caused so much pain and misery to the family?

   Who was Joab?

   Why did David’s troops have the right to celebrate and be joyful? They had fought bravely and won a decisive victory for their king. They had crushed the coup and killed the traitor, Absalom.

   Why might the soldiers have become confused? As we said, they had just won a decisive victory, killed the traitor and leader of the coup, all for their king. Their king was openly mourning as described in 2 Samuel 18:33 and essentially drained any pride of victory and enthusiasm from the troops.

   How did David’s troops respond to their king’s sadness?

   What are leader’s responsibilities to their people during complicated times? Leaders must wisely manage their own emotions as well as those of their people.

 

Read 2 Samuel 19:5-8 “Confrontation”

   What did Joab fear about David’s public mourning? He probably recognized that the people sympathized with David, but he knew the king’s continued mourning threatened to cause permanent damage to David’s rule.

   What two strong points did Joab make in verse 5?

   What was the significance of this battle that David was failing to recognize?

   What did Joab accuse David of doing? He accused David of loving Absalom more than any other family member. Joab let David know that it seemed as though David would have gladly sacrificed everyone else to keep Absalom alive.

   Not sure if Joab was aware, but what greater threat posed by Absalom’s rebellion did his indictment of David point to?

   Think about this criticism coming from a rough, battle hardened general. Why is it difficult for us to hear criticism from others, even when done in love and wisdom? We must learn to recognize wise counsel. The Holy Spirit will show us how to handle this criticism if we allow it to. I cannot help but wonder if our leaders today can handle this type of constructive criticism.

   What did the king do? He got up and went to the city gate to see the troops and people but I expect he had to swallow some pride first.

   Was this the first time someone confronted David about his actions? If time permits you might consider the Bible Skill on page 85 of the quarterly.

 

Read 2 Samuel 19:9-15 “Restoration”

   Why was there disunity among the people and arguing in the nation about what should be done? Absalom had been chosen king which means David was no longer king. Absalom was a dead traitor. If the people wanted David to be king again, the necessary steps would have to be taken. Wondering how vengeful David would be brought anxiety to many of the people. Others were still lamenting the loss of their own loved ones at the hands of David’s soldiers. Actually David was still in exile from his capitol city.

   How did David go about resolving the varying emotions among the people? He sent envoys to persuade the elders of Judah that all of the other Israelite tribes already had confirmed their loyalty to David. They were to appeal to the elders’ tribal pride and blood relationship to David. Next he replaced Joab with Amasa, a former commander in Absalom’s army during the coup attempt. Basically, as verse 14 says, “he won over all the men of Juda, and they unanimously sent word to the king: “Come back, you and all your servants.” Then David returned to Jerusalem.

 

   We can manage emotions in selfish ways or in ways that truly solve the problems behind the emotions. Look at the four actions David recorded in Psalm 37:3 to take when our emotions are strong. “Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.”

      

Summary: What actions will help us honor God while resolving problems?

·         Sometimes the discussions that happen before or after the meeting, at work or church, are as destructive as the talk within a solution meeting.

·         We must choose never to gossip or criticize on the side.

·         We must take our concerns directly to those who can solve the problem and be part of the solutions.

·         Together we are stronger. God created us to live in community and to solve problems that way.

 

Close in prayer asking God to help us establish trusting relationships with other Christians and to repair relationships that have been damaged by lack of trust.

Deposed - 2 Samuel 15:1-30

1.      Where do you find it most difficult to wait your turn? (Record answers on the board.)

2.      Why are we so impatient?

3.      When can impatience be dangerous?

4.      Think about a time when your impatience and/or ambition overrode good sense. What were the consequences? (Lead your class to suggest situations where impatience has widespread consequences.)

5.      Speaking of ambition, when is it good and true? (Beyond business or politics, we could include reaching people for Jesus, being good parents, becoming the best you can be in your field, championing your child’s accomplishments, exceeding today what you contributed yesterday, setting wise goals, making the most of your time, etc.)

6.      When is ambition selfish and hurtful? (When it is all about you and getting more or getting that promotion at all cost! Motive is the difference between good and bad ambition.)

7.      What are the dangers of failing to wait and taking on a task before we are really ready?

 

Today, we will discover how Absalom’s impatience and selfish ambition created problems for David, and the nation of Israel.

Read 2 Samuel 15:1-9.

1.      How did Absalom wrestle control away from David?

David had 19 sons who survived infancy and two that died in infancy. Absalom was third behind Amnon and Kileab. Amnon had been murdered, so there was only one other between Absalom and the throne. Patience was all Absalom needed to exercise!

2.      How was Absalom’s request to go to Hebron a cunning move on his part? (That was the capital initially and Absalom was born in Hebron. He had connections there.)

 

Entitlement! Read 2 Samuel 15:10-12

3.      What were Absalom’s actions here and how did they appear legitimate?

4.      How would you describe Absalom’s character?

5.      How were others unwittingly drawn into this conspiracy?

6.      Can you recall when you’ve been drawn into a situation which later proved different from what had been presented?

7.      What were the results?

8.      How can a person’s loyalty get in the way of the truth?

9.      What are the dangers of blind trust?

10.  How can we stop selfish ambition and self-inflation from growing in us?

11.  What questions could help? (How will this affect at least three people besides me and in what way? Where is the least little bit of selfishness in this action? How might I be justifying my self-interest with holy-sounding words? What fear am I easing? Is this truly what is best for all concerned?)

 

Consider these questions: Is it possible that David had been neglecting some of his duties as king? Had he secluded himself in the palace and was totally ignorant of what was happening?

Fright! Read 2 Samuel 15:13-16

 

1.      What was David afraid of here?

2.      Why were his servants so loyal? (Although David was a fearsome warrior he treated his subjects with generosity and dignity.)

3.      Was David’s response what you would expect of one described as a man “after God’s own heart”?

4.      What seemed to be David’s greatest concern in verse 14? (David seemed to be very concerned about the city of Jerusalem and the inhabitants.)

5.      What are some ways we can show loyalty to a friend encountering opposition?

6.      How does a person weigh the cost of being loyal against their own sense of security? (Are my actions demonstrating integrity and is it the moral action to take, regardless of the loss I might have to take?)

Flight! Read 2 Samuel 15:24-30

 

1.      Does it seem that David had any selfish ambition here? (Not to me. He did a prudent thing by asking the priest to keep him informed as to what was happening, but yielded himself to the will of God, whether it bring life or death!)

2.      Why do you think David sent the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem? (It wasn’t David’s ark; it represented God’s presence among His people, Israel!)

3.      What did David’s returning the ark to Jerusalem say about David’s relationship with God?

4.      How was this decision practical?

5.      How do you respond to the statement, “Faith and grief are not mutually exclusive”? (There are numerous places in the Bible where people were grieving deeply and yet had strong faith.)

6.      How did David show both faith and grief?

7.      Read Psalm 3. How would you describe the interaction of faith and grief in this Psalm?

8.      How can we grieve betrayal in life and still maintain trust in God?

9.      Where is the balance between “common sense” and faith? (We must admit that sometimes they seem to be in opposition. We must bathe our decisions in prayer seeking God’s guidance and have the courage to follow Him!)

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

In the PSG Brett Selby makes the following statement on page 74: “Unfortunately the work of evil sometimes intimidates the people of God. The diversion of their focus from the power of God to the schemes of man brings fearfulness and anxiety.”

1.      How is this truth demonstrated in today’s study?

·         Selfish ambition leads to self-inflation of our abilities and entitlements.

·         Opposition becomes an opportunity for true friends to demonstrate their loyalty.

·         Believers must weigh the risks in the face of threats, trusting God for deliverance.

2.      Evaluate for a moment your life goals. What adjustments do you need to make to ensure all your goals are God-honoring?

3.      Can you name any sin that does not have its root in selfishness? (When we’re on the throne, we create destruction—no matter how we try to excuse it. When we move off the throne to truly show care for others, we give life—and find it.)

We experience the most fulfilling life when we spend our life for God and others! In giving we receive!

 

Close in prayer, asking God to help all of us to remain focused on God’s will and not be distracted by the devil’s schemes. Thank God for His protection when we’re surrounded and besieged by dangerous and evil situations.

 

David’s Sons

 

1.      Amnon

2.      Kileab

3.      Absalom

4.      Adonijah

5.      Shephatiah

6.      Ithream

7.      Shimea

8.      Shobab

9.      Nathan

10.  Solomon

11.  Ibhar

12.  Elishua

13.  Elpelet

14.  Nogah

15.  Nepheg

16.  Japhia

17.   Elishama

18.  Elada

19.  Eliphelet   Plus two unnamed who died in infancy.

 

Grieved - 2 Samuel 13:1-39

Use the word “FAMILY” as an acrostic. Have members identify words or phrases starting with each letter that describes God’s ideal for the family. (Examples: F—fidelity, faithfulness, forgiveness;               A—acceptance, assurance; M—motivating, molding, mercy; I—inspiring, integrity, in harmony; L—love, loyalty, lasting; Y—you before me, young and old cared for.)

(Draw a jagged line across the entire FAMILY acrostic as you state. God established the family for loving relationships; sin destroys relationships and families. That truth is sadly evident in David’s life!

1.      How much influence does family have on our spiritual lives?

2.      How can one’s spiritual life impact his or her family? (Just because the parents are strong Christians who are very involved in church and makes sure their children are exposed to church activities all the way through high school doesn’t mean the children will turn out to be strong Christians! Each individual must make their own choice. But at least the children were exposed to God’s Word and Christian principles!)

God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. God established the family for loving relationships; sin destroys them. Another way to say it is: Sin is the “Round Up” that keeps loving relationships in a family from blooming!

(Summarize 2 Samuel 13:1-14.)

 

Shattered! Read 2 Samuel 13:15-20

 

1.      Who in this saga was affected by the sins of David and Amnon? (The whole family! Sin is like a cancer eating away until it destroys all who are influenced by it.)

2.      How would you describe Amnon’s response after he took what he wanted? (What Amnon actually felt was lust not love and he nursed it until it became an act of sin instead of just thoughts.)

Sin always leads to grief because it fails to satisfy and deliver on the promises it makes! This may be the most graphic example!

3.      After the rape, which was traumatic and sinful enough, how did Amnon shatter Tamar even further?

Even though David probably would not have agreed for Amnon to marry his half sister, he could have at least sought to do so. His dismissal of Tamar meant her unmarried status would be permanent. How he referred to Tamar indicated his mockery and disrespect, meaning Amnon saw her as an object. He shattered Tamar’s purity, sense of safety, and dreams of having her own family!

Nothing shatters a person’s sense of identity and self-worth like that of being treated like an object. In loving relationships, people are treated as created in God’s image, and as persons, not things.

4.      How would you describe Tamar’s response? (The typical responses of assault victims are feelings of desolation, anger, fear and anxiety, shame, guilt, and isolation.)

5.      How might Absalom’s response have shattered Tamar as well?

6.      What actions could be taken to assist victims of abuse or other crimes to begin the recovery process? (Being there; listening; assuring them of your love, support, and unconditional acceptance; assuring them they are not to blame and have great worth; offering them the hope of restoration in Jesus; and offering practical help—making their homes more secure or going places with them, especially at night.)

7.      How do some excuse living together without being married? They may say: “A piece of paper can’t make a relationship.” Marriage is the foundation, but love must be built upon that foundation. We must marry people who’ve shown they will build love. To simply live together is saying “when I get tired of this relationship I’ll just move on.”)

 

Tamar wasn’t the only one shattered by Amnon’s sin; its devastating effects were far-reaching!

(Summarize 2 Samuel 13:21-30. Absalom kills Amnon.)

Devastated! Read 2 Samuel 13:31-36

 

1.      What words of Nathan do you think came flooding back into David’s mind as he heard this news?

2.      Jonadab, the cousin who helped Amnon plot the rape of Tamar, resurfaced. What did he do this time?

3.      Why did Jonadab give each report to the king? (People are motivated by a variety of reasons other than obedience to God.)

Amnon fed his lust, which led to his sin of rape. Absalom waited two long years before he acted on behalf of his sister. Absalom’s behavior may not have been rooted in revenge as much as wanting to help his sister.

4.      How did Absalom feeding his revenge lead to murder?

5.      What makes revenge such a powerful emotion?

6.      Why do you suppose the Bible listed many grieving over Amnon’s death but records little agony over the rape of Tamar?

7.      What situations have you witnessed in which a response to a sinful act brought greater evil and sin?

 

Separated! Read 2 Samuel 13:37-39

 

1.      David lost two sons: Amnon who died and Absalom who fled. What might have caused David to reach out to Absalom? (David had finally accepted the fact that Amnon was dead and it was time to move on. He also mourned for Absalom.)

2.      Does sin always lead to separation and broken relationships?

3.      What practical actions stop the cycle of revenge? (Revenge can lead to repeated sin, greater sin, and persistent conflict!)

4.      How would you have advised David to act amidst his family members’ cruelties? (Managing misbehavior of adult family members is tricky. Such situations are wrought with emotions and accusations.)

David most likely felt a certain amount of guilt for what was happening in his family. As time passed it seemed David’s influence in the kingdom and his family grew weaker! David’s seemingly loss of influence may be because knowledge of his own sin became common knowledge and people lost respect for him.

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

Lust, plotting rape, the act of rape, and refusing to punish rape are serous sins. Left untreated sin is like a cancer eating away, coming back in a different form but still just as devastating!

1.      How can believers effectively address the issue of sin? (As believers we have a responsibility to restore people who have been hurt by sin and to protect them from further wrong.)

2.      In families, what role should parents take when sin threatens family relationships? (Bathe the situation in prayer. In love, confront the issue with the family members involved.)

When family relationships are strained, first ask yourself how you have acted selfishly. Develop patterns of showing true interest, accountability, and forgiveness!

3.      How can we be a positive influence for change regarding the issue of sexual violence in our world?

 

Pray, asking God to give us peace and healing in our broken relationships!

 

Accountable - 2 Samuel 12:1-14

1.      Can you think of a time when you were a child and you were caught doing something wrong?

2.      How did you respond?

3.      What systems do we have in the workplace to hold us accountable for our time and resources? (Check in with time clocks. Set work hours and we are held accountable by our supervisor.)

4.      Can you have freedom without accountability? (Freedom can’t be separated from accountability. We may be free to do as we desire but we are not free from the consequences of our behavior!)

5.      What are the pros and cons to being held accountable for our actions?

6.      Should you dread or welcome an audit in your workplace?

Have you heard the old adage “An idle mind is the Devil’s workshop”? Today’s study is a great example of that old saying.

2 Samuel 8 is a chapter that gives a summary of the people group God used David to defeat during his reign as King of Israel. The events in some of the following chapters actually took place during that time period. Today’s study is one of those events that the writer tells us about that occurred during the events of that chapter. 2 Samuel 11 is the narrated event that led to the confrontation we find in chapter 12.

Read 2 Samuel 11:1

7.      What does this one verse tell us about David in this incident? (David neglected his responsibility of being out in the battle with his men!)

Neglecting our duty is many times the first step to disobedience.

(Tell the story from here about David’s sin with Bathsheba, her subsequent pregnancy and finally the murder of Uriah!)

Nathan the prophet, whom God used to deliver His gracious promise to David, was now sent to deliver a far different message. God was about to call David to account for his sins.

8.      If David was called a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22), then how can he have also created such deep pain through certain choices? (None of us are immune to sin!)

 

Nathan Confronts David! 2 Samuel 12:1-4

 

1.      Why would King David not think it odd that Nathan was telling him about such a great miscarriage of justice? (As King he was the “Supreme Court” for Israel.)

2.      If we take this story Nathan told at face value, what kind of emotions does it stir up in you?

3.      Why do we resist confrontation—anyone telling us that we’ve done wrongly or failed to do rightly? (People compliment us when they confront us. They show confidence that we can repent and do rightly, and they believe we have a future rather than just a past.)

Helpful confrontation might ask questions rather than make declarations. It listens. It truly loves rather than condescends.

4.      How did Nathan manage to confront David with his sin without him realizing it at this point in these verses?

5.      How do you think David had justified his own actions in his heart? (Though the situation may be complicated, we have a choice and “a way out” of sin—1 Cor. 10:13. See Num. 32:23)

6.      How might God confront a person today about his or her sin?

7.      Should we expect to be confronted in some way about our sin?

 

David Judges! Read 2 Samuel 12:5-6

 

Notice David did not pass the death penalty, he simply said, “This man deserves to die.” But he did give the punishment stated in the law-four lambs for that one must be paid!

David seems to be blind to his own sin at this point.

1.      Why is it so easy to see sin in others rather than ourselves?

2.      Who was David judging when he judged the rich man?

3.      What does David’s response to Nathan’s story reveal about himself?

4.      What does a person’s response to sin reveal about that person?

5.      Who do think was aware of David’s sins in 2 Samuel 11? (Everyone! People are not as ignorant about what is going on in our lives as we may think they are. In David’s case everyone in his household had to know or at least suspect something wasn’t just right. Joab had to know!)

6.      What is God’s role in justice? Our role? Society’s role? (Justice often comes through natural consequences. God warns us to avoid certain actions because of what happens when anyone does them. Some human pictures of justice match the Bible and some do not. But it is not our job to pass judgment on what God does or doesn’t do in this area.)

 

God Punishes! Read 2 Samuel 12:7-12

 

David may have thought he’s covered his sins well and gotten away with it. But Nathan made it clear his sin was not secret and carried consequences.

1.      What had God done for David?

2.      What was God willing to do for David?

Ultimately all sin is ingratitude toward the goodness of God!

Notice how God detailed David’s transgressions through Nathan. Not only had his sin not gone unnoticed to the people it had not gone unnoticed to God!

3.      Are sins ever really secret?

4.      To what examples can you point in support of your answer? (Abraham, Sarah and Hagar. Judah unknowingly slept with his former daughter-in-law, Tamar after her two husbands died and he had not planned to send another son to be her husband.)

5.      Is there a sin that hurts nobody? (Sin is never without ramifications. It may seem that no one knows but you know and God knows. Even if no one else knows, your sin comes between you and God!)

Nathan revealed that David was the rich man in the parable, having taken Bathsheba from Uriah and murdering Uriah.

6.       How does misbehaving show how we currently feel about God?

7.      How do the misdeeds of leaders affect those who follow them? (Leaders are to set the moral example for those who follow them. Nathan explained that the Lord would bring public disaster on David’s household.)

8.      Are sins ever really secret? (Sin is never secret or without ramifications!

9.      To what examples can you point in support of your answer?

 

David Responds!

 

1.      If you were reading this account for the first time, how would you expect David to respond?

Unlike many people, David responded to the confrontation of his sin with immediate and complete repentance rather than denials or excuses.

2.      Was God’s forgiveness immediate and complete? (Yes—BUT the consequences can be long lasting and very painful!

 

Read 2 Samuel 12:13-14

 

3.      What is the nature of repentance? (Changed behavior and taking responsibility are two indications of repentance.)

4.      How can we tell if repentance has really happened in someone’s heart?

David hurt many people with long-term consequences. He hurt God too.

Read Psalm 51

5.      What do we learn about repentance from Psalm 51? (Repentance looks at one’s self honestly and agrees with God about the gravity of sin; it acknowledges God is fully just and blameless in His judgment of sin; and recognizes that sin is great, but God’s grace is greater and so asks for forgiveness and restoration.)

Psalm 51:10 “God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Note that David didn’t pray for the consequences of his sin to be reversed, but for God’s grace to restore and transform him!

6.      In what ways could we draw on God’s grace while enduring the current consequences of sinful behavior?

7.      How can we tell if repentance has happened in ourselves?

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      How possible is it to stop our foolishness before we do it? (When God finished creating mankind He said, “It is very good!” That includes all of our desires, but He also provided godly ways to satisfy all of our desires. When we try to satisfy them any other way we sin.)

2.      Do we need someone to point out our sins or can we listen to God on our own?  (Most of us need an accountability partner. Sometimes that might be our spouse to help us.)

3.      Do you believe that Christians should expect to be confronted about their sins?

4.      Do we recognize sin and understand that judgment accompanies it?

5.      Do we really believe that sin carries consequences and that it is never secret or without ramifications?

 

The wonderful news is this: when we sin if we confess our sin God is faithful and will forgive our sin and restore a right relationship between us and God! 

Read 1 John 1:9

 

Pray.