We'll be fully dead in the end, but along the way most of us spend our days embracing a little less life and a little more death, 1000 small choices at a time.
This week talking about sin and its destructive power in our lives.
Start this time of study with prayer, whether you’re studying alone or with a group. Ask God to step into this time and bring about wisdom and understanding. Later in the study you’ll have a time to offer specific prayer and praise, but turn first to God before turning to his Word.
Then begin your time with the following questions.
How do you define right and wrong? What different moral compasses do you see the world use as a standard for good and bad behavior?
What are some things that promise happiness and fulfillment, but turn out to be unfulfilling or even life-sucking, as described in Proverbs 14:12? Do you consider the pursuit of these things to be“sin”?
What have you found to be a truly life-giving pursuit? Where are you finding life? Do you think of this as a “righteous” pursuit?
Read John 10:10 (NLT)
10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
Read Genesis 2:15 & Genesis 3:1-7 (NLT)
2:15The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. 16 But the Lord God warned him, “You May freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden— 17 except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”
3 The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”
2“Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. 3“It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said,‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”
4“You won't die!” the serpent replied to the woman. 5“God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”
6 The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. 7 At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.
8 When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. 9 Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
Read Galatians 5:13-26 (NLT)
13 For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. 14 For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.
16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. 18 But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.
19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.
According to John 10:10, what is God’s purpose for us? How does the serpent’s temptation in Genesis 3 go against God’s intent for us? In Genesis 2, how does God describe the consequences of giving into this temptation?
Sin could be defined as anything we seek apart from a loving, self-giving connection with God and others. Have you seen good behaviors practiced in selfish ways become destructive behaviors? How has this played out in your own life?
According to Galatians 5 the Holy Spirit actively restores our moral compass as we humbly seek his direction and walk in “freedom.” What contrasts do you see between the “works of the sinful nature” and the “fruit of the spirit”?
How do the “works of the sinful nature” in Galatians 5 kill relationships? How do the “fruits of the Spirit” restore loving connections with God and others?
How does the description of freedom in Galatians contrast with our typical ideas about freedom? How does sin undermine our pursuit of real freedom?
How does Jesus describe the work and purpose of the “thief” in John 10:10? How does Jesus describe his own work and purpose? What “thieves” have led you or others away from a loving, selfless connection with God and the people in your life?
Take some time to reflect on how this week’s scriptures has affected your life. Focus especially on practical steps you can take to live out what you’ve learned.
What is one sinful pursuit that seems to have you trapped in a cycle of selfishness? How is that practice diverting you from true life?
What would it look like for you to humbly surrender this life-sucking practice to God and invite the Holy Spirit to lead you toward something more life-giving? Where is the Holy Spirit leading you differently in that area of life, and how would following God’s leading there restore you to a place of freedom?
What are some personal relationships in your life that sin has damaged or even killed?
If you’re doing this study with others, take a moment to share prayer requests. If you’d like, you can write these down as a prayer and Praise report. Close your discussion with prayer.
Looking for next steps, and want to go a little deeper? Take a little more time and dive into these additional passages. Journal your thoughts and answers. If you’re working through a particular passage, try writing down the scripture and then paraphrasing it in your own words.
It’s easy in our culture to simply think of sin in terms of right or wrong behaviors. But the consequences of sin — including the death God himself describes in Genesis — aren’t just individual consequences. The death that comes from sin damages and destroys our relationships with each other, and our relationship with God. Next week we’ll focus on God’s plans for bringing about life even from death. But first it’s important to recognize just how deadly and life-sucking our sin and selfish pursuits can be, both to us and to the people closest to us.
Read James 1:12-18 (NLT)
12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 13 And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. 14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.
16 So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. 18 He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.
How have you seen sin lead to spiritual death or numbness in your life?
What is God’s desire for you and others, according to this passage?
How do you endure temptation? How have others helped you walk through trying times without falling prey to temptation?
Read 1 John 2:15-17 (NLT)
15 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. 17 And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.
What are the three root causes of evil that the world offers, according to John in this passage?
How do these compare to the descriptions of the fruit on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in Genesis 3:6? How do the temptations in these passages compare to the temptation Jesus experienced in Matthew 4:1-11.
How do these “worldly” temptations play out in your own life?
Read Romans 6:23 (NLT)
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
The original word used for “wages” in Romans 6:23 is a military word that referred to the food rations or compensation that a soldier received from their service (the Greek word opsōnion). How does this word picture help frame the consequences of sin? How does this contrast with God’s gracious provision?
In the 7th century BC, the prophet Isaiah predicted that God would allow his “servant” to bear the penalty of our sin. The scene painted in Isaiah 53:4-6 is clearly fulfilled in Jesus’ crucifixion. What do you find surprising about God’s plan of redemption for the world?
Where do you need redemption in your life? What relationships need God’s redemption?
Read Ephesians 2:1-10 (NLT)
1Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.
4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead.(It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
We reviewed this passage last week. How does it strike you differently after this study?
Where have you experienced death? Where have you experienced life? Where do you need more life this week?
Read 1 John 2:1-2 (NLT)
1My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. 2 He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.
Journal or write down some thoughts of gratitude about God’s willingness to rescue us from the mess we’ve created.