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Completely Free! Free From Sin’s Slavery Free From Condemnation Free From Fear of Failure A Group Study of Romans 1-8 and 12 Facilitator’s Guide By Dan Strickland Communications should be addressed to: Turning Point Ministries, Inc. P. O. Box 22127 Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127 Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, © Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977. Used by permission. ©Turning Point, 1996. All rights reserved. All rights are reserved. No part of the material protected by this copyright notice may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the Turning Point Ministries.

ISBN 1-58119-006-9

About the Author Dan Strickland serves as Vice President of Turning Point Ministries, training churches across the country and overseas to implement Turning Point Groups. Prior to joining Turning Point he served as Adult Pastor and Counselor in a large church where Turning Point groups involved hundreds of participants in the congregation and community. He is ordained with the Evangelical Church Alliance. He is a graduate of Central Bible College and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where he earned the Master of Divinity Degree.

Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P. O.Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


Completely Free! C

ontents

Page Introduction

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 2•

Getting Started • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 3 Completely Free! Overview

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 4•

Session 1

— Completely Free! The Good News

Session 2

— Completely Corrupted by Sin

Session 3

— Completely Deluded by Sin • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 20

Session 4

— Completely Condemned by the Law

Session 5

— Completely Justified Through Faith in Christ • • • • • • • • • • • •32

Session 6

— Completely at Peace With God • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 40

Session 7

— Completely Identified With Christ

Session 8

— Completely Freed From Sin’s Slavery

Session 9

— Completely Frustrated in the Flesh • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •58

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •14

Session 10 — Completely Dependent on the Spirit

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •26

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• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •64

Session 11 — Completely Strengthened in Our Weakness • • • • • • • • • • • • 70 Session 12 — Completely Assured of Victory • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 76 Session 13 — Completely Dedicated to God’s Will • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 82 Facilitator Resource Pages Selected Bibliography

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •88•

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Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

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Introduction To the Completely Free! Group Why this group? It seems that most Christians begin their lives in Christ with a love for God and a desire to fulfill his will. Somewhere along the journey, too many just settle into a Christian routine and stop growing. There are many reasons for this. Some people get distracted and place their focus on other matters that seem more urgent, such as the pressures of job and family life. Others lose hope of growing in Christ because they are constantly defeated by their sinful thoughts and actions. There are other reasons, but the result is the same: People are robbed of the joy of growing in their relationship with God who loves them beyond all human comprehension.

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memories, and hidden behaviors that bring continual discouragement and retard spiritual growth. You may face overwhelming problems that have stopped spiritual growth and have left your life in shambles. You will find solutions to these problems as you realize the scope of the salvation God has given to those who are Christians. The goal of this group. The goal of this group is to help Christians realize that God’s power continually works in them and that they have been changed from spiritually dead enemies of God to people who are now his most treasured possessions. This truth will be applied to everyday living.

Is this group for you?

Group structure.

This group is for those who want to continue to mature in the Christian life. If you are a new believer, it will help you build a strong foundation of faith and give you an understanding of your salvation. If you are a veteran believer, a study of Romans can bring a fresh understanding and appreciation of the salvation that is yours in Christ. This group can help those who feel stuck in their Christian growth because they have lost their focus on a relationship with God and walking according to his will. You may have been frustrated with problems of destructive attitudes, thoughts,

The group should meet each week for one hour and fifteen minutes, but more or less time may be planned if necessary. The material is designed for thirteen sessions and was created to be a part of the overall Turning Point model of ministry in the local church. The material in Completely Free! may also be used in a Bible study, home fellowship, or other small group setting. As a leader, be aware of the resource materials found in the Small Group Skills Guide, Core Team Manual, and Behind Our Sunday Smiles: Helping Those with LifeControlling Problems. These publications are available

Introduction

from Turning Point Ministries. Suggestions for Leaders God does not expect the leader to have all the answers. If there is something you don’t understand, ask your minister to help research the answer. The book of Romans is impossible to comprehend completely in one study. After a lifetime of study, you will probably still be discovering answers to your questions. As you meet with group members, be sensitive to their spiritual condition. Be prepared to present the plan of salvation to any who have not yet come to Christ and made Him their Savior and Lord.

You will find solutions to these problems as you realize the scope of the sal vation God has given to those who are Christians.

Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


Getting Started Group Size We suggest that each Completely Free! group have two group leaders (facilitators) and a maximum of 12 participants. Having more than 12 may prevent some from being a part of much-needed discussion. Preparation Time The facilitator’s material is written in an almost word-for-word dialogue. However, it is hoped that as you come to know and understand the concepts presented, you will be able to “personalize” each session to fit your own style. Highlight the points you want to emphasize and make notes for yourself. Keep in mind that the answers provided for the discussion questions are there only as a tool to assist you and are by no means the only “right” answers to the questions being asked. While the Scriptures have only one meaning, there are many applications that can be made to the life of a believer. Become thoroughly familiar with the four elements of each session: • Introduction (10 minutes) Begin with prayer. After the prayer, a sharing question helps put the group at ease. The lead facilitator should respond to the sharing question first, followed by the co-facilitator. This causes the group members to feel safer in participating in the exercise. After the facilitators have shared, the group members will share one after another around the circle. Always remind group members that they are not expected to share if they do not wish to. The rule is that everyone works within his or her comfort level and is welcome to pass. This is not the time for detailed conversation, so ask the members of the group to keep their comments brief. • Self-Awareness (20-25 minutes) After the sharing question, the facilitator will lead the group into the Self-Awareness phase. It is suggested in Self-Awareness that the facilitators ask the group members to share as they wish rather than going around the circle as in the introduction phase. • Spiritual Awareness (20-25 minutes) After the Self-Awareness phase, the facilitator will lead the group into the Bible study time. Having briefly explained the topic, the facilitator should assign Scriptures listed in the Facilitator’s Guide to group members. When each Scripture is called by the facilitator, the group member should read the verse(s). After the verses are read, give time for discussion. • Application (20 minutes) This part is actually a continuation of Phase III. Ask for volunteers to share their reflections on the question. The facilitators should emphasize the importance of the group members’ applying biblical principles to their lives. The Bible says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). Obedience to the Word should follow with right behavior. Right feelings will follow right thinking and right behavior. The facilitators should work through the same questions as the group members in their study of Romans. You will find these study questions on the Facilitator Resource pages at the end of this book. Completely Free! Group Member Guide Before Session One, the Completely Free! Group Member Guide should be distributed to each group member. Facilitators should be thoroughly familiar with the workbook before the first meeting. During the orientation, you will encourage group members to complete the appropriate assignments prior to each group meeting. Through the readings and other exercises in the workbook, group members can come to each session better prepared for meaningful discussion. Note that while group members are asked to read and think about the Scriptures to be covered, some group discussion questions have been left out of the workbooks in order to enhance the spontaneity of the group process. Introduction

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Completely Free! Overview The following is an overview of all thirteen sessions. It can help you see how each session fits into the overall Completely Free! purpose. Become familiar with this information and review the synopsis of each session in preparation for that week’s group meeting. Session 1: Completely Free! The Good News Romans 1:1-17 This session moves group members into the book of Romans by causing them to think about personal change and areas of their lives where they seem powerless to change. The fact that we are powerless to make ourselves acceptable to God is introduced, as is the fact that God has planned through the ages to bring us salvation. The urgency Paul felt to preach this message emphasizes that believing the Gospel is essential for our salvation. Some group members may not appreciate the value of the Gospel as the only way to salvation, but this lesson begins to build the case that all humanity is completely dependent on God for salvation. Session 2: Completely Corrupted by Sin Romans 1:18-32 In this session we will analyze self-destructive behaviors and take a look at our own harmful behaviors. We will discover that humanity has become

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separated from God, deluded in thinking, trapped in selfdestructive behaviors, and is on a path to total ruin. This is because we have rejected God and his truth. Session 3: Completely Deluded by Sin Romans 2:1-29 In this session we will explore how we tend to excuse our faults while condemning other people. We will see that God is an impartial judge of all people, but our delusion leads us to believe that others deserve punishment and somehow we will escape. We will begin to see ourselves as God sees us and confront our personal hypocrisy. Session 4: Completely Condemned by the Law Romans 3:1-20 In this session we will establish that everyone is in need of God’s forgiveness. We will see that, regardless of our religious heritage, no person can take a right relationship with God for granted. We will see how grossly wicked humans are apart from God and understand that the purpose of God’s law is to convince us of our sin. We want to come to the place where members become conscious of and convinced of their own sins.

Session 5: Completely Justified Through Faith in Christ Romans 3:21-4:25 This session establishes the fact that every human is under the sentence of death, but God’s judgment on us has been satisfied by the death of Christ as our substitute and representative. The only way to have God’s forgiveness is to trust God that Jesus suffered and died in our place. God considers us righteous in his sight when we trust that Christ died in our place. We want to understand the difference between trying to earn God’s forgiveness and simply trusting in his promise. It is essential to see that faith has always been the only way man is able to please God, as illustrated in the life of Abraham. Finally, we want to evaluate our own faith to determine if we are trusting God for salvation or trusting in our own performance. Session 6: Completely at Peace With God Romans 5:1-11 In this session we will examine the results of being justified by God. We will explore the implications of being at peace with God and gain a sense of security about our relationship with him even when we are facing severe adversity. We will see that God’s love is greater than any human love could ever be and why we can have complete confidence in our salvation.

Introduction

Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


Overview Continued

Session 7: Completely Identified With Christ

relying on our own efforts to keep the Law.

Romans 5:12-20 In this session we will explore the impact that the sin of Adam has had on all humanity and come to appreciate how much greater the impact of Christ’s obedience is. We will explore how these two men represent all people and that we either belong to the race of Adam as a result of our natural birth or we belong to the race of Christ because of our new birth.

Session 10: Completely Dependent on the Spirit

Session 8: Completely Freed From Sin’s Slavery Romans 6:1-23 In this session we will see that in Christ we are free from sin’s cruel slavery and have now become eager slaves to righteousness. We will explore how the “old self” died with Christ on the cross and how we now walk in newness of life as a result of Christ’s resurrection. We will be encouraged to commit to living a righteous life. Session 9: Completely Frustrated in the Flesh Romans 7:1-25 In this session we will see why it is common for many people to be so utterly frustrated in trying to live a righteous life. They feel as if they are in a losing struggle all the time and stay defeated in their struggle with sin. We will examine this conflict and share our personal stories as well. We will see how the flesh cannot be tamed by

Romans 8:1-13 This session will show that though the struggle with the flesh is real, there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ. We will see the freedom we have from the law of sin and death because of the death of Christ. We will learn to recognize the work of the Spirit of God in our lives and to live as people with no obligation to the flesh. Session 11: Completely Strengthened in Weakness Romans 8:14-27 In this session we will explore what it means to be adopted by God and how God’s Spirit assures us of our relationship with God. We need this strength and assurance from God since all the world around us is in agony because of sin. Our own bodies are declining, dying, and ultimately will decay because of sin. We have been redeemed, but our physical bodies have not yet been redeemed. We will look at the implications of this truth in our lives.

God is all-powerful and has control over everything. The Christian will not be defeated by any power or adversity because Christians will never be separated from God’s love. We will ultimately overwhelmingly conquer any obstacle because of the love and commitment God has made to us. Session 13: Completely Dedicated to God’s Will Romans 12:1-21 In this session we will come face-to-face with all the implications of the truth presented in the first eight chapters of Romans. Paul lays out for us the only logical course we can take once we understand what God has done for us. This is a session of self-examination and commitment to God’s will for us.

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.

Session 12: Completely Assured of Victory

Romans 8:37

Romans 8:28-39 In this session we will grow in confidence in our salvation. Even though we are weak,

Introduction

Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

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1Completely Free! The Good

Session

I

News

Allow 10 minutes

ntroduction Opening Prayer

Thank God for each person who has taken the step of choosing to join this Completely Free! Group. Ask him to open each heart and mind to all he has for us.

Sharing Question

The purpose of this exercise is to help group members move toward being more comfortable in sharing with the group. Ask each one to introduce themselves, beginning with yourself (and your co-facilitator).

Welcome to our first Completely Free! Group meeting. I’d like to begin this first session by having each of us in the group introduce ourselves and tell two things about yourself. I’ll start by telling you that my name is…

S

elf-Awareness

Allow 20-25 minutes

We’re glad for each of you who has joined this group. And in case you’re not entirely sure of what you’ve joined, I’m going to take a minute to tell you what the Completely Free! Group is.

The purpose of this segment is to discuss: • What is the Completely Free! Group, and what will happen in the sessions? • What are the ground rules for this group?

A Completely Free! Group is a small group (usually twelve people or fewer) who want to discover or refresh their understanding of the gospel message and apply it to their daily lives. Many people begin the Christian life with excitement, expecting to grow to full Christian maturity; but unfortunately, the experience of most does not equal their initial expectation. They learn to settle for less than what is possible. They lose hope for change as their expectations adjust to their daily experience. If we try to transform ourselves, it will always end in disappointment. The book of Romans opens our eyes to what God has done for us, what he is doing in us, and what he has prepared for us in the future. It inspires us to grow to maturity and trust God completely. An understanding of Romans has been the turning point for many people in their spiritual growth, among them Saint Augustine, Martin Luther, and John Wesley. We pray that the study of Romans will be a milestone in your Christian growth as well.

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Session 1

Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


Group Format So what will we do here each week as we discuss and apply the truth of the book of Romans? Let me start by giving you an idea of what will happen during a typical meeting. Introduction First, we will pray together. Prayer is always appropriate during a Completely Free! Group meeting, especially as we begin our time together. We’ll spend a few minutes talking together and getting to know each other better. We don’t want to be a circle of strangers. However in saying that, I want to be quick to promise you that in any of our conversations here, you should never feel pressured to talk. We only want you to speak when you feel comfortable doing so. I promise to do my best never to “put you on the spot.” Self-Awareness Next in our meeting comes something we call our “SelfAwareness” time. This part of our meeting is designed to help us discover more about ourselves. During Self-Awareness (about 20 minutes), we will discuss some of the ideas and beliefs we have personally about being a Christian and living a life that is pleasing to God. We will examine these beliefs and see if they are in accord with the Word of God. Spiritual Awareness After our Self-Awareness time, we’re going to open our Bibles and discuss the Scripture passage assigned for the week. You will have studied this passage on your own before coming to the group, but we will discuss it together and as a group get feedback from each other on what we learned. We will also be looking at some questions as a group that will challenge us together to examine our beliefs and actions. You may be tempted to look at the leaders of this group as those who have all the answers. We assure you we do not. We will be learning right along with the rest. We don’t want you to center this group around us but rather look to Christ as the center of the group and trust the Spirit of God to give insight into the Word of God. Also remember, the goal of this group is not just to study but rather to understand the truth and be transformed in our thinking and actions. If we just learn the truth, we have not fulfilled the purpose of this group. If we learn the truth, apply it in our lives, make ourselves accountable to others, and live our lives in daily awareness of God working in us, then we have done something significant here.

Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

Session 1

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This would be a good time for me to say that if you have not yet invited Christ into your life—made him your Savior—I would encourage you to ask him to come into your life as Savior and Lord. If you have questions, we would be pleased to talk with you personally about how you can have a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. Application After our Bible study, we will take some time to work on applying what we have learned. We want these things we are learning to make a difference in our lives. That should give you a general idea of what to expect when you come here each week.

Ground Rules Now, I want to go over some basic ground rules for our Completely Free! Group. 1. We want you to be here. Make every effort to be here. Make these 13 sessions a top priority in your life. Each session is important to you, and you are important to this group. In addition to what God wants to do in your life, you have a great deal to contribute to the lives of others in this group.

Discuss each point briefly.

2. You should speak within your own comfort level. I have already mentioned this, but I want to stress that this should be a nonthreatening place. Yes, I am going to throw out a lot of questions. Think about them. Some of you will be ready to talk and answer. For others, it may take a while before you are comfortable. Don’t feel pressured. 3. There is to be confidentiality concerning anything that is shared within the group. We must be able to trust each other to maintain confidentiality. (I might add here that it is important for us to maintain the confidences of the other people in our lives too. This is not the place to tell what you know about your spouse’s problems or your children’s or your friend’s. It is not appropriate to gossip.) The only exception to maintaining confidentiality should be when a person is a danger to himself or to others. 4. Make it a commitment to prepare for each session. You have been given (or will receive) a group member’s workbook. It contains some written questions and bible reading assignments that will get you ready for what we will be doing during our sessions here. Your workbook is a private place—just between you and God. No one else ever needs

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Session 1

Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


to read what you have written there. Do take time to let God work in your life during the week as you prepare for our time together. 5. Spend time alone with God every day. Included in the workbook are some suggestions for how you might spend approximately thirty minutes a day in bible reading, meditating on God’s Word, and in prayer. That time alone with God could be the most significant element of participation in this group. 6. Keep in mind that this group is not a substitute for medical or psychological care. We never advise anyone to stop taking prescribed medications or cancel their doctor’s care. Through the course of our Spiritual Awareness studies, we are going to look at the book of Romans, Chapters 1-8 and also Chapter 12. This is a very special portion of God’s Word that gets right to the heart of our struggles in living the Christian life as well as the promise that God gives that he will see us through. If you understand Romans, you will have a true view of the Christian life. Over the next thirteen weeks, we will look at this book with a special emphasis on how we can apply its truths to living a life that is pleasing to God. Take a look now at the topics in the Table of Contents to get an idea of the progression of the study. Session 1 . . . . . . . . Completely Free! The Good News Session 2 . . . . . . . . Completely Corrupted by Sin Session 3 . . . . . . . . Completely Deluded by Sin Session 4 . . . . . . . . Completely Condemned by the Law Session 5 . . . . . . . . Completely Justified Through Faith in Christ Session 6 . . . . . . . . Completely at Peace With God Session 7 . . . . . . . . Completely Identified With Christ Session 8 . . . . . . . . Completely Freed From Sin’s Slavery Session 9 . . . . . . . . Completely Frustrated in the Flesh Session 10 . . . . . . . Completely Dependent on the Spirit Session 11 . . . . . . . Completely Strengthened in Our Weakness Session 12 . . . . . . . Completely Assured of Victory Session 13 . . . . . . .Completely Dedicated to God’s Will You can see there is a progression through the book, one session building upon the previous one. Also, the study is very relevant to the life of anyone who desires to mature in Christ.

Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

Session 1

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Spiritual Awareness Lead-In There are many books and courses teaching self-improvement. Most people would like to change themselves in some way. Christians have a desire to grow in a lifestyle that pleases God, but many remain frustrated with their performance.

This section explains the purpose of the group and sets the stage for the weeks to come. Try to approach this in a way that involves everyone right away.

If you have ever attempted a self-improvement program, what did you feel like when you began?

The facilitator should answer the questions first and give others an opportunity to respond.

Did you succeed or fail and who received the credit or blame? Some Christians, when they confessed faith in Christ, expected to be quickly changed into people who would not even want to walk in the negative patterns they used to enjoy. Years later they may feel cheated and hypocritical because they have not changed as much as they had hoped. Their experience has not measured up to their expectations. How did you assume you would change when you came to Christ?

Have you changed as much as you expected?

In what areas do you feel you need more help?

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In this group we are going to look realistically at change and the promise God makes to us that righteousness can be a daily reality in our lives. We are going to examine what it means to be in Christ and the freedom this brings us—so much freedom that we can dare to say that we are Completely Free! It is possible to live a life in Christ that is free: Free from slavery to sin, free from feeling condemned by God, and free from the fear that we will fail in our Christian life and that God will cease to love us. We will learn, too, that God has also promised us that even though we have this freedom, we will experience struggles as long as we live. This is part of His plan for believers.

Righteousness means living up to all the requirements of a standard of ethics and justice. For the Christian, righteousness is living fully in conformity to the law of God. Apart from Christ, it is impossible for anyone to claim to be righteous.

How has your Christian life resembled a self-improvement program? How has it been different?

The reason this question is asked is to let people begin to see that real change is not something we can do ourselves. We cannot be righteous enough to please God because we constantly fail to measure up even to our own desired standards which are much lower than God’s.

Session 1

Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


S

piritual Awareness: Paul’s Obligation The book of Romans starts at a point many modern people find difficult to accept. The starting point for real change is realizing that humanity is morally flawed beyond what any selfimprovement program can repair. We can never change ourselves enough to where we are acceptable to God. All this may be hard for us to accept right now, but in the book of Romans a detailed argument for why this is true is given to us. As you prepare for each lesson and join in the group discussion, the horror of the situation of humanity will take shape and the hope that is in the gospel of Christ will take on new importance. Without the gospel of salvation in Christ, our situation would be hopeless.

Allow 20-25 minutes The purpose of this section is to begin to understand the urging Paul felt to spread the good news.

This week we will work together the study questions in the group, but next week you will have done these before arriving at the group. What you discovered in the Scriptures will be the foundation for our discussions during the Spiritual Awareness segment of this group. The questions we ask in subsequent group sessions will not necessarily be the same as the questions in your workbook Look at page 6 in your group member workbook and take a few minutes to read Romans 1:1-7.

Allow time for each person to read the entire passage silently, then discuss the passage section by section.

Bible Passage—Romans 1:1-7 Romans 1:1 PAUL, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an

apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, 4who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles, for His name’s sake, 6among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; 7to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Who wrote this book (verse 1)?

Romans was written by the Apostle Paul, the man God chose to present the gospel to the non-Jewish world.

What was his mission in life and who assigned him this mission (verses 1 and 5)?

He was an apostle, one sent out on an assignment by God to preach and to establish new churches in areas where people had not heard the gospel.

Look at verses 2-5. What can we learn about the gospel from these verses?

• It was promised by the prophets in the Old Testament. • Its subject is God’s Son. • The resurrection shows Jesus is the Son of God. • Jesus Christ our Lord is God’s Son.

As you can see in verses 2-5, God has carefully planned for our salvation to come through Christ Jesus.

Session 1

Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

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Bible Passage—Romans 1:8-12 Romans 1:8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world. 9For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preach ing of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you, 10always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you. 11For I long to see you in order that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; 12that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine.

This passage and related questions are on page 6 in the Group Member’s Guide.

Why did Paul think visiting the Roman Christians was so important (verse 11)?

He wanted them to be established in their faith.

What did Paul have to offer them, and what did he desire to receive in return (verses 11-12)?

He wanted to impart a spiritual gift to them and to be encouraged by their faith.

What would you like to receive as a result of your participation in this group?

We will draw strength from sharing together and gain new insight from one another’s experience of faith in Christ.

Bible Passage—Romans 1:13-17 Romans 1:13 And I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented thus far) in order that I might obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15Thus, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

This passage and related questions are on page 7 in the Group Member’s Guide.

16For

I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” What obligation did Paul feel (verses 14-15)?

To tell the good news to everyone.

Why did he feel no shame in proclaiming the gospel (verses 16-17)?

Because in the gospel, the power of God is revealed to us, and through believing the gospel, we are saved from our sin.

Why was Paul so eager to share the gospel?

He felt an obligation to share it because he knew the gospel brought salvation to all who believe.

What emotions do you experience when you think about sharing the gospel with others?

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Session 1

Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


A

pplication: Our Need

Allow 20 minutes

Some people are not eager to let others know they are Christians, and they are reluctant to share the gospel. What might stop a Christian from telling others the gospel? People need to be convinced there is a need to be saved before they are responsive to the gospel. In times past, it was not as difficult as it is today to convince people they are not okay. People have to reach the conclusion that they are not able to help themselves and that someone else has to help them. Describe a time in your life when you faced a force so overwhelming it was impossible for you to resist. It may have been a storm, an undertow or surf at the beach, an automobile accident, or something else. Describe how you felt at that moment.

They might be afraid of: • What others would say. • Being misunderstood. • Losing friends. • Being perceived as a fanatic.

We usually fear what we cannot control.

It is natural to fear what we cannot control. Our death is one of those circumstances we will certainly face, and when we do, we will be powerless to change the outcome. The Bible teaches us that every person will die, and after death, we will be judged by God. The standard we will be held to is moral perfection. Anything less will not be acceptable to God Describe how you feel about facing God’s judgment. How do you think you will measure up to his evaluation of your life?

A person who believes that God holds us responsible for our actions should have fear because none of us has lived up to God’s standard. Those who understand the gospel and have received Christ’s payment for their sins will have peace about facing God’s judgment for sin.

Think about your life. What would have to change for you to have perfect confidence in facing God?

It is impossible to be good enough to meet God’s standard, and he holds us responsible for our failure. That is why the gospel is essential.

The bad news is that all of our self-improvement programs are never good enough. The good news is that God is all powerful, and through his power, he has done something for us that we could not achieve ourselves. We are judged not guilty by God if we agree to come to him on his terms. If we obey the truth of the gospel, we will know complete freedom that includes freedom from sin’s cruel slavery, freedom from God’s condemnation, and freedom from fear of failure. This is why Paul had good news he was so eager to share. It is the best news anyone could ever hope to hear!

Closing Prayer

Session 1

Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

13


2Completely Corrupted by Sin

Session

I

Allow 10 minutes

ntroduction Opening Prayer

Sharing Question Describe an experience in your life or an observation you have made of God’s creation that leads you to believe that God exists.

S

elf–Awareness: Self-Destruction Deep within his or her heart, everyone knows there is a God, so throughout history, people around the world have worshipped. At the beginning of the human story, everyone worshipped the One True God, but soon people rebelled against him and created their own false gods and worshipped them instead. As a result of this rebellion, God has let them suffer the self-destructive consequences of their sins.

Common responses will be the birth of my child, the vastness of outer space, the complexity of creation, etc.

Allow 20-25 minutes The purpose behind these questions is to involve the group emotionally in thinking about the tragedy of selfdestructive attitudes and actions.

Some people seem to be more self-destructive than others. For reasons they may not fully understand, they continue in spirals of negative behaviors that destroy them. This self-inflicted tragedy, especially when it happens to famous people, becomes overnight news. Hardly a week goes by that we do not hear of someone who has destroyed his or her life or reputation. Why do you think people find stories like these so interesting? Many self-destructive people seem to have lost self-control. They just cannot manage their thoughts, attitudes, behaviors, or emotions. As their lives begin to fall apart, they illustrate the truth in Proverbs 25:28, “Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit.” Describe someone you have observed either personally (let them remain anonymous) or in the media who is self-destructive.

Perhaps it is because given the wrong circumstances we see the same potential in ourselves.

The discussion should not degenerate into gossip, and those who are described should go unnamed.

What do you think drives a person into this behavior? 14

Session 2

Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


The reasons behind this type of tragedy are many, but most people in this state do have some things in common. They become increasingly self-centered and reject God’s truth and authority in their lives. They begin to feel like victims and reject anyone who tells them the truth. Without being totally aware of the dynamics, they are drawn deeper into a lifestyle that is killing them.

Spiritual Awareness Lead–In Let’s think for a few moments about our lives. The seeds of destruction are present in every person, waiting to grow and produce poisonous fruit. Without continuing self-control, they will sprout and grow out of control.

Involve everyone to the extent that they are comfortable in talking. Be encouraging and keep the conversation moving along within the time allowed.

Name one destructive attitude or behavior you find in yourself. Why do we continue to practice these behaviors even when we know they are wrong?

S

piritual Awareness: Sin’s Corruption

Allow 20-25 minutes

In this session we want to discover that when we suppress the truth, we separate ourselves from God; and as a result, we pay a terrible price. This issue is especially important today because the average person does not associate the rampant evil in the world with humanity’s rebellion against God. The Bible teaches us that the result of rebelling against God’s truth is that we become more given to evil. The more given to evil we become, the more trapped we become in self-destructive behaviors and the greater penalty we pay in our daily lives as a result of this sin. Until we realize the root problem with mankind is defiance of God’s authority over us, we will continue on the path to ultimate destruction. When God’s truth is suppressed, there is a corresponding degeneration of the morals of humanity. This is true whether it is an individual, family, nation, or world that is suppressing truth. If people truly believe there is no God and we are not accountable to him, then the world becomes a very dangerous place where people devour one another and live only for themselves. As a whole, would you say that as a nation and as individuals, we are more or less committed to God and his truth today than we have been in the past? How has this change in commitment impacted society?

Group members may have varying opinions about this. Generally speaking, Western society has left the Christian foundations it was built upon.

Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

Session 2 15


Bible Passage—1:18-32 Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. 24Therefore

God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them. 25For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26For

this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. 28And

just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32and, although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

Group Discussion Questions Paul begins to make his case that every person in the world needs salvation by describing a group of people who are obviously wicked. These people have rejected God and given themselves to gross sin. Take time for everyone to read Romans 1:18-32, or if you prefer, have someone read the passage aloud. This passage begins by describing the wrath of God. The wrath of God is not a feeling God has for a person but rather his displeasure at evil, his passionate resistance to every will that opposes his, and his just punishment given to those who engage in wickedness(verse 18).

Give time for the group to read the passage. If you choose someone to read, be sure they can read it in a way that is not boring to the others.

How do you see the wrath of God being revealed today against all the godlessness and wickedness of men (verse 18)?

People are being mangled by sin and the consequences of sin.

Why would anyone want to suppress the truth of God?

Man’s sinfulness seeks to restrain the truth because truth exposes the insanity of rebellion against God (verse 18).

16 Session 2

Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


Group Discussion Questions If people know God, then their response to him should be to honor him and give him thanks (verse 21). Discuss some ways that we can honor God.

By loving, obeying, and acknowledging His presence constantly.

How might we dishonor God as individuals? How have we dishonored God as a society?

By behaving as if He does not exist or matter. By ignoring His Law.

In verse 22 the people who are described believed they were wise, but in reality they became fools, or taking the original word literally, they were morons. The dumbest mistake a person can make is to reject God, and God mocks those who make this choice. Read Isaiah 44:13-20. What is the delusion of the idol worshippers in this passage? How is it similar to the delusion we find in Romans 1:22-23? Some people see the problem of sin as simply a choice to be immoral. The Bible defines it as more than a moral choice; it is a determination to reject God’s truth and authority over us.

They made their own God out of wood and worshipped it. They would then pray to the block of wood asking it for help.

Why do you think people would exchange the truth of God for a lie and worship and serve created things rather than the creator (verse 25)?

So they could have a God they control. In this way, they would be their own gods, and nobody could judge their actions as good or evil.

In view of this passage, what do you think is the greatest sin? Why (verses 24-25)?

The greatest sin is spiritual mutiny against the Creator and Ruler of the universe.

Rejecting God’s authority over us and wanting to be our own god is the primary sin, and it brings devastating consequences to every person. Our choices to dishonor God result in our bodies being dishonored (verse 24). In your preparation for this session, you looked at the exchanges mentioned in this passage. Let’s look at these again and the consequences that follow them. Would you say choosing not to honor God makes people more or less human? Why (verse 25-27)?

Sin degrades us to where we pervert what is natural.

How is “being given over” to “lusts of our hearts,” “degrading passions,” and “to a depraved mind” a horrible judgment for rejecting God and choosing wickedness (verses 24-31)?

Because many of these behaviors are addictive and people may be bound to continue them even when they see they are destroying themselves. Session 2

Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

17


Group Discussion Questions How could this act of being “given over” be seen as an act of love on God’s part?

God could destroy us immediately when we sin. Some might come to Christ through their suffering.

Throughout biblical history, sexual immorality has followed idolatry. When humans throw away their knowledge of God, then all perspective of what is right and wrong is lost resulting in degrading and unnatural behaviors, one of which is homosexual behaviors. Discuss any danger you see in the movement of our society to accept homosexual activity as normal behavior. What has happened in societies that has allowed this to occur?

The words of verse 28 are chilling: “God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper.” Then in verse 29 these people are said to be “filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil.”

We risk being given over to greater delusion and destruction as a result of suppressing the truth that such behavior is wrong. It is happening because we ignore God’s authority over us. As a consequence, the basic family structures of a society can be destroyed.

Give examples of how the behaviors and attitudes mentioned in verses 29-31 are common in your community and work environment. It is not enough that people who reject God become depraved in thinking and behavior; they also encourage others to join them and give them approval. According to this passage, while these people are living wickedly and encouraging others to do the same, what do they know to be the truth about what they are doing (verse 32)?

They understand that God holds them accountable and they are worthy of death, but they suppress the knowledge of his existence and deny his ability to punish them.

Why is it so important to have godly people in leadership positions?

If a leader practices and/or approves of ungodly actions and attitudes, he—by his position—encourages others to do what is wrong and reject God.

How do people who are trapped in their self-destructive lives feel?

In their sane moments they must feel despair—at other times they “enjoy” their sin, choosing to endure the pain for the momentary pleasures.

When you read this passage, what emotions are stirred within you? What is your attitude toward these people? What do you think God’s attitude is toward such people?

18

God does not hate the sinner, but he is forever filled with wrath toward sin (verse 18).

Session 2

Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


A

pplication: Victims or Rebels?

Allow 20 minutes

One of the consequences of rejecting God’s truth is that people can become trapped in a sinful lifestyle. Those trapped suffer the physical or emotional consequences of their sin. Instead of seeing their pain as a consequence of their sin, they want to claim “victim status.” They feel like they cannot help what happened to them. People insist on being free from God’s control but then deny that the misery such a decision brings is a consequence of their rejection of God. Ask the group to brainstorm for a few moments and come up with a list of destructive behaviors, attitudes, illnesses, and addictions that can be the consequences of sin and rejecting God’s truth.

Romans 1:29-31 gives a partial list but encourage the group to think of more.

To what degree are the people who are affected by the items on the list you made “victims”? To what extent are their problems a consequence of rejecting God?

They were victims of their own decision to reject God’s truth.

Our culture gives us both opportunity and permission to indulge ourselves in almost any kind of sinful behavior we choose. There are few people who will condemn our actions as long as “they don’t hurt anyone else,” but there are even some who will encourage us to be as selfish as possible regardless of how it hurts others. One of the effects of sin is that it can make people ruthless, self-centered, and uncaring. Has your world become a more dangerous place because people continue to reject God’s truth? How does this impact your daily life?

Family breakdown, more angry and dangerous people, people who lie with a straight face, lack of trust, growing cynicism, new diseases, etc.

When we ignore God and disregard his truth, our minds can become clouded as to what is right and wrong. In today’s world when accepted standards of what is right and wrong are changing so fast, it is very important not to compromise what God has revealed to us. Have the group discuss some strategies we can follow that will help us avoid rejecting God’s authority over us and suppressing his truth.

Closing Prayer

Mutual accountability, keeping high personal standards, judging everything by Scripture and not society’s norms, living every moment conscious of God’s presence, knowing what God says in his Word, etc.

Session 2

Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

19


3Completely Deluded by Sin

Session

I

Allow 10 minutes

ntroduction Opening Prayer

Sharing Questions • What

is one rule or law you find the most difficult to obey? or

What law or rule do you want others to obey, but if you had a chance, you would excuse yourself from obeying?

The purpose of this time is to encourage group members to talk about themselves and their feelings in a structured context. Through the use of one of these questions, they can move beyond small talk into meaningful conversation. As before, you (and your co-facilitator) should answer first.

S

elf–Awareness: Hypocrisy

Allow 20-25 minutes

A hypocrite is one who pretends to be pious without really being so—one who talks the talk without walking the walk. Being hypocritical is certainly a universal sin, as Paul describes it in Romans Chapter 2, but it is also a very hateful sin in the eyes of God. Jesus confronted hypocrites vigorously in his earthly ministry, and it was the anger generated by these confrontations of truth with self-deception that fueled their desire to kill him.

The specific goal for this Self-Awareness time is to have group members consider the inconsistency of our human judgment of others. We all tend to condemn in others actions and attitudes we know are wrong, and at the same time we are prone to excuse the same or worse behaviors in ourselves.

A hypocrite knows what is right but makes elaborate excuses for himself when he does wrong. He weaves a web of selfdeception that eventually traps his thinking and keeps him from seeing the truth about himself. Have you ever felt God would overlook your faults? Explain why you thought that He would or would not give you special consideration. There is a popular phrase that says, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” Compare this statement to the argument used in Romans 2:17-24. Do you think this statement promotes hypocrisy?

The statement is true, but it should not be used as an excuse to say one thing and do another.

20 Session 3

Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


People usually harshly judge the character defects in others that remind them of their own personal struggles with sin. We think that condemning the sin in another person will somehow justify our own failures. Share with the group a time when you found fault with another person for something you do. Did you feel better about yourself afterwards?

Spiritual Awareness Lead-In As we mentioned earlier in this session, Jesus did not spare the feelings of the hypocrites he confronted in his ministry. When we are confronted with the truth about our own hypocrisy, strong emotions can arise within us. When someone points out to you a true inconsistency between what you believe to be right and your behavior, what is generally your reaction to that person?

S

piritual Awareness: False Security This chapter of Romans was written to Jewish readers who would agree wholeheartedly with the condemnation of the pagans in Romans 1:18-32. The Jews did not dread the day of God’s judgment; they looked forward to it. However, they would have been shocked to be told they too were under God’s judgment. They, as many of us do, rationalized that because they knew and approved what is right and condemned what is wrong, they were in God’s favor.

Allow 20-25 minutes The purpose of this Spiritual Awareness time is to show from God’s Word that God shows no favoritism when he judges sin.

It is never enough just to know and approve of what is right. It is never enough to be a church member or to be born into a Christian family. None of these have any meaning without a relationship with God that is alive and based on personal faith in Christ. Paul in Chapter 2 is speaking to religious people who lack a living relationship with God! Religious people are very prone to rationalization. They have a strong belief system, but when their beliefs and behaviors conflict, they may resolve the internal conflict by excusing themselves. Many people are pro-life, but when it comes to an unwanted pregnancy in their own home, some are able to rationalize a pro-choice decision. Many oppose pornography and yet will allow themselves to indulge in secret. Nobody is above rationalizing and excusing sinful behaviors and attitudes. What are some rationalizations people might use for cheating on their taxes? For lying? For having an affair?

Everyone does it, I deserve it, It does not really hurt anyone, I only did it this one time, etc.

Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

Session 3 21


Bible Passage—Romans 2:1-29 Romans 2:1 THEREFORE you are without excuse, every man of you who passes judgment, for in that you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. 2And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. 3And do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment upon those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? 4Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? 5But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6who WILL RENDER TO EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: 7to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; 8but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. 9There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, 10but glory and honor and peace to every man who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11For there is no partiality with God. 12For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law; and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; 13for not the hearers of the Law are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. 14For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 15in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,16on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus. 17But

if you bear the name “Jew,” and rely upon the Law, and boast in God, 18and know His will, and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law, 19and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth, 21you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one should not steal, do you steal? 22You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? 24For “THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU,” just as it is written. 25For indeed circumcision is of value, if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 26If therefore the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27And will not he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law? 28For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. 29But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.

Group Discussion Questions Paul made his case against the gross pagans who were described in Chapter 1, and he now turns his attention to convincing moral and religious people of their need for salvation from sin. He does this by exposing hypocrisy and spiritual delusion that so many use to cloak their sin. What are we saying about ourselves when we judge another person for doing the same things we do (Romans 2:1)? What are the results of this kind of judgment (verses 1-8)? Discuss the differences between the judgments we make and the judgments God makes.

We are condemning ourselves with the words we use to condemn others.

God knows everything and judges accurately, impartially, and according to truth. We are too limited to make the same quality judgments. He can judge the heart and all we can judge are the actions.

22 Session 3

Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


Group Discussion Questions Read I Corinthians 4:3-5. Can we be sure we have not sinned even if our conscience does not bother us?

No, because we can do the right things with the wrong motives, such as giving to get, loving to be loved, serving to feel important, etc.

When will our motives be exposed once and for all (Romans 2:16)?

On the Day of Judgment

Delusion is a condition caused by denying the truth so long we believe our own lies. Everyone knows instinctively that they will be held accountable by God for what they have done, but many feel they have a shield against this judgment just because they know the truth. Look at Romans 2:5-15. What do these verses say to convince us that just knowing the truth is not good enough?

Allow for group discussion. It is not enough to know the truth; it must ultimately be obeyed to be of benefit.

Many of the Jewish people believed they had a special relationship to God because they knew and approved of the Law of God. Many believed this relationship made them above the Law, and they were not careful in their lifestyle. They excused behaviors that were wrong and trusted in their supposed privileged position to shield them from the consequences of their guilt. What evidence do you see in Romans 2:17-24 that these people knew the Law of God?

Allow for group discussion. They were able to teach and apply it to others.

What evidence do you find in the actions of the people in Romans 2:17-24 that they felt they were above the Law of God?

Allow for group discussion. They had no fear they would be judged for their conduct and could not see their inconsistency.

In your opinion, do the people described in this passage have a heartfelt desire to please God? Why or why not?

Their concern was for externals and not a personal devotion to God. They had become “religious” in the worst sense, no longer devoted to God but devoted to ideas about God.

The Bible is clear that after we leave this life, we will all face the judgment of God (Hebrews 9:27). This judgment will be based on God’s Law, and he will hold us accountable for our deeds (Romans 2:5-8). Normally, people do not spend much time thinking about facing God’s judgment. When they do, they usually think they have some kind of “insurance policy” that will protect them. We will see in future lessons that there is a way to be shielded from God’s judgment for our sin, but for now, let’s concentrate on some of the dangerous and deceptive plans people use to achieve a sense of false security.

Session 3

Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

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Group Discussion Questions What are some strategies people use to convince themselves they can “safely” break God’s Law?

We have false security when we lie to ourselves thinking we are better than others or we are exempt from the same laws that apply to everyone else. As we see in Romans 2:11, there is no partiality with God. Everyone will be measured by the same standard of His Law. If we break His Law, the same penalty will be applied no matter who we are.

How do people today find false security in external religious behaviors? Many of these are examples of Christian behaviors, but none exempt us from concluding and agreeing with God that we do not measure up to his standard. Read the following passages as a group:

• They might lower God’s standards so that they can achieve them. • They might try to change the Law and convince themselves they are not doing anything wrong. • They might deceive themselves by thinking God is so “loving” he would not punish them for their sin. • They might deceive themselves by refusing to believe God exists. • They might convince themselves they are God as is taught in some “new age” religions.

Some answers might include: • Being a member of a church. • Being baptized but having no personal faith in Christ. • Having a knowledge of the Bible. • Being a church leader or worker. • Having faithful attendance. • Giving generously to the church. • Trusting in their parent’s faith but having none of their own.

Exodus 20:1-17 Matthew 5:17-30 Matthew 5:17-30 interprets two of the Ten Commandments.

How does Jesus’s interpretation of the commandments make them seem even more difficult to fulfill?

Jesus raised the standard by explaining that even our attitudes and thoughts will be judged.

Do you think it is fair for God to put his standard this high? On the Day of Judgment, nothing will be hidden, and everything that was done in secret, everything that we rationalized, everything that we excused, all of this will be exposed for what it is—delusion(Luke 12:2-3). If your life story were featured on the front page of a national magazine and your every thought, word, and action became public knowledge, what would be your reaction and why?

24

Most people will say they would be devastated. When we think our actions and motives are a secret, it is easier for us to justify them. When they become public knowledge, somehow to us and to others it becomes more clear how wrong these actions and motives are. Public awareness takes the wrapper off personal hypocrisy.

Session 3

Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


A

pplication: Strong Warnings

Allow 20 minutes

We have seen two mistakes in this passage that are easy to make but carry serious spiritual consequences. The first is hypocrisy—excusing yourself for behaviors you condemn in others. The second is false security—believing you have a special relationship to God that exempts you from accountability to his Law. Sometimes the most religious-looking people are the most deluded by sin. The Pharisees believed they were more righteous than any other group. What was Jesus’s opinion of them (Matthew 23:1-4, 13, 15, 23, 25, 27)?

His opinion is summed up in Matthew 23:28, “Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

The lesson taught in this session is summarized in Romans 2:11, “For there is no partiality with God.” Hypocrisy and pride have always been with us, and constant diligence is required to keep from being deluded by the deceitfulness of sin. Have the group read Hebrews 3:12-19. What is the warning to Christians (Hebrews 3:12-13)?

Take care not to be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

There is another strong warning about false security and hypocrisy in I Corinthians 9:24-10:13. This passage shows how some in the Old Testament suffered terrible consequences for rebellion even though they were part of the community that was rescued from Egypt. Let the group read I Corinthians 9:24-10:13. What did all these people have in common (I Corinthians 10:1-4)?

They were all part of the group rescued from Egypt.

What were the sins and resulting consequences of some of these people? (I Corinthians 10:7-10)?

Idolatry, immorality, testing God, and grumbling. They died in the wilderness.

Why did Paul mention these things to believers (I Corinthians 10:6, 11-13?

So that we do not become overconfident and proud. We must remain diligent and not take our relationship with God for granted.

Clearly, Christians are to be on guard against the delusion of sin which can creep into anyone’s life. What advice does the Apostle Paul give Christians about guarding against the delusion of sin (I Corinthians 9:24-27)?

He tells us to live life by exercising constant self-discipline just as if we were competing in athletic competition, keeping our bodies under subjection, and being constantly alert.

What other steps can we take to fight sin’s delusion? See Hebrews 3:12-19, Galatians 6:1, and I John 1:5-10 and let the group offer other suggestions.

• Encourage one another constantly by confronting ourselves with the truth. • Examine our own lives when we have to deal with the sins of other people. • Walk in the light.

Closing Prayer Session 3

Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free!, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

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4Completely Condemned by

Session

the Law

I

Allow 10 minutes

ntroduction Opening Prayer

Sharing Questions • What is your earliest memory of disobeying your parent or guardian, and how did you react when you were caught? or

Choose one of these questions for the opening exercise. The questions are designed to encourage group members to talk to each other about some aspect of their daily lives as it relates to the subject of this session.

• Tell the group about a “hidden camera” news report you recall seeing and how the subject of the investigation reacted when confronted with the video evidence.

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elf–Awareness: Confronted by Truth

Allow 20-25 minutes

“The truth hurts” is an expression we have all heard. When truth is used as a weapon, it can cause emotional pain and damage to a person. Because we know that hearing the truth has the potential of pain, we tend to avoid it and live in a world of half-truths and lies. After a while, we begin to believe the lies are the way things truly are.

The goal of this section is to get group members thinking about how and why we hide from the truth.

One delusion people cultivate is that we are better than we really are. We begin to congratulate ourselves as being superior to others. When someone challenges our delusions by telling us the truth, it can generate strong emotional responses and we become defensive. What is your internal emotional response when you are criticized? How do you respond outwardly? The Bible tells us in Proverbs 27:6, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” Is it easier or more difficult for you to accept criticism from someone who loves you? Why? God loves us more than anyone can ever understand, and God lives in absolute truth without any mixture of dishonesty or deception. God’s truth is the enemy of delusion, hypocrisy, 26 Session 4

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and hidden sin. God’s truth is the light that reveals our true self, and it is the standard by which our lives will be judged. God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), and he will not lie to spare our feelings. Sometimes it hurts to see ourselves as we truly are. Share with the group an experience when you have seen yourself in a photograph or on video tape or have listened to a recording of your voice. Did what you saw and heard match the mental picture you have of yourself?

Spiritual Awareness Lead-In Paul builds the case in chapters 1-3 that everyone is guilty of sin and is in need of salvation, but people want to believe they are basically good and resent being told otherwise. In your opinion, is it easier for people who are obviously immoral to admit their sin than for those who believe their moral standards are superior to others? Why?

Those who are openly immoral usually will readily admit their sin—even though they may try to justify it. Those who think they have superior morals will try to hide their sin. They are afraid to be exposed.

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piritual Awareness: Exposed

Allow 20-25 minutes

When we do something wrong, our first inclination is to hide and make excuses. After disobeying God in the Garden of Eden, Adam hid. When God confronted him, asking for the truth, Adam made excuses and shifted the blame to his wife and ultimately to God when he said, “The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me from the tree and I ate.” Before their sin, Adam and Eve were naked, totally exposed, and unashamed. They felt no need to hide from one another or from God. As soon as they broke God’s commandment, they tried to cover their nakedness and hide from God, fearing exposure by the truth. A criminal may hide a lifetime from earthly authorities, but it is impossible to hide from the guilt that haunts him and the fear of the punishment he deserves. Fugitives exhaust themselves assuming false identities, changing their hair color and styles, fleeing to other locations—living in fear that the truth will expose them. In order to live a “normal” life, they have to live in a constant lie. Share with the group an experience in your life when God confronted you with the truth about yourself. How did you feel when it happened? Was there relief that the hiding was over? God’s Law announces our failure, strips us bare of all excuses, self-justification, and hypocrisy, and exposes us as we really are. It can be a horrifying experience, but when we are willing to confront the truth, God always responds in grace. Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free!, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

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Bible Passage—Romans 3:1-20 Romans 3:1 Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? 2Great in

every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God. 3What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? 4May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, “THAT THOU MIGHTEST BE JUSTIFIED IN THY WORDS, AND MIGHTEST PREVAIL WHEN THOU ART JUDGED.” 5But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is He? (I am speaking in human terms.) 6May it never be! For otherwise how will God judge the world? 7But if through my lie the truth of God abounded to His glory, why am I also still being judged as a sinner? 8And why not say (as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say), “Let us do evil that good may come”? Their condemnation is just. 9What

then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; 10as it is written, “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; 11THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; 12ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.” 13“THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN GRAVE, WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY KEEP DECEIVING,” “THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS”; 14“WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS”; 15“THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD, 16DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR PATHS, 17AND THE PATH OF PEACE HAVE THEY NOT KNOWN.” 18“THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.” 19Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God; 20because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

Group Discussion Questions In the last session we discussed how Paul proved that the Jews needed salvation just as much as the Gentiles. He concluded that externals, such as circumcision or possessing the Law of God, does not make a person a Jew. Having a heart dedicated to God is what qualifies one as a Jew. Being part of a race or group of people does not exempt anyone from God’s judgment. The first eight verses of Chapter 3 are difficult to understand and interpret. In these verses, Paul imagines three objections that Jewish listeners would likely raise to his teaching in Chapter 2. Have the group read Romans 3:1-8 and ask them to try to identify the three objections Paul anticipates.

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1. Paul is teaching that there is no advantage in being a Jew (verse 1). 2. Paul’s teaching ignores that God had made promises to Israel that their failures could not cancel (verse 3). 3. It would be unfair for God to punish the Jews for their sins because their sins contrasted to God’s holiness make him look even more righteous (verse 5).

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Group Discussion Questions How does Paul answer these objections?

Verse 9 summarizes the argument of Paul in the first two chapters of Romans. Everything said to this point has been to prove this statement.

1. The Jews had an advantage in that they had God’s revelation in the Old Testament (verse 2). 2. God would be true to his promises even if individuals fail to receive the promise because of unbelief. Romans 9:3 elaborates on this question. 3. If God excused the sins of the Jews, he would have to excuse the sins of everyone else too, and this is not going to happen.

Verses 10-18 quote Old Testament verses that were used by the Jewish people to describe Gentiles and their sinful condition. Paul makes the case that these words describe the condition of all humanity, both Jew and Gentile. The persons these verses describe are not at all virtuous people, and they would have no reason to be proud in God’s sight. Read Romans 3:10-18 to the group. Does the intense negativity of the description given to humanity surprise you? Pair off group members and have them read these verses to one another using personal pronouns. Example: “You are not righteous, not even you. You don’t understand, you don’t seek for God...” How do you feel when you hear these words spoken personally to you? Let each member respond.

Why do you agree or disagree that these verses fairly describe you and the people you know? Have the group read Psalm 130:3, Proverbs 20:9, Ecclesiastes 7:20, Ecclesiastes 9:3, Isaiah 53:6, and Ephesians 2:1-3.

All people do not practice these behaviors to the same extent, but does that make them more acceptable to God just because they are not as bad as other people?

How do these verses confirm or conflict with your conclusion about humanity’s standing with God? These descriptions seem harsh to us for two reasons: First, we do not comprehend the holiness of God, and second, we do not comprehend the depravity of the human race because we use the wrong standard to measure ourselves. God is holy, and the word holy gives us the sense that God is totally different from us. This uniqueness is declared in Exodus 15:11, Isaiah 6:1-4, and II Samuel 7:22. Whenever people have found themselves in the presence of God, they have been overwhelmed as were Daniel and Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:28, Daniel 10:5-9). Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free!, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

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Group Discussion Questions Did you see any of the Oh, God! movies starring George Burns? What was your reaction to the characterization of God as an old man? God’s holiness also means he is absolutely pure and incorruptible. He cannot tolerate even the slightest presence of impurity (Habakkuk 1:13, James 1:13). His purity is the standard by which all moral actions are measured. God is to be approached with reverence and with awe (Hebrews 12:28-29), never casually as some have done to their ruin (II Samuel 6:6-9). In your opinion, does our worship of God reflect reverence and awe, or is it too casual and familiar? When we compare and judge ourselves using another person as the standard of what is good, the Bible tells us that we “are without understanding” (II Corinthians 10:12). Why do you think this is true? God is the standard of what is holy. God’s Law was given so we could have an objective standard of what God meant when he said, “be holy as I am holy.” It gives us a measuring rod to evaluate our conduct in light of how God judges us. It was not designed to give us the power to do what is right; it was designed to tell us what is right.

We can always find people who are more immoral than we are and feel good about ourselves—but others are not our standard; God’s holiness is.

In your opinion, is it possible for any human to live a life of perfect obedience to the Law of God? Read Romans 3:19 to the group and ask: What is the purpose of the Law? Who can ever be justified by the works of the Law?

To take away our pride and excuses and show our accountability to God. Nobody.

What knowledge does the Law bring?

The knowledge of sin.

When we compare our lives to God’s perfect standards, what do we comprehend about ourselves?

We are unrighteous, and we have no hope of attaining righteousness by our own efforts.

It is the Law that strips us of our excuses and self-righteousness and leaves us exposed to God when we see ourselves in the light of God’s standards. We find ourselves like Job when he said “What can I reply to Thee? I lay my hand on my mouth” (Job 40:4).

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A

pplication: I Am Guilty

Allow 20 minutes

In order to find forgiveness from God, we have to put aside all excuses, stop thinking we have special privileges, and admit we have sinned. Paul quotes Psalm 51:4 in Romans 3:4. This is the Psalm King David wrote describing his reaction after he was confronted by the prophet and his adultery with Bathsheba was exposed. David had many failings, but he was still considered to be “a man after God’s heart” because David did not excuse his sin but confessed and renounced it. He did not argue that he enjoyed a special relationship with God that made him exempt from God’s wrath, but he accepted God’s condemnation as wholly justified. Give the group a few moments to read Psalm 51. In view of Psalm 51:5, why do you think David would agree or disagree with the truth expressed in Romans 3:10-18? Why do you think people are afraid to admit their sin?

We know we are accountable if we admit we are wrong, and we fear the consequences. Our pride also gets in the way.

What did David know about God that made him willing to admit his sin (Psalm 51:1-2)?

That God is gracious and forgiving when we come to him in repentance

If we have the same confidence in God as did David, how does this help us accept the truth that is taught in Romans 3:19-20?

We can give up our hiding from the truth with confidence that God will not forsake us or destroy us.

How did your parents or guardians respond when you did something wrong? Has their response influenced your view of God’s reaction when you disobey him?

How willing are your non-Christian friends to accept the truth that we are all guilty of sin? What can you do to help them see this truth? There are stubborn forces that keep us from admitting our sin and failure to live up to God’s standards, but if we will admit our sins, then we find forgiveness. In the next session we will discover how we can please God.

If we are willing to admit our mistakes and let them know that God prefers to forgive rather than condemn, they may find courage to stop their hiding and admit their sin.

Closing Prayer

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5

Session

Completely Justified Through Faith in Christ

I

Allow 10 minutes

ntroduction Opening Prayer

Sharing Question Describe an experience you have had with a sport or activity that you have tried to master and have given up in frustration. Examples might be learning to play a musical instrument, snow skiing, roller skating, golf, etc.

S

Allow 20-25 minutes

elf–Awareness: Pride Many of us have had to deal with young children who look at us and say with a snarl, “I can do it myself,” when we try to help them. While this is amusing to watch, it illustrates a serious problem with human nature—our prideful self-sufficiency.

The goal of this section is to help us see how pride keeps us from experiencing God’s grace.

Describe a time when your pride kept you from asking for help when you needed it. What were the consequences? It is considered a shame by many of us to admit there are things we are powerless to accomplish. Depending on someone else can be humiliating, but some things are just impossible for us to do alone. God is pleased with us when we look to him in helpless dependency and trust him to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. The problem with humans is that we are a proud bunch, and we would rather be a god than to depend on one. This flaw has been with us since the beginning when Satan tempted Adam and Eve. He offered them the promise of being like God if they would disobey God and declare their independence from him.

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Self-sufficient pride is detestable to God. Pride separates us from the grace God wants to give to us that makes it possible for us to have a loving relationship with him. Pride expresses itself in us when we want to be above the rule of God and do things our way. We strive to be autonomous, which by definition means we want to operate according to our own rules and laws.

Spiritual Awareness Lead-in Proud people are easy to spot. There is something in the way they talk and carry themselves that gives them away. What is your reaction to people who are arrogant and proud? What would you like to say to them? The problem with judging sinful pride in others is that we all have it. It comes naturally to us. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in the Gulag Archipelago observed, “Pride grows in the human heart like lard on a pig.”

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piritual Awareness: Justification

Allow 20-25 minutes

We all have to come to a point where we realize that we cannot fulfill the requirements of God’s Law. When we realize this truth, we must decide whether we will trust in Christ or whether we will continue in our stubborn pride and unbelief, protesting to God and saying, “I’m not that bad.” If we admit we are condemned and under the sentence of death for our sins, we are reduced to humble dependency on God’s mercy and grace. Our only recourse is to turn to Christ and ask him to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. When we turn to the cross and see that another person died in our place, our pride is demolished. We see that we caused the infinite pain Christ endured in order that we could go completely free from condemnation for our sin. When you read the accounts of the crucifixion of Christ in the Gospels or when you see it depicted in a film, what are the feelings you experience? In this session we will look at how faith has always been the avenue to a saving relationship with God. The Old Testament account of Abraham’s trust in God’s promise illustrates how a relationship of faith works. Abraham was given a promise, and the only way the promise to Abraham was going to be fulfilled was if God did it. God was pleased with Abraham when he trusted God to do for him what he could not do for himself. This is the same lesson we must all learn in experiencing God’s salvation. Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free!, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

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Bible Passage—Romans 3:21-4:25 Romans 3:21But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. 28For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. 29Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one. 31Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law. Romans 4:1 WHAT then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? 2For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about; but not before God. 3For what does the Scripture say? “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” 4Now to the one who works, his wage is not reckoned as a favor, but as what is due. 5But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness, 6just as David also speaks of the blessing upon the man to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works: 7“BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN,

AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED. 8 “BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.” 9Is

this blessing then upon the circumcised, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say, “FAITH WAS ABRAHAM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” 10How then was it reckoned? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised; 11and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be reckoned to them, 12and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised. 13For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; 15for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, neither is there violation. 16For this reason it is by faith, that it might be in accordance with grace, in order that the promise may be certain to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17(as it is written, “A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU”) in the sight of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. 18In hope against hope he believed, in order that he might become a father of many nations, according to that which had been spoken, “SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE.” 19And without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; 20yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21and being fully assured that what He had promised, He was able also to perform. 22Therefore also IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. 23Now not for his sake only was it written, that it was reckoned to him, 24but for our sake also, to whom it will be reckoned, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25He who was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification. RECKONED TO

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Group Discussion Questions As we saw in the last session, no person is justified by observing the Law, but instead we are all condemned by the Law. To be acceptable to God, we have to be perfectly righteous, but that is not possible for any human being. God has made it possible for us to be acceptable to him by giving us the gift of his righteousness. In 3:21-30, this gift of righteousness is described. Read the verses and with the group make a list of these descriptions.

We can see that it is God who provides this gift, and it is not given to anyone on the basis of personal merit.

• It is separate from the Law. • It has been shown. • It was anticipated in the Old Testament. • It comes through faith in Jesus Christ. • It is for all who believe. • It is for everyone without distinction. • It is a gift of God’s grace. • It is possible because of Christ’s death. • It is a gift to those who trust in Christ. • It eliminates our boasting and pride. • It is the only way of salvation both for Jew and Gentile.

In 3:24-25, two words are used that we need to define. The first is redemption which means to “buy back.” It was commonly used to describe paying the price paid to free a slave from his master. Here it means a price was paid for our deliverance from the punishment of sin. The other word is propitiation which means to appease or satisfy someone’s anger. In this case it means to satisfy the righteous demands of the Law and the relentless wrath of God toward evil that demanded the punishment for sin. What has God done to make it possible for us to be proclaimed righteous (verse 3:25)?

Christ’s blood was shed in his death on the cross.

Why was it necessary for God to make such a painful sacrifice (verses 3:25-26)?

So that God’s standard of righteousness could be upheld for all the world to see. It also shows that sin cannot be tolerated by God and it brings horrible consequences.

It seems out of style these days to speak of the wrath of God, but we must if we are to make sense of what is explained here. It is a mistake to equate what God feels toward sin with human anger. Human anger is triggered when someone hurts us or we are frustrated by circumstances. It is most always the result of a personal injury or affront. Divine anger is not triggered by a personal offense but rather by His holy opposition to everything evil. Our anger might be appeased by a sincere apology and restitution, but God’s holy wrath that burns against sin cannot be satisfied by an apology because his wrath is not due to a personal injury. His wrath toward sin is part of who He is; it flows from His holiness which is opposed to all evil.

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Session 5

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Group Discussion Questions God’s wrath did not have to be satisfied because he was “ticked off” at a simple insult. God’s wrath had to be satisfied because his holiness demanded it. God is different from us; he can hate sin and love the sinner simultaneously. Why is pride so out of place in our relationship with God (3:2728)?

Because we contribute nothing to our salvation. God has taken the initiative and paid the price.

How can the Law be upheld by believing we are justified by faith (3:31)?

Because of Jesus’s death in our place, the Law was upheld and justice satisfied. His death underlined the necessity of righteousness. The Law continues to show us our sin.

In Chapter 4, Paul proved that justification by faith was not a new concept. It was the way God has related to people all through the Old Testament times. The reason why Paul refers to Abraham is because he was the founding father of the Jewish nation. If Paul could prove Abraham was justified by faith, then he could show this had been God’s plan from the beginning and was not a doctrine that Paul had made up. Paul bases his argument on a quote from Genesis 15:6 which states that Abraham was justified (counted as righteous) because he believed God and not because of his works. If Abraham was justified because of his works, then justification would not be a gift from God but the payment of a debt. Do you think God owes you anything because of good works you have done? Why or why not? Which of the following statements most closely describes your belief in God? Briefly explain your response. • • • •

I feel God owes me something. I feel I owe God something, but I am confident I can pay. I don’t owe God anything, and he does not owe me. I owe God more than I can ever pay, and unless he forgives me, I am hopeless.

In 4:6-8, Paul uses King David as another example to show that justification is a gift of God that cannot be earned. In Psalm 32:1-2, King David exclaims how precious it is to know that God is not going to charge him with the guilt of his sin. David was not able to pay for his sin, but God gave him the gift of forgiveness. 36 Session 5

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Paul’s argument continues in verses 9-12 as he proves that Abraham was not justified by circumcision. To a Jew, circumcision was a mark of belonging to God’s covenant people. It was supposed to be an outward mark of an internal walk of faith with God. Read Romans 4:9-12. Was Abraham justified before or after he was circumcised?

Before.

Why is the order of events important?

To show that circumcision did not make Abraham righteous.

Which is more important: that Abraham had faith or that he was circumcised? Why?

That he had faith—circumcision was to symbolize his faith and God’s covenant.

Circumcision was an external sign of an inward relationship based on faith. As time went on, as is human nature, the symbol of circumcision became more important than the faith in God it was to represent. So it came to be that people believed circumcision gave them merit with God and forgot it was only a symbol of a faith relationship with God. Read Romans 4:13-17. What is the main point Paul makes in this argument?

That Abraham was not justified by the Law.

In verses 13-17, Paul makes a rapid transition to show Abraham was not justified by the Law. The Jews commonly believed that keeping the Law was the only way to be counted righteous. Paul argues that righteousness is required, but it is a righteousness of faith and not of Law.

The Jews argued the Law made a person righteous, but Paul argues that the Law brings something else. What is it and why (verse 15)?

It brings wrath because the Law points out sin and condemns us.

You cannot have it both ways. The Law brings wrath, not righteousness; it is faith that brings justification. In the rest of the chapter Paul explains that Abraham’s faith was an example of the faith that justifies Christians and all who believe God’s promises. God promised Abraham he would be a father of many nations, but his wife and he were not able to have children. Abraham and Sarah were in an impossible situation. All they had was God’s promise to them, and Abraham believed God would keep his promise.

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Session 5

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Verse 17 states Abraham believed God could do what he promised even if it meant God would have to raise the dead or call into existence something that did not exist. Abraham had no physical basis to his hope; he just believed God would supernaturally keep his promise. Read Romans 4:18-22. What circumstances did Abraham face that might make him doubt God’s promise (verse 19)? What would be your reaction in the same circumstances?

He was too old and his wife was barren.

In verses 19-21, Abraham chose not to look at the circumstances but to focus on the promise God had given him long ago. Abraham did not chide God but gave him glory and continued to trust. Why does God confront us with impossible situations like he did Abraham?

• To give us an opportunity to turn to Him in helpless trust. • To teach us that He can be trusted.

Impossible situations put us in a position where we turn to God in faith, looking away from our ability to perform and totally to God for help. Faith brings us into a place of submission to God and confidence in his ability to do what we cannot. Read Romans 4:23-25. In verses 23-25, Paul explains that the phrase, “It was reckoned to him as righteousness,” was not only true for Abraham but for everyone. We cannot be justified by earning God’s favor through external means such as circumcision and keeping the Law. Justification has been given to us by the supernatural intervention of God in giving his son Jesus as a sacrifice of atonement and then raising him from the dead. Abraham is a pattern for the believer who trusts in God. What lesson does this passage have for us today (verses 23-25)?

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Like Abraham, we have been given the promise of God that we can be justified even though it looks impossible through human eyes. Justification comes only by faith.

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A

pplication: Pleasing God

Allow 20 minutes

The one thing we bring to God that pleases him is faith, and even that faith is a gift he gives us (Ephesians 2:8-9). Faith is the opposite of pride because pride says, “I don’t need you; I can do it alone,” but faith raises empty hands to God in trust that he will do for us what we cannot do ourselves. Sometimes we think the heroes in the Bible were perfect, but even Abraham did not have perfect faith. There were times when he tried to help God with his promise and times when he seemed to doubt the promise that had been given to him. Our faith may not be perfect or strong all the time, but if it is directed to God in trust that he will fulfill his promise of salvation, it is good enough. Think of your life. What areas are easy for you to trust God to do what he has promised? What areas are difficult? Do you think it is easier for us to trust God for salvation than it was for Abraham to trust God for his son? Why?

Closing Prayer These familiar lyrics by Isaac Watts tell us what the cross of Christ does to our pride: When I survey the wondrous cross, On which the Prince of glory died, My richest gain I count but loss, And pour contempt on all my pride. Take a few minutes with the group in silent prayer and imagine what it was like at Calvary when Jesus was crucified. Think about what was happening there. Understand that Christ was bearing the punishment you personally deserved, suffering in your place. Let each person in the group pray in turn as if he or she is actually there, describing an observation he or she makes about the scene, an emotion stirred by the scene, and giving an expression of thanks. For example, a prayer might be, “Lord Jesus, I hear you crying out in agony to God asking why He has forsaken you, and I feel ashamed that what I have done has caused you to suffer alone for my sins, and I thank you because I will never have to suffer separation from the Father because of what you have done for me.” Another example would be, “Lord, I see the sky growing dark around the cross and the air becoming cold, and I shiver to think it should be me nailed there instead of you. Thank you for suffering the darkness of my sin so I will not spend eternity in the darkness as I deserve.”

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Session 5

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6Completely at Peace

Session

With God

I

Allow 10 minutes

ntroduction Opening Prayer

Sharing Questions • Describe the sensations (emotional and physical) you experience when you are near a person you know is angry with you or you with them. or • Discuss how you feel when you are with someone you know cares for you and you for them.

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elf–Awareness: Feeling Safe

Allow 20-25 minutes

Give the group a few moments to consider this question. Imagine yourself holding a stick of dynamite while someone else controls the detonator. What type of person would you trust in this situation, and what type of relationship would you want with him? Most people do not feel safe when another person has the power to harm them or to destroy their lives. Who are the people in your life with whom you feel perfectly safe? Do they have any power to do you harm? Usually we feel safest when we are in control, and we feel less secure when we are with someone or something we cannot control. Many would feel safe riding a horse that is saddlebroken, but few would feel safe mounting a wild horse. God is fearsome and much more dangerous than anything we can imagine. He is all powerful, uncontrollable, and holy—so different from us as to be unapproachable. Isaiah understood this because when he saw God, he expected to die. See Isaiah 6. How safe would you feel right now in a face-to-face encounter with God? What would you do and say?

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Many people feel perfectly safe with God whether they are a believer in Christ or not. In their minds God exists to serve them and to meet their needs. They are wrong. God reigns the universe in holiness and has absolute sovereign power over all things. We exist for His pleasure, not the other way around. God is almighty and uncontrollable, but we know he is at peace with Christians and will never harm us.

Spiritual Awareness Lead-In

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Is it possible to feel at peace with God when he is not at peace with you?

Yes, it is possible for someone to feel no hostility toward God without knowing that God considers them his enemy. We are God’s enemies until our sins are forgiven through faith in Christ.

Can God be at peace with us even when we do not feel that he is?

This happens often. A person may be forgiven by God and still feel afraid of God’s punishment. Just because we feel guilty does not mean God is our enemy.

piritual Awareness: Peace With God

Allow 20-25 minutes

When a long and bitter war between two enemies is over, the fighting may cease, but the people involved in the conflict still will not love each other. Many years have to pass, and sometimes it takes generations for people to forget the pain inflicted on them and their families by their former enemies. The Bible teaches us that we are enemies of God and objects of his wrath until we come to faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:1-3). When anyone comes in faith to God, trusting the sacrifice of Christ, that person’s whole relationship to God changes to a condition of peace and friendship with God. We are reconciled to God the moment we become Christians. The way he views us and his attitude toward us immediately changes because he no longer is dealing with us as enemies but as people he loves and cherishes. How long did it take you to believe and really feel that God is at peace with you? When we say the word peace, we think of an absence of conflict. The Hebrew word for peace is shalom, and it carries with it the ideas of rest, safety, freedom from care, prosperity, health, and contentedness. Peace is a state of enjoying God’s salvation and resting in his gift of justification that comes by faith. In biblical language, peace is much more than just the absence of conflict; God is at peace with us and he works to bring blessing into our lives.

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Bible Passage—Romans 5:1-11 Romans 5:1 THEREFORE having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. 3And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. 6For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

Group Discussion Questions If we have come to Christ in faith, then we have peace with God. Some of us have difficulty comprehending this truth, and it takes time for us to absorb it. It helps to tell ourselves and others the truth out loud. Hearing it makes it seem more personal, somehow more real. Have the group repeat Romans 5:1 aloud and in unison. How conscious are you of this truth in your day-to-day life? Read Numbers 6:22-27 with Romans 5:1-5 in mind. Let each member read this blessing to another member (Numbers 6:24-26), and when the group has done this, let each person share what he experiences when he hears these words. Numbers 6:27 states that God will put his name on his people, and he will bless them. If God puts his name on us and identifies himself with us, what does that teach about his attitude toward his people?

He is not ashamed of us. He is our God and our friend. He is looking toward us with love and compassion, desiring the best for us.

Romans 5:2 states that we “exult in the hope of the glory of God.” What is this hope in which we glory? Read Colossians 1:25-29 and discuss it with the group. This rejoicing is also translated as boasting. Sin degrades humanity, but God glorifies us by giving us a new identity in our relationship with him. Recognizing this truth can keep us in a state of rejoicing.

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Session 6

The presence of Christ in our lives is the hope in which we glory. His presence assures us that our eternal existence is secure and unbelievably rich as we live in the blessings of God.

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Group Discussion Questions Read Romans 5:3-5. Why are peace and rejoicing not dependent upon the circumstances of life we face? If a person is facing sure death and is suddenly spared, he has grounds for rejoicing. Surprisingly, verse 3 explains that we also rejoice in tribulations. Read Colossians 1:21-24, Philippians 3:7-11, and II Corinthians 1:3-5. What are some lessons we learn about suffering in these verses?

Because they are based on what God has done for us and our relationship we enjoy with Him. They are not based on what circumstances may occur in our lives.

• Suffering will come to us as we minister in this world. • When we suffer, we share in the sufferings of Christ. • God comforts us in our pain. • His comfort enables us to comfort others who are suffering.

God through Christ has chosen to share his life and blessings with us, and he considers us to be his friends. Friendship is a sharing relationship, and it is required of us that we also share in the sufferings of Christ as we live in the world. Suffering is repulsive to us, but it does not have to be destructive to our relationship with God. We need to see the good that can come through our experiences of suffering. How do you think God enhances hope and love in our lives through our experience of suffering (Romans 5:3-5)? Hint: When are we more dependent upon God than when we are forced into a situation of helplessness?

Suffering teaches us to patiently endure. It also teaches us that our comfort is not the most important thing in life. It builds our character, and it strengthens our hope because when we have to face another tribulation, we can look back on how God helped us in the past.

Has there been a time in your life when you grew in Christ as the result of suffering? Although we would all prefer to be exempt from tribulations, God uses them to deepen our relationship with himself. They still are painful, but it is comforting to know that our sufferings do not mean God is displeased with us. The process of suffering, perseverance, and proven character results in hope. Hope looks forward with assurance that even though we do not possess everything we have been promised, we know with certainty that we will. Our assurance is based upon the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives who has poured out the love of God in our hearts without measure. Has there been a time in your life or the life of another person you know when suffering brought discouragement?

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Group Discussion Questions We can be discouraged in our tribulations if we do not keep focused on God’s love. Even the strongest Christians may doubt the love of God in the middle of a trial and think that their troubles mean God is working against them. These verses tell otherwise. How good do we have to be in order for God to love us? Romans 5:6-8.

God’s love does not depend on our goodness. God’s very nature is love, independent of our actions.

How does the love of God differ from human love (verses 7-10)?

We long to receive love and to have our needs met. There is usually a mixture of selfishness and even manipulation when we love another person. The objects of our romantic love are those who are attractive to us. God has no “need” for love, and he loves the unlovely. He loved us even when we were his enemies.

If you asked most people, they would tell you they would die for their spouse, their children, their parents, or sometimes even a close friend. It is unlikely anyone would die for a convicted criminal who had harmed his family, and certainly no one would offer his beloved son to die for such a person. The point is, we were God’s enemies under a death sentence when Christ died for us and reconciled us to God. If this is how he loves his enemies, how much more will he do for his family? Have the group role-play for a few minutes. As the facilitator, take the part of a discouraged Christian who is going through a trial and believes bad things are happening because God is displeased with him. Ask the group what counsel they would give you based on Romans 5:3-11. These verses we have studied inspire great confidence in our relationship with God. Our circumstances may not be comfortable, but God’s love will never fail us. Let each person in the group give a reason why we can boast and rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ in view of the teachings of this passage.

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Examples: • I am justified by faith. • I have peace with God through Christ. • I have access into grace where I stand. • I hope in the glory of God. • I can boast in sufferings. • God is producing character in me. • God loved me when I was his enemy. • He saves me by His life, etc.

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A

pplication: Objects of God’s Love

Allow 20 minutes

We are justified before God, at peace with God, reconciled to God, and treasured possessions of God. He is free to relate to us as his beloved children and not his enemies. How secure do you feel in your relationship with God? Our lives would be much richer if we lived each conscious moment in the truth found in Romans 5. The Holy and All Powerful Creator of all that exists looks at us and declares us not guilty—and considers us to be his friends. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Before God, I am holy, blameless, and above reproach. This is the astounding truth found in the text of Colossians 1:21-23. Read this passage or have group members read it several times aloud. Take a moment to say to each member of the group, calling them by name: • You are holy in God’s sight. • You are blameless in God’s sight. • You are free from accusation in God’s sight. Now we all know ourselves better than this and are aware of areas of imperfection, failure, and sin in our lives. God knows our failures as well, but he still insists that these things are true. What makes it possible for God to see us this way? Discuss the difference it would make in your life if you lived moment by moment in the knowledge that God sees you as holy, blameless, and free from accusation.

It is only possible when we are in Christ, justified by God’s grace.

Being Completely Free! means being free from fear of God’s wrath and enjoying a life of peace with him.

Closing Prayer

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7 Completely Identified

Session

With Christ

I

Allow 10 minutes

ntroduction Opening Prayer

Sharing Questions • What person in popular culture do you consider to be the closest to your ideal of whom you would like to be? or • What person in Scripture do you closely identify with and why?

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elf–Awareness: One Person’s Impact

Allow 20-25 minutes

One person’s decision can have devastating impact on millions of others. The systems of this world are interconnected in complex ways, and what may be a minor event in one area can have a huge impact somewhere else. A small storm in Africa can develop into a raging hurricane that devastates the coastline of the United States. A small change in a virus could produce a new deadly version that human immune systems cannot resist. One infected person could then potentially infect every other human with a deadly plague. Simple decisions we make can have terrible consequences for ourselves, our families, and our offspring for generations to come. A decision to use drugs during pregnancy can impact future potential generations. A decision to drive while intoxicated can destroy the lives of many innocent people. Destructive family behaviors can be passed down through generations as one generation learns from the previous one. Think about your parents, grandparents, and as far back as you know your family history. 1. How has your life been changed by the decisions your ancestors made?

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Think about how it has influenced your nationality, religion, occupation, economic status, etc.

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2. Does it seem fair to you that you have to live with the consequences of decisions made by your ancestors? Why? 3. Does God hold you accountable for their actions? 4. If He does not hold you accountable, does this make the impact of the consequences of their decisions any easier to face?

Spiritual Awareness Lead-In

The purpose here is to drive home that although we are not held accountable for what our parents and ancestors have done, we still live with the consequences of their actions. The consequences may be good or bad, but we are still affected by the decisions they made. The underlying point is that there is a difference between being responsible for what Adam did and living with the consequences of his actions.

Share with the group some healthy and/or destructive behaviors you have learned from your parents and grandparents. What impact have these had on your life? Can you see these same behaviors being passed on to your children?

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piritual Awareness: Original Sin

Allow 20-25 minutes

People in Old Testament times considered that a man carried in his body the seed of all those who would descend from him. Therefore, whatever that man did had an impact on his descendants. When Adam sinned, he was the father of us all, and because he chose to disobey God, the consequences of his decision have been passed on to all of us. What has happened in the past week that reminds you of the consequences we suffer as a result of the sin of Adam?

Wars, fighting, thefts, murders, pain, death, etc.

Adam’s sin polluted and corrupted the human race permanently. His decision brought death to himself and to all his offspring. The whole human race was killed by his decision, and death cannot be reversed short of divine intervention. God intervened, not by purifying the corrupted race, but by starting a new race of people, a race whose founder and firstborn would be Christ. In God’s eyes there are only two races of people: those who are only Adam’s descendants and those who are in Christ. There are no other options. It takes no effort on our part to be in Adam—we are born naturally into this race and enjoy the benefits and suffer the consequences of being human. When we trust in Christ, we are born into a new humanity that is distinct from the race of Adam and free from the corruption and penalty of sin. Since we still remain in a mortal body, there is still an external link to the old race of Adam, but our real identity is in Christ as a member of the new redeemed race. Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free!, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

Session 7

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Bible Passage—Romans 5:12-21 Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13for until the Law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. 16And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. 17For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. 18So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. 19For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. 20And the Law came in that the transgression might increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Group Discussion Questions This passage contains some of the most difficult verses in the book of Romans. With this in mind, we look at this passage in humility, knowing that greater minds than ours have come to differing interpretations. This passage contrasts the results of Christ’s obedience to the results of Adam’s disobedience. Both Adam and Christ were confronted and tempted by Satan under different conditions with opposite results. As a group, look at Genesis 3 and Matthew 4 and help the group compile a list contrasting how Adam and Christ responded to temptation and the results of their responses. In the box below are some responses to guide your discussion. • Adam was in the garden; Jesus was in the wilderness. • Adam had plenty of food; Jesus was fasting. • The devil came to Adam and Eve; the devil came to Jesus. • The devil said to Adam “Hath God said?’;he said to Jesus, “If thou be the Son of God.” • Adam sinned; Christ overcame! • Adam died, because he deserved it and passed death on to his descendants; Christ died an innocent man and passed life on to all his descendants. • Adam died and remains dead; Christ died but rose from the dead.

Ask the group to read I Corinthians 15:45-47. In I Corinthians 15:45-47, we see that Christ is called the “last Adam” while Adam of the book of Genesis is called the first Adam. These two men are the firstborn of two separate races. 48

Session 7

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Group Discussion Questions Those in the race founded by Adam live only in the natural realm; they are made of the dust of the earth. They are living souls, but they are spiritually dead (I Corinthians 15:45-47, Ephesians 2:1). They have inherited the spiritual legacy and destiny of their founding father—sin and death. People who have been justified by faith in Christ have been transferred from Adam’s earthly race into another heavenly race which was founded by Christ. They are born again and spiritually alive to God because they are in Christ, sharing his spiritual legacy and destiny—righteousness and life. Adam’s decision to disobey unleashed terrible consequences on everyone who has ever been born. When Adam and Eve sinned, did they anticipate the consequences of their choice? Let the group discuss this point and then go to Genesis 3:5 for the answer.

They expected to be like God; expulsion from the garden and death were totally unexpected.

Work together as a group compiling a list of the consequences that came as a result of Adam’s sin to those in the race of Adam (Romans 5:12-21).

• Sin entered into the world (verse 12). • Death spread to everyone (verse 12). • All sinned (verse 12). • Death reigns over everyone (verse 14, 17). • “The many” died (verse 15). • Condemnation came to all from the one transgression (verses 16, 18). • “The many” were made sinners (verse 19). • Sin reigned in death (verse 21).

Work together as a group compiling a list of the benefits of Christ’s obedience and death for us who through faith in Christ belong to the new race (Romans 5:12-21).

• God’s grace is greater than our sin (verse 15). • One sin brought death, but in Christ countless sins are pardoned (verse 16). • Grace is abundantly available (verse 17). • We receive Christ’s righteousness (verse 17). • We reign in life through Christ (verse 17). • We receive justification in Christ (verse 18). • We are made righteous (verse 19). • Grace reigns in righteousness to eternal life (verse 21).

The thought of superabundant grace dominates these verses. As terrible as sin is, God’s grace is so much more powerful that it overwhelms the guilt and consequences of sin for those who believe in Christ. When a person comes to Christ, his guilt and shame are totally wiped out, and the consequences of sin have been settled forever. As you work through these verses, you see words such as the many and all. Some people read these words and think that just as Adam’s sin condemned all humanity, Jesus’s obedience justifies everyone without condition. It is always important to take verses in the context of the whole Scripture, and it is clear in Romans that only those who come to God by faith in Christ are justified and that those who do not are still condemned. When one man does not complete God’s purposes, God raises up another to take his place and continue. One example of this is Joshua who continued the journey into the promised land that Moses had initiated.

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Group Discussion Questions Can you think of other examples that illustrate this principle?

David follows Saul, Elisha follows Elijah, etc.

Have the group read Psalm 8:5. When Adam was created, he was made to rule and reign with God’s authority over the earth. He had dominion over every creature and power on earth. When Adam failed, he lost his ability to accomplish God’s purpose, and instead of ruling, he was dominated by sin and death. There was nobody to take his place and carry out God’s original purpose because he and everyone who followed him was corrupted by sin. The person who would fulfill Adam’s role would have to be uncorrupted by sin, and that would be impossible for any human being. Therefore, God sent his Son as a human to redeem humanity. When Jesus came to earth, he was the first man ever to live a perfect life of surrender and obedience to the will of the Father. Since he was sinless, he was not under the sentence of death, and there was no need for him to suffer for his sins. Have the group read Hebrews 2:9-18. What wonderful benefits are mentioned that we have acquired because we are part of God’s family established by the last Adam, Jesus? It is a strange notion for most modern people, but in the culture of the biblical writers, a person was not just an individual but even more importantly a member of a covenant community. The head of the clan would make decisions that would affect everyone’s lives. Every member shared in what the leader did for good or evil.

• Christ suffered death for us. • We are God’s children and Jesus is our Brother. • We are brought to God’s glory from our sin and shame. • We are free from Satan’s slavery and the fear of death. • Jesus is our High Priest, and he knows how to help us in our struggles because he knows what it is to suffer temptation.

For example, think about the sin of Achan in Joshua 7:10-26. Let the group read the passage and discuss whether they think it was fair for everyone to suffer for one person’s sin. The consequences were tragic for this family because of what the leader did. However, if the leader had been a righteous man, the family would have shared in the benefits of his life and blessing. This is a most important idea to understand. Those who are in the family of Adam are condemned. Those who have come into the family of faith in Christ share all the blessings of his perfect life of obedience.

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A

pplication: In Christ

Allow 20 minutes

When God relates to those of us who are in Christ, he does not relate to us on the basis of our individual merits but instead on the basis of what Christ has done for us. This is one of the most crucial truths we must understand in order to enjoy being Completely Free! in Christ. Read II Corinthians 5:21. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” God has made a great exchange. Jesus took our sin and guilt on himself and and paid the penalty for us. That is shocking enough, but what is even more wonderful is that the righteousness that is His now covers us too! Not only do we not have to dread the penalty for our sin, but we also are considered by God to be absolutely righteous because we are covered by the righteousness of Christ. As an exercise to illustrate this truth, give each group member two sheets of paper. At the top of one sheet have the member write his/her name. At the top of the other sheet have them write “Christ.” On the sheet with their names, have the members list all of their sins. This is a private list nobody else will see, and they can destroy the list before the group ends. Let them use abbreviations, code, or shorthand but ask them to honestly inventory their sins on the paper. Allow about 3-5 minutes. On the sheet of paper with Christ’s name, have the members write the characteristics of Christ. Let them brainstorm but help them along with suggestions as needed. Some suggestions are in the margin to the right. Read the first part of II Corinthians 5:21. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf.” Now erase your name from your paper and write “Christ” at the top. Take a moment to think about what it cost Christ to identify with you. Tear up these lists to illustrate that their sins have been taken away. Next, read the second part of II Corinthians 5:21. “That we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Let the group take a few moments and consider all they have gained because Christ has identified with us. Encourage them to keep this list. Allow time for group members to comment.

Closing Prayer

• He is God’s beloved Son. • He is pleasing to the Father. • He is righteous. • He is holy. • He is blameless. • He is worthy. • He is pure. • He is without accusation. • He is without spot or blemish. • He is the image of his Father. • He is complete. This truth was captured beautifully in words by Charles Wesley in the familiar hymn, And Can It Be That I Should Gain. No condemnation now I dread; Jesus, and all in Him, is mine! Alive in Him, my living Head, And clothed in righteousness divine, Bold I approach the eternal throne, And claim the crown, through Christ my own. Amazing love! how can it be That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me.

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8 Completely Freed From

Session

Sin’s Slavery

I

Allow 10 minutes

ntroduction Opening Prayer

Sharing Questions • When was the last time you felt really free from demands that other people placed on you? or • If you could do anything you wanted to do right now, what would it be?

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elf–Awareness: Commitment

Allow 20-25 minutes

The average person not involved in a church seems to believe that Christians are either perfect or they are hypocrites. In surveys conducted of evangelical Christian youth, it was alarming to discover that their lifestyles were not very different from those who did not profess to be Christians. It can be difficult to distinguish between those who are believers and those who are not when we observe them at work, home, and play. One reason for this is because believers have lowered their standards and find themselves more comfortable with the values of the world around them. Some have just given up trying to be different from those around them. Do you think it is “normal” for you as a Christian to sin? Why or why not?

It is common for Christians to sin, but it is not normal behavior for those who are identified with Christ.

Some people believe that sin is normal and our sins give God the opportunity to display more grace and thus to be more glorified. Other people ignore God’s standard of holiness and excuse any sin. How have standards of Christian conduct changed since you have been a believer? Give specific examples. Do you think these changes have been good?

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Session 8

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The Jews criticized the Apostle Paul for his teaching of justification by faith saying that it would promote unrighteous living. Moslems and certain other religions look at the decadent lifestyle of many western “Christians” and reject the gospel because they consider their lives more righteous than ours. Share with the group members your evaluation of the quality of Christian life you observe in the church today.

Spiritual Awareness Lead-In Too few people have a passion to live a holy life today, and this is robbing the Church of its spiritual vitality. How do you feel about the strength of your own commitment to live a righteous life? What excuses are you prone to use when you relax your commitment to high standards?

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piritual Awareness: License to Sin?

Allow 20-25 minutes

The fictional character James Bond, Agent 007, had a license to kill. It was a special permit issued to him to do what was illegal for others to do. We have been freely justified by God, but that justification does not give us a license to sin. Quite the contrary! As we study this passage, we find that the excuses we use to rationalize our sinful choices are as ineffective as the leaves Adam and Eve used in the garden of Eden to cover their shame. God can see through excuses and leaves. Excuses for sinning are to be put aside, and we are to understand that we are so closely united with Christ we can consider ourselves dead to sin and alive in Christ. Christ went through death to resurrection, moving from this world order into a new one that is free from sin. In order to escape the corruption of this world, we have to be united with Christ in his death and resurrection and live in the new order with him. Being baptized into Christ makes his life and experience ours too! None of this is to say that we do not have the desire or potential to sin. As long as we live in a fallen world, that potential is with us every day. What has changed is that we do not have to say “yes” to sin. Sin is not “normal” for a Christian. Why does saying “no” to sin seem so difficult at times?

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Bible Passage—Romans 6:1-23 Romans 6:1 WHAT shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? 2May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, 6knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; 7for he who has died is freed from sin. 8Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, 13and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace. 15What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! 16Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? 17But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification. 20For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. 22But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Group Discussion Questions Some people might believe if we are saved by grace, it is acceptable to go on living a sinful lifestyle. Paul shows that such a belief is nonsense. Take a few minutes to read Romans 6:1-11 as a group. How does Paul respond to the question posed in verse 1?

He says in verse 2, “May it never be!” He denounces the idea as an absurdity.

In verse 2, he begins the argument against this misunderstanding of salvation when he says, “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” In verses 2-11, what are some reasons Paul gives to show why this is such an absurd thought?

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In verse 2 and following, he tells us that if we are united to Christ, we have died to sin. In verse 4 and following, he tells us we have a new life in Christ that is not dominated by sin.

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Group Discussion Questions In verse 3, we are said to be baptized into Christ Jesus. What do you think this means?

It means to be brought into union with Christ, a union so intimate that we have become one with him. See Galatians 3:27 and I Corinthians 6:17.

It is hard to overstate the strength of the union that Christ and a Christian share. In verse 5, we are said to be united with Him in the likeness of His death. The word “united” means to become one just as two edges of a wound heal together or two ends of a broken bone knit back into one solid piece. Since this is true, how can this truth change the way you feel about your relationship with Christ?

What are some of the benefits we have shared with Christ because of our union with him (verses 4-7)?

• A greater sense of belonging. • A sense of security. • A feeling of awe at His desire to be so united with us, etc.

• We walk in newness of life. • Our old self was crucified with him. • We are no longer slaves to sin.

Our identity is no longer what it used to be because we are now united with Christ (verse 5). This is not just a mystical thought; something very real has happened to the person we used to be. What has happened to “our old self”—the person you were “in Adam” without Christ (verse 6)?

It was crucified with Christ.

What impact should this truth have in your daily conduct?

Be sure to talk about the fact that we are no longer slaves to sin (verse 6).

One question that usually arises from reading this passage is, “If this is true, then why do I still struggle with sin?” What are some possible reasons we still struggle with sin? Our identification with Christ is complete. Christ has gone through death victorious, and he lives having defeated death by his resurrection. In our identity with him, we are already participating in his resurrection (Colossians 3:1), but unlike Christ, we still exist in our old bodies, subject to temptation, physical weakness, and the influence of sin. What four actions are we told to take to resist sin (verses 11-13)?

Our true identity is established in Christ, but our physical surroundings, our memories, our old desires, and our environment all work together pulling us back to the ways of the old life.

1. Keep in mind (consider) you are dead to sin and alive to God. 2. Refuse to obey sin. “You have no obligation to satisfy the lusts of the body.” 3. Don’t allow your body to cooperate with sin. 4. Present yourself to God, realizing he has given you life when you were dead.

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Group Discussion Questions Sin is represented as a king in verse 12 that still issues commands (lusts), but it is a king who does not have authority over us unless we submit ourselves to him (compare I John 5:19). We are instructed to “stop presenting the members (parts) of our bodies” to sin.

Do you think that Romans 6:14 is a command or a promise?

It is a promise—to help us not become discouraged in our struggle with sin. Because of our union with Christ, we will not fail.

Romans 6:17-18 drives home again what our identity is; we once were slaves to sin, but now we are slaves to righteousness. According to these verses, is it possible to be independent of a master in this life?

Only two options are mentioned.

How would most people respond if you asked them if they were a slave to sin?

Most people would object; they believe they are not a slave to anything.

In verses 18-20, we see that when we were unbelievers, our participation in sin resulted in even more sin, but now our obedience to righteousness is working to make our lifestyle more holy. Do you think the longer you serve God the more natural it becomes to be a slave to righteousness? If so, give an example from your life. Do you think you will ever reach a place where your performance will be perfect and you will no longer be tempted to sin? Why? Notice in verses 20-22 how life before salvation contrasts to life after salvation. Discuss the differences in the group.

Romans 6:23 is a familiar verse to many. Sin degrades, corrupts, and damages the human body and has put us all under the sentence of death. This is how sin rewards its slaves: It kills them.

Discuss the difference between “wages” and “gift” in this verse.

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Before Slaves to sin; free from righteousness, shame, death. After Freed from sin; slaves to God, sanctification, eternal life.

Sin gives you what you earn and deserve. God in his grace gives you a gift of life that you cannot earn and do not deserve.

Session 8

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A

pplication: Freed From Sin

Allow 20 minutes

Think about the two masters that are mentioned in this passage and the slaves that belong to each of them. According to what you know from the study of Romans to this point and what you have discovered in this passage: How does a person become the slave of sin? The slave of righteousness? What is life like for those who are slaves to sin? For those who are slaves to righteousness?

We are by natural birth slaves to sin, through faith in Christ we become slaves of righteousness.

A slave has to say “no” to self and put the interests of his master first. Do you agree with this statement, “A Christian is free not to sin?” Why or why not? Describe an experience when you said “no” to your selfish, sinful nature. Why should we never give up resisting sin even when we fail?

• Because sin is no longer our master (verse 14). • Because there is no benefit to giving up (verse 21). • Because we have died to sin (verse 2). • Because there are spiritual, emotional, and physical consequences to continuing sin (verse 3-5).

Our relationship with God is much stronger than the bond of a master and servant. Our union with Christ is as secure as two ends of a bone mended together. The analogy of slavery is used here as an illustration that every person is going to serve either sin or God. Do you feel more tightly bonded to sin or to Christ? Which influences your choices more? How can a believer who is still behaving as if sin is his master change his behavior?

Closing Prayer

He needs to understand that he does not have to submit to sin’s demands and that he is free to submit to God. When slaves are set free, they may not feel free and so they continue to behave as slaves. He must walk in the truth that he is free from sin’s slavery and is are now a slave to righteousness. He must walk in moment-by-moment submission to God.

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Frustrated in 9Completely the Flesh

Session

I

Allow 10 minutes

ntroduction Opening Prayer

Sharing Question

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Share with the group one great frustration you face in your life.

This opening exercise is designed to encourage supportive and affirming interaction among the group. Encourage each one to respond.

elf–Awareness: Inner Conflict

Allow 20-25 minutes

While flying in an airplane, we find that we leave the runway and climb into the clouds and stay there as long as the plane is moving forw a rd fast enough to keep aloft. We are in the plane, escaped from the ground, but there is still a pull on our bodies that would drag us back to the ground if we were not in the plane. There will be areas in your life where you feel the strong pull of temptation even though you are a Christian.

Is it surprising to you that as a Christian, you continue to struggle with sin? Did anyone warn you about this struggle?

Is there an area in your life where you continue to fail frequently? How has this affected your walk with Christ?

What have you done to attempt to overcome this area of failure?

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It is amazing how the past influences us even when our circumstances have changed. Sometimes a person who remarries after the death of an abusive, perfectionistic spouse will live as she did in the past, expecting her new partner to base his acceptance and love on her performance. In the same way, some Christians believe they can please God by sheer human determination to do what is right and do not enjoy the new relationship with God they have entered that is based on grace. They find themselves frustrated by their performance.

Spiritual Awareness Lead-In When people keep trying to please God by keeping the Law, they are hanging on to an old relationship. They do not understand that we have entered into a new relationship with God through Christ. When we think we are obeying God’s Law to the best of our ability, how are we tempted to feel?

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piritual Awareness: A Real Struggle

We may either feel proud because we think we are doing so well (such a person does not understand the depth of their sinfulness), or we may feel totally defeated because no matter how hard we try, we will fail to be perfect.

Allow 20-25 minutes

Many people who live in our culture and who know a little about Christianity are misinformed about what God expects from his people. Most people use the Law of God to compare their lives to one another and judge whether they are “good” enough to go to heaven. Based on what you have learned in the book of Romans, what do you think the Apostle Paul would say to people today who think this way?

He would be quick to tell them the Law condemns us all. It is not a measure to see how good you are but a code that condemns everyone.

Romans 3 mentions things that dominate and have control over every non-Christian: Sin, death, and the Law. We saw in Romans 6:9-10 that we have been liberated from the domination of sin and death by our identification with Christ. Chapter 7 shows us that our union with Christ also brings us freedom from the Law. The Law has always had one function—to condemn sin. The Law points us to what is right, but it gives us no ability to choose to do what is right. These verses we are about to study have been debated for centuries as to whether they describe the experience of a person b e f o re or after conversion. Regardless of your view of this passage, it paints a picture of a very real struggle of someone trying to obey the Law of God. It shows the conflict that occurs when we try to do ourselves what only God can do for us.

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Session 9

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Bible Passage—Romans 7:1-25 Romans 7:1 OR do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? 2For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. 3So then if, while her husband is living, she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress, though she is joined to another man. 4Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit for God. 5For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. 6But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. 7What

shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.” 8But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. 9And I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive, and I died; 10and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; 11for sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me. 12So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. 13Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful. 14For we know that the Law is spiritual; but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. 15For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. 16But if I do the very thing I do not wish to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that it is good. 17So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which indwells me. 18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish. 20But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 21I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good. 22For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. 24Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

Group Discussion Questions After giving the group time to read Romans 7:1-8, ask the group to respond to the following questions:

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What does Romans 7:1-4 teach about our relationship to the Law?

We are not married to the Law any longer. We are now married to Christ.

What happened to us through Christ at the cross that changed our relationship to the Law?

When Christ died on the cross, we died to the Law so that we are now free to have a relationship with Christ and not the Law.

In the analogy of Romans 7:1-4, who is the woman, the former husband, and the new husband?

• The woman illustrates the believer. • The former husband is the Law. • The new husband is Christ.

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Group Discussion Questions Read Romans 7:5-6. A new term is introduced in Romans 7:5, the flesh. The flesh is c o m p a red to the “old man,” “the body of sin” that we saw in 6:6. In your opinion, does verse 5 describe a Christian? Explain.

What is our relationship to the Law as Christians?

“In the flesh” describes our state before we are Christians as verse 6 shows us. We do not depend on keeping the Law and the sacrificial system that surrounds it as a means of acceptance to God.

This is illustrated in how Paul thought of his life when he served God to the best of his ability before he came to Christ. Have someone in the group read Philippians 3:3-11 and compare these verses with Romans 7:6. Ask the group to discuss the following question: How did Paul’s relationship with Christ change his relationship with the Law? Read Romans 7:9-11.

He left the old way of relating to God behind and totally depended on Christ’s righteousness to make him acceptable to God.

There is a deadly chemistry when sin, the Law, and death are combined as described in verses 9-11. The Law binds sin and death together, showing that sin leads to death. Why is it necessary for us to have the Law prove to us that sin leads to death? (Hint: See Genesis 3:1-5.)

Because since the beginning of history, people have denied that sin leads to death.

Satan’s lie to us is “you won’t surely die” if you disobey God, but the Law demonstrates to us that we will. Read I Corinthians 15:56 in the group. In verse 7, it is plain that the Law is not sin. It is surprising to find, however, that the Law stirs up the desire to sin in the human heart. To illustrate this effect of the Law, Paul uses the tenth commandment as an example. Why would he use this commandment rather than one prohibiting adultery, lying, idolatry, or stealing? In verse 8, sin is described as “taking opportunity through the commandment.” This is a military term meaning to “set up a base for operations.” Sin uses the Law of God to bring death to humanity.

Satan tempted Eve to sin by appealing to covetousness(Genesis 3:5). He told her she could be like God if she disobeyed his commandment. Also, coveting is an internal attitude that is easily hidden; whereas, the other sins are more public.

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Group Discussion Questions Take time to let the group read and compare verses 8-11 to Genesis 3:1-5 and also Genesis 3:13. What similarities do you see in these passages? In verses 12-13, Paul explains that the problem is not the Law; the problem is sin, and the Law shows how utterly sinful sin is. The Law can expose sin, but it cannot produce righteousness in us. Righteousness is only possible through our union with Christ (Romans 6:5-7).

Satan was present in the garden prior to Genesis 3, but until the commandment came, he had no power to tempt. Satan used the commandment to create a desire to disobey God by using deception. As a consequence, death came because of sin.

Verses 14-24 show a person totally frustrated in attempting to fulfill the Law. This person wants to do right but consistently fails in his efforts. Who are the characters in the drama in verses 14-24?

The Law, “I” (Paul), and sin.

What words does Paul use to describe himself in these verses?

Of flesh (inhabiting a body), sold into bondage to sin (verse 14)

How does Paul describe the Law in these verses?

It is spiritual (verse14); it is good (verse 16).

What does Paul think about his sinful actions in these verses?

• I don’t understand my actions. • I am not doing what I like to do. • I am doing what I hate (verse15).

What two parts of himself does Paul recognize in verses 22-23?

1. The inner man where the law of his mind operates. 2. The members of his body where the law of sin operates.

What is going on in Paul’s flesh?

It is in the flesh where sin still has an established hold on him (verses 1718).

We are new creations in Christ, but these new creations still live in mortal bodies that remain in a fallen, sinful world. This places us in a continuing battle with sin, and we will constantly be dominated by sin (verse 17) and frustrated if we have to fight the battle alone in our own strength. How many times does the word “I” appear in these verses? Where is God or his power mentioned in these verses?

Let the group count and tally the results.

Many commentators believe that in verse 24, Paul is comparing this struggle with sin in the flesh to a punishment for murder that involved tying the murderer to his victim’s body and letting the decaying corpse corrupt and kill the murderer. It would be a hopeless, horrifying death. It is not until verse 25 that any hope appears in this passage.

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What is the source of this hope (verse 25)?

It is in God through Jesus Christ.

How is Paul still “divided” as this chapter ends?

With his mind, he serves the law of God but with his flesh the law of sin.

Session 9

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A

pplication: Who Will Set Me Free?

Allow 20 minutes

Is the person struggling in Romans 7 a hypocrite?

The struggle described in Romans 7 is not the struggle of a hypocrite. This person has a true commitment of the heart to obey the law but is powerless to do so because of the powerful hold that sin has in his flesh.

Discuss times when you have found yourself in this situation, doing things you detest and yet finding yourself doing them anyway. Are you to blame for your actions? Why or why not? Does Paul take responsibility for his actions even though they are instigated by sin that dwells in him?

Yes, he accepts full responsibility by admitting that “I” am doing these things.

How do these verses relate to Romans 6:2-11? Is it possible for this section to describe the same person?

Yes, if that person is trying to conquer sin by his own power and merit and not through the Spirit as is taught in Chapter 8.

God commonly makes his people face impossible circumstances that cannot be overcome without his intervention. This makes us trust and depend upon God and not ourselves. Have the group discuss examples of this from the Bible. The enemies in this passage are sin, death, the Law, and the flesh. Combined together, they form an alliance that is impossible for any human to conquer.

Examples include the promise to Abraham for an heir, the Exodus, Jericho, etc. Concentrate on Abraham and his faith in Romans 4.

It is like a spider’s web—the more we exert ourselves, the more tangled we become. We become hopelessly stuck in patterns of behavior that will continually defeat us. Many have found that the first step in overcoming their bondage to sin is to come to a place where they admit they are powerless to control their life. How does this compare to what you read in Romans 7? The answer comes from outside ourselves. There is no hope that any person relying on his own strength will ever be able to escape, but God does not leave us in despair. In the next session we will see how completely God delivers us from this gooey web of frustrating struggle.

Closing Prayer

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10 Completely Dependent on

Session

the Spirit

I

ntroduction

Allow 10 minutes

Opening Prayer

Sharing Question Describe a time when you were too weak or frustrated to accomplish a task and someone had to help you or do it for you.

S

elf–Awareness: Confidence

This opening exercise is designed to encourage supportive and affirming interaction among the group. Encourage each one to respond.

Allow 20-25 minutes

Imagine for a few moments being brought into a court of law accused of breaking God’s commandments. You stand there in shackles knowing that the charges against you are true. The penalty for the smallest infraction is death. The prosecutor has full access to your life history down to the smallest detail, and he is dragging out every event for all the world to see. He knows all of your actions, but even worse, your every thought. He shows in graphic detail everything you should have done but neglected and everything you should not have done but did anyway. Beside each violation is the law that is broken. You know the truth is coming out, but there is no defense you can use because none is allowed. You are guilty, guilty, guilty; you know it, the judge knows it, the prosecutor knows it, the whole world knows it. If you were in this situation today and the prosecutor asked why you should not be put to death immediately for your crimes, how would you answer? If the judge in passing sentence said to you, “There is no condemnation for this person,” you would be overwhelmed with emotion. This is something like the emotion that is found in the first few verses of Romans 8 after the desperation expressed in Romans 7.

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Have group members meditate for a few moments on their past sins and current struggles with sin in their lives. When you think of the detail of your life history, examining every thought and action in the light of God’s law, how bold can you be when you say the words, “God does not condemn me”? On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your level of confidence that God does not condemn you for your sin?

Spiritual Awareness Lead-In Some people have no problem believing they are saved by grace, but then they begin to believe that to continue in their salvation, they have to be good enough for God to love them. When they lose battles with sin, they begin to lose confidence in their relationship with God. What has been your strategy to overcome sin? How has it worked?

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piritual Awareness: Victory in Christ

Allow 20-25 minutes

Chapter 6 taught us about our identification with Christ and the power that is brought into our lives as a result of that identification. What we could never do for ourselves (live a life perfectly pleasing to God), God has done for us in Christ. What we were due as a result of our disobedience to the law (condemnation and death), God paid for through the sacrifice of Christ as our representative. When we are justified by God, we come “into Christ,” and all that is his is ours. Chapter 7 displayed the horror of depending on the Law to make us acceptable to God, and finding that no matter what we do, we end up being trapped by sin and under the penalty of death. The lesson we have to learn from the frustrating experiences described in Chapter 7 is that the only way to be acceptable to God is to be in Christ. This is a truth that must be burned into our consciousness and ever kept before us. Chapter 8 shows us the wonderful plan God has put in place for our salvation. The first portion of God’s plan for us involves living the balance of our mortal lives in a world engaged in a spiritual war that we experience as a conflict between the flesh and the Spirit. The way this war is won is not by repeating the experiences of Romans 7 but by walking in the light of what Romans 8 teaches. In your Christian experience, what is the most valuable lesson you have learned about living the Christian life? Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free!, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

Session 10

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Bible Passage—Romans 8:1-13 Romans 8:1 THERE is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For

the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 5For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; 8and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you.

12So then, brethren, we are under 13for if you are living according to

obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Group Discussion Questions Take a moment and allow the group to read the passage. In our last session, the passage we studied was full of defeat and gloom. Sentence after sentence spoke of the power of sin in the flesh and the futility of any determination to escape its influence. Then at the end of the chapter, after all hope is gone of helping ourselves, Jesus Christ the Lord appears out of the gloomy despair with promised deliverance. By now, we should be convinced it is impossible to save ourselves and that outside of Christ, we are all condemned. Sometimes when we use the word “condemnation,” we take it to mean “feeling bad about what we have done.” That is not how it is used in Romans 8:1. The condemnation here refers to the death penalty resting on the heads of all who sin. What is the “law of sin and death” mentioned in verse 2? In verse 2, we are told that God “has set you free from the law of sin and death.” We saw in Romans 7:9-11 how sin uses the the Law to kill us, and none of us can escape that condemnation without God’s intervention. What is the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus?” The gospel is the “law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.” This is why it is called Good News. We were trapped with no escape, waiting to die, and now we are declared “not guilty” and have been set free! 66

It is described for us in Chapter 7: The working together of the flesh, sin, the Law, and death to bring us to moral despair and condemnation.

The gospel of Christ is the only thing that can set us free from the law of sin and death.

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Group Discussion Questions Have several volunteers from the group read aloud verses 3-4 and then pose the following questions to the group. What could the Law not do?

Make us holy and acceptable to God.

What hindered the Law from succeeding? This was explained in Chapter 7.

The weakness of the flesh.

What did God do?

Sent His Son in an earthly body to suffer the death the Law demanded we pay.

Why did Jesus come in “the likeness of sinful flesh?”

To be our substitute.

Jesus did not come as a sinful person, but he came in a physical body subject to pain, weariness, and sorrow. He was tempted but never sinned. He lived as a human so he could die as a sinless, perfect man who did not deserve to be punished. What happened to “sin in the flesh” as a result of His sacrifice for us?

It was condemned, punished in the sacrificial death of Christ.

The Law demanded our death as humans as penalty for our sin. When Christ died in our place, he died as a perfectly holy human who had never sinned, and he at the same time was infinite God. Because He was perfect, his sacrifice in our place satisfied justice; because He was infinite God, His death was sufficient to cover the sin of everyone who trusts in Him. “Sin in the flesh” has now been condemned because the sentence of death has been carried out. What is our status now with the Law?

The requirements of the Law have been fulfilled in us.

These verses are the core of the gospel and are the words of hope every person who has been broken and condemned by the law of sin and death is desperate to hear. To be “in Christ” means that all the requirements of the Law have been met in him, and because we are “in him,” then the requirements of the Law are fulfilled in us as well “who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” What do you think it means to “walk according to” (verse 4)?

“To walk according to” means the general path of our life, what is most characteristic of us.

What do you think it means to “set your mind on” (verse 5)?

To “set your mind” is to make something the object of our attention, desire, and pursuit. It is the object of our devotion.

Verses 5-13 contrast those that “walk according to the Spirit” to those who “walk according to the flesh.” Spiritually speaking, there are only two groups of people: those who are in the flesh and those who are in Christ. There are no other options. If you are a Christian, you do not walk after the flesh, and if you are a nonbeliever, you do not walk after the Spirit. If a person does not follow Christ and only lives for the satisfaction

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Group Discussion Questions of self, then he is not a believer. A Christian will desire to follow Christ and develop a lifestyle consistent with the new identity found “in Christ.” On a poster or blackboard draw the outline of the following chart and let group members fill in the descriptions of those walking according to the Spirit and those walking according to the flesh.

Those Who Walk According to the Flesh • Have minds set on things of the flesh (v. 5). • Experience the mind set on the flesh which is death (v. 6). • Are hostile to God (v. 7). • Cannot please God (v. 8). • Do not have the Spirit of Christ (v. 9). • Do not belong to God (v. 9). • Have not Christ in them (v. 10). • Have bodies which are dead because of sin (v. 10). • Are spiritually dead (v. 10). • Are under obligation to the flesh (v. 12). • Are living according to the flesh (v. 13). • Must die (v. 13).

Those Who Walk According to the Spirit • Have minds set on things of the Spirit (v. 5). • Experience the mind set on the Spirit which is life and peace (v. 6). • Love God (inferred v. 7). • Are pleasing to God (inferred v. 7). • Have the Spirit of God dwelling in them. (v. 9). • Belong to God (v. 9). • Have Christ in them (v. 10). • Have bodies which are dead because of sin (v. 10). • Are spiritually alive (v. 10). • Their mortal bodies will receive life (v. 11). • Have no obligation to the flesh (v. 12). • Are putting to death deeds of the body (v. 13). • Will live (v. 13).

It is important to remember that the “things of the flesh” are not just sensual things but anything that is empty of trust in Christ. A person with a moral lifestyle is still “in the flesh” if he does not trust Christ for salvation. What does “the body is dead because of sin” mean (verse10)? How do you experience this truth in your life?

Everyone will die physically, and we see the destructive impact of disease, age, stress, etc., in our bodies as time goes by.

What is the promise to the believer in verse 11?

That we will receive life in our mortal bodies. This refers to our resurrection.

This is really an astounding verse when you think about it. The Spirit of God dwells in us, and the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead will also give life to these mortal bodies. God has a great investment in us, a down payment (Ephesians 1:13-14) that guarantees his commitment to make it happen. We enjoy spiritual life now, and even our bodies will not be held in death. The battle with sin is fought in and through the physical body, but the good news is that this is only temporary. In verse 13 we are told to take a continuous action by the Spirit. What is this action, and how successful do you find yourself in accomplishing this task?

We must continually be putting to death the deeds of the body (sinful deeds).

Now let’s move on to the application and see how this works in day-to-day living. 68

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A

pplication: In the Spirit

Allow 20 minutes

Some read Romans 7:7-24 and conclude that it is normal to be defeated by sin, and they never expect to grow and overcome besetting sins. It important to notice that the Spirit is never mentioned in these verses. The mood changes in Chapter 8 when we see the difference that being in Christ and living in the Spirit makes. The believer is no longer under the dominion of sin, condemned by the Law, or paralyzed by the flesh. In Christ and the power of the Spirit, the potential and expectation of real change is normal. Living as a person in the flesh is totally out of character with who we are as believers. Does Romans 7:7-24 or Romans 8:1-13 best describe your spiritual life? Take the rest of this session with the group to brainstorm and write down ideas on how we can “walk in the Spirit” and “put to death the deeds of the body.” Below are some suggestions to help you lead the discussion. There are many others. 1. Realize it takes both God’s Spirit in us and our continuous cooperation (Romans 8:13) to be free. 2. Understand you are not condemned if you are in Christ (Romans 8:1). 3. Understand you are loved and accepted by God in Christ (Colossians 1:22). 4. Understand that you are in a battle, and the physical body is the scene of the conflict because of the presence of sin (Romans 7:23). 5. Believe the truth and draw upon the resources God has provided. We are powerless to save ourselves, but God is all-powerful and has given us resources to use (II Peter 1:3-11). 6. Keep your eyes on the eternal and not on the temporal (I John 3:2-3). 7. Understand that all that is flesh is death, and there is nothing there that pleases God or benefits the believer. 8. Commit to a life of continually putting to death the deeds of the body, knowing that God will give us strength to carry it out. 9. Put off the old self and put on the new self (Colossians 1:110; Ephesians 4:22-25).

Closing Prayer

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11Completely Strengthened

Session

in Our Weakness

I

Allow 10 minutes

ntroduction Opening Prayer

Sharing Question Describe a time in your life when you had to wait patiently for something you deeply wanted.

S

elf–Awareness: Waiting

This opening exercise is designed to encourage supportive and affirming interaction among the group. Encourage each one to respond.

Allow 20-25 minutes

If you are like some of us, waiting is a difficult assignment especially when you are anxious for an event to happen. On the other hand, when you are waiting for some unpleasant event to be over and there is nothing you can do to speed up the process, waiting can seem unbearable. Describe a time when you have had to wait for something good to begin or for something unpleasant to be finished. Waiting coupled with discomfort can make time seem to drag.

For example, have you ever been cold and wet and had to wait for someone to come and rescue you? A visit to a doctor or dentist for a painful procedure can seem endless.

Waiting with patient endurance is an important part of a Christian’s walk with God. Waiting does not come easily for us who are used to instant results and lives of relative comfort. Have group members respond to the following statement: I believe my salvation is complete and there is nothing left to be finished. Romans describes our salvation as something we enjoy right now but also as something that is still in process. We have been justified, declared not guilty of our sins, and we are perfectly acceptable to God. Even though this is true, we still inhabit bodies that are tied to the fallen world, and we are still subject to the allurement of sin. When we die, we are released from these bodies. When Christ returns, we will receive our resurrected bodies that are free 70

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from the corruption brought on by sin. Until that happens, we live in the “between” times, a time of learning to depend completely upon God. As we depend upon God moment by moment, we learn the process of denying our sinful desires by following the Holy Spirit. This results in our sanctification—a growth in a holy lifestyle that reflects the character of God who is at work in us.

Allow for group discussion. The material in the Spiritual Awareness section will shed light on some of the comments made in the group.

Spiritual Awareness Lead-In What frustrates you the most about life in this “in-between time”—the time between your conversion and the time when Christ re t u rns and you will receive a body not corrupted by sin?

S

piritual Awareness: Heirs of God

Allow 20-25 minutes

The passage we are about to discuss deals with being “led by the Spirit of God.” What does being led by the Spirit mean to you, and what has been your experience with it? This passage also talks about the difference between being a person’s slave and his son. A slave is kept for what he does; it is a relationship that is dependent on performance, and obedience is enforced by punishment. A slave never enjoys the status of family member no matter how well he or she performs.

There will be many responses but try to focus the group on the concept that to be led of the Spirit is to be drawn by a strong desire or passion. When we are led by the Spirit, there will continue to be a deep inner transformation resulting in greater fruit of the Spirit.

A son is valued for who he is and treasured for the relationship. A son obeys because of respect and trust. A son may not always perform up to his father’s standards, but he is not disinherited because of his failures. Slavery to sin exacts a horrible toll, but sonship creates an environment of life and growth. Does your relationship to God feel more like slavery or sonship? Christians are not exempt from suffering because of this special relationship to God. Suffering has many causes, many of which come from living in mortal bodies that are still attached to a world that is corrupted by sin.

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Bible Passage—Romans 8:14-27 Romans 8:14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him. 18For

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. 20For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. 24For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. 26And

in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Group Discussion Questions Allow the group to read Romans 8:14-27. No slave would dare call the master, Abba. Abba is a family word. An adopted son in Rome lost all rights in his old family and gained all the rights of a natural-born child in his new family. Legally, his old life was erased, old debts were cancelled, and he became a new person, bringing nothing of the old life into the new. Adoption was a permanent and complete act. How long would it take a slave who was legally adopted by his master as a son to feel and think like a natural-born son? In Rome the adoption process took place in front of seven witnesses so that there could never be any doubt of his status as an heir of his father.

It would probably take time for him to realize what he now possessed and begin to act as if he were entitled to all that had been given him.

As you can imagine, being adopted was a great honor because the adopted was chosen by his father. It was not a random act but a carefully planned process that committed the adoptive father to his new child. By law, an adopted son could never be disinherited, even though a natural-born son could be. Have the group read Ephesians 1:3-14 keeping in mind the dynamics of adoption and what it must have felt like to be adopted into a Roman family. How does God’s Spirit assure you of your relationship with God (verse 16)?

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The presence of spiritual fruit and gifts, a sense of His presence, a growing love for God and hatred of sin, His conviction when we sin, an assurance He is with us, etc.

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Group Discussion Questions What does it mean to be an heir of God and fellow-heir with Christ (verse17)? To be one of many heirs of a wealthy person means your share will be less than the whole. To be an heir of God means that everyone will inherit unlimited blessings and glory because there is no limit to God’s resources.

The adoptive sons had rights to an inheritance just as the natural sons. We as adoptive children are going to inherit infinite blessings with Christ. There is no limit to the inheritance we enjoy in Christ.

Adoption brings with it responsibilities as well as blessings. If we are adopted into God’s family, we enter a battle that will bring us suffering just as it brought Christ suffering. It is important to know that suffering precedes glory. Most of the physical benefits of our inheritance are still future. Do you think in our modern evangelistic appeals we talk too much about the rewards of being a Christian and neglect discussing the responsibilities that often bring suffering? Is this practice biblical?

As time allows, let the groups look at these verses: Mark 8:31-38; Matthew 10:24-25; II Timothy 3:12; 2; II Corinthians 4:8-11; Philippians 3:10; II Corinthians 1:4-5.

Not only do we suffer persecution for standing with Christ in opposition to the world system, but we also suffer physically just from living in the fallen world in bodies that have yet to be redeemed. We suffer pain, discomfort, fatigue, thirst, hunger, physical decline, and physical death just as the rest of creation does. This suffering keeps us from becoming too attached to the present world and makes us long for our inheritance. Have the group read Romans 8:18 and then II Corinthians 4:16-5:8. When a Christian suffers, how can his or her response be different from a non-Christian? The suffering we experience now is not worth comparing to what is waiting for us. In the middle of our struggles it is easy to lose sight of what awaits us, and waiting can be very difficult.

We know that our sufferings will end one day and we will enjoy eternal joy, but to a nonbeliever, this life can be hard, and what waits after death is even worse.

Not only did the fall affect all humanity, but its impact also devastated all of creation. Creation was corrupted at the fall and continues to this day to function abnormally. Romans 8:20 says creation is “subjected to futility” which means that it cannot operate as it was originally designed. In verse 21, creation is said to be in “slavery to corruption” which means it is in decay. What evidence do you observe in the world that creation is decaying and not operating as it was designed? Humanity has had impact on creation through pollution and the wasting of resources, but this impact is insignificant when compared to the destruction that came with the sin of Adam and Eve.

Earthquakes, plagues, storms, extinction, survival of the fittest, thorns, poisonous plants, venomous animals, predators, famine, severe heat and cold, etc.

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Group Discussion Questions Some believe we can restore the earth and reverse the damage humans have done to it by eliminating technology and reducing human population. What is the hope that the earth will be saved and restored that we find in the Bible (Romans 8:20-24)?

When our bodies are redeemed (we receive new bodies that are free from the corruption of sin), the rest of creation will be restored to its perfect design.

In view of this, how should we approach environmentalism?

Humanity is linked to the environment, but saving the environment will not save humanity. The environment will be saved when we are fully redeemed. If we could restore the earth to its condition of 4,000 years ago, it still would be corrupted and frustrated.

Of course, we have an obligation to be good managers of the earth’s resources, but the earth is not divine and would not be perfect now even in the absence of humans. Verses 22-27 describe a time of groaning and a time of hope. The creation groans under the presence of sin and its impact, and we groan as well while waiting for the time when our bodies will be changed and become free of the corrupting influence of sin. Describe how you are experiencing this “time of groaning” in your life. These groans come from the frustration that the life of the Spirit does not find full expression in the bodies we now inhabit. We are limited, finite, and fatigued; but God’s Spirit is always vigilant, never tired, and never reaches any limit of resources. It is God in his abundance who provides for us in our weakness. How can living in these weak bodies draw us closer to God? Read verses 26-27 to the group. Our weakness keeps us from even knowing how to pray, and God in his loving provision helps us here too. The Spirit in us intercedes for us continually in perfect accord with the will of God. It is humbling to know we have to have help even to ask God for help.

Lead the discussion to II Corinthians 4:7-10. Weakness drives us to live in God’s strength and keeps us from thinking we are self-sufficient. It also teaches us to look forward to our eternal destiny and not settle for the here and now.

How confident are you that you know how to pray according to the will of God? What confidence does this passage give you in your prayer life? Asking for physical needs to be met is the bulk of much of our prayer lives. Do you ever feel you are missing something in your prayer life? What do you think it might be? What did the Apostle Paul pray for more than anything?

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Refer to Ephesians 1:15-21 and Ephesians 3:14-21. Paul’s prayer was that believers would recognize their riches in Christ and grow in their spiritual lives.

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A

pplication: Expectations

Allow 20 minutes

Some people become discouraged and disillusioned with Christianity, not because they expect too much from their relationship with God but because they expect it too fast. The riches we have and will receive are impossible for us to imagine, but we only have a taste of them right now. The real enjoyment will come later. Until then, we wait, and the wait takes place in an uncomfortable and hostile world where we suffer the natural afflictions that come to humans along with the pain of persecution for our faith. Perspective is difficult to maintain while we are afflicted. Although we will certainly suffer in this life, we will not be left alone. God is with us, leads us, strengthens us, and even prays on our behalf when we cannot even do that. What were your expectations of the Christian life when you first became a believer? Do you think your expectations of the Christian life are consistent with the teachings found in this passage? Imagine for a moment you have experienced an event that is bringing suffering into your life. It might be an accident, an infection, a personal loss, or an emotional struggle. What resources do Christians have for dealing with suffering that non-Christians do not possess? As you grow older, how do you expect your sense of hope for the redemption of your body to grow more intense?

Some answers might be: • The support of other Christians. • Knowledge that better things are coming. • The Spirit of God lives in us. • Knowledge that we are joined in suffering with Christ.

If you had to comfort a friend who was discouraged from enduring a time of suffering, what would you say to comfort him or her?

Closing Prayer

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12 Completely Assured of

Session

Victory

I

Allow 10 minutes

ntroduction Opening Prayer

Sharing Question If a violent storm should strike your neighborhood today, where would you hide? How safe would you feel in your hiding place? What makes it a safe place?

S

elf–Awareness: Security

This opening exercise is designed to encourage supportive and affirming interaction among the group. Encourage each one to respond.

Allow 20-25 minutes

Most people feel more secure when they are in contro l . Somehow a trip down a mountain road does not feel as dang e rous to us when we have our hands on the steering wheel. The passengers with us are likely to have much greater anxiety. Having control over our circumstances is very important to most of us. When we feel in control, we feel more secure and confident. When circumstances beyond our control happen, we may feel helpless and, as a result, experience panic or depression. Share with the group an experience you have had in life which has shaken your belief that you are in control. What did you learn from the experience?

Examples may include a health crisis, relationship crisis, losing a job, financial reversals, etc.

What is one thing that might occur in the future that you fear? What steps have you taken to prevent it from happening or to protect yourself should it happen?

Responses might include insurance policies, changing health habits, improving job skills.

How much more secure do you feel in light of your preparations?

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People find a sense of security in different things. Some feel secure if their health is good; others feel secure if their finances are strong. Still others feel secure if they are surrounded by a loving family. Security means different things to different people. Why is there no real security to be found outside of Christ? Have the group discuss cases of biblical, historical, or current people who seemed to be secure only to find it vanish.

Because only in Christ is our eternal destiny secure. We can never be in total control of the circumstances of life.

Spiritual Awareness Lead-In In modern advanced cultures that have a history of religious tolerance, Christians begin to think that technology should be able to solve every problem we face and that suffering for our faith is a thing of the past. We grow comfortable and dread having to deal with the realities of pain and suffering. What are some difficult circumstances you probably will have to face in the future that you wish you could just ignore ?

S

piritual Awareness: An Eternal Plan

• Financial reversals • Illnesses • Accidents • Death of family members • Retirement, etc.

Allow 20-25 minutes

The passage for this study is one of the most comforting in all the Scriptures. It contains the familiar verse, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Probably everyone here has found comfort in these words at some time. The context for Romans 8:28 is in struggle, weakness, and groaning. The Christian life is very difficult, and there are times when the pressures seem unbearable. When people without an eternal perspective look at our situation, they would say it is hopeless, but when we view the same events with an eternal perspective, we can know there is a plan of redemption taking place. Our salvation is progressing regardless of what the situation is now. What is your usual emotional, physical, and spiritual response to intense pressure? By now we should recognize that the temporal world, of which our physical bodies are a part, is part of an old order that is decaying and passing away. Not only is the old order decaying, but it is also filled with people who are enemies of God who sometimes persecute Christians. During this time of trial, we can know two things that will strengthen us. First, we know God is in control and that he has chosen us to be his people and will deliver us in the end. Second, we know He loves us and nothing can separate us from his love. Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free!, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

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Bible Passage—Romans 8:28-39 Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; 30and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

31What

then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36Just as it is written, “FOR THY SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.”

37But

in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Group Discussion Questions Ask the group to read and review the passage before continuing with the session. What are the two characteristics of the people described in verse 28?

They love God and are called according to his purpose.

What do you think “the good” is that God makes all things work together to accomplish?

That we would become more Christlike, conformed to Christ’s image (verse 29).

Some people have read these verses and assumed they mean that only good things will happen to believers. What do you think about this? How do you think God can use “bad” things to accomplish his purpose in our lives?

Guide members to II Corinthians 4:16-18, I Peter 4:1-2, and I Peter 1:6-9.

The words in verses 29 and 30 (foreknew, predestined, called, jus tified, and glorified) are very strong. When we read them, we come away with a great assurance that God has not only invited us to be saved, but he has also planned for our salvation and intends for it to be accomplished. Nothing has been left to chance. Discuss the definitions of these words with the group. The definitions are on page 96 of the Facilitator’s Guide. 78

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Group Discussion Questions If you are a believer, what feelings do these words stir in you knowing that they describe God’s relationship with you? If you are a believer, God is working out his salvation in you, and the ultimate goal is for you to be conformed to the image of Christ Jesus. Jesus is the perfect representation of what mankind was supposed to be, and we have been chosen by God to become as he is. Who is in control of the events in this passage? How does that make you feel?

Clearly, God is in control.

Why do you think the efforts of the believer are not even mentioned once?

Because there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. Our best efforts will always fail, and there is no security for us outside of God’s faithfulness to us.

There are plenty of forces at work against us such as the world, the flesh, the devil, and persecutors, to name a few. We will suffer in this world, and some of us will even be killed for our faith. In view of this, what does verse 31 mean? God is committed to loving us, and he will not stop short of bringing about our full redemption and “freely give us all things.” He has already given His own son to die in our place, so there can be no doubt that He will give us everything else He has promised.

There is no reason for despair—if God is working this way in our lives, nothing can prevent him from saving us.

There may be disagreement among Christians about how a person becomes one of the elect or how or why they are chosen by God, but there can be no disagreement that the elect (people who are in Christ) are free from condemnation. When someone attempts to condemn a believer, who are they contradicting?

Anyone who accuses God’s elect ultimately ends up accusing God. The account is settled with God, so the account is settled period.

Think for a few moments about the feelings you have about God. Of the three persons in the Trinity—Father, Son, and Spirit— which do you: • Feel loves you more? • Feel understands you best? • Feel is more likely to discipline you? • Fear the most? Some people think God the Father wants to destroy us but Jesus intervenes to save us with the Father’s reluctant approval. Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free!, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

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Group Discussion Questions Why do you think that some people feel this way? This view of God may seem to be true, but it is not accurate.

Maybe this is because in families the fathers tend to be more feared than other authority figures.

Have the group read John 3:16-18. By sending His Son, God initiated our salvation. God loves us and has planned for our salvation whether we are relating to him as Father, Son, or Spirit. One does not love us more than another. Christ is at the right hand of God interceding for us. Is He there to protect us from an angry God who wants to annihilate us? No, He is there as our representative, a testimony that the debt of sin has been paid. Who would ever come before God and declare us guilty with Christ, the Lamb of God, standing there? His death and resurrection are testimony that the debt is paid, so who would dare lay a charge against God’s elect? If God does not condemn us, then there is nobody who is able to condemn us. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” is the question that marks the high point of this passage. The answer to this question is nobody or nothing. Do you feel you are in God’s favor when things are going well for you and out of his favor when you are suffering hardships? What is the truth about our relationship to God when facing hardship?

Suffering tremendous hardship is not a sign of God’s lack of love for us.

Christ is the creator of all things, and there is nothing that will happen to us in this creation that will be stronger than his bond to us. Verse 36 refers back to Psalm 44:17-26. Take a moment and read this passage with the group. Who do the people in this Psalm blame for their troubles?

What gives them hope that they can still trust in God even though their circumstances seem to tell them they cannot?

For no apparent reason, the Israelites had been defeated, and they were perplexed, accusing God of deserting them. They hold fast to the covenant love of God in Psalm 44:26.

If you were suffering right now any of the circumstances mentioned in verse 35 (tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword), would your reaction be more like the quote in verse 36 or more like the attitude expressed in verse 37? The reality of the Christian life is that even when the suffering makes no sense and it seems as if God is far away, nothing is going to separate us from the love of Christ.

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A

pplication: Whom Shall I Fear?

Allow 20 minutes

In this section of Scripture there is an overwhelming sense of security. We are secure in our salvation because it is part of God’s sovereign plan, and nothing can prevent his plan from happening. We are secure because God is the only one who can condemn us, and he has declared us not guilty. We are secure because God has determined that he will never stop loving us, and nothing could ever happen to make him change his mind. When you look at everything through an eternal perspective, the only thing you have to fear is God, and he has chosen to be our friend. Of the list of adversaries in verse 35 and verses 38-39, which ones do you fear the most? Is there anything, whether listed here or not, that you fear could possibly separate you from God’s love? What power do you have to resist any of the adversaries in verse 35 and verses 38-39? When any of these should come against us and overwhelm or attempt to kill us, would it be wrong for us to be afraid? What place does fear have in the heart of a believer? How can it be overcome? Verse 37 declares that even when we are overwhelmed, we are literally hyperconquerors. Our present circumstances do not represent our real state and destiny. How do the experiences of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross illustrate what we can learn from this passage?

Jesus in Gethsemane felt human revulsion to what was coming his way, and to the outside observer, the last days of his life looked like an overwhelming defeat. However, God was in control of the events, and though it seemed that Jesus was defeated by death, the events were not as they appeared to be—he was in reality conquering sin and death.

Closing Prayer

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13 Completely Dedicated to

Session

God’s Wi l l

I

Allow 10 minutes

ntroduction Opening Prayer

Sharing Question Share with the group how your convictions have changed about what is right and wrong as you have grown older. What impact have these changes had on your behavior?

This opening exercise is designed to encourage supportive and affirming interaction among the group. Encourage each one to respond.

Have these changes been for the best?

S

elf–Awareness: Perspective

Allow 20-25 minutes

When you are elevated high above everything around you, perhaps in an airplane, on a mountain, or on a road with a beautiful view, you enjoy a perspective on your surroundings that you could never know from a lower height. Share with the group a memory of a view you enjoyed from a high place. When we are caught up in the business of daily living, we can lose sight of the scope and glory of our salvation. Our focus in life becomes so narrow that we forget to enjoy the promise of our part in God’s eternal plan. What is happening in your life that keeps you so preoccupied that you often forget to rejoice in your salvation? Seeing the whole picture inspires Christians to worship God. It just is not possible to know and understand what God has done for us without being inspired to worship. The book of Romans has brought us to a place where the view of life is breathtaking, and we are left in awe of the One who has made this possible. The only reasonable response is to worship Him. 82

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Share with the group a meaningful time of worship you have enjoyed. What inspired it?

Spiritual Awareness Lead-In To receive any benefit from a higher perspective, we have to raise our heads and look around from time to time. It is not enough just to know the truth and store it somewhere in the back of our minds, but we have to believe it is true and act as if it is true. Only then will we benefit from the new perspective. What can you do as a daily habit to help you “look up” and see the world from God’s eternal perspective?

S

piritual Awareness: Logical Choices

Allow 20-25 minutes

Once we are aware of what our salvation means, we have a breathtaking perspective on life. The gift God has given us is so unspeakably wonderful that it defies description. Given a lifetime to investigate its wonders, we could never fathom all that has happened to us. In view of God’s great plan of salvation of which we are a part, our response is to actively present our bodies to Him as a living and holy (set apart to God) sacrifice. We offer ourselves as sacrifices to God because we recognize we have nothing that is good except what he has given us. Sacrifice is a common element of worship in most religions. It may be the ritual killing of animals, offerings of food or flowers, hurting one’s self to prove devotion, or denying self through extremes of physical discomfort, fasting, and prayer. Some people look at Christianity and say, “That is too easy.” How would you respond to them? Our worship calls for radical transformation. We no longer fit comfortably with the values of those who are not redeemed. The more we are transformed, the less comfortable we become. This should not make us withdraw from society, but instead our sacrificial worship motivates us to serve God by relating to others in unselfish love that reflects how God has related to us.

That salvation is a gift of God’s grace from beginning to end. We can never earn it, but when we come to Christ, we are required to surrender our lives to his lordship, giving ourselves completely to him.

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Bible Passage—Romans 12:1-21 Romans 12:1 I URGE you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a liv-

ing and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

3For

through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. 4For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exer cise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith 7if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

9Let

love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 11not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, 13contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. 14Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. 20“BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS UPON HIS HEAD.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Group Discussion Questions Ask the group to read and review the passage before continuing with the session. Ask for a volunteer to read verses 1-2. If the Apostle Paul were here with us in this group speaking these words, what do you imagine his body language and tone of voice would be?

There would be urgency in his appeal.

The word urge that is used in verse 1 is a strong word translated in some versions as beseech or appeal. It is a call to take action and not just give mental assent to facts.

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What does he appeal to that would motivate us to take action(verse 2)?

The mercies of God—the great plan of salvation he has given us demands a response.

What is the appropriate response to God when we understand his love and plan for us?

To give ourselves completely to God.

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Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free!, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


Group Discussion Questions Paul describes the manner in which we are to present ourselves to God. What is the significance of each of the following descriptions on how we should present ourselves to God? • Present our bodies as a sacrifice.

A sacrifice is totally consecrated to God.

• Present our bodies as a living sacrifice.

Perpetually given to God, not a onetime action.

• Present our bodies as a holy sacrifice.

A sacrifice without blemish, the best you have to offer.

• Present our bodies as an acceptable sacrifice.

A sacrifice that pleases God.

There are many varieties of worship styles among Christians, but no matter what style you prefer in public worship, there is another type of spiritual worship that is much more important—being totally devoted and surrendered to God as is described in verse 1. In verse 2 we are told not to conform to this world. The idea here is that there is a mold we are not to conform to even though we are squeezed into it by many pressures. What are the characteristics of a person who is conformed to the world?

See Galatians 5:19-21 and Romans 1:29-31.

What pressures do you face that, if not resisted, would push you into the mold of the world?

Responses will probably include: • Temptation to sin. • Peer pressure. • Lust of the flesh.

What strategy do you use to avoid being conformed to the world? We cannot change ourselves by adjusting the externals of our lives. Real change comes from an inner transformation that results from the renewal of our minds. The result of the transformation of our inner person is that we will do what is good, acceptable, and perfect in God’s sight—we will do the will of God and not copy the selfish pattern of the world’s behaviors. Since you became a believer, what differences have you noticed in the way you think and feel? What can you do to cooperate with God in the renewal of your mind?

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Group Discussion Questions What follows in this chapter is a description of God’s will for our behavior and character. The transformation of our minds will lead to correct thinking about who we are and how we fit into God’s plan. Paul addresses this point directly by giving the Roman readers a command—“don’t think more highly of yourselves than you ought to think.” As a general rule, is your view of yourself too conceited, too humble, or fairly accurate? What do you think others would say? Which function in the list in verses 6-8 do you feel identifies your gifts and abilities? How are you using your gift to benefit the Body of Christ? In your opinion, what are the most important functions listed in verses 6-8? Does it bother you that your gifts are perhaps not what others may see as the most important? It is important that believers see themselves as parts of a whole body that function together for a common purpose. In our culture we tend to think of individual success as more praiseworthy than corporate success. We make stars of people who rise to the tops of their fields and usually neglect those who made their successes possible. Those at the top should know they are standing on the shoulders of those who have made their positions possible, and those at the base should have pride that their efforts are just as important as those getting the recognition. Read Romans 12:9-12 to the group. Do not hurry through and read with expression. There are at least 19 separate benchmarks here we can use to measure how far along we are in the transformation process taught in verses 1-2. When we measure Christian maturity, what standards do we usually use?

Let the group discuss, but common standards will be faithfulness to church, knowledge of the Bible, devotion to prayer, etc.

Have the group members read this list again and ask them to select three qualities in this list they see working in their lives and three qualities that need to be developed. Allow them to share these with the group. When we measure our Christian maturity by these standards rather than the more superficial standards often applied, we see that all of us have much room to grow, and we can avoid the pride that pollutes the mind of a Christian. 86

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A

pplication: Taking Action

Allow 20 minutes

This study ends with very practical exhortations that confirm to us we are to be different from those who are not redeemed. As we said in the beginning, the goal of this group is not just to attain knowledge, but it is to help us be transformed into people who reflect the image of Christ. Christians make a terrible mistake when they think it is more important to know and believe what God has revealed than it is to obey what he commands us to do. Knowing and believing are extremely important, but unless they are followed by a transformation of our character, they are not worth very much. Let each member share with the group some of the important lessons learned from this study and how these have impacted his or her life. I hope this study has helped you to understand that God’s power is at work in us every moment and that we have been transformed from spiritually dead enemies of God to people who are now his most treasured possession. As such, we are Completely Free!—free from sin’s slavery, free from condemnation, and free from the fear of failure. Salvation is God’s work; responding in love and faith to his grace is ours.

Closing Prayer

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Facilitator Helps These pages will help you prepare to lead the Completely Free! Group. Please be aware that the Self-Awareness and Application questions are the same in the member and facilitator guides. The Spiritual Awareness questions are not always the same in both books because they are designed to help members study the Bible on their own in preparation for this group. Read this passage carefully several times, then read it again with a pencil in your hand. • Underline words that are repeated or seem important and write them down in the column to the right. • Circle any words you do not understand. Write them down in the column to the right—then find the definition in a bible dictionary. • Describe in one word the emotion that is present in the passage. • Write down any warnings or commands you find in this passage. • Write down any actions you are encouraged to take in this passage. • List any other observations you make about this passage. • List any questions you have about this passage. • Outline the thoughts in this passage. • Paraphrase this passage, putting it into your own words Members are also asked to answer other specific questions that may not be the same as the questions in the Facilitator’s Guide. These specific questions are listed in the help section.

Facilitator Helps for Session 2 Goal of this Session In this session we will analyze self-destructive behaviors and take a look at our own harmful behaviors. We will discover that humanity has become separated from God, deluded in its thinking, trapped in self-destructive behaviors, and is on a path to total ruin. This is because we have rejected God and his truth.

Definitions WRATH – God’s determination to punish sin. This is different from mere human anger. It comes from God’s justice and holiness, not from a need for revenge. IMPURITY – Sexual impurity; immoral behaviors. DEGRADING PASSIONS – Passions that, when satisfied, lead to a loss of dignity. DEPRAVED MIND – A worthless mind, a mind set on justifying immoral behavior.

Specific questions asked in the Group Member’s Guide Session 2 1. Romans 1:16-18. Do you notice a mood change when you compare verses 16-17 to the rest of chapter 1? If so, describe the change. 2. Romans 1:18. Is God’s wrath something to be feared while we are living or just when we face his judgment after death? 3. Romans 1:18-23. What provokes God’s wrath? 4. Romans 1:20. How can people know God exists when they cannot see him? 5. Romans 1:21-27. There are three exchanges made in these verses. What are they? 6. Romans 1:21-25. How are these first two exchanges similar? 7. Romans 1:27-28. Is this third exchange a result of the first two? Why? 8. Romans 1:26-27. How are the activities in these verses described? 9. Romans 1:21 and 28. Why is it dangerous to reject God and refuse to worship him? 10. Romans 1:28-32. What are the characteristics of a person with a depraved mind? 11. Romans 1:18-32. Did these people expect to find freedom when they rejected God? What did they find? 12. Romans 1:18-32. Is God still in control of these people? Why? 13. Romans 1:18-32. Does God reveal his wrath by giving them over to sin and letting them feel its consequences? 14. Romans 1:32. Why do you think these people persisted in sin when they knew they were wrong?

Understand the Concepts In the verses we are studying this week, the Apostle Paul begins his argument that every person needs to be reconciled to God. He will continue with this argument for several chapters. In this passage he makes the case that the pagans of the world have refused to worship God and created their own gods so they could be free to behave in any way they choose. As he describes these people, he refers to them as “they.” He is not accusing the people reading this letter of being like the people he is describing, at least not yet. Romans 1:18-32 shows that the result of refusing to worship and honor God is a progressive bondage to sin and its consequences. We will never worship and honor God as long as we consider ourselves his equal. This determination to consider ourselves as God’s equal was demonstrated in the very first few chapters of the Bible. In Genesis 3, Satan deceived Eve by suggesting to her that she could be equal to God if she would refuse to submit to God’s authority. She believed this lie, and then Adam followed her example and disobeyed God’s commandment. This first rebellion against God’s authority changed the world forever and brought disaster to every human who has lived since then. As you read these verses, be sure to notice that rejecting God’s authority results in moral blindness and bondage to sinful, destructive behaviors and attitudes. In the group session this week, we want to discuss this relationship. People today engage in self-destructive patterns of behaviors and have no idea what drives them to their ruin. Societies today are refusing to worship and honor God, and they are decaying from the inside out. All of this destruction and decay are driven by forces that are described in this passage, but people who do not want to submit to God’s authority cannot recognize this truth. 88

Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P.O.Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


Our first challenge in being Completely Free is to recognize that rejecting God’s truth has destructive consequences. When we reject God, we become rebels; when we suffer the consequences of our choices, we cannot consider ourselves as victims of anything but our own choices. If we persist in rebellion long enough, we will lose the ability to distinguish right from wrong. If we are to be delivered from this madness, we will have to come back humbly to God on his terms, honoring him as God and making ourselves accountable to him.

Facilitator Helps for Session 3 Goal of This Session In this session we will explore how we tend to excuse our faults while condemning other people. We will see that God is an impartial judge of all people, but our delusion leads us to believe that others deser ve punishment and somehow we will escape. We will begin to see ourselves as God sees us and confront our own hypocrisy.

Definitions JEW – A person of the Jewish faith. GREEK – In this passage it is a figurative term, referring to non-Jews. THE LAW – God’s standard of righteousness which everyone is obligated to obey. CIRCUMCISION – A surgical mark on the male body that to the Jew symbolized a commitment to God.

Specific questions asked in the Group Member’s Guide Session 3 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.

Romans 2:1-29. What tone of voice do you imagine Paul would use if speaking these words out loud? Romans 2:2-6. How does judging others while excusing ourselves for doing the same things show contempt for God? Romans 2:4. Why do you think God seems not to judge some sins immediately? What wrong conclusions do some people reach because of this delay in judgment? Romans 2:1-16. List five attitudes or actions that expose us to greater wrath. Romans 2:7. Do you think anyone can earn e t e rnal life by following the guidelines in this verse? Romans 2:12. Are those who do not have the Law blameless before God? Why? Romans 2:12. What is the verb that describes the destiny of those who die without the Law? Romans 2:16; I Corinthians 4:3-5. What does verse 16 tell us will be judged? Compare this verse with the I Corinthians passage. How will our secrets be judged? Romans 2:17-24. List some of the positive descriptions the Jews used to characterize themselves. Romans 2:21-23. What word would you use to describe people who live like this? Romans 2:21-23. What impact do people who live like this have on others? Romans 2:25-29. What error would you say the Jews made in their understanding of circumcision? Romans 2:12-24. What did Paul mean by this statement?

Understand the Concepts This passage exposes our hypocrisy when we excuse our own failures while condemning others for the same sins. When Paul described the people in Chapter 1 as “they,” he was saying that those types of people deser ved whatever punishment came their way. Most readers of this letter would agree with him. Now Paul begins the next phase of his argument by telling the readers of this letter that they need God’s mercy just as much as the people in Chapter 1. His remarks are now addressed to “you,” and His audience is about to be confronted with their own hypocrisy. Paul argues that if anyone looks at others and judges them, that person also judges himself because ever yone is guilty of sin. God’s judgment is based on absolute truth, but our judgments are based on a distorted perspective that tends to excuse our sin while condemning others. We are all exposed to God’s judgment, and just because his judgment is not immediate does not mean it is not going to happen. The reason God shows us kindness, tolerance, and patience is to lead us toward repentance. Some people think that if they know and agree with God’s Law, they have a special relationship with God that exempts them from living by the rules themselves. The Jews developed this attitude. The Jews bragged about their relationship to God and felt they could instruct the world because they knew the Law of God; however, they were not able to live by the Law themselves. Their hypocrisy brought reproach on God’s name. The point is that we will always be hypocritical when we are trying to follow an external rule. We will always fall short of the mark, and then we will try to find reasons why God will make an exception for us. Paul is trying to get his readers to understand they, too, are exposed to God’s wrath just as are the people described in Chapter 1. Hypocrisy may make people feel better about themselves, but it is not going to shield them from God’s judgment. If we are going to be Completely Free! we cannot remain in the delusion that we do not need God’s grace and mercy. If we do not see that we need God’s mercy as desperately as anyone else, we will continue in the false security that hypocrisy provides—and we will suffer the same wrath as those we would consider to be truly horrible sinners.

Facilitator Helps for Session 4 Goal of This Session In this session we will establish that everyone is in need of God’s forgiveness. We will see that regardless of our religious heritage, no person can take a right relationship with God for granted. We will see how grossly wicked humans are apart from God and understand that the purpose of God’s Law is to convince us of our sin. We want to come to the place where members become conscious of and convinced of their own sins. Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P.O.Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

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Definitions ORACLES – The words of God. UNRIGHTEOUSNESS – Wickedness. ACCOUNTABLE TO GOD – Convinced of guilt, knowing punishment is deserved. JUSTIFIED – To be considered by God to be righteous and not under his condemnation.

Specific questions asked in the Group Member’s Guide Session 4 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.

Romans 3:1-2. What advantage did the Jew have over the Gentile? Romans 3:3-4. Does the fact that some people are unfaithful to God mean that God will be unfaithful to his promises? Why? Romans 3:5. Put this verse into your own words. Romans 3:5. When a diamond is placed on a black velvet surface, the contrast makes the diamond even more beautiful. Does the fact that we are so unrighteous make God’s righteousness shine even brighter? Romans 2:24. How does our unrighteousness bring reproach on God? Romans 3:7-8. Have you ever known anyone to use this argument? Romans 1:18-31. Why would Jews think they were better than the Gentiles described in this passage? Romans 2:17-24. Why would Gentiles think they were better than the Jews described in this verse? Romans 1: 18-31 and 2:17-24. Which group would you say is better? Romans 3:9. What is the point Paul has been leading up to with his descriptions of both Gentiles and Jews? Romans 3:11-18. Do these words describe Jews or Gentiles? Why? Romans 3:19-20. Why is it not possible to be declared righteous in God’s sight by observing the Law? Romans 3:19-20. What is the purpose of the Law?

Understand the Concepts In the last session we read how Paul accused the Jews of hypocrisy and showed how they were exposed to God’s wrath. He realizes that after reading Chapter 2, some people might think there was no benefit in being a Jew. He shows that the Jews had many advantages because they had the writings of the Old Testament and knew what God expected of them. Another objection Paul believes people will raise is that even if the Jews were unfaithful to God, their unfaithfulness would not release God from his promises to them. They would argue that their sin provided a contrast to God’s holiness which made him look even more righteous, and so their sin brought glory to God. Paul agrees with them that God will never break his promises, but he disagrees that the Jews were glorifying God in their unfaithfulness and would be exempt from punishment. If their belief was true, then God could never punish anyone for their sin, and we should all do evil so good could come of it. Clearly this belief is ridiculous. Paul’s conclusion is found in verse nine in that every person is a sinner, and he gives a series of quotations from the Old Testament to make his point. After these verses, Paul states that the purpose of the Law is not to make anyone righteous, but rather it was given to make us all conscious of our sin and to let us know we are accountable to God for what we do. As strange as it may seem to us, in order to be Completely Free! we have to admit that we are completely condemned by the Law of God and are accountable to him for our sin. It is the Law that exposes our sin and shows us how much we need forgiveness. Without this knowledge, we would continue to justify, excuse, and deny our sin.

Facilitator Helps for Session 5 Goal of This Session This session establishes the fact that even though every human is under the sentence of death, God’s judgment on us has been satisfied by the death of Christ as our substitute and representative. The only way to have God’s forgiveness is to trust God that Jesus suffered and died in our place. God considers us righteous in his sight when we trust that Christ died in our place. We want to understand the difference between trying to earn God’s forgiveness and simply trusting in his promise. It is essential to see that faith has always been the way man is to please God, as illustrated in the life of Abraham. Finally, we want to evaluate our own faith to determine if we are trusting God for salvation or trusting in our performance.

Definitions RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD – The condition of man that is the result of God’s provision of salvation in Christ. See Philippians 3:9 and II Corinthians 5:21. It is a gift and not earned by human effort. REDEMPTION – To be “bought back.” We are redeemed from God’s wrath because of the payment made by Christ’s death. His death paid for our sin and unrighteousness. See Ephesians 1:7 and Colossians 1:14. PROPITIATION – A sacrifice that turns God’s wrath away from the sinner. RECKONED – A term which means that righteousness is credited to us or imputed to us. It is given to us and not earned by our performance. PROMISE – God’s assurance to Abraham that he and his descendants would inherit the world. GRACE – The favor and kindness of God shown to sinful, rebellious humanity that is totally unearned and undeserved.

Specific questions asked in the Group Member’s Guide Session 5 1. Romans 3:21-24. What is the source of righteousness? How is righteousness received? What relationship does this righteousness have to the Law? 2. Romans 3:23. Who can be righteous in God’s sight on their own merit? 3. Romans 3:25. What is a propitiation? (Hint: Look at some other translations.) 4. Romans 3:25-26. How does the death of Christ demonstrate God’s righteousness in the past and present? 5. Romans 3:27-30. How does the death of Christ affect our pride? 90

Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P.O.Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


6. Romans 4:1-3. What did Abraham do to be acceptable to God? 7. Romans 4:3-5. If we could earn our salvation would it then be a gift? Why? 8. Romans 4:6-8, Psalm 32:1-2. These verses in Romans are a quote from Psalm 32. What did David do to earn God’s salvation? 9. Romans 4:9-16. Was Abraham counted righteous before or after he was circumcised? Why is the order of these events important? 10. Romans 4:16. According to this verse, who are the descendants of Abraham? 11. Romans 4:17-21. Why was Abraham’s faith so extraordinary? 12. Romans 4:21. What was the focus of Abraham’s faith? 13. Romans 4:18-22. What was the outcome of Abraham’s faith? 14. Romans 4:23-25. What Does God ask us to believe in order to be counted righteous?

Understand the Concepts This passage is one of the most important passages in Scripture and deserves careful and continual study. Everyone has sinned and is in need of salvation. Christ’s death was the payment for sin that was necessary to buy us back from the penalty of God’s wrath. His death was a sacrifice of atonement that turned God’s wrath away from us, and Christ’s death totally satisfied God’s justice. By expressing trust in God for our salvation, we are declared righteous in his sight because Christ has paid the penalty of our sin. Believing God has always been the means of being accepted by him, is shown by the life of Abraham, thus the doctrine of justification by faith alone is an Old Testament doctrine as well as a New Testament doctrine. Only God could have fulfilled the promise given to Abraham that he and his descendants would enjoy the blessings of God forever. Abraham and Sarah could have no descendants because they were too old. They could do nothing to make it happen, and yet they believed God would keep his promise. God kept his promise, and all the credit went to God for making the impossible happen. This has always been the way of pleasing God. In the same way, God gives us salvation. We cannot deserve it by observing religious duties or earn it by keeping the Law, but we receive it by believing that God has done for us what we cannot do for ourselves; that is, making us righteous through the death and resurrection of Christ. The death of Jesus as a sacrifice for our sin paid the penalty for our sin and makes it possible for God to consider us righteous because Christ has satisfied the requirements of divine justice that sin be punished. God did this for us out of his grace; we did nothing to earn this precious gift. This makes it possible for us to live in relationship with God and for the Law of God to be upheld. God has always accepted humans on the basis of their faith in him and not on the basis of their religious activity. Abraham’s life is an example of how we are not accepted by keeping the law or religious ritual, but rather we are accepted by trusting God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. God has promised to forgive our sins, and he has made it possible through the death and resurrection of Christ.

Facilitator Helps for Session 6 Goal of This Session In this session we will examine the results of being justified by God. We will explore the implications of being at peace with God and gain a sense of security about our relationship with him even when we are facing severe adversity. We will see that God’s love is greater than any human love could ever be and why we can have complete confidence in our salvation.

Definitions PEACE – More than the absence of conflict or a feeling, it is a state where we do not live under the dread of God’s judgment. God is at peace with us, and we enjoy his blessings to us. IN HOPE OF THE GLORY OF GOD – Looking forward to all that God has provided for us to enjoy. EXULT – To rejoice, to speak of ourselves as blessed of God. RECONCILED – To have God’s enmity toward us removed and his justice satisfied.

Specific questions asked in the Group Member’s Guide Session 6 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14.

Romans 5:1. What is the reason we have peace with God? Romans 5:1. Who allows us to have peace with God? Romans 5:2. What word is used in this verse to describe our position in grace? Does this word suggest believers in Christ are in a secure place? Romans 5:2. What is the emotion we experience as we find ourselves at peace with God and secure in his grace? Romans 5:3. How does enduring tribulation bring perseverance? Romans 5:4. How does perseverance bring proven character? Romans 5:4. How does proven character lead to hope? Romans 5:5. What assurance do Christians have that their hope will not be disappointed? Romans 5:6. How are we described in this verse? Why does Paul use this word? Romans 5:7-10. What is so utterly amazing about what God did for us? Romans 5:9-10. The words “much more” are used twice in these verses. What point is the Apostle trying to make? Romans 5:1-11. This passage uses the word “exult” three times. What are the occasions for our rejoicing? Romans 5:6-11. Who made the first move in the reconciliation of man to God? Why is this important? Romans 5:10-11. What has made our reconciliation to God possible?

Understand the Concepts In the last session we saw that the death of Christ makes it possible for us to be acceptable to God, and that it is through faith in Christ we are justified. When we are justified, we move into a relationship of peace with God, and we cease being Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

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his enemies. When we stand in grace as a result of our faith in Christ, we realize how blessed we are and how blessed we will continue to be in the future. It is natural for us to rejoice in this knowledge. This reality gives us a new perspective on our sufferings. Suffering is not inconsistent with enjoying God’s blessings, and every believer can expect suffering as a result of being identified with Christ. When we suffer, we can be assured that God is working in us. He uses the suffering to build into us perseverance, character, and hope. The pressures we face will make us stronger in our faith and work to make us more Christ-like. Knowing that Christ died for our sins before we ever loved him gives us great confidence in his love. He died for us while we were his enemies making it possible for us to come to him. Since this is true, we are much more secure in Him knowing He is now our friend. Instead of being the objects of His wrath, we are now the objects of His affection. We are justified because of Christ’s death, and that resulted in God’s being at peace with us. Christ rose from the dead, and he lives today in the closest possible union with believers. If His death was powerful enough to bring us salvation, how much more powerful is His life to bring blessing and salvation to His people. When we understand we are completely at peace with God, we can enjoy the freedom of living in God’s grace.

Facilitator Helps for Session 7 Goal of This Session In this session we will explore the impact that the sin of Adam has had on all humanity and come to appreciate how much greater the impact of Christ’s obedience is. We will explore how these two men represent all people and that we either belong to the race of Adam as a result of our natural birth or to the race of Christ because of our new birth.

Definitions

SIN – Here it means more than an act of disobedience. It is the corrupting influence that polluted all humanity as a result of Adam’s rebellion. Sin makes it impossible for any natural human to be righteous. DEATH – The punishment for sin which includes spiritual separation from God and physical death. Every human outside of Christ is spiritually dead and sentenced to physical and eternal death. TRANSGRESSION – The meaning is to leave the path. It means to go where you should not go. CONDEMNATION – The passing of a guilty sentence by a judge which, in this case, results in the death penalty.

Specific questions asked in the Group Member’s Guide Session 7 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14.

Romans 5:12. Who is without sin? Romans 5:13. In the span of time between Adam and about 1200 B.C. when God revealed the Law to Moses: Was there sin in the world? Romans 5:13. In the span of time between Adam and about 1200 B.C. when God revealed the Law to Moses: Was sin taken into account? Romans 5:14. In the span of time between Adam and about 1200 B.C. when God revealed the Law to Moses: Did death come to everyone who lived? Romans 5:14. In the span of time between Adam and about 1200 B.C. when God revealed the Law to Moses: Did everyone die, even those who did not break a specific command? Romans 5:16. In the span of time between Adam and about 1200 B.C. when God revealed the Law to Moses: Was everyone under God’s condemnation? Romans 5:19. In the span of time between Adam and about 1200 B.C. when God revealed the Law to Moses: Was everyone considered a sinner? Romans 5:20. What was the purpose of the Law? Romans 5:15. In this verse, how is the transgression different from God’s gift of grace? Romans 5:16. In this verse, how is the transgression different from God’s gift of grace? Romans 5:17. In this verse, how is the transgression different from God’s gift of grace? Romans 5:18. In this verse, how is the transgression different from God’s gift of grace? Romans 5:19. In this verse, how is the transgression different from God’s gift of grace? Romans 5:20-21. How is the power of grace greater than the power of sin and death?

Understand the Concepts Last week we studied how justification by faith in Christ brings us peace with God. This peace is secure because if God loved us when we were his enemies, how much more will he love us now that we are his friends. This session’s passage is very challenging to understand because the wording is difficult for us to unravel. As a result, there are many interpretations of this passage. The main concept that appears here is the contrast of the horrible consequences of Adam’s transgression to the wonderful benefits of Christ’s righteous obedience. Every person alive is either living under the condemnation that came from Adam’s rebellion against God or enjoying the justification and peace with God that came as a result of Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross. There are no other options. We are descended from Adam when we are born as humans. We inherit from him the certainty that we are sinful, and as a result, we are dead spiritually and will die physically. Our identity is in Adam. When we accept the gift of salvation that God provides through faith in Christ, we are no longer identified with Adam and his sin and death. Instead, we are identified with Christ, and we are considered to have his righteousness and enter into eternal life. When we are identified with Christ instead of Adam, we are Completely Free! from the sinful identity we inherited from Adam.

Facilitator Helps for Session 8 Goal of This Session In this session we will see that in Christ we are free from sin’s cruel slavery and have now become eager slaves to righteousness. We will explore how the “old self” died with Christ on the cross and how we now walk in newness of life as a result of Christ’s resurrection. We will be encouraged to commit to living a righteous life. 92

Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P. O. Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


Definitions “MAY IT NEVER BE!” – Paul’s way of saying, “How absurd!” or “That’s stupid!” UNITED – Fused together as two edges of a wound bond as they heal or two ends of a bone knit together as it heals. LUSTS – Evil desires for something forbidden. MEMBERS – The parts of a person.

Specific questions asked in the Group Member’s Guide Session 8

1. Romans 6:1. Why would the Apostle Paul ask the question in verse 1 and give such a strong response in verse 2? (Hint: Look again at 5:18-21.) 2. Romans 6:3. What does it mean to be baptized into Christ? 3. Romans 6:4. What possibility exists now for the Christian that did not exist before? 4. Romans 6:3-8. What incredible results accompany our baptism into Christ? 5. Romans 6:10-11. Since we are united to Christ in his death and since his death on the cross was in our place and we died there with him, what then is our attitude toward sin? 6. Romans 6:11-14. How do these verses answer the question posed in verse 1? 7. Romans 6:11-14. In light of these verses, is it possible for a Christian: • To sin? • To experience evil desires? • To offer parts of his body to sin? 8. Romans 6:11-14. Why does being under grace and not law make it possible that sin shall not be our master? (Also see Romans 3:19-26.) 9. Romans 6:12. What is the arena of our conflict with sin? 10. Romans 6:17-18. Slaves obey their masters. Who is the master of: • The non-Christian? • The Christian? 11. Romans 6:19. Do Christians have continuing choices to make about how they will behave? 12. Romans 6:21. Answer the question posed by this verse. 13. Romans 6:22-23. What is the benefit of being God’s slave?

Understand the Concepts Some people drew the wrong conclusion from the teaching of justification by faith. They distorted Paul’s teaching by saying that the more we sin, the more God is glorified because he gives us more grace. Paul shows the absurdity of this argument in Chapter 6. To reach this conclusion is as absurd as saying a corpse is alive. Christians are said to be baptized into Christ—that is, we enter into his sufferings and victory that he accomplished for us and as us. When Christ died on the cross, he died in our place, so in a very real sense, we also died there with him. Because of this, we can say we are united with him in his death. Since we are so closely related to Christ, for us to sin is a contradiction to our ver y identity. In fact, the only reasonable conclusion is to consider ourselves cut off by death from sin. Our identity in Christ includes sharing in his life as well. We are not just cut off by death from sin, but we are also made alive to God in Christ. Just as Christ enjoys a vital union with God the Father, we in Christ have a vital union with God! Realizing the benefits of this truth requires more than mental assent and passive acceptance. We are to live out this truth by not letting sin rule in our physical bodies. We do this by refusing to allow our bodies to be obedient to sin but instead presenting our bodies to God. Before we were Christians, we were slaves to sin and had no choice; now that we are Completely Free!, we have the power and right to refuse to serve sin and instead serve God as his servant. Sin is a cruel master, rewarding its subjects with death. God is a loving master, giving life freely to those who choose to serve him.

Facilitator Helps for Session 9 Goal of This Session In this session we will see why it is common for many people to be so utterly frustrated in trying to live a righteous life. They feel as if they are in a losing struggle all the time and stay defeated in their struggle with sin. We will examine this conflict and share our personal stories as well. We will see how the flesh cannot be tamed by relying on the Law.

Definitions

JURISDICTION – To be under the authority of, to be obligated to obey. The same word is used in Romans 6:14, “Sin shall not be master over you.” “IN THE FLESH” – Our condition before salvation when we were only of Adam’s race. “I AM OF FLESH” – I have a body of flesh that is still corruptible.

Specific questions asked in the Group Member’s Guide Session 9 1. Romans 7:1-3. Does the example in these verses illustrate the relationship of a person to the Law before or after coming to Christ? 2. Romans 7:4. What is our current relationship to the Law, and how did it come to be this way? 3. Romans 7:4b. What is the outcome of this new relationship? 4. Romans 7:5. Does this verse describe a Christian? 5. Romans 7:4, 6. To what have we died, and what is the result? 6. Romans 7:7. What good purpose does the Law ser ve? 7. Romans 7:5, 8. How does sin use the Law? 8. Romans 7:11; Genesis 3:1-5. How does sin deceive a person? 9. Romans 7:13. How does the Law expose the true nature of sin? 10. Romans 7:14-18. How does Paul describe himself in these verses? Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P.O.Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

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11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17.

Romans 7:18, 19, 21, 22. What does he want to do? Romans 7:15, 16, 18, 19, 23. What does he end up doing? Romans 7:14, 17, 18, 20, 21, 23. What is the cause of this struggle? Romans 7:15, 24. What does he feel? Romans 7:24. What does he need? Romans 7:25. What is the answer to his struggle? Romans 7:25. How does he summarize this struggle?

Understand the Concepts This portion of Scripture has been the source of centuries of debate. The debate is whether verses 14-25 describe the predicament of a believer or a nonbeliever. Readers of this passage are left with the question of whether Paul is speaking of his experience before he was converted or after he came to Christ. You are likely to have different opinions in your group. As always, keep the group on track and avoid debate over issues that could get the group off task. The main point of Chapter 7 is that just as the believer has died to sin and death because of his union with Christ, the believer has also died to the Law. This does not mean the Law of God serves no purpose, nor does it mean we are exempt from its demands. What it means is that in Christ—because of our identification with him, we have fulfilled its requirements through his sinless life and sacrifice for our sin. The Law tells us what is right, but it gives us no ability to do what is right. In Chapter 6, we noticed that when Christ died for us we also died to sin and were raised to new life. In Chapter 7, we discover how sin used the Law to bring us to death and how Christ has brought us into a new relationship in which we are dead to the Law but alive in him. If we are not alive in Christ, then we are condemned by the Law. Without Christ, a person is doomed to sin because sin uses the Law of God to stir up the desire to disobey, and the result of this disobedience is that we are condemned to death. In reading this passage, notice how sin uses the Law to bind people to sin and death. It does this through arousing our passions to disobey and by deceiving us. No matter which view you take in the interpretation of Chapter 7, one thing is clear. It is impossible to win the struggle against sin on your own. Before a person comes to Christ, he is under the authority of the Law of God, and sin will use that opportunity to kill him by enticing him to break God’s commandments. After a person comes to Christ, if he tries to defeat sin using only will-power and human determination, that person also will face constant defeat. This is a fact of human existence that replays countless times in the lives of many frustrated people. As you study this passage, notice that the greatest frustration is expressed is where the word “I” occurs the most. This person is struggling with the desire to serve God and at the same time is being defeated constantly. As long as we live in a mortal body, we will have the potential of sinning and will feel the pull of sin. To many believers, the experience of being defeated by sin causes them to lose hope. The despair is lifted only when our attention is turned away from the combat in and with the flesh and is focused on what Christ has done for us.

Facilitator Helps for Session 10 Goal of This Session This session will show that although the struggle with the flesh is real, there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ. We will see the freedom we have from the law of sin and death because of the death of Christ. We will learn to recognize the work of the Spirit of God in our lives and to live as people with no obligation to the flesh.

Definitions ACCORDING TO THE FLESH – This describes a person who is not a new creation in Christ but is only governed by his fallen nature. He is not in Christ but remains solely in Adam. ACCORDING TO THE SPIRIT – This describes a person who is a new creation in Christ and, as such, is led by the Spirit of God. He still lives in a mortal body, but he is alive to God.

Specific questions asked in the Group Member’s Guide Session 10 1. Romans 8:1-13. How many times is the Holy Spirit mentioned in these verses? 2. Romans 8:1. What is the promise to “those who are in Christ Jesus”? 3. Romans 8:2-4. How did God solve the dilemma that Paul describes in Romans 7:24? • Verse 3. He sent … • Verse 3. To be… • Verse 3. With the result… • Verse 4. In order that… 4. Romans 8:5-8. Describe the mind of the sinful man as contrasted to the mind controlled by the Spirit. 5. Romans 8:6-7. If you are a Christian, do you feel afraid that you might be a person whose mind is set on the sinful nature? 6. Romans 8:9. How do we know we are not controlled by the sinful nature? 7. Romans 8:10. Is there any way our bodies can escape the sentence of death? 8. Romans 8:10. Will our spirit ever die? 9. Romans 8:11. What will happen to our mortal bodies? 10. Romans 8:12. Why do we have no obligation to live according to the flesh? Use Romans 8:1-12 to support your answer. 11. Romans 8:13. What is the only possible way to put to death the deeds of the body? 12. Romans 8:1-13. In Romans 7, a major theme was “the flesh,” and in the present passage “the Spirit” is the major theme. How does the mood change between Chapters 7 and 8? 13. Romans 8:1-13. Do you find an answer in this passage to the cry of Paul in Romans 7:24? 94

Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P.O.Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


Understand the Concepts This chapter gives a summary of the teachings of Romans to this point and then reveals the breathtaking implications of what God has done for us. There is a sharp contrast between Chapters 7 and 8. Chapter 7 has a somber tone through most of it, and Chapter 8 explodes with hope and glory. Chapter 7 shows the futility of trying to be righteous by obeying God’s law in our own strength. As long as we live in mortal bodies, we will be frustrated and our performance will fall short. Our only recourse is trusting Christ and resting in his righteousness. If we are “in Christ,” we are not under God’s condemnation. This does not mean we have reached a place where our actions do not deserve his condemnation; it means that believers in Christ are permanently removed from the reach of God’s condemnation because God is satisfied with the sacrifice of Christ. The reason we are not condemned is found in verse 2—we are delivered from the Law because Christ has lived a sinless life in our place and suffered a death he did not deserve but we did. In I Corinthians 15:56, the sting of death is called sin, and the power of sin is the Law. Death is a lethal predator, and it traps its victims when they sin. Sin is the poison that ensures our death, and it derives its power to kill from the presence of the Law. The Law demands the death of those who violate it; the violator is guilty of sin and so is in a figurative sense injected with a lethal toxin that will eventually kill him. To break this chain of destruction, we have to be taken out of the dangerous area where the Law has the power to demand our death. The Law could not make us acceptable to God; our flesh is too weak—so God inter vened for us because of his love and grace. Instead of condemning us, he condemned sin by paying the penalty of death by offering his perfect, sinless Son to die in our place. Because Jesus is God and without limits, his death in our place is sufficient to pay the penalty of sin for everyone who believes. Those who believe will suffer physical death because our physical bodies still belong to the old order, but one day even our bodies will be resurrected and receive life and be free of the penalty of death just as we enjoy spiritual freedom now. We are free from condemnation and free to live in friendship with God, united with him by his Spirit that lives in us. We are spiritually alive, and because of this, we owe our flesh nothing. We now live free from condemnation and are empowered by the Spirit to put to keep our bodies from cooperating with sin.

Facilitator Helps for Session 11 Goal of This Session In this session we will explore what it means to be adopted by God and how God’s Spirit assures us of our relationship with God our Father. We need this strength and assurance from God since all the world around us is in agony because of sin. Our own bodies are declining, dying, and ultimately will decay because of sin. We have been redeemed, but our physical bodies have not yet been redeemed. We will look at the implications of this truth in our lives.

Definitions

FELLOW HEIRS WITH CHRIST – Because of what God has done for us, we are promised that we will share in what Christ has received. Compare Hebrews 11:9 and John 17:22. THE REVEALING OF THE SONS OF GOD – The time when we actually receive our inheritance in full. We will have our resurrected bodies and be completely free from the world’s corruption. SLAVERY TO CORRUPTION – The universe has suffered the impact of man’s sin and so has been frustrated from its perfect functioning as God originally designed it. FIRST FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT – The presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives is the pledge that more is to come. REDEMPTION OF OUR BODY – The resurrection of our bodies to a state where they will not die or become corrupted in any way.

Specific questions asked in the Group Member’s Guide Session 11 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14.

Romans 8:14. How can you recognize a son or daughter of God? Romans 8:15. Why should a believer’s life not be based on fear? Romans 8:15-17. How is being a child of the Master a more secure relationship than being a slave of the Master? Romans 8:17. What does it mean to you to be an heir of God and a fellow heir with Christ? Romans 8:17. What is expected of us as children of the Father? Romans 8:18. Why should the expectation of 8:17 not depress us? Romans 8:19. What event do we along with all creation eagerly await? Romans 8:20-21. Why does creation long for this event? Romans 8:21. What will happen when believers are finally revealed as the sons of God? Romans 8:22-23. How is waiting for the redemption of our bodies similar to suffering the pains of childbirth? Romans 8:23-25. Is there more to our salvation than what we have already experienced? If so, what is it? Romans 8:24-25. What sustains us in our period of waiting? Romans 8:26. How does the Spirit help us in our weakness? Romans 8:27. What confidence can we have knowing that the Spirit intercedes for us?

Understand the Concepts It is natural for Christians to be led by the Spirit and constantly resist and refuse the sinful impulses that still remain in them. As long as we live in our present bodies we will continue to be tempted and pulled toward sin. We have no obligation to submit to those wrong desires, but instead we are to be continually led by the Spirit of God who will guide us into a lifestyle that pleases God.

Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P.O.Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

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Christians have passed from death into life, and the power of the Law to bring death to us has been broken because of what Christ has done for us. In light of this, our concentration should not be on our performance—trying to be perfectly obedient—but our attention should be on what God has done for us, what he is doing in us, and what he promises that we will inherit. We are not acceptable to God because of what we do but because of what he has done for us. We are not to walk in fear of failure and rejection, but we should walk in confidence of acceptance as adopted sons and daughters of a God who loves us. We are now family. The Spirit of God who lives in us is a guarantee that we will one day receive the full benefits of our inheritance. The situation we are in is only temporary. It is not natural for believers to be in their present bodies that are still attached to the old, fallen creation. In fact, all of creation will be put back in its normal condition when Christ returns and we receive our new bodies. Until then, we will struggle with the spiritual battle of being in a fallen world and the physical battle of living in a body that ages and ultimately will fail. We wait in full assurance that our bodies will be changed, but that wait is not easy. Although the struggle is intense and we are weak, God’s Spirit who lives in us prays for us and teaches us to pray when we do not even know where to begin. Even when we are overwhelmed to the point that we cannot speak, we can be assured that God’s Spirit is praying for us according to God’s will.

Facilitator Helps for Session 12 Goal of This Session In this session we will grow in confidence in our salvation. Even though we are weak, God is all-powerful and has control over everything. The Christian will not be defeated by any power or adversity because Christians will never be separated from God’s love. We will ultimately overwhelmingly conquer any obstacle because of the love and commitment God has made to us.

Definitions FOREKNOW – A translation of a compound Greek word that means “to know beforehand.” PREDESTINED – Literally, this word means “to appoint beforehand.” CALLED – Here the word means more than “invited”; it means we are brought into a relationship with God. GLORIFIED – To experience the glory that God has given us a taste of now and that he intends to let us know more of in the future.

Specific questions asked in the Group Member’s Guide Session 12 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11.

Romans 8:28. In view of Romans 8:18-27, what do you think the “all things” mentioned in this verse are? Romans 8:28-30. Who is described as being in control? Romans 8:29-30. Why should these verses inspire confidence in Christians? Romans 8:29-30. Were we alive when God “foreknew” us? • Have we been glorified yet? • How long has God been at work bringing us salvation and how long will he continue? Romans 8:31. What is the logical conclusion we can reach after reading verses 28-30? Romans 8:32. What would God neglect to do for us? What gives us such confidence? Romans 8:33-35. Even though Christians may continue to struggle, why is there no reason to despair? Romans 8:33. If someone brings an accusation against those whom God has chosen, who are they really confronting? Romans 8:35-36. Are Christians exempt from extreme hardship? Romans 8:37. When any of these troubles occur, does it mean that God does not love us or that he has turned against us? Romans 8:38-39. What can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord?

Understand the Concepts Chapter 8 has been building to a height of excitement that breaks out in the glorious descriptions Paul uses in these concluding verses. In the promises of these verses we find a security in Christ that is difficult for us to comprehend. No matter what your doctrinal background, it is evident that believers experience a very secure place in the plan and love of God. Romans 8:28 is one of the best-known verses in the Bible. The idea of this text is not that everything that happens to us is good and pleasant or that in the short term we will feel good about what happens. To the contrary, Chapter 8 of Romans talks plainly about suffering in the life of a Christian. What is expressed is that God takes every circumstance and makes them work together for our eternal benefit. These verses show us God is in control and in his control we have complete security that transcends any circumstance. In verses 29-30, it is evident our salvation is no accident but rather the result of a plan that originated with God in ages past and extends into the eternal future. To be a Christian means that God has planned for your salvation, brought you into his family, and given you at this time only a taste of the glory awaiting you in the future. These verses also show us that God loves us and is completely for us; and since this is true, we never have to fear anyone, anything, or any circumstance. In this love we are completely secure, and this security is greater than any peril we can ever face. Since God is the Ruler and Judge of all, nobody has a right to condemn us if God does not condemn us. We are free from condemnation because His son, Jesus, died in our place, and God is satisfied. Jesus’s sacrifice paid once and for all our sin debt, and now his life and acceptance with God has forever settled the case against us. 96 96

Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P.O.Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127


The fact that we may face danger and difficulty does not mean that God is angry with us, nor does it mean he has forgotten and rejected us. No pain, trial, or even death can defeat us because our true existence is not tied to the bodies we live in for now. We are in reality united with God through Christ, and our home is with him. When we are through with this earthly existence, we will be completely free of this painful time. Nothing will ever separate a child of God from the love of God. It just cannot happen. God is in control. We have been in His mind and plan from the beginning, and we will be with Him forever.

Facilitator Helps for Session 13 Goal of This Session In this session we will come face-to-face with all the implications of the truth presented in the first eight chapters of Romans. Paul lays out for us the only logical course we can take once we understand what God has done for us. This is a session of self-examination and commitment to God’s will.

Definitions LIVING AND HOLY SACRIFICE – We continually offer ourselves to God, committing ourselves to his service. SPIRITUAL SERVICE OF WORSHIP – Giving ourselves to God is a logical and right response to what he has done for us. TRANSFORMED – A continuing process of change from the persons we used to be. RENEWING OF YOUR MIND – The process of changing our thinking as part of the new creation in Christ.

Specific questions asked in the Group Member’s Guide Session 13 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14.

Romans 12:1. If we understand what God has done for us, what should we be motivated to do? Romans 12:1. What are the adjectives used to describe the type of sacrifice we are to offer to God? Romans 12:1. How does this verse define true worship? Does this differ from popular concepts of worship? Romans 12:2. Are there any preconditions to being able to prove what is the will of God? Romans 12:2. How are we to be transformed into the people God wants us to be? Romans 12:3. The great theme in Romans is we are justified by faith as a result of God’s sacrifice for us. How does this truth help us keep the command given in this verse? Romans 12:4-5. Why should we value each individual Christian, especially those who are very different from ourselves? Romans 12:6. Who determines what gifts we possess and the strength of the gifts? Romans 12:6-8. Which of the gifts listed here do you feel describes the abilities God has given you? Romans 12:9-21. The first sentence tells us, “Let love be without hypocrisy.” The list that follows illustrates what sincere love looks like. Which of these examples do you find easy to reproduce sincerely in your relationships? Romans 12:9-21. Which of these illustrations are the most difficult for you to express sincerely? Romans 12:9-12. Are these illustrations of sincere love commonly found in those who are “conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2)? Romans 12:9-12. Would you agree or disagree that these verses describe a life that is committed to the will of God (Romans 12:2)? Romans 12:9-12. Look again at the list, reading each carefully. In what ways does your life display sincere love?

Understand the Concepts In this passage Paul begins to answer the question, “What difference does knowing all this make in my daily conduct?” The answer to that question fills many more chapters in the book of Romans, but for our study we will just look at Chapter 12. Believers in Christ who understand what God has done for them will gladly pursue a lifestyle of radical commitment to God. As people understand and appreciate the gift of salvation and the depths of God’s love and mercy, they have only one reasonable response—to give themselves totally to God’s service. The world we live in is opposed to God, and because of this, we are to resist the pressure to fit into the present world’s pattern. If we do nothing, we will remain just like the world we live in; however, we are told to be transformed as a continuing process into people who live out the will of God. The renewing of our minds is the key to our transformation. Paul’s prayer life was consumed with wanting people to know the riches that were theirs in Christ. Walking in this knowledge and in the light and power of the Holy Spirit totally changes our outlook on life. Our patterns of thinking become drastically diff e rent from those of the world. The continuing transformation in a believer yields a deeper understanding of God’s will and an appreciation of the wisdom of living our lives to please him. As people have a right understanding of God’s grace, justification, and all that God has done for them, they are humbled and able to think of themselves with sober judgment. If we have nothing of worth that has not been given to us, what reason do we have to be proud in ourselves? The concept of all believers together forming one body in Christ goes against our individualism. We are interdependent and function together as we are all related in Christ and led by his Spirit. When we cease to pursue our own goals and pursue the goals of Christ, we each have something to offer. Some people want to know how a Christian should conduct his life. You do not have to go beyond this chapter to get a snapshot of what Christian character is. In verses 9-13, we have very pointed and practical instructions on how we should relate to people who are our brothers and sisters in Christ and those who are outside the fellowship of believers. Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P.O.Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

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Selected Bibliography Bruce, F. F., The Epistle of Paul to the Romans, an Introduction and Commentary, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, 1963. Dunn, James D. G., Word Biblical Commentary Romans 1-8 vol. 38a, Word Books, Dallas, 1988. Haldane, Robert, An Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans, Mac Donald Publishing Company, MacDill AFB, Florida, 1958. Hodge, Charles, A Commentary on Romans, The Banner of Truth Trust, London, 1972. Lloyd-Jones, D. M., Roman—An Exposition of Chapters 7:1-8:4, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, 1974. MacArthur, John F., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Romans 1-8. Moody Press, Chicago, 1991. Olgilvie, Lloyd J., The Communicator’s Commentary, Romans. Word Books, Waco, 1982. Stott, John, The Cross of Christ, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, 1986. Wuest, Kenneth S., Romans in the Greek New Testament, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, 1973.

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Facilitator’s Guide: Completely Free! Group, Turning Point, P.O.Box 22127, Chattanooga, TN 37422-2127

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Completely Free Facilitators Guide  

This group study of Romans 1-8 and 12 helps Christians break out of the dull routine of a stagnant spiritual life. Applying the truths found...

Completely Free Facilitators Guide  

This group study of Romans 1-8 and 12 helps Christians break out of the dull routine of a stagnant spiritual life. Applying the truths found...

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