Failure and Sin
We all fail! However hard we try, we end up hurting people through words and actions. Many put up rules to try and stop bad behaviour. No matter how hard we try, in an unthinking moment, or moment of giving into our desires, we hurt others. Those we hurt go on to hurt others. The fruit of our actions spread out like ripples on a pond.
Romans 1:28-32 28 Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done.29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarrelling, deception, malicious behaviour, and gossip.30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents.31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy.32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.
- What paths have people chosen that have led to going against God?
- What behaviour results from these choices?
There are systems around us pressurising us to conform. These systems want us to do things their way. They often stand against the Lord’s way of love. As human beings we can be so immersed in them we cannot even see them. As we grow in Christ we begin to understand the ways of the world and to distance ourselves from them.
James 3:13-18 13 If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying.15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. 17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.*
- What are the underlying drives of the world and of God?
- How would you see these drives at work in your situation?
Desires, if left out of control can cause damage on all fronts. They lead into activities and attitudes that are destructive. The fact is that we enjoy them. Obviously, that is why they are desires. But the enjoyment covers up the fact that we have become their slaves. We kid ourselves when we say, we can stop any time; our consistent failure to curb them betrays us. The Bible shows that living by the Spirit of God is the only way to bring these desires into a right balance.
Romans 7:14-20 14 So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin.15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good.17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. 18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.* I want to do what is right, but I can’t.19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
- How do our desires cause us to go against God?
- Why do we sometimes seem powerless to go against them?
A key, but unseen influence in life is that of God’s enemy, the Devil. He was one of God’s chief angels who went astray and ultimately was defeated. The devil operates through introducing lies and spreading death. Though he has access to heaven, his authority is limited. As we are able to stand, we see God use His power to overcome him.
John 8:43-45 43 Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me!44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.45 So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me!.
- How does Jesus describe the devil and those people who come from him?
- How widespread is the influence of the devil, if this is the fruit of his work?
Victory In Temptation
“I can stand up to anything except temptation!” Life often presents us the things that tempt. God however, is greater than temptation and wants to help us past the traps. He does not often remove temptation, but helps us see choices and gives strength to stand. We are less driven to gratification If we are nurtured through prayer and the Bible such that we are filled with His Spirit. Temptation is not evil in itself, it is a testing ground developing character.
Temptation is not beyond anyone. With God we stand against it. 1 Corinthians 10:13
1 Corinthians 10:13 13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
- How unique are your temptations to you?
- How does God intervene in the way you are tempted?
- What is a way of escape in temptation?
Through Jesus we can find forgiveness and a new start. Free from an overwhelming sense of guilt; Clean after feeling defiled for so long; Able to live with my conscience. It is one thing to be offered forgiveness but how do we receive it? Forgiveness is not automatic. We cannot presume upon people to forgive, it is the same with God. One of the greatest obstacles to being forgiven is that we would prefer to live in denial that we have done anything wrong. 1 John 1
1 John 1:7-10 7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.
- How do we approach God and others?
- What does it mean to walk in the light?
- If forgiveness is offered, why do people claim to have no sin?
- What does it mean to be cleansed of ALL wickedness?
- On what is forgiveness based – how do we know if we are forgiven?