Once there was a survey of middle school students. At the beginning of the lesson, they were asked how well they often they obeyed the 10 Commandments, those most important of biblical rules. The answers ranged from some of the time (but more often than not) to nearly always. At the end of the lesson, they were asked again how often they obeyed the 10 Commandments. Now the answers ranged from rarely to never.
Most of the time, we think we're pretty good people. But do you really know what it means to be sinful?
(this Bible study is part of a series on repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation)
1. How would you describe sin? If you can, draw a picture of sin.
2. Check out these definitions and images of sin. Which ones help you the most to understand sin better? Which ones challenge you and how you live?
Doing bad, wrong, or evil things
Failing to do what's right
Breaking the Law or a promise
Having debt, owing something to someone else
Transgress or trespass, going somewhere we’re not supposed to go
Giving into temptation
To miss the mark or target (not hitting the bullseye)
To wander off the path, going astray
Self-curved-in-on-Self (imagine a baby in the fetal position, only worrying about themselves)
Fighting or opposing God’s Will
Anything that causes pain or injury
Not believing or not recognizing Christ
3. How often do you think you sin? Rarely? Sometimes? Often? Almost every minute of every day?
4. Read Matthew 5:21-22 and Matthew 25:41-45. How does Jesus define "murder" and "adultery"? If you have a copy of Luther's Small Catechism, read the explanations of the 10 Commandments, especially #8. How often do you think you sin now?
5. In a traditional Christian confession, we confess that we have sinned in many ways. Which ones challenge you the most when you think about your life?
In thought, word (speech), and deed (actions)
Known and unknown
By what we have done, and by what we have left undone (things we didn't do)
By not loving God with our whole heart
By not loving our neighbors as ourselves
Even by not loving ourselves
And Jesus adds by not loving our enemies
6. Read Matthew 9:10-13. By this point it should be abundantly clear that you're a sinner. What does Jesus do with sinners? Why do you think Jesus responds this way? What does it mean that God "desires mercy"?
7. Read Romans 5:6-11. Sin is a hard topic because we are all sinners. No one will come away from talking about sin without feeling guilty. As you reflect on your own life, consider this passage. What does it tell you about God? How did God address sin?
Watch just about any TV show or movie as a family. Animated suggestions might include "Brave", "Finding Nemo", "Inside Out", "Up", or "Toy Story". Live action ideas include "Avengers: Civil War", "The BFG", or any "Harry Potter" or "Chronicles of Narnia". Sports movies like "Invictus" or "Remember the Titans" also are great.
After the show, discuss:
How did each character sin?
How were those sins addressed (both by the sinner and the sinned against)?
Would there have been a better way to address those sins?