Genesis 3:8-13; Psalm 32; 130:3, 4; 1 John 1:9; 1 Timothy 4:1, 2; Matthew 26:75; Romans 8:1
Since childhood, we have all experienced varying degrees of guilt. God wants to replace our guilt with forgiveness and freedom.
Unleavened bread, grape juice, cups, napkins, paper, pencils
Connecting with the Scripture Topic
- Plan a Communion celebration with your group, reading the account of the Last Supper in Mark 14:22-26 and concluding with a hymn of your choosing. Discuss how Jesus’ death frees us from the condemnation of sin.
- Perform an improv courtroom skit with a judge, defendant, plaintiff, and jury. Pick a law that the defendant has broken. At first, have the court show absolutely no mercy to the defendant. Then switch and have the court show the kind of mercy God gives to us.
- If Jesus came and died “to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9), why do we still feel guilty sometimes?
- Thought Questions
Sharing and Receiving Scripture
Read Genesis 3:8-13. Guilt comes when we realize that we’ve done something wrong. Yet rather than acknowledging guilt, what do we often do with it?
- In our own way we hide from God by not praying, reading our Bible, or attending church.
- We blame somebody else for the wrongs we have done.
- If we do talk to God, we’re not honest; we try to excuse ourselves.
- Our behavior changes.
- We fear God and what God might do to punish us.
Read Psalm 32. What can happen when we don’t confess our sins and allow God to show us mercy?
- We can become physically ill because our minds greatly affect our bodies.
- We can lose physical and emotional strength.
- We can lose sleep by tossing and turning or waking up agitated during the night.
- We can become depressed.
- The more our minds and bodies wear down, the more guilt we will feel.
Read Matthew 26:75. What can Peter’s response to his guilt teach us?
- It’s okay to show emotion―to cry when guilty feelings overwhelm us.
- It’s okay to admit that we did something we promised God we would never do.
- Sins against Jesus―such as Peter’s denial―can cause overwhelming guilt.
- Lying will always catch up to us and be exposed.
- A change of heart and true conversion are possible for us, too.
Read Romans 8:1. Why is it so difficult for us to accept and believe what this verse is saying?
- Sometimes, after we ask for forgiveness, we don’t “feel” forgiven.
- We sometimes find it hard to forgive, so God’s generosity seems unbelievable.
- We know how many times we’ve made promises to God and how many times we’ve failed.
- Important people in our lives haven’t forgiven us, which makes God’s forgiveness seem elusive.
- We ourselves aren’t good at forgiving, so we can’t comprehend God’s total forgiveness.
Applying the Message of Scripture
Gather in groups of two or three. Choose one of the following options and work on a solution. Then report back to your group when your facilitator says time is up.
- Option 1: Discuss which Bible story about forgiveness is most meaningful to you. Why is it special to you? Can you somehow relate to the characters? What does it teach you about God?
- Option 2: Sit face to face; you’re going to lie to each other. For example, ask: “Did you talk behind my back?” or “Did you cheat on your taxes?” Keep the questions and lies coming―all with eye contact and a straight face. Then discuss how the liar felt. Did he/she feel guilty even though it was just a game? Why or why not?
- Option 3: If you know someone who has wronged you, follow the advice in Matthew 18 and go to that person. Talk about what happened. Give that person the gift of forgiveness and then point him or her to God’s forgiveness.
Valuing Scripture in Your Life
- Read 1 John 1:9. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and open your heart and mind. Ask Jesus to show you where your sin (separation from God) is holding you back from an abundant life in God’s amazing grace!
- Read Isaiah 1:18 a few times. Comprehend this wonder: We are the ones who left God, yet God sends the invitation to “come.” Ask for and receive God’s forgiveness and meditate on the images of purity in this text.
Next Week’s Scripture Focus:
Mark 7:21-23; Luke 6:45; Acts 14:2; 15:24; Galatians 3:1; Psalm 19:14; Colossians 3:1-17; Philippians 4:8