SYNOPSIS OF THE SERMON
Why don’t Christians see more change in their lives? According to Paul, the flesh, or more accurately, the “over-desire” of the flesh, is in conflict with the changes the Holy Spirit desires for Christians. It is not that we necessarily desire bad things, but we often desire good things at the expense of our relationship with God. In order to change, we must begin with a vision of what godly change would look like, and then we set out to crucify the flesh and begin walking in the Spirit.
GETTING THE CONVERSATION STARTED
These questions can be used as ice-breakers in the beginning OR interwoven between the questions below to draw the group into the discussion.
1. What’s the silliest argument you’ve overheard, engaged in, or read recently? On what issues do you find yourself judging others? Are they issues that are important or unimportant to you?
2. Has a Christian ever made you feel like a “bad” Christian because you were not passionate about an issue which they found very important? Have you ever done that to someone else? Explain.
3. Is following God an issue of doing what is “good” or what is “right?” Is there a difference? Discuss briefly.
INTERACTING WITH THE SERMON
1. Briefly give a synopsis of this week’s sermon. What insight, principle, or observation from this weekend’s message did you find to be most helpful, eye-opening, or troubling? Briefly explain.
2. Read Romans 14:10-22:
10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat your brother or sister with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.’” 12 So then, we will all give an account of ourselves to God. 13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother or sister for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. 19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall. 22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed are those who do not condemn themselves by what they approve.
• Rich began his sermon with some accounts of preachers judging other Christians in their sermons. In verse 10, who do you think the Romans were using as a standard when they were judging others? Who is to be the true judge (vv. 10-11)? Do you ever think of God as a judge?
• What does it mean to be a “stumbling block” (v. 13)? Why is it important that Paul distinguishes that food, in itself, is not unclean (v. 14)?
• What serious consequences can occur if we fail to address each other in love (v. 15)?
• Consider verse 17. What comes to your mind when Paul uses the word “righteousness?” Is it certain “good” behaviors and practices? Does that match up with the way Paul talks about righteousness here?
• When we think about becoming more like Jesus, we are thinking about becoming more righteous. According to Paul, whom must we consider if our aim is to become righteous (vv. 15, 18, 21-22)? Compare this to Jesus’ summary of the law in Mark 12:29-31.
• In his sermon, Rich talked about the possibility of “over-desiring,” and how we can even desire good things at the expense of our relationship with God. How is this related to the judgmental mentality that Paul addresses in this passage? Do you see a tendency in yourself to establish rigid laws regarding the things that you desire the most?
• What is the outcome of righteousness in verses 17-18? What is the outcome of our judgment of others (vv. 13, 20)? Has your “righteous” behavior ever hurt or misled a brother or sister in Christ? Discuss.
• Based on this passage, which do you think is better for bringing about righteousness and unity: to think more about doing what is right or to think more about avoiding what is wrong? Does it make a difference?
• What do you think “righteousness” means to Paul based on this passage?
3. In his sermon, Rich stated:
“Do you know that God loves the whole church and not just your part in it? And what I’ve seen in terms of church-destroying behavior is that sometimes people are so zealous about their particular ministry that they fall out of love with the whole rest of the church… Selfish ambition always focuses on one’s narrow passion instead of the whole body.”
Pray over and discuss the following:
• Ask God to show individuals if they’ve lost their love for the whole church and are manifesting judgment and/or selfish ambition.
• Ask God to restore this love of the whole church to individuals and to build it into your group as a whole.
• Consider ways your group can reinforce a love for all parts and all people in the church.