July 12, 2020 – Romans 8:1-11
Note to the Teacher:
The goal of this series is to remind everyone that the community is bigger than what you can see in the sanctuary. Connection is more than the faces around them; it is the presence of the virtual community, live or delayed that represents the ever-present God who calls us together as one. Nothing shall separate us.
Today’s passage is about Paul as a representative of all of us. It is about the human condition—a human condition of ultimate helplessness to bring about our own salvation. That salvation comes only through Christ, but the eternal life we receive is not talking about something that will happen someday. Paul says that it will “give life to your mortal bodies” (8:11) meaning we don’t have to wait. Salvation isn't just about someday, but about this day, right now, here.
1. Icebreaker: It Goes Together Scavenger Hunt (10 minutes)
Before the class begins, gather several random items that logically go with other items. For example, you might have peanut butter (but not jelly or bread), a pencil (but no pen or paper), a bookmark (but no book), etc. Tell students that you are going to have an “It Goes Together” scavenger hunt. You will show them an item, and then they can go get a related item from around their house (or around the youth area if you are in person rather than online).
When they return, the first person with a logically related item will be the first connection. After the first connection is made, invite students to locate a third item that will “go with” the first two items.
Make sure that everyone who brings an item back has a chance to share their item and why they thought it connected with the original one or two.
2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)
This scripture begins by talking about how powerless we are to save ourselves. Don’t get caught up in the legal language or use it to dismiss the Old Testament. Paul is not saying that the Old Testament doesn’t apply, he is inviting us to see our powerless as the very key to our relationship with and transformation through the Holy Spirit.
READ: Romans 8:1-11
3. Discussion (15 minutes)
This passage begins by talking about being “in Christ Jesus.” We begin here by exploring that concept.
- What do you think it means to be “in Christ Jesus?” Is there anything else in this passage that might explain it?
- The very first verse says that “there is no condemnation” for those who are in Christ Jesus. What is the condemnation it was talking about? (Condemnation from the law)
Now we are going to dive into the helplessness aspect of the passage.
- Have you ever felt powerless against something?
- Have you ever known someone who wanted to not sin in a certain way but kept doing it anyway? What did they try to do to change?
- Instead of requiring us to live perfectly (which is impossible) What did God do to fulfill the requirements of the law?
There is an important point to make: Jesus’ sacrifice does not exempt us from active participation in our life and faith. That is the key to these questions.
- Paul begins to talk about the flesh vs. the spirit. Don’t get confused by the words. He is not saying that our bodies are bad; rather, he is talking about something closer to “self” vs. “spirit.” With that in mind, read vv5-22 again.
- How do you think we allow the Spirit of God to “live in us?”
- Being led by the Spirit instead of the self is hard, and it takes time to get good at it. Tell the story of a time you felt you were being led by the Spirit or a time when you saw someone else who you felt was being led by the spirit.
4. Activity and Discussion: Two sides of the same coin (20 minutes)
Being led by the Spirt and being led by the flesh are two sides of the same coin. Take any issue and there is a self-led way to approach it and a spirit-led way. This activity will help students think through the different ways to approach several life situations. It begins with inviting students to cut out several circles that are about the size of the bottom of a cup. They can do this at home by tracing a cup on a piece of paper and cutting it out. If you need more time, you can have them ready to pass out in person. Each of these circles will be a “coin.”
Explain to the students that in every issue there is a spirit-led and self-led way to approach it. You are going to give them a list of different circumstances. Students will choose one circumstance for each coin and draw a spirit-led approach on one side and a self-led approach on another.
Before your time is finished, invite students to share some of their coins and reflect on them with these questions:
- Which of the approaches was easier to come up with? Why do you think that was?
- Which of the approaches seems more difficult?
- How could you help a friend choose the way of the spirit in this situation?
You can likely come up with all of the situations on your own, but to get you started, here are a couple for students to base their “coins” on.
- A new student comes into your class and a friend makes a judgmental comment about them.
- You are leaving a restaurant and see a person who is hungry sitting on the sidewalk.
- Your best friend’s parents are getting a divorce and they show up to school having not finished their math homework because they were fighting all night.
- Random items