Part 1: How To Go From Guilt To Grace
Discussion following the sermon from 10/17/21
Our new sermon series Naked and Unafraid is about choosing to live in God’s grace. We will consider our insufficiency and God’s sufficiency. We will discuss our nakedness (how sin lays us bare), and how despite our nakedness we do not have to be afraid. God's grace not only saves us from our sin and gives us eternal life, but it shows us how to live. Today’s Scripture deals with the original sin - Adam and Eve in the garden. And this passage, as much as anywhere in the Bible, reveals our nakedness and our need to be covered by God.
Genesis 3:6–10 "The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, 'Where are you?' He replied, 'I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.'"
Pastor Beau’s message explained that Adam and Eve did not know they were naked until after they had sinned and had their eyes opened. Their initial reaction to their nakedness was guilt and shame. They even sewed leaves together in an attempt to cover their nakedness. When God appeared that evening, they hid from God because they felt guilty for disobeying God. They did not want Him to see them in their shame. They needed to move from guilt to grace, and Pastor Beau discussed three things required if one is to move from guilt to grace.
- ADMIT MY PROBLEM.
Romans 3:23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
1 John 1:8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.
Adam and Eve sinned. They disobeyed God and were doomed to die just as God had told them they would if they ate the forbidden fruit. The physical manifestation of their sin was obvious. They were naked. But sin is a heart problem. They needed to admit that they were guilty, and they could not cover their nakedness. They had to bare themselves before God by admitting their sin. Romans 3:23 and 1 John 1:8 reveal that everyone is a sinner, and if we deny our sin we are only fooling ourselves. Discuss in your group why it is so hard for us to bare ourselves before God. Ask the group if guilt or shame has ever made them want to hide from God.
- ACCEPT GOD’S SOLUTION.
Luke 23:33–34 When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on his right and one on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.
2 Corinthians 5:21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
Luke’s account of the crucifixion reveals that Jesus was stripped (bared) on the cross. He let himself be made naked so our sin would be covered. The only solution for our nakedness is Christ righteousness. As 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, the only way we can ever be made right with God is to accept Jesus Christ as the payment for our sin. Jesus is God’s solution to humanity’s sin. Everyone who accepts Jesus as Savior has their sin forgiven and receives eternal life. Ask if there are any in the group who would share their salvation experience. Discuss the hope and freedom believers have by accepting Jesus for the forgiveness of sin.
- BELIEVE GOD’S DECLARATION.
Romans 3:22 Now God says he will accept and acquit us—declare us “not guilty”—if we trust Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, by coming to Christ, no matter who we are or what we have been like.
Ephesians 2:8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. . .
Galatians 3:26–27 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.
The above Scriptures make it clear that everyone who believes in Jesus has their sin forgiven. It does not matter who you are or what you have done. God’s salvation that comes through faith in Christ is final. It is through faith alone in Christ alone, and it can’t be lost or taken away. Christ righteousness as Galatians 3:26-27 says, is our covering. The believer puts on Christ, and it is like putting on a new set of clothes. All one needs to do is believe, in fact it is all anyone can do. Nothing, but faith and faith alone can save. Discuss why it is so comforting to know that it is God who declares us “not guilty.”
In the Garden of Eden it was not a sin to be naked, and God did not condemn Adam and Eve for being naked. In fact, He asked them who had told them they were naked. He wanted them to understand that it was not their nakedness that condemned them, but their sin; the sin of disobeying God. Talk within the group about things that make us feel guilty, but are not the problem. Discuss how we can really recognize our sin.
Close the meeting by taking prayer requests and praying for one another.
Part 2: Nothing To Hide
“The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, 'Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?' This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, 'Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.' And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, 'Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?' She said, 'No one, Lord.' And Jesus said, 'Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.'” John 8:3-11
In our sermon this week we talked about being vulnerable before Jesus, because he is gracious and kind, and he will help us rather than judge us. In our small groups, we would like to build the same kind of gracious and kind communion that we have with Jesus. Scripture challenges us to be vulnerable with others—to confess our sins to one another (James 5:16) and mourn with each other (Romans 12:15). So consider stepping a little bit out of your comfort zone today and open up to your group as you consider the following questions from this week’s sermon.
- In the first point, you were challenged to pray and ask God to reveal what hurts you need to be healed from. Would you be willing to share with your group a hurt that God has shown you that you need healing from?
- In the second point, we discussed how dangerous pride is. We talked about three different things that pride can produce in our hearts: prejudices, hypocrisy, and unforgiveness. Can you think of a time when you acted with prejudice, hypocrisy, or unforgiveness? Confess it to your group, and be prepared to receive others’ confessions with grace and forgiveness.
- In the third point, we discussed fear. Fear can hold us back from the calling that God has for us. What are you afraid of? What would you do if you weren’t afraid of anything?
Close the meeting by taking prayer requests and praying for one another.
Part 3: What To Remember When All Seems Lost
Peter had denied the Lord three times and there can be little doubt that he thought that his failure had greatly damaged his relationship with Jesus and his usefulness to God. He, along with the other disciples, had seen the risen Christ, but had yet to have any personal conversations with Him. Peter was unsure about what lay ahead and so he had decided to return to what he knew best—fishing. This is the setting for today’s Scripture.
John 21:4–17 (NLT) At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?” “No,” they replied. Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it. Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore. When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread. “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn. “Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish. This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead. After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.”
Peter had gone back to fishing, because he no longer felt qualified to serve God. But Jesus met him right where he was. He nourished his body first and then he nourished his soul. He let Peter know that He still had a plan for his life. In this week’s sermon, Pastor Beau relays four important truths that we must all remember when all seems lost.
- MY FAILURES ARE NOT FINAL.Failure is a part of life. Alexander Pope said, “To err is human, to forgive, divine.” The important thing to remember is that failure is not final. Peter had denied his Lord, but his life and his usefulness to God were not over. He had denied Jesus three times, but Jesus had confirmed him three times as well. His usefulness to God was not determined by his ability, but by his love and commitment to God. God’s Spirit would empower him to do whatever God wanted him to do. Have the group discuss how failure can make us stronger and more dedicated. Ask if anyone would like to share something they learned from a failure in their life.
MY GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL.
Peter’s denial did not limit God. In fact, it only limited Peter as much as he would allow his guilt and shame to hold him back. Jesus’ affirmation confirmed that Peter was still beneficial to God’s plan. Peter had seen Jesus feed the 5,000, and the Lord had just fed him breakfast. He and the other disciples had caught nothing, but under God’s direction they netted so many fish they could not pull in the net. Peter needed to trust God and allow Him to control his life. Nothing that happens to us can remove God’s control. How does knowing that God is in control help us get past our failures? Talk about ways that God shows us that He is in control.
MY LOVE IS MY MOTIVATION.
There is a reason why Jesus asked Peter if he loved him. Jesus knew that love was the only motivation that would endure. Love would sustain Peter in the tough times that lay ahead. Peter had a lot of sheep to feed, and just a commitment to serve the needs of others was not enough. Peter’s service must be motivated by his love for God. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 says, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.” Discuss how our love for Jesus compels us to live for Him, and how people may wear us out, but Jesus gives us grace.
MY LIFE IS MEANT FOR GREAT THINGS.
Jesus had big plans for Peter, but these were not great things in the world’s eyes. Peter would not achieve human recognition, at least not during his lifetime. Peter would eventually be executed as a rebel, and yet his life would bring great glory to God. Every believer can accomplish great things for God, regardless of our past mistakes or failures. One can visit a shut-in, or teach a children’s class at church. One might simply send a note of encouragement to someone who is hurting. Talk within your group about the great things each of us can do that will bring glory to God.
Close by taking prayer requests and spending time in prayer.