Week 1: How do I get unstuck?
- Is there an area in your life where you feel stuck? What’s keeping you stuck?
- Read Romans 7:1-6. Paul makes an analogous argument by way of marriage. Just as a wife isn’t bound to her husband after his death, neither are we bound by what we once were (verse 6). Would anyone like to share a brief testimony about “what you once were” before knowing Jesus? What were some of the things that bound you?
- Verse 6 goes on to say that Jesus has released us from our former lives to serve Him in a new life. Flip back to Romans 6 and read verses 1-4. If Christians have been “buried with Christ through baptism and raised to live a new life” why do we still struggle with the same sins over and over? Why do we repeat patterns from our “old lives”?
- Think about this statement: “If you want beauty in your future, you must die to some things in your past.” Agree or disagree and why?
- What does it look like practically to die to specific sins? Would anyone like to share an example from their own life?
Week 2: If I have grace, why do I need the rules?
- True or False: If someone doesn’t know God’s law, are they still accountable for breaking God’s law? Why or why not?
- Read Romans 7:7-9. The law is diagnostic. It reveals who we are and shows us our sin. Prior to knowing God’s law, we still sinned but weren’t aware of it. However, because sin is now visible to us, we are accountable for it. Can you think of a time when you weren’t aware that a particular belief or behavior went against God’s law? How did you feel when you became aware of it?
- Are there aspects of God’s law that you disagree with or that confuse you? For example, are there things you know are “wrong” according to God’s law, but that don’t seem so bad to you? Dialogue about these things – this is a judgment-free zone!
- Read Romans 7:10-13. Explain these verses in your own words.
- Listen to this quote from an article Pastor Mike wrote in the Grace Magazine: The Western Church has a judicial view of sin. We tend to see sin as a violation of the law; therefore the remedy for a sinful heart is to be made legally right before God. The Eastern Church, however, views sin not as legal violation, but as sickness. They recognize that sin is inextricably linked with death – every time we sin, a little piece of death enters the equation. If I cheat on my taxes, I experience the death of my integrity. If I cheat on my wife, the death of our intimacy. Sin, then, is a form of death and disease in our lives, and as such requires more than legal absolution. It requires healing. Is there an area in your life where sin (or spiritual sickness) has led to a “small death”? Where do you need healing and restoration?
Week 3: Why can’t I always be good?
- Read Romans 7:14-25. Before listening to the sermon, were you familiar with this passage of Scripture? How did you view it?
- Have you ever experienced a season of bondage when you kept doing something you hated doing? Feel free to share, if you’re comfortable doing so.
- Do you think every Christian experiences the reality of these verses? Why or why not?
- Notice the oppressive nature of Paul’s language. He uses words like slave, evil, war, prisoner, and wretched. Which of these words stand out to you and why? Does Paul have terrible self esteem, or could viewing yourself as “wretched” actually be a good thing? How so?
- One of our House Rules is Genuine Family: Grace frees us from performance and lets us live unafraid. What does it look like to live in bondage to performance? How do these verses free us to live authentically?
Week 4: How can I find true freedom?
- What does “condemnation” look like in the world? Think of classic stories like Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter or Stephen King’s The Green Mile. What other works of film or literature could you add to this list to describe what condemnation looks like in the world?
- Read Romans 8:1-2. What a profound statement! There isn’t “less” condemnation for those in Christ; there is “no” condemnation. None! Do you live like there is no condemnation for you? Why or why not?
- One of the worst kinds of condemnation is self-condemnation. What does your inner critic say? What are the go-to thoughts that condemn you?
- Read Romans 8:3-4. We are not condemned because Christ met the standard we could not meet for ourselves. What would change in your life today if you fully embraced the freedom you already have in Christ?
- Based on the sermon and our discussion, how would you answer the question, “How can I find true freedom?” Share one way we can be praying for you in regard to our discussion today.
Week 5: How can I live a blessed life?
- Read Romans 8:5-11 silently. As you read, make a mental list of the differences between living according to the flesh and living according to the spirit. Share what you notice.
- Read Romans 8:5 out loud. What are modern examples of having “minds set on what the flesh desires”? How does American culture encourage us to feed the flesh?
- Read Romans 8:6 out loud. How have you seen this to be true in your own life and/or in the lives of others?
- Read Romans 8:7-11 out loud. Would you describe yourself as someone “in the realm of the flesh” or someone “in the realm of the Spirit.” Why?
- If Christ is in us, list the promises we can cling to based on these verses. Which promise especially speaks to you and why?
Week 6: How do I know I belong to God?
- The language of Romans 8:12-17 is paternal. Believers in Jesus have been adopted into sonship (or daughter-ship). We are heirs of God, able to call Him, “Abba, Father.” If you could describe your relationship with your earthly dad using three words, which words would you pick and why?
- How has your relationship with your earthly parents impacted the way you view yourself, the world, and God?
- Read Romans 8:12-13. Paul says that if you live your life committed to the flesh, you will die, not only physically but spiritually. On a scale of 1-10 how much does the thought of death scare you? Why?
- Read Romans 8:14-16. How does the Spirit free us from fear? Is there a particular fear from which you long to be freed?
- Read Romans 8:17. What is the relationship between sharing in Christ’s sufferings and being a co-heir with Christ? In what way do Christians today share in Christ’s suffering?
Week 7: How should I face suffering?
- Think of the most significant trials facing you today. Mentally, put them in order from most pressing to least. Would anyone care to share a few items on the list, whether large or small?
- Read Romans 8:18. Read I Peter 1:6-7. What’s similar about these verses? What do they teach us about suffering?
- Read Romans 8:19-23. How does a forward-looking, eternal perspective change the way we view trials? How does it encourage us? How does it challenge and convict us?
- Read Romans 8:24-25. Describe the relationship between “hope” and “waiting.”
- Share about a personal season of “waiting,” whether currently or in the past. What does it look like to wait well? How do you maintain hope in a prolonged season of waiting?
Week 8: Am I really safe with God?
- Share one of your earliest memories of feeling “safe.” Can you remember the first time you realized the world isn’t always a safe place?
- Talk about your own journey in trusting God. Do you feel safe with God? Why or why not?
- Read Romans 8:26-27. Describe the way in which the Spirit of God prays for us. What might change in your life if you lived with a daily awareness of the Spirit’s intercession for you?
- Read Romans 8:28-30. Paraphrase these verses in simple language. How might you teach these richly theological concepts to a child?
- One of our House Rules is Radical Hospitality: We go the extra mile to care for others because people’s stories matter. Everyone has a story, and often these stories include trauma. How can the church practically care for people whose stories have compromised their ability to feel safe with God?
Week 9: What does God think about me?
- A.W. Tozer famously wrote, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” What comes into your mind when you think about God?
- What do you imagine comes into God’s mind when He thinks about you? Don’t give us the “Sunday School” answer! Feel free to share candidly.
- Read Romans 8:31-39. What are some of the things that come against Christians?
- What are some of the hardships facing you today? Do you believe that in Christ you are “more than a conqueror” in these areas? Why or why not?
- What next step could you take this week to live with a greater awareness of God’s unbreakable love?
Week 10: Does God chose some and not others?
- Before listening to the sermon this week, have you ever wrestled with the question, “Does God chose some and not others?” How would you have answered that question prior to studying this passage?
- Read Romans 9:1-8. Why is Paul anguished? Have you experienced similar anguish over loved ones who reject God?
- What does Paul mean by verse 8: “It is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring”? Read John 1:12. What makes someone a child of God?
- Read Romans 9:14-18. How did God display His power through Pharaoh? (Skim Exodus 7-11, 14 if you need a refresher)
- God can display His power by using us mightily, or by bringing us to our knees. “It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy” (verse 16). How does this verse encourage you? How does it convict you?
Week 11: What about my free will?
- After discussing the mercy and justice of God, Paul sets up a mock argument to discuss free will. Read Romans 9:19-21. Explain these verses in your own words.
- Paul is turning the conversation away from man’s freedom to focus on God’s freedom. How is God’s freedom unlike man’s freedom?
- J. B. Watson was a 20th century psychologist, who founded the theory of behaviorism – the idea that environment shapes human behavior. Watson believed there was no such thing as a random behavior. Every choice we make is a product of influences beyond our control, thus the concept of “free will” is an illusion. Agree or disagree and why?
- Read Romans 9:22-26. What attributes of God’s character are evident in these verses? How have you seen these same attributes of God’s character revealed in your own life?
- Next week we’ll take a break from Romans to celebrate the Advent season. So far, how have you grown through our study of Romans? One of our House Rules is Biblical Maturity: We expect to grow. We teach through the Bible verse by verse because it’s the best way to know the Bible, and the Bible is the best way to know Jesus. How has studying the Bible verse by verse enhanced your understanding of Romans? How has it given you a greater view of Jesus?
Ice-Breakers and Extra Questions for Extra Time:
- How did God encourage you through our worship experience this weekend, whether through singing, giving, serving, communion, confession, or listening to the preached Word?
- What was your greatest takeaway from the sermon?
- Was there anything that confused you in the sermon?
- What has been your greatest joy and struggle this week?
- How can we pray for you?
- How can we hold you accountable?
- How have you seen evidence of God’s grace in your life this year?
- Share some ways you’ve been growing in wholeness lately.
- Share three things for which you’re thankful.
- Share one unexpected blessing from God you’ve experienced this week.
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