Big Idea: Our distance from God is the result of our rebellion, not God’s attitude.
Nehemiah 9, (the nation of Israel confesses that it has been rebelling against God)
Jeremiah 2:1-13, (the nation of Israel confesses that it has been rebelling against God)
Romans 2:1-5, (our conscience condemns us)
Romans 7:14-25, (we have a “sinful nature” that fights us internally)
Matthew 23:1-39 (Jesus confronts religious leaders)
Key Points to Consider:
When held up to God’s standards, we realize the not only is the world messed up, we are guilty of rebellion too. There’s a dark corner inside every human heart that would rather know what it’s like to break the rules than to live safely within them.
We think we can get around the rules. But breaking them always eventually causes pain, broken relationships, and suffering. It also separates us from a relationship with God.
Most of us get our perception of God through authority figures we had growing up, mainly our Dads. Politicians are caught in scandals, presidents are impeached. Human figures are always flawed, which is why so often we fail to trust God. We can’t escape the feeling that God will prove untrustworthy too.
Many people hide their rebellion in rigorous religious ritual and authority. The Jewish leaders who should have welcomed Jesus, instead killed Him. He had his harshest words for these people. They put all the energy they have behind making themselves superior to others in an attempt to quiet their consciences. And in doing so, they create any even bigger problems for us in trusting authorities or organized worship.
Rebels often get away with it in this life. Immoral people still get promoted. Sketchy salesmen make lots of money. Thieves get away scot free. Chances are, you may have even gotten out of a speeding ticket sometime. Justice is not perfect in this world, but it will be perfect one day. God will judge with perfect accuracy. That’s comforting when we think of those who have wronged us…it’s disconcerting when it comes to the punishment we deserve.
God’s justice system works like our justice system—you don’t get off if you do more good than bad. If you murder, you pay the penalty for murder, regardless of how many lives you have saved. There are no balancing scales. It is about being guilty or innocent. And none of us are innocent. The Laws of the Old Testament make that clear. We are all guilty of a cardinal sin: treason. We’re are in rebellion toward the ultimate father, king, and country. That’s why in the Old Testament, death always atoned for sin. Animals paid the penalty for their owners. Someone is going to have to pay the price we are are to escape the penalty of our sin…
Good Discussion Questions:
- Do you see rebellion and selfishness in your kids? How does it show itself?
- Why is it easier to identify sin in other people than it is in ourselves?
- Have you had someone abruptly interrupt your life to try to get you back on track? How did that go?
- How have you seen unspiritual people in spiritual roles abuse their power and skew religion?
Reminders/Homework: (What parts of the lesson, big ideas, or otherwise that I can give people a reminder of? How should I remind them during the week? Email, txt, gift, note)
Read Nehemiah 9—a summary of the nation of Israel’s behavior
Questions to Write About:
- If you could kill part of yourself—an attitude or desire, what would it be? Why?
- How has your Dad, coach, or other authority figure skewed your perception of God?
- How do you think God will react if you admit your faults to Him?
6 “You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you. 7 You are the Lord, the God who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and gave him the name Abraham. 8 You found his heart faithful before you, and made with him the covenant to give to his offspring the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite, and the Girgashite. And you have kept your promise, for you are righteous. 9 “And you saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt and heard their cry at the Red Sea, 10 and performed signs and wonders against Pharaoh and all his servants and all the people of his land, for you knew that they acted arrogantly against our fathers. And you made a name for yourself, as it is to this day. 11 And you divided the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on dry land, and you cast their pursuers into the depths, as a stone into mighty waters. 12 By a pillar of cloud you led them in the day, and by a pillar of fire in the night to light for them the way in which they should go. 13 You came down on Mount Sinai and spoke with them from heaven and gave them right rules and true laws, good statutes and commandments, 14 and you made known to them your holy Sabbath and commanded them commandments and statutes and a law by Moses your servant. 15 You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger and brought water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and you told them to go in to possess the land that you had sworn to give them. 16 “But they and our fathers acted presumptuously and stiffened their neck and did not obey your commandments. 17 They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them. 18 Even when they had made for themselves a golden calf and said, ‘This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt,’ and had committed great blasphemies, 19 you in your great mercies did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud to lead them in the way did not depart from them by day, nor the pillar of fire by night to light for them the way by which they should go. 20 You gave your good Spirit to instruct them and did not withhold your manna from their mouth and gave them water for their thirst. 21 Forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell. 22 “And you gave them kingdoms and peoples and allotted to them every corner. So they took possession of the land of Sihon king of Heshbon and the land of Og king of Bashan. 23 You multiplied their children as the stars of heaven, and you brought them into the land that you had told their fathers to enter and possess. 24 So the descendants went in and possessed the land, and you subdued before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gave them into their hand, with their kings and the peoples of the land, that they might do with them as they would. 25 And they captured fortified cities and a rich land, and took possession of houses full of all good things, cisterns already hewn, vineyards, olive orchards and fruit trees in abundance. So they ate and were filled and became fat and delighted themselves in your great goodness. 26 “Nevertheless, they were disobedient and rebelled against you and cast your law behind their back and killed your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to you, and they committed great blasphemies. 27 Therefore you gave them into the hand of their enemies, who made them suffer. And in the time of their suffering they cried out to you and you heard them from heaven, and according to your great mercies you gave them saviors who saved them from the hand of their enemies. 28 But after they had rest they did evil again before you, and you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies, so that they had dominion over them. Yet when they turned and cried to you, you heard from heaven, and many times you delivered them according to your mercies. 29 And you warned them in order to turn them back to your law. Yet they acted presumptuously and did not obey your commandments, but sinned against your rules, which if a person does them, he shall live by them, and they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck and would not obey. 30 Many years you bore with them and warned them by your Spirit through your prophets. Yet they would not give ear. Therefore you gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. 31 Nevertheless, in your great mercies you did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God. 32 “Now, therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love, let not all the hardship seem little to you that has come upon us, upon our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers, and all your people, since the time of the kings of Assyria until this day. 33 Yet you have been righteous in all that has come upon us, for you have dealt faithfully and we have acted wickedly. 34 Our kings, our princes, our priests, and our fathers have not kept your law or paid attention to your commandments and your warnings that you gave them. 35 Even in their own kingdom, and amid your great goodness that you gave them, and in the large and rich land that you set before them, they did not serve you or turn from their wicked works. 36 Behold, we are slaves this day; in the land that you gave to our fathers to enjoy its fruit and its good gifts, behold, we are slaves. 37 And its rich yield goes to the kings whom you have set over us because of our sins. They rule over our bodies and over our livestock as they please, and we are in great distress. (Neh 9:6-37, ESV)
1 Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3 Do you suppose, O man-you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself-that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. (Rom 2:1-5, ESV)