Goal: Help the student to understand the sinful nature of mankind in general and himself in particular.
Instructor’s Notes: Everyone has sinned against God. People sin in thought, word and deed. Humanity is not generally good as many suppose, they are totally evil. All have rebelled against God. There is no one who is good and has always submitted to God except for Jesus Christ. Everyone has chosen the path of rebellion against a good and loving God. Everyone is a rebel.
- What is sin? (Sin is rebellion against God and disobedience to His commands.)
- Name a few sins. (We can sin with our mouths by lying. We can sin with our action by stealing. We can sin with our thoughts by thinking evil thoughts about others.)
- How would you feel if everyone you know knew the details about all the evil thoughts you have ever had?
- Does it bother you that God sees all your thoughts at all times?
Jeremiah 17:9, Matthew 15:18-20, Matthew 12:33
Instructor’s Notes: The problem of sin does not start in people’s actions, but in their heart. God sees that the heart of mankind is wicked. Even if people can control their actions, their thoughts and desires condemn them. The problem with man is not that he does bad things, but that he is evil to the core of his being. This evil deep within produces bad fruit in our thoughts, words and deeds.
- Are people sinners because they sin, or do they sin because they are sinners? (People sin because their heart is evil. Doing evil things is not what makes them rebellious towards God, but their rebellious heart leads them to do evil things. They sin because they are sinful.)
- Do you believe you are an evil person? Why or why not?
- Do you believe that if you really wanted to you could live a morally perfect life in thought, word, deed and motive? If not, what does this show you about your heart?
Instructor’s Notes: The sinful desires of people start early in life. It is not something people have to learn to do; they know it naturally. No one needs to teach children to be selfish with their toys, they must be taught to share. No one needs to teach a child to lie, they do it naturally out of self-preservation when they are caught doing something they know is wrong.
- Think about a young child you know (2-3 years old), have you been able to see the sinfulness of that child?
- What kinds of sinful behavior have you seen in that child or others?
- Who taught you to lie and be selfish?
Instructor’s Notes: Even when people do “good” things, they are doing it while they are in rebellion to God, so He still sees it as evil. It is like an army general who rebels against a good king and proclaims himself king in the province he manages. Though he helps the poor and does good things to people, he is still in rebellion to the rightful king. The situation is the same for people who are living life for themselves, not for God; even when they do good things, they are still treasonous rebels. They might look good because they do good things for people, but they are living in hostility to God. They might love their neighbor, but they hate their God.
- Do you know any people who are not followers of Christ, but are very moral and kind people?
- Do you think God sees them in the same way people see them? ( God sees them as rebels in His kingdom. Other people think they are good because they treat the people around them well. Though they are kind to people, they are rebels and enemies of God. And since God is their Creator, and He is infinitely good, they are very evil to rebel against Him and choose their own way.)
- Do you think of yourself as a rebel against God? Have you lived every moment of your life for the glory of the God who created you?
John 3:19-20, Romans 8:5-7
Instructor’s Notes: People are sinners, not because they have to sin, but because they love to sin. They cannot stop sinning only because they do not want to stop sinning. They hear the truth, but reject it because it does not fit their desires. If it is true that God is their Master, then they must do what He wants, but they cannot accept this because they want to please themselves.
- Is it impossible for people to obey God? (Yes and no. It is possible for people to choose to obey God, but they want to please themselves more than God. So they cannot obey God because they have no desire to obey God. Unless their heart is changed, they will never truly want to submit to God and His will.)
- Why do you not obey God in every area of your life? If you say that you want to, but cannot, what makes it impossible for you to obey God in every area of your life?
Romans 3:11, John 6:44
Instructor’s Notes: No one naturally seeks God because their heart seeks its own will. People don’t naturally want God, they want to stay away from Him. We don’t seek God, He seeks us. The only way a person will desire salvation in Jesus Christ is if God works in their heart and turns them back to Him. God is not lost, we are. We do not find God, He finds us.
- Do you desire to know God and receive salvation?
- Why do you have this desire? (God is working in you and turning your heart to seek Him. If He was not doing this, then you would not have any desire to find salvation in Christ.)
Summary: All men have sinned. They have committed sin because their hearts are sinful. This sinfulness did not need to be learned, they knew it from birth. Because they are rebels at heart, even the good things they do are unacceptable to God. People cannot obey God only because they do not want to obey God. People naturally run from God, but He seeks them and turns their hearts back to Him by His grace.
Challenge for the Student: If you feel a genuine desire to get closer to God and find salvation in Christ, this is not because you are deciding to seek God, but because God is seeking you and working in your heart. You must respond to Him by seeking Him seriously. Don’t put off turning from sin and trusting in Christ. If you put off responding to God for too long God, in His justice, will leave you to your own desires. You will return to your natural state of contentment with sin and darkness. You must seek God while God is turning your heart back to Him. Fear Him. Don’t play games with God’s convicting grace, or He will withdraw His grace and leave you in darkness.
Read and discuss the command found in Isaiah 55:6-7