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If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Cor 5:17

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Go to the source! Discover what the Bible says about …

These pages are designed to aid study or investigation for Christian discipleship through individual Bible study, Cell groups, Home groups, or meeting one to one.  The questions could be used alone allowing each person to use their own Bible.

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Introduction

We all fail!  However hard we try, we end up hurting people through words and actions. Many put up rules to try and stop bad behaviour. No matter how hard we try, in an unthinking moment, or moment of giving into our desires, we hurt others. Those we hurt go on to hurt others. The fruit of our actions spread out like ripples on a pond.


Questions are raised: How does God respond to this failure or sin?  Why doesn’t He stop evil? Does evil affect God?  What are the consequences for us? What does the Bible say about failure and sin?


Bible Zone


God’s view of failure

When terrible things happen many point an accusing finger at God.  They ask why didn’t God intervene to stop it?  This is worth exploring and it does not end as one might expect.  A significant passage in the Bible about wrong doing is the beginning of Romans.  We will be looking through some sections of this letter.


First we look at God’s attitude to those who do wrong in the world.

  1. How is God affected by seeing wrong things in His world?
  2. What attitudes and actions provoke God’?
  3. What does it mean to suppress truth by wickedness?
  4. What happens to the thinking of someone who suppresses the truth about God?


Romans 1:18-20   18 But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness.*19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them.20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

  21 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused.22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools..


An outcome of wrong doing is hiding from the truth. Our defences protect us from living with a bad conscience.  Those defences keep us from seeing God who resolves our mess through His Truth working in us!

  

Consequence of rejecting God

Romans 1 goes on to explore the impact of turning from God on attitudes, which in turn impact behaviour.

  1. How does God respond to people turning from Him?
  2. What attitudes are seen in those who have turned their backs on God?
  3. Do you see this in the people around you, or indeed yourself?


Romans 1:28-32 28 Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done.29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip.30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents.31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy.32 They know God's justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.


Not only does our behaviour shield us from God, but it also opens the way for developing further wrong doing.  Our shields are not just a result but also a source of failure.


Any Better

Are we any better?  Some are conscious of their own wrong. Others see themselves as better than most.  Paul turns to this second group  Romans 2:1-3.

  1. How does Paul, who called himself ‘the worst of sinners’, challenge those who consider themselves better than others?
  2. How will God treat people who stand in judgement over others?


Romans 2:1 You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things.2 And we know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things.3 Since you judge others for doing these things, why do you think you can avoid God's judgment when you do the same things?


Here is an experiment to help you observe yourself over a week -


The statement: ‘We do the same things we judge others about’ can raise a reaction.  The exercise involves a very simple prayer.  It may be you have never prayed, or you don’t believe in God.  The Lord knows.  By praying you are giving Him permission (should He exist) to work.  Just say these words to God, out loud or in your heart filling in XXXXXX with the thing you get cross about in others .

 “God I get angry when I see people doing XXXXXX.  Please open my eyes.  I would like to know when you see me doing the same thing.  Amen.”

Keep your eyes open and your mind responsive.  Remember, God is concerned not just with actions but also with your thoughts and attitudes.  Sometimes things are clear almost instantly but it may take a few days.


Why doesn’t God act?

We are back to the question we started with.  Why is it that God doesn’t act?  Paul answers in Romans 2v4-8

  1. What is God’s desire for all wrong doers - ourselves included?
  2. What will God do about evil?
  3. Why does God delay His intervention?


Romans 2:4-8   4 Don't you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can't you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?

  5 But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.6 He will judge everyone according to what they have done.7 He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers.8 But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness.


Our bad behaviour opens the way for further wrong doing.  In a similar way, opening our lives to God by turning to Him and living for His glory enables His power to work in our lives to produce love.  We cannot do this on our own, As we turn to God and live a life empowered by Him this change happens.

FAILURE & SIN