SMALL GROUP CURRICULUM (Download PDF)
Spend the week studying 1 Corinthians 2:14-3:1. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.
Determine which discussion points and questions will work best with your group.
Pray for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members, and their receptivity to God’s Word.
Focus on the Main Point. Identity in Christ means we know and love Jesus and place Him at the center of all that we are.
How would you describe your personality to someone who does not know you? What traits or interests would you highlight?
Of the traits you listed, which is the most important? What one trait do you see as most central to your personality? Why?
There is enormous cultural pressure to identify ourselves by what we love, who we are friends with, or our careers. These topics are frequently included in getting-to-know-you small talk. We ask and answer questions such as: “What do you do?” “Who’s in your family?” “What do you do in your free time?” While the answers to these questions certainly address true things about us, they are not all we are. If we are not careful, these things will be begin to shape our identity. Once we, by faith, receive the offer of salvation from Christ, our relationship with Him becomes our identity. As followers of Jesus, we are Christians first and foremost, before we are bankers, husbands, or people who like to spend time outdoors. For followers of Jesus, our identity in Christ supersedes all other qualifiers.
HAVE A VOLUNTEER READ 1 CORINTHIANS 2:14.
Who did Paul understand the natural man to be? What types of things concern the natural man?
Who sits on the throne of the natural man’s heart? How can he be dethroned? What must happen for this to occur?
How did you feel about God and Christianity before your salvation? What changed in you that led to your conversion?
Read 2 Corinthians 4:3-4. What goes on in the life of the natural person to keep him or her from seeing the light of the gospel?
The natural man does not know Christ. All people naturally turn away from God towards their sin and themselves. The natural man sits on the thrown of his own life, but that does not mean he is in charge. Rather the god of this age has blinded the eyes of all people—they are held captive to their sin. Only through the light of the gospel can a natural person be made into a spiritual person.
HAVE A VOLUNTEER READ 1 CORINTHIANS 2:15-16.
Contrast the spiritual person in these verses versus the natural person in the last verse. What major differences do you observe?
What did Paul mean when he wrote the spiritual person is “judged by no one”?
What does it mean to have the mind of Christ? When in your spiritual journey did the “mind of Christ” start to make a difference in your values, choices, and decisions?
Who is on the throne of the spiritual person’s heart? Who guides them in all they do?
Paul frequently compared the natural man with the spiritual man using the words spirit and flesh (see Rom. 8 and Gal. 5). Where the natural person is concerned with the things of earth, the spiritual person is the Christian who knows and honors Jesus as Lord by making Christ the center of all that he is and does. The only person who can justify and determine faith is God, but through our identity in Christ, we have the mind of Christ, to live by His Spirit and do that which pleases Him.
HAVE A VOLUNTEER READ 1 CORINTHIANS 3:1.
What does it mean to be an infant in the faith? When did you first hear and believe the gospel? What steps did you take to grow your infant faith? Which was most transformative for you?
What steps could you take to center your faith more on Christ and less on the cares of the world?
Before you can be a mature Christian, you must begin your Christian life as an infant. Those who are infants in the faith are those who have not granted Christ lordship over every area of their life. But through consistent teaching, discipleship, and Spirit empowered and enabled growth, the cares of the world grow dim in light of the goodness and grace of Jesus Christ.
Where would you place yourself on the spectrum we spoke about this week: a young Christian, or a maturing Christian? In your particular context, what is the next step of faith you need to take?
What role does accountability play in growing and shaping your faith? How can you develop accountability within our small group?
Who do you know who has believed in Christ, but not made Him Lord over every area of life? How can you be a discipling influence in their life to help lead them closer to Christ?
How can we make our small group a place where people are able to best flourish and mature in the faith? Why do we grow when we are united to other believers?
Praise God for saving you and making you a new creation. Pray that you would continue to find your identity in Christ and Christ alone. Thank God for adopting you into His family and giving you the rights and privileges of His Son. Remind yourself that there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus, and you are a royal priest, and a temple of the Holy Spirit. Pray these glorious truths would define who you are.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
In what areas of your life are you not letting Christ define your identity? What needs to change? What one step will you take this week to begin relinquishing lordship in that area of your life to Jesus?
Memorize 1 Corinthians 2:16.
1 CORINTHIANS 2:14-3:1.
2:14. The natural man is a term that describes all who are without Christ; the term is opposite of “spiritual people” (v. 13). People without Christ do not have the Holy Spirit to help them comprehend God’s revealed truth. That is the reason they do not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit. In other words, when presented with truth about God, they refuse to believe. They reject the gospel and all it implies as foolishness. Lost people simply are not able to know the truth of the gospel on their own, for that truth can only be evaluated or discerned as truth through the work of the Holy Spirit. In other words, people who reject the Spirit’s work in their hearts cannot develop a way to discern God’s truth.
2:15-16. In vivid contrast to “the natural man” of verse 14, the spiritual person (the one with the Spirit) can evaluate everything, can discern truth from error. This does not imply infallibility. When speaking of spiritual matters, however, the person with the Spirit is not subject to the one without the Spirit. In other words, unbelievers cannot render correct judgments about believers or about the validity of their faith in Christ.
Paul then included a quote from Isaiah 40:13. The rhetorical question demands the answer that no one has known the Lord’s mind except the Lord Himself. Therefore, those with the Spirit of the Lord have the mind of Christ. The word translated mind means more than mere thoughts; it includes the idea of a mind-set or disposition.
Paul’s concluding statement is significant for two reasons. First, knowing the mind of the Lord and having the mind of Christ are synonymous phrases for Paul. To know the mind of the Lord, one must have the Spirit. Thus, to have the Spirit is to have the mind of Christ. Secondly, Paul brought to conclusion his argument begun in verse 7. To understand the wisdom of God is to possess the mind of Christ. Therefore, the Spirit is constantly revealing the mystery of God, namely, Christ and Him crucified.
3:1-2. Many of the Corinthians were immature in the Lord. They were not able to receive solid food (advanced teaching) because they were full of envy and strife (“rivalries”), which marked them as babies in Christ who needed milk (fundamental Christian instruction) rather than adult fare.