Small Group Curriculum

The Battle for the Best

02.07.16 | Sermon Series: Reset

PREPARATION

Spend the week studying Romans 12:1-2 and Ephesians 6:10-18. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.

DETERMINE | which discussion points and study questions will work best for your group.

PRAY | for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members and their openness to God’s Word.

LANDING POINT | Will you love the world or love the Father? Ask the Lord to give you a pure love for Him.

Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion

  1. Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
  2. No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
  3. No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
  4. Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group. 

INTRODUCTION

As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.

Can you recall a time when you were satisfied with good before experiencing great? Examples: fast food burger vs. the real deal or feeling like your prayers hit the ceiling vs. having a close connection with the Father in prayer.

How does it make you feel when someone goes above and beyond to give you their best?

As we mentioned last week, God wants you to experience His best in your life. Paul gives us a way to experience God’s best—by being a “living sacrifice” and surrendering your life to Jesus daily. Paul says surrender is an act of worship, and he says surrender helps you understand God’s will for your life.

Paul also warns his readers against conforming “to the pattern of this world,” which always leads to experiencing less than God’s best. Instead, Paul wants believers like you and me to be transformed by our relationship with God. And that transformation happens when we choose to reset and love the Father more than the things of this world.


LEARN

Jesus knew the Father better than anyone. Before He came to Earth, Jesus experienced a perfectly loving and relationship with His Father. He left that relationship to live among us and show us what life with the Father looks like. Jesus taught that God was a loving Father who desired to give good things to His children. The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus makes experiencing God’s best in our lives possible.

Divide Matthew 7:7-12 between group members and read how Jesus describes our relationship with the Father in the Sermon on the Mount. After this, split the group into pairs and retell the story in their own words.

Now, answer the following question: What does Jesus’ teaching tell you about the Father’s desires for you? 

Select 3-5 questions to discuss as a group.

Knowing Your Enemy

While God wants us to experience His best, there’s something that stands in our way. As believers, we have enemies. One of the main enemies we face is the world. When Paul mentions the ‘world’ in Romans 12:2, he’s not referring to Earth or to people. He’s referring to a belief system. The world’s system is a way of seeing and doing life.

The world tries to appeal to us every day with its beliefs. Turn on the television and you’ll see adver- tisements, movies and music videos that tell us, “Find fulfillment in the things of this world, not in God.” But the things of this world can’t fulfill you, because they’ll always lead to less than God’s best.

Seeking fulfillment in the things of this world is like trying to fill a bucket with a hole in it. No matter how much water you put in it, it never gets filled. Only when we surrender to God in love do we begin to find true fulfillment.

Why is it helpful to understand that the world is a belief system? How does knowing this help you in the battle for God’s best?

Jesus is Greater than the World

We need a right perspective on the battle we face. The Bible encourages us that Jesus is greater than the things of this world. He came to defeat our enemies for us. Before Jesus went to the Cross, He assured his disciples that, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Have you ever experienced a situation where a right (or wrong perspective) changed the way you looked at it? If so, explain the situation.

What’s one thing you could do this week to remind you that Jesus is greater than the world?

A Greater Love Leads to Transformation

As Christians, we want to see change in our lives. We don’t want to experience the same cycle of sin in our lives. We want freedom from sin. We want transformation. Only a love for the Father can trans- form our hearts and give us new desires for God that replace desires for the things of this world.

Imagine God speaking directly to you as you face the daily battle against sin and the world. What would He tell you? How would He encourage you?

What are the biggest roadblocks to change in your opinion? How can they be overcome?  


LIVE

Select 1 question from this section to answer.

Arm Yourself for Battle

Every soldier needs to defend him or herself in battle. Christians are no different. One of your greatest weapons you have is the Bible, which exposes the world’s lies and reveals God’s truth. In 1 John 2:15-16, John tells us that the world’s belief system involves the:

Lust of the eyes – the desire for things
Lust of the flesh – the desire for pleasure
Pride of life – the desire for power and position

John tells us a love for the Father distinguishes believers from the world. We’re God’s children and we love our Father more than the fleeting pleasures of this world. Victory in the battle is found in our love for the Father.

Describe some of the lies of the world you hear on a regular basis? Why are they appealing? How can you defend yourself against them?

What are some helpful ways to focus on the Father’s love for you in the midst of daily busyness and distractions?


LEAD

Select 1 question from this section to ask your group.

Victory In Jesus

The Gospel is a story about victory. Jesus came to do what we couldn’t—to defeat our enemies and release us from their bondage. Jesus has conquered sin and death. The Cross declares that Jesus wins. Therefore, victory in the battle for God’s best is possible.

How would your life be different if you looked at your struggles against sin and this world in light of Jesus’ victory over your enemies?

Leaning into Community in the Battle

You don’t have to fight alone. God is with you, and He has given you a community to fight with you in the battle. Our enemy tries to isolate us from other believers, because he knows that’s when we’re most vulnerable. But, when you lean into community, you have freedom to share your struggles, confess your sins and pray for strength and resolve together. God’s people are more encouraged and emboldened to fight when they are united in the battle.

What’s one change your group (or church community) could make to allow more freedom to share struggles, confess sins and pray together? 


PRAY

Pray as a community for God’s strength and protection in the battle. Ask for wisdom and discernment to know your enemy. Ask the Spirit to remind you of the Gospel and Jesus’ victory of your enemies. Thank God for giving you a defense against the enemy and ask Him show you how to share the truth of this message with believers and nonbelievers.


FOLLOW UP

Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:

Memorize John 16:33 and reflect on what it means that Jesus gives you peace and assurance that He has overcome the world.

Ask the group if the discussion has led to any breakthroughs in current battles against their enemies. Ask them to share what they’ve learned.


COMMENTARY

Studying the enemy’s methods.
A classic exposition on the enemy’s methods against believers is Thomas Brooks’ Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices (The Banner of Truth Trust, 1652). Satan is both a tempter and accuser. That is, he tempts us to sin and accuses us when we fall into it. Here are some ways the enemy tempts us: he shows the bait and hides the hook (i.e., he shows the short-term pleasure of sin and hides the long-term consequences); he makes sin look virtuous; he justifies sin by showing you the sin of other Christians; he emphasizes God’s mercy and hides God’s justice and wrath against sin; he leads you to compare your suffering as a Christian with the prosperity of sinners (i.e., playing by the rules doesn’t pay off); he tempts you to partition your life (i.e., I’m good in this area, so I can sin in this area).

Now, here are some ways the enemy accuses us: he causes you to look more at your sin than your Savior; he reminds you of past sins and their damage; he leads you to think your suffering is punish- ment for sin; he makes you think your inner struggles and temptations aren’t normal for Christians. [1]

My chains are gone.
I’ve been set free. In the fight of faith, many Christians feel defeated, because they find themselves coming back, again and again, to the sin(s) they hate. They feel powerless against sin. Maybe you’ve felt the same way about a sin in your life. But the Bible calls us to see our struggle differently. You are no longer slaves to sin (Rom. 6:5-7). The Spirit of God has set you free from the flesh (Rom. 8:1-4). God gives you a new heart with new affections. And He put His Spirit in you. Now, you have the power to choose Him over the things of this world.

A right posture towards the world.
It’s important to draw a distinction between the world defined by the lost and the world defined by the system that opposes God. The Church is called to oppose the world’s beliefs and values by living contrary lives of godly service, love and sacrifice. In that sense, the Church is against the world. However, the Church is also called to love the world. That is, believers are called to seek the lost and invite them to experience God’s best by following Jesus. Too often Christians oppose the world’s values but lack genuine, Christ-like love for the lost.

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1. These examples were taken from a sermon by Timothy Keller. Timothy Keller, “Spiritual Warfare” (audio of sermon, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City, NY, January 29, 2012), accessed January 26, 2016, http://www.gospelinlife.com/spiritual-warfare-6191.