Passage: Romans 7:21–8:6
Guide for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection
In Romans 8, the Apostle Paul shows us how the gospel creates an entirely new mindset in Christians—a new, and freeing way of approaching all of life, based on the finished work of Christ.
First, Paul helps us to understand the magnitude of sin. If we don’t grasp the magnitude of our sin, we won’t know what we’ve been rescued from. By meditating on God’s law, which requires not only right actions, but also right attitudes and desires, we come to realize that our sin is much deeper than we imagine. Sin always “lies close at hand” and “wages war” against us, in a constant inner battle. Sin, then, is an indwelling power that is at home within us, keeping us from doing the good we want to do.
Romans also describes sin, however, as a “cosmic tyrant”—an evil reign or domain that enslaves us and acts upon us, and one that is often perpetuated through evil systems that we ourselves contribute to. Sin, therefore, in all of its dimensions, is a much worse problem than we can image—one that we truly need rescue from.
Gratefully, God has rescued us from the enslaving power of both the sin inside of us and the sin outside of us. In those of us who have experienced this rescue, the Holy Spirit produces an entirely new mindset—a new “matrix” for viewing and responding to all of life, based on the grace and freedom of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is God’s personal presence who moves into our lives at conversion, and changes us from the inside out, starting with our “mindset”. The Spirit helps us to align everything—our values, decisions, activities, habits, and behaviors—with the implications of the gospel—as we “set our minds on the things of the Spirit” (Rom. 8:5). Thanks be to God for the gift of his Spirit!
- The Magnitude of Sin (7:21-25)
- The Mindset of the Holy Spirit (8:1-6)
Group Discussion & Personal Reflection Guide
Re-read the passage (Romans 7:21-8:6)
The Magnitude of Sin (7:21-25)
Q) Re-read Romans 7:21-25. What descriptions does Paul use to illuminate the depth and the intensity of his battle against the sin inside of him?
Q) Re-read Romans 7:25. What does Paul mean when he says: “I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh, I serve the law of sin”? How can a person serve the law “with their mind” but serve sin “with their flesh”?
Q) Pastor Bobby said in his sermon that we need to recognize the magnitude of the sin inside of us. Have you ever had a time when you realized that a sinful attitude of yours was much deeper than you’d imagined? What caused you to realize this?
Q) Pastor Bobby said that sin is also portrayed in Romans as a “cosmic tyrant” reigning over us, infecting even our cultures, societies, and systems. What are some examples of ways that sin has infected the cultures, societies, and systems around us? How do we ourselves contribute to this?
Q) Pastor Bobby said that sin “works both ways,” in that our individual sins contribute to a culture of sin around us, and a culture of sin around us often tempts us into to further individual sin. Can you think of any examples of this dynamic in your own life—where your own individual sins have added to a culture of sin around you, and the culture of sin around you has tempted you into further individual sin?
Q) What concrete steps can we take to become more aware of our sin? How might you enlist the help of others (e.g. spouse, small group members) in this?
Q) What do you think would be some characteristics of a whole church that was deeply aware of its own sin?
The Mindset of the Holy Spirit (8:1-6)
Q) Re-read Romans 8:1-6. What does it mean to “walk according to the flesh”? What does it mean to “walk according to the Spirit”? What is the result of “setting our minds on the things of the flesh”? What is the result of “setting our minds on the things of the Spirit”?
Q) Pastor Bobby said the word translated “set their minds on” in verses 5-6 means more than just mental activity, but also includes the desires we have, the habits we cultivate, and the decisions we make. How might this more holistic definition of what it means to “set our minds” on something inform the way we seek to “set our minds on the things of the Spirit?”
Q) Think through one challenge or hardship you anticipate facing in the next month. What would it look like to face this challenge with your mind “set on the things of the flesh”? What would it look like to face this challenge with your mind “set on the things of the Spirit”?
Q) Spend some time praying for each other. Pray that you would “set your minds on the things of the Spirit” this week, and that you would know the “life and peace” he brings.
Additional Application Questions
Q) How else would you like to engage with God this week?
Q) How can you tangibly care for those in your community this week, both inside and outside of the church?
Spend time praying for yourselves, our church community, the North Shore community, and our nation and world—particularly those most vulnerable.