This is a full youth group lesson that can work in a variety of settings. The lesson is intended for 10 to 20 students, but it could be adapted for more. Ideally, any youth group leader could take this lesson and successfully implement it with a little prep time. Hopefully, I can share more of these. Please let me know what you think of the format.
Scripture: Romans 7:14-25
14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[b] a slave to the law of sin.
Learning Game: Fox and Chicken(30 minutes)
Fox and Chicken is a version of the popular youth group game that is known as Mafia or Werewolf. We prefer this version for a couple of reasons. While being the same game as Mafia/Werewolf fox and chicken is a lot less violent and grisly in theme. This version also works really well because it has some Star Wars Inspired roles. In these games there are two teams. One team's goal is to eliminate the other team (in this case the foxes are eating the chickens), and the bigger team (the chickens) are trying to figure out who the foxes are before it is too late. Unless the first game goes extremely fast, it is usually fine just to play one time.
Post Game Discussion (5 minutes)
The goal of this discussion is to use the game exerpeince to get the students to begin thinking critically. These questions also set up the deeper, scripture based discussion. Ask the following questions to prompt discussion
1. In games like this do you prefer to be on the “good side” or “bad side?” How do you know which is which?
2. What skills are needed to play the fox side well? What makes the actions of the fox side more bad?
3. When it comes to behavior how do you know what is good and what is bad? Are these concepts objective or subjective?
Discussion Starter (5 minutes)
You will need a copy of the Return of the Jedi. Set up the clip by explaining this is from the final movie of the original trilogy. Luke Skywalker knows that he has to confront Darth Vader, but Luke desires to redeem Vader instead of destroy him. Start the clip right when Luke Skywalker is delivered to Darth Vader, and stop the clip when Darth Vader says "He is your master now."
Bible Discussion (20-30 minutes)
The goal here is to use the discussion questions to allow the students to explore the themes and teachings of the bible on their own. Leaders should facilitate the discussion and not dominate it. To help the leader's guide the discussion, there are facilitator points and extra information that might be helpful to share. Use the following questions to prompt discussion:
1. Do you think it is possible for someone to be truly evil or does everyone have good in them?
2. What about the reverse, is it possible for someone to be truly good or does everyone have evil in them?
3. What do you think causes people to do evil things?
Facilitator Instruction: During this part of the conversation it is important not to let a stark black and white picture get painted. Very few people in the world proudly claim to be evil. We have a remarkable capacity for self-justification.
Facilitator Instruction: To fully understand the scripture requires some explanation. The law that Paul is referring to is the Torah or first five books of the bible. For Jews following the law or the rules in the Torah was how one was close to God. In Romans, Paul is arguing that grace made available through Jesus is now the best way for one to be close to God. However, he is insisting that God’s rules in the Torah are still important.
Read Romans 7:14-25
4. Re-read verse 15. Does anyone else ever feel this way? When you do something that you know is wrong how does it make you feel?
5. Re-read verse 21-23. Do you agree that everyone has a sinful or evil nature in them?
6. Re-read verse 25. How does God, through Jesus Christ, deliver us from this sinful nature?
Facilitator Instruction: It needs to be pointed out that Jesus was tempted as we are tempted but did not give into the sinful nature. Jesus not only forgives us from our sinful nature, but frees us from it as well.
7. If Jesus frees us from sin, then why do we still sin?
Facilitator Instruction: The uncomfortable truth is we still sin because we choose to do so. We are free from sin, but we can choose to give that freedom up.
8. Like Darth Vader we have a constant turmoil between light and dark, good and evil, Jesus or sin in us. Do you think at a certain point our path is set like Vader did or do we always have the choice?
9. What can we do to ensure that we choose good over sin more regularly?
Facilitator Instruction: The final point that needs to be brought out here is that we have to choose good over sin. Each choice is like walking a certain way in the woods. If you do it enough, you will eventually create an easy to see path to follow, and once there is a path it is easier to stay on the path. Our choices are the same way. Each time we choose to sin we make it a little easier to do it again, and each time we choose to do it Jesus’ way we make it a little easier to do that way again. Thankfully, we have a secret weapon in the Holy Spirit, and we can seek God’s help to make the right choice.
Closing Worship (5 minutes)
Conclude by stating that the chorus of this song is on point. Because of Jesus we are free to struggle, and we are not struggling to be free. If we are saved, we are no longer slaves to sin, and we can truly choose to follow Christ. When we are followers of Christ we will have a struggle because we have a sinful nature, but we also have the Spirit working to change us from the inside out. During the song encourage the youth to reflect on what their struggle is.
Play or sing the song The Struggle by Tenth Avenue North.