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Part 1 – A Changed Life Starts with Repentance

For the Christian a changed life starts with repentance

This Bible study is designed for individual study as well as a teacher’s guide for group study. As a teacher’s guide the teacher needs to adapt the biblical passages to their style of teaching. All the scripture quotes are from the New International Version. Obviously, this study can be done in another translated version of the Bible.

A key Christian principle that Christians must know to become more Christ-like is that those who choose to follow Christ must repent of past sin and strive to no longer sin. Before a Christian begins to study what sin is he/she needs to understand that sin is behavior against the will of God and Christians are to purposely avoid it. There are many New Testament verses to support this principle and they should be read and analyzed until this principle is written in the mind and the heart of the believer.

Jesus began his ministry on earth with this message to the Jewish people, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matthew 4:17) There are two distinct messages in this sentence. The first is the command to “repent” of sin, and the second is that Jesus, the way to heaven, is among them. In Luke5:32 (also recorded in Matthew 9:13 and Mark 2:17) Jesus told Jewish religious leaders, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” The Apostle John in his first letter makes the call to repentance mandatory for everyone, “If we claim to be without sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8-9) The Apostle Paul also tells us in Romans 3:21-26 that though “all have sinned” one can be made righteous through faith in Jesus Christ and his atoning death that paid the penalty for their sin, but as we will see, faith in Jesus includes repentance and a changed life.

Some suggested discussion questions:
Does repentance require changed behavior? Is more biblical scripture needed to answer this question?
If you were living a similar life as you are now during the time of Jesus’ ministry on earth and heard Jesus say he was only sent to call sinners to repentance, would you have necessarily thought he was calling to you?

The book of John chapter 8 tells a story of religious leaders attempting to trap Jesus. A woman caught in the act of adultery is brought before Jesus by Jewish religious leaders. These leaders sought to get Jesus in trouble with either the Roman authorities or the people who followed him. If Jesus had said that the Law of Moses should be followed and the woman was stoned to death by his followers, the Romans would have arrested Jesus. If Jesus had said that the woman should not be condemned to death, his followers might have concluded that he did not teach from the Jewish Law. Jesus once again baffled the Jewish leaders and they left the woman with Jesus and his followers. Jesus showed mercy on the woman and then gave her this command, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11)

Some suggested discussion questions:
Would Jesus have been justified if he had condemned the woman caught in the act of adultery to death by stoning?
How does Jesus’ action with the woman caught in the act of adultery exemplify the new covenant God made through Jesus? (Make sure the class is aware that the covenant God made with Jesus supersedes the old covenant, which is the Law of Moses. Romans 3:21 describes the new covenant as “righteousness from God, apart from the law.”)

Chapter 5 of the book of John records something unique that Jesus did. While Jesus healed many people, only John records Jesus seeking out those he healed at a later time. In this instance Jesus sought out a former invalid that he had healed earlier in the day. Jesus’ message to the man was “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” (John 5:14) The Apostle John wrote in his first letter, “No one who lives in him [Jesus] keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” (1 John 3:6) John continues with the same message in verses 9 and 10 of chapter 3, and in Chapter 5 verse 18.

Some suggested discussion questions:
Is it realistic for God to expect Christians to no longer sin?
If it’s not realistic, then why does God give this command?

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