Note—As you work through the discussion guide, remember that you do not have to answer every question; pick and choose which questions work best for your group discussion.
Introduction: Have someone read: 2 Cor. 5:2, John 16:33, Phil. 1:29, 1 Peter 4:12.
Question 1: How do these passages conflict with some views of what God promises for the Christian? Are they confusing to you? Why or why not?
Explain: Terry said that in response to society’s claim that… “You must do you…whatever that means for you…no one can tell you otherwise…God included…your happiness is all that matters.” Our response should be, “Okay, then I’m claiming the right to be unhappy.”
Question 2: What did he mean by that, and why is it an important heart response for us?
Read: James 4:4-10 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
Explain: To understand what he means by them being adulterous, keep in mind his persistent challenge for them to not be “double-minded.” Double-minds, adulterous, friend of the world, all point to a heart that is undecided. They were Christians, so not undecided as in whether to follow Christ but undecided as to whether he would consistently be the Lord of their lives.
Question 3: Do these words sound harsh to you? Why do you think James used this kind of language?
Read: Romans 2:4. “God’s kindness leads us to repentance.”
Question 4: How are James’ strong words a kindness?
Question 5: There is grace and hope in this passage; where do you see it?
Explain: There are a number of “commands.” Let’s look for them.
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
Question 6: How are these commands conduits to God’s grace? (How do they position us to receive God’s power into our lives?)
Read 2 Cor. 7:10. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
Question 7: How does “Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom” tie in with godly sorrow?
Question 8: When are shame, guilt, and sadness “good for us”? When are they “bad for us?”
Explain: In Friday’s devotional, Terry says, “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” James 1:13-15. Anyone who plays around with sin is playing with fire. If we grieve and mourn our sin, then we are less likely to play around with temptation. Temptation is the seed that can become a sin. If we can learn to cry over sin, then perhaps temptation will lose some of its power in our lives. God help us mourn sin so that temptation becomes less tempting.
Question 9: How might learning to be more sorry for our sin help us become less attracted to temptation?
Question 10: How do we feel sorry for our sin without getting bogged down in guilt and shame?
Conclude: Give thanks to God that he has freely forgiven our sins. Ask him to help us learn to hate our sins as we are learning to love him.