July 10 lesson: We’re all under sin’s power
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We’re all under sin’s power
Summer Quarter: Toward a New Creation
Unit 2: A World Gone Wrong
Sunday school lesson for the week of July 10, 2016
By Rev. V.L. Daughtery, Jr.
Lesson Scripture: Romans 3:9-20
Background Scripture: Psalm 136:1-9; 136:26; Romans 3:9-20
Introduction: Purchase of a new appliance brings an inevitable question by a salesperson. “Do you wish to purchase a long-term service contract? There is only a one-year warranty?” Beyond 365 days, the buyer must beware. There is not anything that lasts forever. Or is there? What about the “steadfast love of God?”
Read aloud Psalm 136:1-9; 136:26
The theme of this hymn is thanksgiving and praise for God’s enduring love. In its original use, antiphonal voices would alternate singing all 26 verses during celebration of Passover and the New Year. All may be affected by sin’s power, but God’s love is more powerful.
The composition of this Psalm reveals the style of Hebrew poetry. It is written in couplets that parallel each other. The Lord’s Prayer uses this style: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” There is a declaration, and then the same idea is defined and repeated with different words.
Worshippers are summoned to give thanks in three ways to the Creator for his loving kindness. He is the Lord, the God of all gods, and Lord of all lords. This Lord of enduring love will not allow his people to worship or be under the authority of any other influence or deities.
Psalm 136: 4-9
Here is a thought that takes up residence in the mind, repeats all day, and refuses to go away. God is thanked for creation. The world belongs to God. Humans cannot cease to sing thanks to God because “his steadfast love endures forever.” Such divine love is revealed in God’s sustaining and redemptive relationship to all he has made.
This concluding doxology resonates the motif of the hymn. It has thanksgiving for God’s enduing love. Such love, for those who embrace it, does not have an expiration date.
Read Aloud Romans 3:9-20
A clergy father invited his 5-year-old visiting grandson to prepare a room for a meeting of “Disciple” training. The leader’s guide suggested using a one-word theme for each session. The word for the afternoon’s gathering was sin. In large letters, the word “sin” was on doors, windows, the chalkboard, and backs of chairs. Upon completion of the posting task, the child asked, “Grandfather, what is sin?” An attempt was made to answer with good Wesleyan theology on a kindergarten level. It was then the lad asked another question, “Grandfather, if sin is so bad, why are you advertising it?”
Sin, today, is advertised, practiced, and shared with universal inclusiveness. All, without exception, fall under sin’s power.
Jews, living under the covenant and law, are not granted privileged status. Gentiles and Jews, who are without Christ, are under the power of sin. Without repentance, confession, and forgiveness from Jesus Christ, sin takes control of humans. They have no power to escape sin. Jews and Gentiles, because both have sinned, need justification by God’s grace given in Jesus Christ.
Jews, feeling they are God’s chosen people through the covenant, would have challenged Paul’s premise. Surely among the Jews there would be one righteous person. No, responds Paul, all have turned away from God. Look if you must. There is not one who can be called righteous.
Paul establishes his argument by emphasizing that all, Jews and Gentiles, are under the power of sin. Paul illustrates his argument by using material from the Old Testament. He refers to Psalm 14:1-3; Psalm 5:9; Psalm140:3; Psalm 10:7; Isaiah 59:7-8, and Psalm 36:1. Sin finds its expression in the practice of falsehood, deception, and bitterness. Rebellion against God creates a condition of ruin and misery when God is completely disregarded.
At some time, under God’s conditions, the whole world will be held accountable. The acquittal for sin will not be based upon having kept the rules of the covenant or upon good works. The one being judged must depend upon an acceptance of God’s amazing grace offered through Jesus Christ.
Humans cannot be justified by the law. The function of the law is to awaken in humans the knowledge and sense of sin. There is created a consciousness of sin, but not directions for how sin might be overcome. Only the work on the cross done by Jesus Christ can, when personally claimed, destroy sin’s domination.
Reflections for Discussion of Romans 3:9-20
- In corporate worship and personal meditation, time and silence are offered for several considerations. Is the creation threatened by abuse and corruption? Is the human doing the self-examination involved in sin unacceptable to God? What is the evidence of such unrighteousness and how can it be removed?
- Are those who do not believe all are under sin’s power until saved by faith in Christ in danger of perpetuating sin? Reflect how this destructive cycle can be broken.