Counting the Cost – Lesson 4:Avoiding Sin

Key Scriptures: 1 Kings 21, Genesis 3, Matthew 4:1-17, 1 Corinthians 10:13, James 4:7, Galatians 5:16, Hebrews 2:18, Ephesians 6:10-18, Luke 22:40, 1 Peter 5:8-11, Psalm 199:11, Romans 12:2, 1 Corinthians 15:33, Matthew 4:1-11, Philippians 4:8, 1 Corinthians 11:1

Guiding Question: How can we avoid sinning when tempted?

Optional Introductory Activity: Before class identify an ethical dilemma, preferably one where sinning would be the easier choice. (This often appears to be the case when telling the truth may lead to negative consequences, but is ultimately the right thing to do in God’s eyes.) It can be something taken from the news or something your Bible students may face. Present the dilemma to your Bible students. Have them identify all of the options the people in the situation have. Encourage them to dig deeper and come up with more than two choices. Ask them to identify what would appear to be the easiest choice – whether or not it is ultimately the best choice. What are some strategies the people in the situation could use to make the godly choice – especially when the sinful choice seems easier and better?

Lesson: (Questions to students are in bold italics.) Read 1 Kings 21. According to the Bible, Ahab decided that he wanted a vegetable garden closer to his palace. The best place for his garden was a vineyard owned by a man named Naboth. Ahab offered to replace Naboth’s land or buy him new property. Naboth’s response may seem a little bit strange to us today, but God had given each family that went to the Promised Land with Moses very specific property. Their society was set up in such a way that those family lands were meant to stay in that family. It is probably for that reason that Naboth is so reluctant to sell Ahab his land.

What happens next would almost be humorous, if it didn’t have such tragic consequences. Ahab refused to eat and basically pouted because he didn’t get his way. Jezebel discovered what had happened and set up a scenario for Naboth that she knew would lead to his being stoned to death. After that happened, Ahab swooped in and claimed the vineyard for his garden.

Elijah comes to confront Ahab about what happened. He informs him that because of his evil, sinful choices, Ahab’s family would lose the kingdom and Jezebel would be eaten by dogs. To Ahab’s credit, he did humble himself so God decided the punishments would happen after Ahab died.

What other choices did Ahab and Jezebel have that would have kept them from committing the sins they did in this story? What temptations and tricks did Satan use to convince them to sin? How could they have avoided those tricks and temptations and acted in godly ways?

Did you know that God has a plan to help us avoid giving into temptation and sinning? Read 1 Corinthians 10:13. What is God’s plan for helping us avoid sinning when tempted? Perhaps the most well known example of someone rejecting the temptation to sin was when Satan tempted Jesus. Read Matthew 4:1-17. What strategies did Jesus use to avoid sinning when tempted by Satan? How well did they work? What would it look like to use similar strategies when you realize you are tempted to sin?

God kgives us other passages of scripture with more strategies and tips for avoiding sin when tempted. For each of the passages, identify the strategy or tip. Then explain how you might use it in a situation you might experience.

  • James 4:7. Resist the devil and he will flee
  • Galatians 5:16. Walk by the Spirit and refuse to gratify your selfish desires
  • Hebrews 2:18. Lean on Jesus, because he understands temptation
  • Ephesians 6:10-18. Put on the armor of God
  • Luke 22:40. Pray that you may not enter into temptation
  • 1 Peter 5:8-11. Be watchful, sober minded, resist temptation, stand firm in faith
  • Psalm 119:11. Memorize scripture
  • Romans 12:2. Don’t conform to the world, but be transformed
  • 1 Corinthians 15:33. Remember bad company ruins good morals – choose companions carefully
  • Philippians 4:8. Focus on thinking about things that are true, honorable, etc.
  • 1 Corinthians 11:1. Imitate Christ

Skills Activity: Review the main points of the lesson. Read Genesis 3. Have students identify some of the strategies Adam and Eve could have used to avoid sinning when Satan tempted them. Encourage them to be very specific about what Adam and Eve could have said or done differently. Can some of the strategies they thought have be added to the list from the lesson?

Have students look at a complete list of the various strategies they could use when tempted to avoid sinning. Which ones do they think would work best for them? Ask students to provide some examples of real world situations where teens could be tempted. What strategies would be most effective? Once again, encourage them to be extremely specific about what they could say or do. You may want to record their answers and provide a written list for each of them with specific things they can say or do when they are tempted.

Depending upon your Bible students, you can provide additional practice by having them act out scenarios or write skits to perform to teach others strategies for avoiding sinning when tempted.

Application Challenge: Read the scriptures from the lesson and look over the strategies for avoiding sinning when tempted. Which ones do you think will work best for the temptations you normally experience? You may want to practice various scenarios in your head so you will be comfortable saying or doing the things that you believe will help you avoid sinning. Periodically review your strategies. Are they working well? Do you need to use additional strategies to avoid sinning?

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