“Accept No Substitutes”
Getting to Know You
What did you find compelling, challenging, or even confusing about the lesson Sunday?
As summer comes to a close, let’s spend some time talking about the things we loved about it.
Please list a few things you enjoyed about the summer. What are some things you’re looking forward to when summer is over?
The lesson Sunday was about substitution. Whenever we sin, we are substituting some created thing in place of the Creator, whether it’s food in the case of gluttony, or money in the case of greed, and on and on. We accept these substitutes in place of God. This is truly frustrating when we want to love God more than anything, yet we keep chasing after ungodly things! Let’s read a passage that helps explain where these temptations comes from.
13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
What does this passage teach about temptation?
Notice the progression from desire, to temptation, to sin, and finally to death. Can you think of examples you’ve seen in your life, or someone else’s life where this progression played out?
Luke asked us to spend some time this week really thinking about our main sins—that is, the sins that tempt us time and again. Think about what they might be and pick one right now. Really, pick just one, right now, and put a name to it. Now, whatever that sin is, however gross or depraved it may be! it begins with a natural desire in your heart. That desire could be love, power, knowledge, whatever. And God delights in fulfilling those desires if you’ll trust Him. Please read this passage about God’s delight.
23 This is what the Lord says: “Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches. 24 But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the Lord, have spoken!
What insights did you gain reading these verses?
God lists three things He demonstrates and He delights in: 1) unfailing love, 2) justice, and 3) righteousness, which is a term meaning “right dealings,” especially when it comes to relationships. You can think of justice as “right dealings” towards evil-doers, and righteousness as “right dealings” amongst God’s people (e.g. secure marriages, good parenting, caring neighbors, etc.).
Which of these three speaks to you most deeply as a desire of your heart?
Which of these three is the hardest for you to believe God is demonstrating in your life? Please explain.
Bringing it Home
Our sins will overflow from the desires of our hearts. We’ll be especially tempted when we feel that God isn’t fulfilling those desires. Hopefully, you’ve identified some of your own desires throughout this study. Ideally, we should all go to God for fulfillment, but in reality we often settle for substitutions. In Jeremiah, God listed a few substitutes we go to in place of Him: wisdom, power and riches. Of course, there are more than those three, but they give you an idea.
What thing, or things, do you often substitute in place of God?
What desire is this substitute meant to fulfill? That is, are you trying to fulfill a desire for love, power, knowledge, etc.?
What can you do to reject the imitation and to go to the source: God?