This week’s passage flows directly from last week’s passage. Jesus is continuing to show us that adherence to outward traditions and rituals cannot change us, only a new heart can do that.
Read Mark 7:14-23.
Simple Discussion Questions for Small Groups:
To start your group, have everyone share one way they have seen God at work in their life this week.
1. Why do people sin? Is it nurture or nature? Are people born sinners? What does Jesus teach in this passage?
2. What “outside-in” approach to righteousness were the Pharisees trying? What are some “outside-in” approaches to righteousness that you see yourself and our society attempting?
3. Review the Fighter Verse- Ezekiel 36:26. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
The Bible tells us that through faith in Jesus and the receiving of his life, we receive a new heart? Why do we need a new heart? How is a new heart better than just being forgiven?
For Deeper Discussion:
1. The Evil Within.
Read Mark 7:1-13. Where does Jesus say evil comes from?
Read Romans 2:14-15. How does our conscience condemn us?
*Paul is teaching us the connection between our heart and our conscience. He says that even if we don’t have the Bible or the Law of God, we are still condemned by our own consciences. God’s law or morality is “written on hearts.” As a result our “thoughts accuse or excuse us.”
The result of a condemning conscience is shame. In what ways does shame rule in your heart?
2. Outside In.
In the sermon we identified several ways we try to use something outside of us to create an inward feeling of righteousness. Which of these can you identify with?
Religion, Politics, Social Morality, Celebrity, Consumerism, Ministry.
Why can’t “outside-in” approaches work to change our hearts?
3. Inside – Out: The New Heart.
Jesus’ life and death replaced the Old Covenant with a New Covenant. Read Hebrews 8:8-13. What are some of the spiritual benefits of the New Covenant (including the promise of a new heart)?
Discuss each of these characteristics of the New Heart. Can you see evidence of these in your life? In each other’s lives?
-Loves God, “A new want to.”
-Lives in the Grace Narrative.
-Loves and empowers others.
-Says NO to SIN and YES to GOD.
-Feels deeply: Peace, joy, and sorrow.
The New Heart is a new desire. This is a desire to truly love God and others. Every desire we have (good desires, bad desires, unfulfilled desires) all can point us to our deeper desire for God. Talk through some examples of this in your own life- how can your desires be satisfied by God and by serving others?
Talking to your children about the Heart.
1. Help your children to understand that they need Jesus to give them a new heart. Sometimes when we talk to children about salvation we use the language of “asking Jesus into your heart.” But this can fail to show the truth that Jesus gives us a brand new heart. Instead we might say “do you want Jesus to give you a new heart.”
2. Disney Pixar’s movie “Inside Out” can be a good tool for helping kids to see that what they do on the outside comes from what is happening on the inside. After watching the movie talk about how Jesus can change us from the inside, not just the outside.
3. Because there is evil inside of us as Jesus said, we all live with shame. Your children are no exception. Often parents think the solution to this is to make sure their children never feel guilt, or to make them feel like they are perfect. This is actually very dangerous. Never allowing your children to fail will actually just increase their sense of shame by creating an unattainable standard. It is far better to let your children learn to fail and be vulnerable. This is when the gospel becomes more real and powerful in their lives. In spite of their failures you can love them anyway as Christ does. This is what overcomes shame.