Outreach Agendas, Topical Curriculum

God-Given Instincts

Main Point of Discussion: This small group discussion helps students understand that because we are made in God’s image, we have a moral instinct (conscience) that helps us know what is inherently right and wrong. Taking it further, as Christians, we also have the Holy Spirit who makes God’s commands very clear.

Opening Activity:
You’ll need a piano, sheet music, and someone who can read/play the music. Have the group of students sit around the piano close enough to hear it. Ask the group to look at the keys on the piano and figure out which ones are “wrong.” Of course, it's a confusing question with no right answer… at this point.

Ask for a volunteer to come forward and play 2 keys together at the same time. (This works better if the volunteer does NOT know how to play the piano/keyboard.) Ask the group if the two notes he/she played, sounded good together. Repeat this several times with different volunteers. Some notes will sound good and others will sound bad.

Now have the real piano player come forward and play a little bit on the instrument. It will sound magnificent compared to the plinking from earlier.

Transitional Statement:
This activity is designed not only to show us something about our musical instincts, but also to illustrate something about the way God wired us.

Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.

CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.

Discussion Questions:

  1. AROUND THE CIRCLE: As we begin, let’s all share our name and say what bands/musical artists you’re listening to right now?
  2. ASK A FEW: Why is there often times disagreement between what is ‘good’ music and ‘bad’ music? (i.e. country western music fans vs. rap/hip hop fans)

  3. ASK A FEW: Are we all in agreement that some of the piano playing from earlier sounded bad? Why or why not?
  4. ASK A FEW: What makes the ‘bad’ notes sound bad? (i.e. the majority of people react negatively to musical dissonance)
  5. ASK A FEW: What makes the ‘good’ notes sound pleasing to our ears? (i.e. conversely, most people respond well to musical harmony)
  6. ASK A FEW: Did God make us with an instinct for “good” and “bad” music? Why?
  7. ASK A FEW: What other types of instincts has God given us?
  8. Read the following passage:

      Romans 2:14-15 (The Message)
      When outsiders who have never heard of God's law follow it more or less by instinct, they confirm its truth by their obedience. They show that God's law is not something alien, imposed on us from without, but woven into the very fabric of our creation. There is something deep within them that echoes God's yes and no, right and wrong. Their response to God's yes and no will become public knowledge on the day God makes his final decision about every man and woman.

  9. ASK SOMEONE: What does this passage say about the possibility of a spiritual/moral instinct?
  10. ASK A FEW: So if everyone has God’s moral standards woven into their being, is there anyone who can claim ignorance about sinning? Why or why not?
  11. ASK A FEW: How is a guilty conscience like hearing the bad chords in our piano activity?
  12. ASK A FEW: How does following God’s law bring harmony between our spirit and life?
  13. ASK A FEW: Is a guilty conscience always bad? Why or why not?
  14. ASK A FEW: How have you heard the ‘echo’ of God’s yes and no?
  15. ASK A FEW: Did God give all people a spiritual/moral instinct just to make them feel guilty? Why or why not?
  16. AROUND THE CIRCLE: How is a Christian’s moral instinct enhanced by God? (i.e. the presence and voice of the Holy Spirit)
  17. ASK A FEW: What do you think happens when we continually ignore our moral instincts?
  18. ASK A FEW: How will God make “public knowledge” of our moral decisions? (Judgment Day)
  19. ASK A FEW: Based on this passage, do you think there are absolute moral standards for everyone? Why or why not?
  20. ASK A FEW: What are some specific ways we can be more sensitive to following the voice of the Holy Spirit?

Wrap Up:
Studies show that most people believe guilt or guilty feelings are always wrong. But just like we have God given musical instincts, we also have God given spiritual/moral instincts designed to help us when we are going down the wrong path. They are also there to help people realize their need for Jesus Christ as Savior. Maybe tonight you hear the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to you about your negative choices and/or attitude right now. Let’s take 3 minutes of complete silence, and listen for God’s voice and the echo of right and wrong as you evaluate your life. You may also hear for the first time a prompting from God to trust in Jesus Christ for salvation.

After a few minutes, close in prayer and let the students know you’re available to talk about any decisions they made.

Close in Prayer

Written by Lane Palmer


Jonathan McKee

Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Guy's Guide to FOUR BATTLES Every Young Man Must Face; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.

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