Main Point: We will always be plagued by sinful temptations, but we don’t have to give in to them. Jesus Christ gives us the hope of being able to live a totally new life.
Discussion Starter: Demi Lovato Still Suffers
Once upon a time, Demi Lovato was the queen of Disney. She was the Magic Kingdom’s stop gap after losing Miley Cyrus (and her Hannah Montana alter ego). Lovato starred in Disney’s Camp Rock 1 and 2, and also on Disney’s sitcom entitled Sonny with a Chance. She was a singing phenomenon, and her acting was pretty good, too.
Then, in late 2010, Lovato took a hiatus from her tour and checked into rehab. There had been suspicions of self-mutilation (cutting) and eating disorders. After her stint in rehab, those suspicions were confirmed. It seems that struggles with her self-image led to cutting and an eating disorder. Though the rehab was her parents’ idea, Lovato went along with the plan. In January of 2011, she completed her treatment.
Later in 2011, Demi released her first post-treatment song entitled Skyscraper. (We did a MUSIC DISCUSSION on this powerful song.) Everything seemed to be returning to normal for the fallen star.
But in this documentary by MTV, Lovato talks about how difficult it is to “stay strong” and the daily temptations she faces to return to her old life style.
It’s easy to admire the honesty of Demi Lovato, from her rehab treatment a few years back, to her thoughts on her current troubles. She’s always “kept it real” even when “real” wasn’t necessarily good. But what we saw in that clip makes many of our hearts ache for Demi. She wants to “stay strong” to use her words, but that’s not easy she tells us. In fact, she says she faces her demons every day, and expects to for the rest of her life. Is there any hope for Demi…or for those of us in a similar situation? The Bible has lots to say about that answer. Let’s check it out together.
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.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: As we get started, let’s all take a second to share our names and whether you like Demi’s music/shows/movies.
- ASK A FEW: Does it surprise you to hear that Demi is still suffering from the same temptations, and even giving in to them? Why or why not?
- ASK A FEW: Demi wants to “stay strong.” What advice would you give her so she could do that?
- ASK A FEW: She says that she “kept putting Band-Aids” over her problems? Is that a good idea or not? Why?
- ASK A FEW: Do you ever feel like Demi? If so, in what way(s)?
- ASK A FEW: What is your strategy for “staying strong”?
Read the following passage:
- Romans 7:15-25 (NLT)
15 I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate. 16 I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience shows that I agree that the law is good. 17 But I can’t help myself, because it is sin inside me that makes me do these evil things. 18 I know I am rotten through and through so far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn, I can’t make myself do right. I want to, but I can’t. 19 When I want to do good, I don’t. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway. 20 But if I am doing what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing it; the sin within me is doing it. 21 It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another law at work within me that is at war with my mind. This law wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
- ASK SOMEONE: In verse 15, Paul says he doesn’t understand himself. Why?
- ASK A FEW: What is the “law” that Paul is talking about here? (Leaders – Paul is simply talking about the Old Testament law, or “Mosaic Law.” Although he’s technically referencing the entire Old Testament, for the most part, he’s referencing Genesis through Deuteronomy, or the Torah.)
- ASK A FEW: What is it that’s inside him that makes him do what he doesn’t want to do? (Hint: See verse 17.)
- ASK A FEW: Based on this passage alone, and if you knew nothing else about him, how would you describe Paul? (Leaders – This passage might make Paul seem like a loser. Make sure to point out that Paul was one of the holiest men who EVER lived! He’s just being honest here. That means that the rest of us REALLY need to pay attention to his teaching!)
- ASK A FEW: What does it mean to be a “slave to sin”?
- ASK A FEW: In what ways can you identify with the Apostle Paul?
- ASK A FEW: What seems to be Paul’s only hope here? (Leaders – This is key. For Paul, the answer is Jesus Christ! It is for us, as well.)
- ASK A FEW: How does Jesus help us in our struggles?
- ASK A FEW: Do you think that we as Christians will always struggle with sin? Why or why not?
- ASK A FEW: For Demi, it was struggles with her self-image and an eating disorder. We don’t know exactly what it was for Paul. But what is the temptation that always comes knocking at your door?
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: What can we do to make sure we don’t sin even though we’re always going to be tempted?
During our time together, we watched a fairly compelling clip about the ongoing struggles of Demi Lovato. After she successfully completed rehab, she admitted in the video that, “This is a daily battle I will face for the rest of my life.” That’s sad to hear, but it’s the truth. Demi knows that she’ll always face temptations in this life that will seek to destroy her with sin.
Then, we left pop stars behind and turned our attention to Christian heroes. We read a passage from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Rome. In it, we found a similar confession. “Hey guys, I mess up all the time. I don’t do what I want to do for God. And sometimes, I actually DO the things I don’t want to do!”
He described a tortured existence, right along with Demi.
I think the same thing probably applies to us. In our own way, we have our daily struggles. It might not be an eating disorder or cutting, but it’s something. Maybe it’s an inappropriate website. Maybe it’s swearing or gossiping or uncontrolled anger. In short, it could be anything that causes you to disappoint God.
But while Demi did not seem to know the answer, Paul suggested a great one: Jesus Christ.
He said that Jesus would “free him from a life dominated by sin.” He would no longer be a slave to sin. I’d say that’s pretty good news! But the cool part is, that’s the truth for you and I, if we want. I’d say that’s really good news!
Yep. Jesus Christ wants to give us new life that is free from the consequences of sin. Now, giving your life to Jesus doesn’t mean that you’ll NEVER be tempted again, it just means that you’ll always have His help when you face those trials. Further, if you do fail to obey God, it means you’ll be forgiven of your wrong.
(Leaders, you may want to take the time to explain the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus at this point in the hopes that some of your students would confess their sin and begin a relationship with Jesus.)
If you’d like to discuss this farther, please hang around after we pray. It would make us as leaders very happy to talk with you about this. In fact, there is nothing in life that’s more important than this!
Close in Prayer
Written by David R Smith
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.