Bible Study: November 26, 2017
NASHVILLE (BP) -- This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.
This week's Bible study is adapted from the MasterWork curriculum.
Bible Passage: Ephesians 6:14-15
Discussion Questions: What is the difference between being righteous and being self-righteous? Why is it so essential that believers consistently put on the breastplate of righteousness? What might you need to do to be better grounded in the gospel of peace and better prepared to share it?
Food for thought:
Jesus once spoke about the unenviable situation of a person from whom an unclean spirit departed, the life cleaned up, but unwisely left "vacant" (Matthew 12:43-45; Luke 11:24-26). In such an instance, Jesus explained, the unclean spirit that had come out of the person, if it finds no other place to reside, might return. If it indeed finds its original victim's life unoccupied, that spirit will recruit other evil spirits and they will together "enter and settle down" in that poor soul with the end result being "that person's last condition is worse than the first." In other words, it is inadequate to be freed from an unclean spirit without filling the vacancy with the Spirit of God.
Author Chip Ingram points out that similarly, it is not adequate to merely see through the deception of the devil -- to know the truth. Instead, we must also act upon that truth. That is, we must put on the breastplate of righteousness. "Righteousness" in this context does not refer to the righteousness of Christ that is credited to each believer at the point of salvation. That righteousness is attributed to us by God and we cannot take it off; therefore we cannot put it on.
Rather, in this context "righteousness is putting into practice what God has told us through His Word, His community, and His worship." It is "uprightness, right living, integrity in one's lifestyle and character." When we know the truth and live it out -- put on righteousness -- then we can withstand the condemnations Satan hurls our way.
But sometimes Satan doesn't come at us with strong-armed condemnation. Sometimes his tactic is the soft whisper of doubt. Is God really as good and gracious as you claim to believe He is? Does He really just give you grace? Don't you have to do something in return? Do you really belong to Christ? Having "your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace" -- knowing it inside and out so that even when you don't feel it or live up to it you can rely on it -- can keep you firmly planted despite the slippery doubts strewn before you.
MasterWork is an ongoing Bible study curriculum based on works from a variety of renowned authors and offers pertinent, practical messages that adults will find uplifting and enriching. The list of authors and their books to be studied in upcoming months can be found at www.lifeway.com/masterwork.