The BIG IDEA:
As followers of Christ we are to speak in a way that is different from the world around us and the Holy Spirit can help us do that.
Lying and gossip have become normal in our culture. It’s easy to say things about ourselves and others to try make ourselves look good (or at least not look bad). We don’t realize that God, who loves relationships and truth, hates these things. Lying and gossip are both strategies of our enemy Satan, who wants to tempt us to fear and not trust God.
As followers of Christ, we no longer live the way we used to before we knew Christ. We have been set free from that old life. In our new life we are created to be like God – righteous and holy. By depending on the power of the Holy Spirit to help us, we change the way we speak to and about others to reflect our new life.
- What I want the group to know and understand: God hates lying and gossip because he values truth and relationships. As followers of Christ these are patterns of our old way of life that we should put off. When we lie and gossip we are modeling our lives after Satan, not God.
- What I want the group to experience: A desire to honor God with our words.
- How I want the group to respond: Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal lies or gossip in our lives. Make a choice to depend on the Holy Spirit’s power to live differently in the area of our speech.
The SIGNIFICANCE OF THE TOPIC:
Lying, gossip, and crude joking (the three actions that the Ephesians 4 passage says we should put off) are all commonly accepted and even valued in our culture. As a Christian, they are sometimes easy to rationalize as being no big deal because “everybody’s doing it” and “it’s okay as long as you don’t get caught.” In fact, the temptation to lie or gossip can sneak up on us so that we are often not even aware that we are doing it. The things that come out of our mouth reveal what is in our heart. And that’s a big deal to God.
1) Have a mini debate (Break your group in half. Give them a minute or two to discuss among themselves then have each side present their case.)
- SIDE ONE: It’s okay to lie.
- SIDE TWO: It’s not okay to lie.
— Or —
2) Ask “Has someone you trusted ever lied to you or gossiped about you? How did it make you feel?” “Who benefits from lying and gossiping?”
1. Read Ephesians 4:17-32. Where do you see the passage talking about the way we talk, and what does it say?
Every example tells us what to “throw off” and what to “put on” instead.
v. 25 – Stop lying – instead tell the truth.
v. 29 – Don’t use foul or abusive language — instead let the things you say be good and helpful, to build others up that your words may be an encouragement to those who hear them.
v.31 — Get rid of harsh words and slander — instead be kind to one another
2. According to this passage, what are some reasons we would want to live differently than the culture around us in the way we talk?
God commands us to live differently than those who don’t know him. (v.17)
If we have learned of Christ, we know the truth, and no longer have to live confused. (v.21)
That’s part of our old way of life, but now we are new and should act accordingly, because we were created to be like God – righteous and holy. (v.24)
3. What does Proverbs 6:12-19 say about God’s attitude toward lying and gossip? Why do you think he feels this way?
Verse 12 associates lying with worthless and wicked people. Verses 16-19 make up a list of things God hates. Verse 17 mentions a lying tongue and verse 19 mentions a false witness (both references to lying). Verse 19 also mentions a person who sows discord. (You might need to ask the students if they know what that means or see if anyone has a different translation. Basically it means stirring up conflict.) Gossip can and does does stir up conflict. Allow the group to discuss why they think God might feel that way.
4. How would you feel if someone you trusted lied or gossiped about you?
– Have you ever had that happen?
– How did it affect your relationship with that person and others?
(you don’t need to name names or give specifics).
Allow the group to discuss. For this and the next question, please be aware of the tendency to tell stories or talk about situations in a way that can easily turn into gossip. As a leader, you might have to jump in with a reminder that we don’t want to name names or give too many details.
5. In what kinds of situations are you most tempted to lie or gossip?
– What about those situations makes you want to say something that you shouldn’t?
– Do you find it easy or difficult to resist this temptation?
Allow the group to discuss. You might want to ask some additional questions to help them uncover the underlying motivations and what it says about their view of God in the moment and where they are putting their trust. Often the motivation is that we feel a need to make ourselves look better or control a situation. The deeper issues are often fear or pride. You might want to mention how sometimes even in Bible study, we can unintentionally allow our conversation to slip into gossip. Even if something is true, it doesn’t always need to be shared.
6. The passage in Ephesians 4 talks about putting off your sinful nature (former way of life) and putting on your new nature. What are some tools or people that God has given you to help you do this?
Allow the group to discuss. There are many possible answers. If we are Christians, we have…
1) the Holy Spirit who helps us.
2) The Bible that tells us that we are completely loved just like we are – we don’t need to lie or gossip to get God to like us
3) Christian friends who are walking with God will encourage us to live a life free of lying and gossiping. Christians aren’t perfect, but as you spend time with other Christians, that are living like God calls us to live, it will be easer and easier to be free from lying and gossip.
4) Forgiveness. As we turn to God for forgiveness for lying and gossip, God can break the hold that those sins have on us. God’s forgiveness melts our sinful desires away.
7. What should you do if you realize you have lied or gossiped?
Allow the group to discuss. Like any sin, when we become aware of it, we confess it to God. See the thrive study called RECONNECT under the series “Follow Up” for a reminder of what to do if we have sinned. If someone else has been affected by our words or actions, we also might need to make things right with the person we sinned against. This would involve going to the person and confessing to them that what we did was wrong and asking for forgiveness. (Don’t make excuses, just acknowledge it was sin and that it was wrong.)
8. Lying and gossip are so common in our culture that sometimes we are unaware we are doing it. The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of truth and will guide us into all truth. (John 14:17) He also convicts us of sin. (John 16:8). Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you this week any time that your words are not pleasing to God.
Lead your students in praying together
What ideas do you have that could improve this study? Are there creative things you do to bring this topic home to your students? Please share with the community clicking the FEEDBACK button or leaving a comment below.