It is quite a beautiful and blessed thing that we are able to enjoy freedom in Christ Jesus. But just what does this mean, and how do we take hold of it? It can be easy to forget or take for granted our sinful consequences and Heavenly redemption, but it’s important to consider daily the implications of the cross. This message offers some practical reminders for students of how we can live in and for God.
Lesson Objective and Observation: Students will explore what it means to be natural slaves to sin, and only made alive in Christ. They will understand that we cannot free ourselves, but submit to the Father for all things.
Passage: Romans 6:1-11
Target Audience: K-6th Grade (adaptable)
Materials Needed: Glue, strips of construction paper, pipe cleaners, band-aids.
Lesson Opening: There are a few object illustrations and/or games that can be used, depending on the group size and make-up…potential lesson kick-offs for this lesson include:
- Getting “stuck”…. Have each child (or a couple of volunteers) dip or coat their hands in glue…without any washing or wiping, invite them to attempt picking up paper or performing small tasks (note: this WILL get messy!). With the glue covering their hands, it will be tough to really get anything done, of course. Explain that sin can be like that. We are born naturally sinful, and we can’t just wipe away that sin on our own. If we allow it, sin will affect everything we try to do or touch! Allow students to wash hands up, and remind them that God washes our lives clean and free in baptism.
- Just take it…for free! Tell students to hold out a fist. Come around with some small items (like coins, goldfish crackers, or M&Ms), and offer to give some to the kids. If their hands are still fisted, it will be quite difficult to accept the gift you’re offering. But to receive it, they have only to open up their hands and take it. This the beauty of faith. God has already granted us salvation. We can keep our fists closed and reject it, but why would we do that? All we have to do is open up and receive.
- Jail break! This is a good game for a group of people, and can be played outdoors or inside (with a softer variation). Have a selected “prisoner” stand in the center of the area, and surround him/her with the rest of the students in a circle. At a signal, invite the prisoner to attempt an escape from the circle, but encourage the outer students to keep her inside. Is it frustrating to be “stuck” like that?? *Alternate: for a softer version of this game, sit in a circle and roll or pass a ball, trying to keep it within the circle boundaries.
Who is in charge of us? What is it that people want the most in life? Brainstorm some ideas about the answers to these questions. Some people think that money or fame or power will make them feel happy. Some people think we can somehow save ourselves by our own will power. However, the Bible makes it very clear that this is not the case. Only through Christ can we hope to be saved. Read the first few verses:
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. -Romans 6:1-4
Died to sin? Baptized with Jesus? What does all of this mean? Well, we have all done things we shouldn’t. Right from the start of our lives, we make the wrong choices and are born sinful. The only way that sticky glue of sin gets washed away is through the work of Jesus and how He transforms our lives. We cannot on our own get rid of sin, but we don’t need to be slaves to it anymore. We are freed from it! We still make mistakes, of course, but we are not condemned by them…how do we know this? It’s God’s gift to us! Continue reading (note: if you did not previously offer the closed-fist treat illustration, you could do so here):
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with,[a] that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. -Romans 6:5-7
Give a couple more examples of this principle…consider a butterfly. Would a caterpillar be content to just stay a worm? If it went into the cocoon (okay, chrysalis, for perfect scientific accuracy) and stayed there, what good would it be? Can it cling to the old caterpillar skin? No! But it breaks free and flies away on beautiful wings. That’s what baptism does. It unites us with Christ and allows us to be made new. Think about what happens when you get a cut or scrape. The old skin has died, and often while it’s healing you see a scab form over the top. Would you want to keep that scab forever? Of course not! We let that old skin and scab fall away so the new healthy skin can grow in its place. So we, too, have died to our old habits, and can feel fresh and new when we accept what Jesus did in His body on the cross.
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus -Romans 6:8-11
We belong to God. We still face temptations, of course, and still do what we know we shouldn’t. Sometimes sin seems “fun” for us, but ultimately it leads to a life of stuck destruction (de-STUCK-tion?). When we live for Christ, our lives have peace and purpose beyond understanding. Hallelujah!
Make a set of break-away handcuffs to remember what God did for us…have students decorate strips of paper (plain or colored), and staple them together as a paper chain. Attach the verse (Romans 6:11) and “wear” or tear free to illustrate the freedom message. Alternate variations include using pipe cleaners in between (so the links can be broken and put back together) or toilet paper tubes…
Closing questions: wrap things up with a few questions to evaluate how students have soaked in the lesson…Ask probing questions to see what kids remember. Such as….
- Why do we do bad things? Can we stop doing them on our own?
- What does it mean to die with Christ?
- What treasures might God have in store for your life?
- How can we remember and trust God’s grace?
Close with prayer and ask the Lord to help us live in His redeeming hope, loving and trusting Him.