This lesson explains “righteousness through faith” in a simple way for children to understand. Download this Sunday School lesson to teach Romans 3:21-31 to kids. PDF below includes lesson plan, worksheet, and coloring pages.
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Lesson Idea: Because of our sin, we need Jesus to set us right with God.
This passage is used May 5, 2019 in the International Standard Sunday School schedule. Some readers will enjoy the adult Sunday School lesson (offsite link) based on this same passage.
Learning Goals: After this lesson…
- Children will show a comprehension of the lesson idea by responding to True or False questions. (see activity #1 test at end of lesson).
- Children will demonstrate a growing dependence on Jesus by writing something they trust Jesus to erase (see activity #2 at end of lesson).
- Markerboard (or blank poster boards),
- Post-It notes,
- Coloring Page Activity “Covered by Christ” (included in PDF download above)
- “Jesus can set me right” worksheet (last page of this lesson – for activity #2) included in in PDF download above
- Optional object lesson (block of wood, sandpaper, pencil)
Teaching Hints: I’ve used the phrase “in the right” to clarify the concept of “righteousness” in this lesson. For younger children you may prefer a simplified Bible translation like the Romans 3:21-31 NIrV for this theology heavy passage.
Opening Activity: In the Right & In the Wrong
Display two large circles, one labeled “in the right” and the other “in the wrong.” Ask children to place the following items where they belong. Write each of the following on a post-it note ahead of the lessons.
Say: We have two kinds of actions “in the right” and “in the wrong.” Right means following God’s way and wrong means not following God’s way.
Ask for volunteers to place each note as you read it to the class.
|Not obeying mom||Telling lies|
|Helping a friend||Stealing|
|Cheating on homework||Telling God Thanks|
|Sharing your toys||Wishing you didn’t have a brother|
|Taking care of your stuff||Working hard|
|Loving your little brother||Taking care of your dog|
|Making art||Throwing trash on the ground|
|Doing your best||Being lazy|
|Murder||Acting in anger|
Add your own examples that relate well to your class. The point is to have items on both sides that kids can identify from their own life – both wrong and right.
Bible Lesson (Romans 3:21-31) for Kids
Teach from an open Bible from Romans 3:21-31. For older kids have them follow along and have volunteers read also. For younger children you may need to summarize and simplify these teaching points.
Say: Looking at those things, we can see that nobody always is in the right. That’s no surprise to God, in every part of the Bible we can see people are not able to be perfect. We all do some things that are right, but we also do things that are wrong.
Let’s read Romans 3:21-24
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in[a] Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Say: Paul was writing to clear up an argument in the early church. Some people were saying you had to work hard to obey the Bible or God wouldn’t forgive you. So, it was like counting to see if you had more “right” than “wrong” on a test.
They didn’t understand that people could never erase their sin just by trying harder to do right. In fact, one single wrong act puts our name “in the wrong.”
Show: Reveal another post-it note with your name. Place it on the wrong side.
Say: This is my name and I’m sad to say I’ve done wrong things in my life. God is perfectly fair and he knows every wrong that I’ve done, even if I can’t remember.
The good part is God has another way to grade people. He loves us too much to let us stay in the wrong.
Let’s read Romans 3:25-26
25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, [b] through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
Say: That is great news because Jesus died to erase all the wrong in our lives. That’s what the word “atonement” means.
Show: Draw a cross through each post-it notes on the wrong side of the display.
Say: That is God’s answer for sin. He took our punishment and put it on the cross of Jesus. He didn’t just forget the bad things; he made a way to erase them.
That still leaves my name, but this verse says God will justify people who have faith in Christ. That means he will move my name from the wrong side to the right side because I put my trust in Jesus work.
Show: Move the note with your name to a new position above both circles, write the name Jesus over top your own name.
Say: The rest of this passage says we have no reason to brag. It’s not that we are good enough to call ourselves “in the right.” It’s that Jesus always lived “in the right” and now he moves our name because we put our faith in him.
It’s not that I have always done right, it was Jesus who did right for me.
Clothed in Christ Coloring Pages (attached at end of lesson plan)
True or False (Activity to test goal #1)
Ask for volunteers (or the whole group) to respond to the following questions.
- Everyone except God has sinned – TRUE
- Jesus always lived in the right – TRUE
- Jesus paid for his own wrong actions on the cross – FALSE
- Bad people never do anything in the right – FALSE
- If a person does one wrong, their name belongs in the wrong – TRUE
- If we trust in Jesus, he can move our names to the right – TRUE
- If we do enough right things, we can get right with God – FALSE
- Atonement means Jesus took the punishment for our sin – TRUE
- Being in the right means we are better than other people – FALSE
“Jesus can set me right” Worksheet (Activity to test goal #2)
- Use the attached worksheet. Children should write (or draw) something they have done “in the wrong.”
- Once finished, lead them in a prayer of faith that Jesus can erase that sin.
- Have the children mark a large cross through what they wrote to show that the cross of Jesus can take away that sin. If available, use a paper shredder to destroy the worksheets. This will symbolize that Jesus has erased those things forever.
Bonus Activities for Sunday School
If you have extra time, we suggest the following activities to further reinforce this lesson plan.
- Memory Verse: learn the following in the translation of your choice
- Romans 3:23-24 (ESV) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
- Bonus coloring page: T is for Trust, included in the PDF download. It’s from our Bible Alphabet Coloring Book.
- Sandpaper Object Lesson: For this demonstration, you will need a block of wood, a pencil and some sandpaper. Cover a table with a black sheet so kids can see the sand easier. Show the block of wood and explain that the wood is like our souls. Tell kids that the Bible says everyone was born with sin so write the word “sin” a few times on the wood right at the beginning. Then talk about the sins we knowingly add. Share common sins from your own past like lying or disobeying parents. For every sin, write the word “sin” on the wood. Ask kids to name other sins like stealing. Write the word “sin” all over the wood until it looks covered.
- Pass the wood around and let kids see how covered it is. Try to erase the pencil with the eraser. Kids will see that it is impossible to erase all the words completely.
- Pick up the sandpaper and explain to kids that the sandpaper is like Jesus’ blood. He cleanses it away. Rub the pencil marks with the sandpaper. Ask kids if they can see the sand on the cloth. Say, that’s sin being removed by Jesus. Allow kids to take turns rubbing away the pencil marks until the wood is clean and mark-free.
Worksheet “Jesus can set me right.”
Write or draw something that you have done “in the wrong.”
“Jesus, I know you died on the cross to take away my sin. I am putting my trust in you to erase all the wrong I’ve done and put my name in the right.”
Romans 3:21-31 (NIV) Righteousness Through Faith
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in[a] Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, [b] through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.
- Romans 3:22 Or through the faithfulness of
- Romans 3:25 The Greek for sacrifice of atonement refers to the atonement cover on the ark of the covenant (see Lev. 16:15,16).
New International Version (NIV)
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