This series of lessons is aimed at older elementary students. It is easily adapted for younger or older age groups. Lesson Two: All Have Sinned–
The whole Bible is important and you should study it all carefully. But the book of Romans may be the best book to study in order to understand the process of salvation. Paul uses logic and reason to explain why we needed Jesus to die for us. He begins his argument by explaining that we are all sinners and deserve God’s wrath.
I think you all know that everyone is a sinner. You know that you do wrong things. I do wrong things. Everyone does wrong things. But it might be hard to admit that we deserve to die for doing those wrong things. The sins we commit just don’t seem as bad as the bad things other people do! But the truth is, anything we do in disobedience to God is rejecting God. And rejecting God is the sin we deserve to die for. God gives us all a choice: we can accept Him and live with Him forever, or we can reject Him and be away from Him forever. It makes sense if you realize what death really is: it is separation. Death here on earth is separation from our bodies, our families and friends. This death is only temporary. Our bodies will be resurrected when the end of time comes. Only then will real life, or real death, begin. Real life is being with God. Real death is separation from God. People who live their lives for God get to live with God forever. People who live their lives rejecting God are given what they wanted: they are allowed to be apart from God forever. Unfortunately, being apart from God also means being apart from all that God is: love, pleasure, beauty, goodness. That’s what real death is: separation from God and all that He is.
In the third chapter of Romans, Paul quotes many of the Old Testament prophets to prove his argument that everyone is a sinner and deserves God’s wrath. “There is no one righteous, no not one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.” What does the word “righteous” mean? It means doing everything perfectly right, just like God does. Can any human being other than Jesus say he or she is just as perfect as God? Whenever we do something that God would never do, we sin. Whenever we refuse to do something that God would have done, we sin. What kinds of things can you think of that we do, or refuse to do, that are not righteous? “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit; the poison of vipers is on their lips.” These are some very colorful, descriptive phrases! What do they mean? Any time we lie or try to twist the truth to suit ourselves, we are sinning. Any time we say something nasty about someone else, or gossip, or try to run someone else down, the poison of vipers is on our lips! We sin with our words as often as we sin with our deeds.
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.” What does that mean? I am afraid that in America today, we have forgotten how to fear God. We like to substitute the word “respect”, but even that word has lost its meaning. If we truly respected God, we would not disobey Him. We like to focus on the love of God, and God IS love, don’t get me wrong! God loves us so much, He gave us everything He had to give: He gave His own life for us. But God is also justice. He must punish sin. The punishment for sin is death, and as a just God He must sentence everyone who sins to death. He promised us free will, and He gives that to us, even when it hurts us and others around us. He will not force us to do the right thing. And when we choose to do the wrong thing, we must take the consequences for that. Separation from God, or death in hell, is the consequence for refusing His love. That’s our choice.
These are hard things to understand sometimes, but we must understand how desperately we need Jesus before we can understand His death for us. Since we all sin, we all must die and go to hell. But Jesus took that punishment for us. He died our death for us. Then, God raised Him from the dead. All we have to do is accept His death as our own death and we can be raised to live with Him forever in heaven!