Most cultures have good starting points for our lives, as God has given us all a
spirit to be aware of Him, and to know what is right and wrong.  Yet, Romans 12:2 encourages us:
“Do not be conformed to this world (and I add: and its cultures), but be transformed, changed, by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good,  acceptable and perfect will of God.”
1 Thessalonians 5:14-24 says:
“Now we exhort you, brothers, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.  See that no one does evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.  Rejoice always, don’t stop praying; in everything give thanks, because this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  Do not quench the Holy Spirit.  Do not despise prophecies.  Test all things; hold fast to what is good.  Abstain from every form of evil.  Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.”
Here is the word: ”May the God of peace sanctify you completely.”   This word “sanctify” talks about getting a clean heart without bitterness toward others, cleaning out even those bad things from our past that we do not remember anymore.  It is just like Paul wrote in Colossians 3:8:
“But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, ….
And in Eph 4:31-32:
“Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.
Our mind needs to be renewed, yes, changed to think as God thinks, so that our spirit can learn to seek after God wholeheartedly, and become like Him again.  Is it not enough when my sins are forgiven?  Do I really need to get a clean heart?  You know, we are forgiven when we are truly sorry for our sins; that also means that we must want to sin less often as time goes on.  2 Thessalonians 2:13 says:
“God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.   You see how salvation and sanctification, the cleaning or healing of our heart, go together?  2 Corinthians 3:18 says:
“But we all, with uncovered face, seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed, changed, into the same image, from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord.
We need to change to look like our God, just like Adam looked like God before he sinned.   Sin has damaged that likeness badly:

  • Our God does not seek His own glory, though He deserves it.  We always are busy with ourselves, and try to impress other people.
  • God has no need to sit on a throne, though He sits there because He is the source of everything.  We love to be in charge of people, be the boss and rule them.
  • He is not busy thinking about what we think of Him.  We are always wondering what people think of us, whether they accept us.  We don’t feel secure.
  • He does not need to prove Himself.  We always show off to impress others.
  • He knows that to create beautiful people and things, He must love and serve; He leads us as an ultimate Servant.  By our sinful nature we are no servant-leaders, no shepherds; we rush forward to attempt to save ourselves, and fail, even at the expense of other people.

Jesus once washed the feet of His disciples and here is what John 13:12-17 says about it:
“When Jesus had washed their feet, he took His garments and sat down again.  Then He said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you?   You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.   If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.   For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.   Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.   If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”

Questions to Discuss:

  • How do we develop friendships?  Wait until someone comes to us?
  • With our pride, or in humility of heart?
  • Is God self-centered, seeking His own glory?
  • Is our God a bossy God, pushing us to do things?
  • Is God humble?
  • Can He be humble but also be confident in Himself?  Can we be the same?
  • God is love, the Bible says; how does He show that?  Through giving?
  • Is it easy for us to love people?
  • Does that require that we give to them of ourselves, and give more?
  • What do we have to let go of, to begin looking like God again?
  • Discuss this now first and participate before going on with the lesson.  WHAT CAUSED US TO CHANGE FOR THE BAD?

We all know what happened in the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve lived.  We all know how they disobeyed God and did what they wanted to do, and we were no different.  We didn’t look much like God anymore and could no longer be God’s managers of this Earth anymore either.  Romans 1:18-23 says:
“The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is clearly seen in them, for God has shown it to them.  Since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.  Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man, birds, four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, to the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served created beings and things rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”
Little fetuses in the mother’s womb have strongly developed spiritual capabilities; but they have also already bad sin-genes from Adam, sinners who do not trust others.  They are already hurt before they are born, and have already anger and fear problems; they have a wounded heart.  When hurt by circumstances or people, we will become bitter rather than forgive, and FEAR & ANGER will take over; in women it appears more as fear, in men it shows more often as anger.
When pride does not allow us to forgive, we want to forget what happened so that we are no longer reminded of the pain, but our spirit does not forget and keeps on hurting; pain always lurks in the background.  Only forgiveness can really remove that pain.  Our God always forgives, that is in His nature, but we stopped doing so when sin came in our lives.
I close this lesson with an example of little children sinning when hurt or abused or rejected.  Jesus said in Matt 18:6-7:
"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.   Woe to the world because of offenses (hurting people), because offenses must come, but woe to the man by whom the offense comes!”

Questions to Discuss now:

  • A person who hurts a little child to sin, should be drowned?
  • What kind of sin does the hurt little child commit?
  • What do we do when someone hurts us?
  • Do we forgive?  Or do we try to get even?
  • Can you remember all the offenses, the hurting, that happened to you?
  • What does it do to our heart when we do not forgive, but become bitter?
  • What happens to us men, when we choose to remain angry?
  • What happens to a woman when she remains fearful?

Ephesians 4:26-28: "Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath, or give place to the devil.”   If you don’t forgive quickly you will forget and so damage your heart.
Peter asked Jesus one time: Matt 18:21-35:
"Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him; up to seven times?" And Jesus had answered: "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.  The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.   One was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.  But he was not able to pay, and his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made.  The servant then fell down before him, saying, 'Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.'   Then the master was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.  But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him, took him by the throat and said: 'Pay me what you owe!'  And his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him: 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.'  But he would not listen, went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.   Now, when his fellow servants saw what he had done, they were grieved, and came and told their master.  Then his master called him and said to him, 'You, wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.  Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?'  And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.  So My heavenly Father will also do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his wrong doings."

Discuss these Questions:

  • What happens to a person when he does not forgive when offended?
  • Can God then forgive his sins?
  • Can the mind forget the offense?
  • Can a man’s spirit, his heart, forget the offense?
  • What does an unforgiving heart feel like?

If we chose to forget a hurt, the pain will remain in our spirit; we must forgive quickly to avoid injury to our heart.  And we make it worse yet if we try to prevent this kind of injury from happening again.  After many such responses to people hurting us, we end up with a wall of defenses around our heart.  So we keep people out, but we also do keep our God and Father out that way; we lose our ability to have fellowship with people and God.  That is why Rom 3:11-18 says:
“There is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God.  They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one, their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.  Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their  Ways, and the way of peace they have not known.  There is no fear of God before their eyes."
This is how things are with us, until we become willing to submit to Father’s cleaning of our wounded heart.  Do we want to help others to come to Jesus?  Then we must first repent of the sin that still lurks in our own hearts.  And to repent of sin, God will need to show those things we chose to forget.