Take time to welcome any newcomers and catch up on the past week (over drinks or snacks if possible). Then ask groups members to:
Over this term, we’re looking at how knowing Jesus gives his followers strength to face the common pressures of life in a way that nothing else can.
Pray a short prayer asking that, however much group members have previously come to know God, they’d know him better as a result of your time together.
In this section, we’ll unpack some of the negative ways people respond to feelings of regret.
In this section, we’ll see how the forgiveness on offer in Jesus can lead us out of regret and into freedom.
Read Psalm 51:1-12.
David is honest about his guilt and regret.
Rather than suppressing or holding onto his regret, David’s regret leads him to reach out to God for help. Re-read verses 7-12.
|Things David asks God for
|Described in your own words
The Bible shows us over and over that God forgives, frees and helps us out of guilt if we come to him. Read 1 John 1:7-9.
We all do wrong things and experience feelings of remorse and regret. These feelings can be beneficial for us as we learn, grow and are helped to know the forgiveness and grace of God more deeply.
Some people, however, have a tendency to carry false regret: they feel guilt when they’ve not done anything wrong. Under this ‘default setting’, they continually blame themselves for things and live under constant condemnation, rather than the freedom of God’s grace.
The causes of false guilt are complex. Past experiences of neglect, abuse or ongoing criticism mean that some have learned ongoing patterns of self-blame. Other people temperamentally seem to have a ‘weak’ or overly-sensitive conscience (see 1 Corinthians 8:9-13). We also have an enemy, Satan, who loves to accuse God’s people and keep them under a sense of condemnation (Revelation 12:10).
These feelings can be hard to unpick. If you, or someone in your group, feels this way it’s important to be able to talk about it, ideally with someone older at church. With the help of others and the guidance of Scripture and the Holy Spirit, we can start to untangle those feelings and find freedom and clarity.
Even if our feelings don’t line up, we can stake our lives on the fact that the accuser is defeated (Revelation 12:10) and there is no condemnation left for those who are in Jesus (Romans 8:1).
Is there a contradiction between David’s prayer in verse 11, and Jesus’ promise that the Holy Spirit will be with us forever (John 14:16)? No.
The New Testament warns us against resisting and grieving the Holy Spirit (see Acts 7:51; Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19). None of these things involves the loss of the Holy Spirit’s dwelling in us, but they can stop us enjoying the benefits of his presence. Since David prays for renewed steadfastness (verse 10) and joy (verse 12), it seems that David fears losing the experience of the Holy Spirit’s blessing. Perhaps he is also remembering the tragic ending of his predecessor, Saul, and dreads what bad results his sin may bring upon himself.
David clearly has a solemn awareness of the seriousness of sin, and fears the consequences of his sin if it is left to itself. Yet the God of grace always has better things in mind for us, as we see throughout this psalm.
It’s easy to think about sin primarily in terms of actions: the bad things that we do. This might especially be the case for any in your group who aren’t yet Christians.
The Bible says our problem runs much deeper. Our bad thoughts and actions are like the visible symptoms of a deeper disease: a heart which loves and worships things other than God (Romans 1:25). Deep down, we want to run our own lives and live for other things rather than for Him.
This helps us understand a couple of phrases in Psalm 51.
When David says, ‘against you and you only have I sinned’ (verse 4), he’s not downplaying the fact that he has grievously sinned against Bathsheba and Uriah (2 Samuel 12). Rather, he’s acknowledging that this evil action is ultimately a symptom of a deeper evil: his turning from God.
When David says: ‘surely I was sinful at birth’, he’s making the point that human nature is infected at its very core to turn away from God. Sin is more than just actions, it's a fundamental problem in all of us. (Note that David also implies that goodness – ‘faithfulness’ and ‘wisdom’ – is also at the core of human nature).
The reality of sin makes the good news of Jesus even sweeter. We can never make ourselves better – yet he has come to wash, heal, and welcome us.
Look again at how David describes his life beyond regret, given by God, in Psalm 51:7-12.
Close this section thanking God for the fresh start that Jesus makes possible for you all.
If you’re able to sing in your group time, there are several songs that will help you come honestly to God with your failings and celebrate how Jesus has secured cleaning and forgiveness, including: Shine Into Our Night; Jesus Paid It All and The Power of the Cross.
We often feel that we need to come across as strong and ‘put together’ when we’re sharing our faith.
Pray that in the week ahead, God would help you to share something about Jesus with a friend.
Thank You – Thank everyone for coming, and ask someone to thank God for your time together in prayer.
Ask – Ask those who are new to reading the Bible if they’d like to explore Uncover, a set of sessions in Mark’s Gospel, allowing them to investigate one of the earliest accounts of Jesus’ life alongside one of you.
Church and CU – What does the CU have planned ahead? And what help would group members value in finding a local church?
Others – Who else could you invite to join your CU Impact Group next week? These friends don’t need to be followers of Jesus and may really appreciate being invited.
See You Soon – Tell the group where and when you’ll meet next week, and arrange who will bring snacks. (You might like to alternate healthy and less healthy weeks!). See if anyone would be up for sharing a meal or just hanging out in the meantime!
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