Gather/Get Together


Review Your Time Since You Were Last Together


Open God’s Word


Understand & Apply One Thing


Pray For Each Other


“I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can’t. I do what I don’t want to–what I hate. I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience proves that I agree with these laws I am breaking. But I can’t help myself because I’m no longer doing it. It is sin inside me that is stronger than I am that makes me do these evil things.

  I know I am rotten inside as far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn I can’t make myself do right. I want to, but I can’t. When I want to do good, I don’t; and when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway. Now if I am doing what I don’t want to do, it’s plain where the trouble is: sin still has me in its evil grasp.

  It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love to do God’s will so far as my new nature is concerned; but there is something else deep within me, in my lower nature, that is at war within my mind and wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. In my mind I want to be God’s willing servant, but instead I find myself still enslaved to sin!

  So you see how it is: my new life tells me to do right, but the old nature that is still inside me, loves to sin. Oh, what a terrible predicament I’m in! Who will free me from my slavery to this deadly lower nature? Thank God! It has been done by Jesus Christ our Lord. He has set me free.”  

Romans 7:15-25 (TLB)

Throughout human history, there have been wars. Some have lasted months, some years, some a decade or longer. But inside each of us is a far more personal battle raging, and it’s one we’ll be fighting for the rest of our lives. This war is the battle for our souls, and its impact is eternal. Our enemies are three-fold: 1) the world around us; 2) the devil; and 3) our old nature. Paul tells us in this passage that trying to please God by our own effort or trying to change our lives by will power alone will only lead to massive frustration. So what are we to do? Let’s examine the cost, the cause, and the cure for this battle.

Open your group with a prayer. This is only a guide – select the points you want to discuss.

Leader Notes

• Describe a battle or competition that each member has won.
• Recognize that we all struggle with winning this battle inside ourselves.
• Pray to help each other grow in understanding of Christ and to be able to share your struggles with one another.
PRAY for insight as you begin to prepare for leading your group. Ask for God’s wisdom, that the Holy Spirit will be the teacher and that you will be God’s instrument to lead the group to greater understanding and a willingness to commit to becoming more like God. Prayer should be your primary source of personal preparation for leading your group.

PLAN where you want to take your group in the next 60-90 days. Is your group strong in some areas and weak in others? How can you challenge the members to live more balanced Christian lives? Consider God’s five purposes for the church: Fellowship, Discipleship, Ministry, Mission and Worship, and make a plan to encourage your group members to growth and commitment in their weak areas.

PONDER your progress after each session and at the end of a series. Reflect on what went well and what didn’t. Re-evaluation is key to your growth as a leader. Consider whether your plan is being effective in moving the group to greater understanding and commitment. How are you doing with leading the discussion: is it stimulating, challenging, and meaningful? Are you able to keep the group on track? Do you need to make some changes?

— This Sermon Discussion Guide is only a tool to aid you in meeting the needs of your group. For most groups there are too many questions to answer in one session together. After considering the needs of your group you may choose one of the following options:
• One section of questions;
• One or two questions from each section

— Feel free to adapt the format to meet the needs of your group. If your group is mature and wants to dig deeper, add Scripture and ask suitable questions. Remember that this is only a guide.

— The questions relating to the five purposes are helpful to develop balance and spiritual maturity in our lives. You can bring your group to an awareness of their needs in these areas by using these questions as a regular part of each discussion.

— Personal application is key to everyone’s growth and should be included in every discussion. When asked how he or she intends to apply a certain principle a group member may say, “I need to spend more time in the Bible and in prayer.” It is important for you to help group members make applications that are more specific and commit to a specific plan of action by asking, for example, “How are you going to begin?” An example is to get up 30 minutes earlier each morning, spending 15 minutes reading the Bible and 10 minutes in prayer. Encourage each group member to be accountable to the group for personal progress at the next meeting.

— As the leader your goal is to help bring the group into a stimulating discussion that helps the members recognize their need for personal life change. Ultimately you want them to be willing to commit to change with accountability to the group. Accountability helps us to persevere in our commitments and achieve the blessings of success.

This battle is an emotionally costly one we will fight throughout our lives. Understanding the emotional cost, the root cause of the battle and how we can overcome it is key to a purpose-filled life.

Reread verses 15-23 above. What is the most common word in those verses?
• What does this signify to you?
• Everyone studying this message has experienced times like Paul is describing. When you have experienced turmoil such as this, what has been your focus? Would a different focus help you to get through these trying times?

Read verse 15. What doesn’t Paul understand?
• What do we call the emotion Paul is describing? Share examples of when you have observed this in yourself or others.
• What triggers these kinds of thoughts?

In verse 16, what proves to Paul that he agrees with the very laws that he is breaking?
• When we break laws we know we shouldn’t, what do we typically feel? Describe some examples of this from society.

According to verse 17, who or what is actually doing these evil things?
• If the battle remains unchecked it will manifest itself as habitual compulsions and addictions. We tend to think of these terms in specific ways but there are all kinds of compulsions and addictions. One is described in the children’s book Frog and Toad, by Arnold Loebel. Frog and Toad gorge themselves on cookies, continually telling themselves that they should stop but don’t. What are other examples of compulsions and addictions?
• What is sin?

How does Paul describe himself in verse 18a?
• What kinds self-condemning things do people say about themselves?

What can’t Paul make himself do in verses 18b-20?
• Describe times when you have felt this kind of frustration.

Paul wants to be God’s willing servant in what part of his being? See verse 23.

Discipleship – Discipleship is the process of growing to become more like Christ. How can the pursuit of discipleship help us to overcome confusion, guilt, shame, compulsion and addictions, self-condemnation, frustration, discouragement, and despair? Pair up and discuss just one very small area you would like to grow in and share ideas for how to accomplish this growth.

What does Paul expose as the driving forces or laws of his personal frustration, according to Romans 7:21 and 23?
• As Christians we are born again with a “new” nature through the Holy Spirit, yet residing in us still is our “old” sin nature, our flesh. The flesh desires to do wrong, in spite of the presence of the Spirit. Discuss the futility of will power against the “old” sin nature.
• Why is “knowing” the right thing to do not enough?

Paul summarizes his view of himself with what declaration in Romans 7:24a?
• Paul reached a point in his walk with God where he was totally exhausted because of the intense war going on inside his mind. How does Paul’s testimony encourage us regarding our own war?
• How important is it for us to recognize we will fail when we try to overcome this battle on our own power?

Worship – One of the best ways to experience victory over the two natures at war is to feed the one we want to win. We can experience a taste of Christ’s victory every time we worship him. Take time in your group right now to thank God for giving you an awareness of the old nature, and the desire to put on the new one.


Romans 7:24-25 asks a question and then gives the answer. What is the question? Who is the answer?
• Share a strategy you tried in the past that didn’t help you achieve the victory you were seeking. What happened?

What is the cure for our struggle against our sinful nature, according to Romans 6:12, 13 and Romans 8:2?
• How does Christ give us hope when we are in the middle of a struggle?
• Share a struggle you had in the past and how Christ in you made all the difference.


If we claim to be sinless, what does 1 John 1:8 say about us? What does Jeremiah 17:9 say about us?
• The #1 way Satan attacks you is to suggest lies, or to get you to lie to yourself! What is a lie you have believed? How did that lie defeat you?
• Discuss this statement: To stop defeating myself I must stop deceiving myself. How does a person do that?

God wrote down the battle plan for our victory in his Word, the Bible. Read John 8:32. What sets us free?
• How would you counsel a struggling person who says, “This isn’t really a problem–I can handle it myself ”?
• Name some self-destructive behaviors we put up with. What truth do we need to admit?


What do we need to do in order for God to heal us? See James 5:16.
Now turn to Galatians 5:16. How do we avoid doing what our sinful nature craves?
• What keeps us from declaring our struggles to others? How can sharing them help us to live the new life in Christ?

Fellowship – In addition to giving us his Holy Spirit, God makes us members of his family when we accept Christ. This fellowship provides us with the strength we need to win the battle inside us. As a group, agree to help one another deepen your understanding of Christ, detect and disarm the lies you’ve been believing, and declare your struggles to one another. One of you keep a group journal to record the victories. Celebrate whenever you see signs that God is winning the war.

Take a moment to review any assignments/challenges made during the personal application and commitment section of your previous meeting. Seeing God at work in the lives of those who commit to Him is essential for growth.


What have you been trying to do on your own strength? Control your temper? Be more patient? Have greater self-control? You want to do what’s right, but you do what’s wrong. Face it: you’re a walking civil war. We all are! This “new life in Christ” is not easy. Will power is not enough to win the war. By ourselves we can’t do the right thing. The old nature is still inside us, trying to keep the new nature from taking over. Paul has the answer to winning this war, and we’ll unpack his solution in our next lesson. First you have to be sure you understand who is fighting it. You cannot live the Christian life in your own power—but in Christ’s power you can!

Identify an area in which you find yourself doing regular battle. Are you confused? Harboring guilt and shame? Fighting compulsions and addictions? Filled with self-condemnation? Frustrated? Discouraged and in despair? Confess it to God and then share it with at least one other member of your group, someone who’ll be your “battle buddy.” Rejoice in knowing, as Paul discovered, that Christ is the answer. Surrender your battle to him and agree to check in with your partner during the week to see how things are going.