Gather/Get Together


Review Your Time Since You Were Last Together


Open God’s Word


Understand & Apply One Thing


Pray For Each Other


Week Three Group Guide

Throughout human history, there have been wars. Lasting days, months, even decades. But inside each of us a far more personal battle is raging. It’s one we’ll be fighting for the rest of our lives. And its impact will be eternal. This Means War is a multi-part series that will expose you to the real rules of engagement. And will equip you to fight and win the battle for your soul.


We are at war. Perhaps not the war most would think of when the term is mentioned. As followers of Jesus, our new nature is always at war with our old nature. We know there are things that are bad for us, yet we do them anyway. We know we can do things that are good for us, yet we choose not to do them. Paul illustrated this for us in two key scriptures in Romans:

“Do not let sin control your life while you’re here on earth so that you do not do what your sinful self wants to do.”        Romans 6:12 (NCV)

“What a miserable person I am! I’ve tried everything and nothing helps! Who will free me from this life dominated by sin?”          Romans 7:24 (NLT)

The answer to Paul’s question is the Spirit of Jesus who dwells in every believer! The Holy Spirit is there for us to call on to help us overcome our self-destructive ways. These tendencies keep us separated from God and the blessings he has for us. Satan uses seven key “weapons of self-destruction” that we should all be aware of:

  1. Shame – Carrying guilt destroys happiness.
  2. Uncontrolled Thoughts – We do what we think, so uncontrolled thoughts can ruin our lives.
  3. Compulsions – This weapon can undo a lifetime of credibility.
  4. Fear – This weapon limits our potential and prevents us from achieving what God has planned for us.
  5. Hopelessness – Those with no hope will give up too soon.
  6. Bitterness – This self-destructive poison will consume your life.
  7. Insecurity – To try to appear secure, we may do foolish things.

We fire these “weapons” against ourselves as we face obstacles and temptations in our lives. Our saving grace comes from the Holy Spirit and the power he has in our lives. The Spirit can help us be set free from ourselves by adopting seven mental habits. Let’s open our Bibles to Romans chapter 8 and learn how to overcome our self-destructive tendencies.

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

Leader Notes

• We have all heard the phrase, “I am my own worst enemy.” What does that mean to you?
• Identify the self-destructive tendencies in your life and with the help of the Holy Spirit, develop the mental habits to overcome them.
• Start by working on developing one habit. Pray for the help of the Holy Spirit as you work to overcome that one major self-destructive tendency you have.
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 is how God’s Spirit sets us free from our SHAME.

In Romans 8:1, what no longer exists for those who belong to Jesus?
• What is the maximum number of sins that Jesus forgives us?

In Romans 8:2, what have we been given that is greater than willpower?
• How is having God’s power, instead of just willpower, able to change our nature?

In Romans 8:3-4, who fulfilled all of God’s law on our behalf?
• How will reminding yourself daily of the benefits of salvation (i.e. ALL your sins are forgiven, that you are endowed with a greater power than just willpower, and that ALL of God’s law have been fulfilled FOR me by Jesus) help set you free from shame, guilt, regret and feeling low?

This is how God’s Spirit sets us free from our UNCONTROLLED THOUGHTS.

Because of Romans 8:5-6, we know that “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires…” However, for “those who live in accordance with the Spirit,” upon what do they have their minds set?
• What do you think a mind set is and why it is so important?
• Why do you think our mind set is so pivotal in managing “uncontrolled thoughts”?
• What generally happens to someone who emphatically states, “I never want to be like my mother!”? That’s right, they become just like her. Therefore, if we are to take greater control of our thoughts, why do you think it is vital for us to focus on what we want to Achieve rather than Avoid?

In Romans 8:7-8, what is impossible to do for those who are controlled by their sinful nature?
• What sort of mind makes it hostile to God and impossible for us to submit to him?

Discipleship – Contemplate for a moment an area or areas in your life where you are struggling with controlling your thought life. Now consider the words and ideas you are employing to fight this inner battle. Do you find yourself fighting the thought or replacing it? Those thoughts we resist, tend to persist. Therefore, refocus your thoughts by asking Jesus what is it you need to achieve rather than avoid. By replacing your thoughts and focusing on what Jesus wants you to achieve rather than avoid (compulsions, urges, lusts, impulses), you will experience freedom from the habits of the old nature.

This is how God’s Spirit sets us free from our COMPULSIONS.

Have someone in your group read Romans 8:9 aloud.
• What does this verse say about our sinful nature? What is the one qualification listed for being controlled instead by the Spirit of God? Share a recent compulsion or impulse when you felt that the Holy Spirit enabled you to not surrender.
• Sometimes, even as Christians, we are unsure if the Spirit of God is living within us. If there is anyone in the group feeling this way, would he or she be willing to share their thoughts?

Romans 8:12 (LB) says, “So, dear brothers, you have no obligations anymore to your old sinful nature – to do what it begs you to do.”
• How does this verse encourage you to think, feel, and therefore live differently this week?
• How will you know when you are not living an obligation to your sinful nature?

This is how God’s Spirit sets us free from our FEAR.

Read Romans 8:14-16.

• When we are afraid, it is not of God. When faced with fear we should first remember who we are – children of God! Then, we confidently cry out to our Father as a child cries for his daddy. Share a time with your group when you felt afraid, and the way in which God calmed your fears.

• Why do you think it is sometimes difficult to remember to call upon God for help when you are fearful?

Discipleship “When I am mastered by the Master, I can master anything!” What does being mastered by the Holy Spirit mean to you in the practical terms of daily life?

This is how God’s Spirit sets us free from our HOPELESSNESS.

A famous Harvard study illustrates that long term thinkers are more successful than short term thinkers.

Since doing the right thing often involves pain, we need to keep our eyes on long term, eternal rewards. What promises are God’s children given in Romans 8:17-18 that bring you hope for your future?

This is how God’s Spirit sets us free from our BITTERNESS.

Romans 8:20 illustrates for us that everything in this world is broken, suffering, frustrated, and has lost its original purpose. As a result, in our old nature, we may become bitter in our frustration. Four facts outlined in Romans 8:26-32 will help us to call on God’s power and become better instead of bitter.

1. The Holy Spirit is praying for me!
According to Romans 8:26-27, who intercedes on our behalf when we are unable to express our needs to God?
• How does the Holy Spirit speak to God?
Who has the Holy Spirit to help them bring their needs to God? Why is the Holy Spirit unavailable to some?

2. God is using everything for good in my life!
Read Romans 8:28. Whose purpose has called all believers?
• God is bigger than our enemies, critics, and problems. How can he use those areas to bring glory to himself and good to his children?

3. God wants me to succeed!
If God provides the power needed to succeed, as stated in Romans 8:31-32, who could oppose this power?
• If God truly is greater than all our challenges in life, why do we choose to be resentful? Who can we call on to help us conquer the feelings of frustration or bitterness and turn them into good?

4. God will give me what I need!
Romans 8:32 tells us that God did not even spare his only son. Why did God give such a great sacrifice for us?
• Is God able to provide what we need to conquer bitterness in our lives? How are we certain of this?

Worship – Conquering bitterness may take some time if it has become a response of the old nature. Take some time to write down the situations that cause you to resort to bitterness and frustration. Pray for help from the Holy Spirit to put on a new nature and call on God’s power to replace the bitterness with a better attitude toward the difficult situations you will face.

This is how God’s Spirit sets us free from our INSECURITY. Love liberates!

For those who belong to Christ, God’s love for you is secure. What things are stated in Romans 8:38-39 that cannot separate us from God’s love?

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.


Now that you have been equipped with seven mental habits to defend against Satan’s seven weapons of self-destruction, it is time to develop these habits into actual habits in your life. First, identify your primary weapon of self-destruction. From the choices listed below, choose the one you battle with more frequently than others:

Uncontrolled Thoughts

From the study, identify which habit you will need to adopt to battle the self-destructive problem in your life. Write that habit in the space below and elaborate on how you can work that habit into every day this week.

Finally, pray and invite the Holy Spirit to help you develop the right habits that overcome the self-destructive problems in your life and bring you closer to God. God wants you to be successful. Remember, if God is for us, who can ever be against us?