Introduction: Imagine that you are a mugger. You get excitement from
hitting people over the head, and you profit from stealing their
money. Imagine further two alternatives. First, that the police, if
they catch you, simply ask you to apologize, and then they let you
go. Or, second, that you have a very rich uncle who, when you are
caught, makes everything right at his own expense. How would you
view your mugging habit? You would not take the problem very
seriously, right? We do not need to imagine that we are muggers,
for in fact we all are in some sense. Our sins damage others and
cost them money. Let’s jump into our study of the Bible and consider
our problem and our need for a Redeemer!

  1. The First Mugging

    1. In Genesis chapter 3 we read the story of how Adam and
      Eve sinned. Let’s pick up the account and read Genesis
      3:9-13. What kind of an attitude do Adam and Eve have
      about their sin? (They blame others.)

    2. Read Genesis 3:14-15. What does God mean when He tells
      the serpent that his head will be crushed? (God is not
      just talking to a snake, He is talking to Satan. He tells
      Satan that he will be defeated.)

      1. What does victory for God and defeat for Satan
        involve? (Satan had just won the allegiance of
        humans. He had just introduced sin into the world.
        Sin would have to be defeated and the allegiance of
        humans won back.)

  2. The Atonement for Mugging

    1. Read Leviticus 5:5-6. What was God’s approach to dealing
      with the sin problem? (That sin must be confessed, and an
      animal killed “to make atonement for [the] sin.”)

    2. Read Leviticus 17:11. Explain the logic of the
      sacrificial system? (Sin leads to death. The result, the
      penalty for sin is death. God set up a system in which
      another life could pay the penalty for our sins.)

    3. Read John 1:29. What did John the Baptist say about
      Jesus? (That He was the “Lamb of God” who would “take
      away the sin of the world!”)

      1. If you were sitting there, listening to John, what
        would you conclude about the sacrificial system and
        Jesus? (That the sacrificial system pointed to
        Jesus. It was a type of prophecy. That just as a
        lamb shed its blood to atone for sin, so Jesus would
        shed His blood to atone for our sin.)

  3. The Result of the Mugging
    1. Read Luke 1:26-32. Compare what it was like for Jesus in
      Heaven with what it was like for Him when He came to live
      on earth as the son of Mary?

      1. Tell me all that Jesus gave up?

    2. Read Matthew 27:27-31, Acts 2:23-24, and Matthew 27:39-42. What did Jesus give up?

    3. Read Romans 5:6-8. What was Jesus doing when He died on
      the cross(a shameful thing for a God)? (He died for our

      1. Would you have done what Jesus did if you were Him?

      2. What was Jesus’ motive? (It was not that we could do
        anything for Him. We were “powerless.” It was not
        that we had any merit. We were “sinners.” It was
        purely because of love.)

    4. Read Romans 5:9. How could God be angry with us and love
      us at the same time? (God’s wrath is against our sins.)

      1. In our last series, I suggested that we should
        measure our actions by saying, “Would this please
        God? Would this please my spouse?” How does God’s
        wrath fit into this?

      2. Does it make sense for God to be angry with sin? (Of
        course. Sin corrupted heaven. Sin corrupted God’s
        Creation on earth. Sin caused Jesus a great deal of
        sacrifice and suffering. God should hate sin.)

    5. Read Romans 5:1-2. What kind of peace is this? (God hates
      sin. When we are justified by faith (that is when Jesus’
      righteousness becomes our righteousness) this takes care
      of the serious problem that God hates.)

    6. What kind of an attitude does this suggest that we should
      have towards sin? What kind of an attitude towards God?
      (Since sin would have gotten us killed if it were not for
      Jesus, we need to take is seriously. The fact that we
      avoided paying the penalty for sin does not make sin any
      less important. The fact that Jesus gave up all, and died
      a terrible death for us should make us eternally grateful
      to Him!)

  4. The Mugger’s Attitude

    1. Read Romans 1:16. When Paul writes that he is not ashamed
      of the gospel, what does that tell you? (That there is a
      reason to be ashamed. If you had a very beautiful wife or
      very handsome husband, would you never say, “I am not
      ashamed of how my spouse looks?” There would be no reason
      for a denial.)

      1. What reason is there to be ashamed of the gospel?
        (Notice that Paul says next, “it is the power of
        God.” That is our clue. Our God died. He was
        crucified by the government. This seems to show a
        lack of power on God’s part, and this is a matter of

      2. How does the crucifixion show God’s power? What kind
        of power is this? (The power of God is love. The
        power of God is self-sacrifice. God was injured so
        that we might be saved. What seems to be a
        demonstration of a lack of power, is in fact proof
        of the power of God’s love.)

    2. Read Romans 1:17. What is the righteousness of God that
      is revealed in the gospel – a gospel that on the surface
      is shameful? (What is revealed is that God overcomes sin
      with love. This “righteousness” overcomes sin. It takes
      us from being a sinner to a righteous person.)

      1. How do we obtain this righteousness? (It seems so
        contrary to the methods of the world. We must accept
        it by faith.)

    3. Read John 3:16-18. Is the essence of love self-sacrifice?

      1. Why did God have to be injured? (Recall that sin
        causes death. We should die for our sins. The Bible
        tells us that God voluntarily agreed to be
        “defeated,” He voluntarily agreed to die for us
        because He loved us. This shows that God is
        unselfish. That He preferred us over His reputation
        or His comfort.)

  5. God’s Wrath

    1. Read Romans 1:18-19. Is God unhappy? (He has wrath!)

      1. Does God have a reason to be unhappy? (Consider the
        Bible texts that we just reviewed. God went to
        incredible lengths to save us. He sacrificed
        everything to save those who had rejected Him.)

        1. How do you feel when those you have loved and
          cared for reject you?

      2. Against whom is God’s wrath displayed? (Against
        those who are godless and wicked.)

      3. What is the reason for God’s wrath? (These people
        suppress the truth.)

    2. Read Romans 1:20. Do these truth suppressors have an
      excuse? (No. God’s power and nature are obvious from the
      creation. We can see that a God exists and we can see
      that a sin problem exists.)

    3. Read Romans 1:21-22. In what ways can you suppress God’s
      truth? (Many ways, but Paul mentions two. By denying or
      distorting what Jesus has done for us. By denying or
      misrepresenting God’s love. By not glorifying God or not
      thanking Him.)

      1. Let’s get back to the “shameful” issue. If we are
        embarrassed about our God and our message, are we
        wicked? (We suppress the truth by not giving glory
        to God and not being thankful for what He did for us
        at the cross.)

    4. Friend, we started out admitting we were muggers. Because
      we never had to pay the price, we might not take our evil
      ways seriously. The gospel story helps us to take our
      evil ways seriously. It reveals to us God’s great
      unselfish love and our selfish ways. Will you determine
      today to do what pleases God? To show your understanding
      of His sacrifice and His love by turning away from those
      things that caused Jesus a painful death? By giving glory
      to God for what He has done for you?

  6. Next week: The God of Grace and Judgment.