Introduction: Recently, I was in a Bible study where the teacher kept
stressing that Christians are saved “from their sins” and not “in
their sins.” What, exactly, does that mean? If it means that we are
not saved if we have sin in our life, then the statement is false. If
it means that someone who is saved by grace partners with the Holy
Spirit to live a life in accord with God’s will, then the statement
is true. Our lesson this week is about becoming more like Jesus –
who lived a sinless life. Let’s explore the Biblical view of being
saved from our sins!

  1. Night Interview

    1. Read John 3:1. What do we learn about Nicodemus? (That he
      was a religious and political leader. I’ve read that some
      ancient manuscripts indicate that the House of Nicodemus
      was one of the wealthiest families.)

    2. Read John 3:2. Put yourself in Jesus’ place. Would you be
      insulted by what is being said and done? (Nicodemus comes
      at night, thus suggesting that he does not want to be seen
      with Jesus. He calls Jesus a “teacher,” but does not
      acknowledge Him as the Messiah.)

      1. Put yourself in Nicodemus’ place. What logic is there
        to your actions? (You want to know more about this
        new teacher, but you do not want to appear to endorse
        His claims – or harm your reputation. You carefully
        built your reputation and you continue to be

    3. Read John 3:3. We just reviewed the “relationship” aspect
      of this interview. What does Jesus’ reply suggest about
      His relationship concerns? (Jesus does not seem to care
      about the relationship aspect of the discussion at all. He
      gets straight to business.)

      1. How should Nicodemus understand what Jesus just said?
        What is Jesus saying about Nicodemus? (Jesus tells
        Nicodemus that Jesus knows more about having a right
        relationship with God. He suggests that Nicodemus
        does not have a proper understanding of how to have
        the right relationship with God.)

      2. What warning does this suggest to us? (We might know
        a lot about the Bible, but can still misunderstand

    4. Read John 3:4. How is Nicodemus taking Jesus’ words? (I
      think he is at least mildly insulted. His response is
      certainly insulting – “everyone knows, Jesus, that what
      you are saying is physically impossible.”)

  2. How We Grow

    1. Read John 3:5-6. Jesus explains that being “born again” is
      essential to salvation. Being born again is being “born of
      water and the Spirit.” How do you understand this? (Being
      born of water is baptism. Being born of the Spirit is
      having the Holy Spirit live in us.)

      1. Jesus says something that seems very odd, “Spirit
        gives birth to spirit.” What does this mean? (It
        means that the Holy Spirit is giving birth to
        something spiritual in our life. God is reproducing
        Himself in us.)

      2. Read Romans 6:4. When Jesus says that we must be born
        of water, He is talking about grace. Through baptism
        we participate in Jesus’ sacrificial death on our
        behalf. When we rise from the waters of baptism, we
        rise to a new life. How does this fit with the idea
        of being born of the Spirit? (Part of our new life is
        the Holy Spirit imparting God’s nature in us. Helping
        us to live a life of love, just as Jesus did.)

      3. In the introduction I mentioned the Bible teacher who
        kept saying that we are “saved from our sins, not in
        our sins.” The potential problem is thinking that our
        salvation depends on our works, and therefore whether
        we are saved changes hour by hour and day by day
        depending on what we do. Look again at John 3:5.
        Jesus tells us that we must be born of both water and
        the Spirit to be saved. Does this indicate that
        becoming more like Jesus is required for our

        1. Read Romans 6:4-7. What does this teach us
          about good works? (Our works do not save us,
          but the point of Jesus’ death on our behalf was
          “so that the body of sin might be done away
          with.” God does not want us to be slaves to
          sin. He has freed us from the penalty of sin
          (which is death) and we need to live a life
          free from the harm that sin does to us.)

    2. Let’s get back to the discussion with Nicodemus. Read John
      3:7. Is this a mild rebuke? (Yes. Jesus is not trying to
      flatter Nicodemus. He is not trying to talk sweetly to
      someone who could be a big financial supporter.)

    3. Read John 3:8. Does this mean that after we are born of
      the Spirit, we don’t know where we are going or where we
      have been? (No. But, it tells us that the working of the
      Holy Spirit in our life is mysterious. We know the Holy
      Spirit exists and is present, just like we know the wind
      is present, but explaining it is more difficult.)

      1. I want the Holy Spirit to act in powerful ways in my
        life. What does this verse teach me about that? (The
        extent of the power of the Holy Spirit is up to God.
        There is an unpredictable aspect to the Holy Spirit.)

    4. Read John 3:9-11. Do you think that Nicodemus does not
      really understand Jesus, or is Nicodemus saying this
      because he does not want to understand? (“You people do
      not accept our testimony” sounds like Nicodemus does not
      want to understand.)

    5. Read John 3:12-15. Jesus has challenged and insulted
      Nicodemus. Is Jesus just making debater’s points or does
      He seek to convert Nicodemus? (Jesus clearly states that
      He is from heaven. He clearly states that He is the key to
      eternal life. The fact that Jesus tells Nicodemus how He
      will die shows that Jesus wants to convert Nicodemus.)

    6. Read John 3:16-18. Do you think that Nicodemus is a good
      man? (I think so.)

      1. If I’m right, why does Jesus make this statement?
        (Good works do not save us. Rather, “whoever believes
        in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” As
        verse 18 teaches us, good people, like Nicodemus,
        will stand condemned if they do not accept Jesus.)

    7. Read John 3:19-21. Is Jesus making a statement about their
      night meeting? (Perhaps!)

      1. Who is the “Light [which] has come into the world?”
        (Jesus is the light. But, note the close connection
        between coming into the light of Jesus and our deeds.
        We cannot love light and want to live in darkness.)

  3. Our Daily Cross

    1. Read Luke 9:22-23. The disciples did not know when Jesus
      spoke these words that Jesus would be killed on the cross.
      Does this mean that we must suffer every day? (Read
      Galatians 5:22. Suffering every day is inconsistent with
      living a life of joy and peace.)

    2. Read Luke 9:24-25. What does this suggest Jesus means
      about us taking up our cross daily? Jesus is still talking
      about life and death.(Jesus is talking about a mental
      attitude. Either we put our life first or we put the
      Kingdom of God first. Either we live to benefit ourselves,
      or we live to benefit others.)

      1. What does this teach us about works? (Works are a
        natural result of grace. Jesus gave Himself up so
        that we might have eternal life. That example governs
        how we should live.)

      2. Is this an easy choice to make? (Re-read Luke 9:24-25. Jesus says that even if we choose to live for
        self it does no good. Even the most selfish will die.
        Even if we become the richest person in the world,
        how does that compare to eternal life?)

    3. When Jesus says a person “must deny himself,” is Jesus
      talking about money? (Notice Jesus compares it with saving
      our life and gaining the whole world. This covers much
      more than money.)

      1. What do you think Jesus means if He is talking about
        much more than money?

      2. Think about your favorite sin. If you turn away from
        it are you denying yourself?

    4. Friend, we are not saved by our works, but a person saved
      by grace experiences a new life in the Spirit. The Holy
      Spirit living in us changes us so that we want to live in
      the light, we want to deny self to bless others. Will you
      ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in living a righteous

  4. Next week: The Son.