Date: July 16, 2023
Set Apart: The Holiness of God
The Point: God is holy and set apart from everything else in His creation.
Get Into the Study
As you recap the content in “The Bible Meets Life,” share the following.
God’s holiness increasingly is a foreign concept in America. In fact, Americans don’t even know if God exists, according to the latest research. Only half of Americans are sure God exists, according to a survey released in June by the University of Chicago. That figure is down from 60 percent as recently as 2008.
Specific belief in the Christian God is dwindling too. More than a quarter (27%) of Americans said they have no religious affiliation, according to a tandem survey by the Public Religion Research Institute. That figure is climbing fast—up from 19 percent in 2012 and 16 percent in 2006.
“We have a data point from the 1950s where only 3 percent of people said they had no [religious] affiliation,” Duke University sociologist Mark Chaves told The Hill. “It got up to 8 or 9 percent in the 1990s, and it’s sort of accelerated since then.”
About 90 percent of Americans considered themselves Christians in the 1990s.
Though true atheism is rare at 7 percent of the population, departures from belief in the holy God of the Bible are increasing with each successive generation, according to the Survey Center on American Life. Just 18 percent of Baby Boomers claim they have no religious affiliation, compared with 25 percent of Generation X, 29 percent of Millennials, and 34 percent of Generation Z.
Study the Bible
Use the following after discussing Question 3.
Scammers may have stolen $200 billion in U.S. government aid intended for small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. That was among findings of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) released June 26. The figure represents 17 percent of all pandemic federal aid to small businesses.
The government’s rush to make help available may have opened a window of opportunity for thieves. An estimated 90 percent of the fraud occurred in 2020 during the first nine months of the pandemic.
The SBA “weakened or removed the controls necessary to prevent fraudsters from easily gaining access to these programs and provide assurance that only eligible entities received funds,” SBA inspector general wrote. “However, the allure of ‘easy money’ in this pay and chase environment attracted an overwhelming number of fraudsters to the programs.”
Some of the fraudsters have been brought to justice. Investigations by the SBA have led to more than 1,000 indictments, 803 arrests, and 529 convictions related to loan fraud. But those cases represent just $30 billion of the $200 billion potentially stolen.
Thousands of fraud investigations are expected to continue for years. The theft likely included more than $136 billion from the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and $64 billion from the Paycheck Protection Program.
David Roach is pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Saraland, Alabama. He and his wife Erin have three children.
Study the Bible [Option from Senior Adult Leader Guide, p. 94]
After discussing Psalm 99:6-9, conclude the session by pointing out that the psalm states three times that God is holy. Read the words to “Holy, Holy, Holy” or enlist someone to lead the group in singing it.
Live It Out [Option from Adult Leader Guide, p. 92]
Play this song exalting God for His holiness. Invite group members to respond to God’s holiness by worshiping Him. Then close in prayer.
Live It Out [Option from the Daily Discipleship Guide]
As a wrap up of your conversation of how God is set apart from everything else in His creation, share pictures of items we’re often tempted to elevate to an unhealthy level of importance. Discuss how easy it can be to place something, good or bad, above God and turn it into an idol. This activity will provide an opportunity to talk about how we can protect ourselves from developing idols and make God the only focus of our worship. Examples of images you can use:
- What’s something your family set aside for special occasions?
- When were you in a place that filled you with a reverent awe of its beauty or greatness?
- What skill or trait sets your family apart from others?
- What are some things that set your family apart from others?
- What’s something you possess that no one else would have?
- What’s something you possess that you think of as unique?
- What do you find awe-inspiring about God?
- What do we learn from these verses about God’s holiness? Or What do these verses teach us about holiness?
- What are some attributes of God that leave you in awe?
- How would you describe God’s greatness?
- When you think of God, what causes you to tremble?
- How does godly justice differ from the way justice is often practiced?
- In what ways is justice from a human jury different from the justice God gives?
- How does an understanding of God’s justice help us respond to injustice in the world today?
- How would you describe the connection between “justice” and “worship?”
- How are justice and fairness related?
- Where do you long to see justice in our world?
- Are there certain places where you can sense the presence of God more strongly than in other places?
- Why is it important to remember how God has worked in the past?
- How do we balance reverence for God with a close personal relationship with Him?
- How do God’s actions in the past give you confidence in your daily walk with Him?
- How can we express our understanding of God’s holiness in our daily interactions with Him?
For Those in Your Group
Send the following link to your group members as either a teaser before the group meets or as a follow-up thought:
Click here for a 20-minute podcast for both the group member and the leader.