Preteen Lesson on Being Perfect

Preteens often struggle with the fact that, even though they are a Christian, they still mess up.

They may even say something like this: I think I accepted Christ, but I still sin; does that mean that I’m not really a Christian?

Being a Christian means that we are on a life-long journey of sanctification, with glorification awaiting us on the day of Jesus Christ. Being a Christian means that we are saved from our sins, but there is a fight against sin to be fought until God’s work in us is complete.

Helping preteens to understand this will not only help them to have peace about their current state of imperfection, but also help them to “fight the good fight” (1 Timothy 6:12) and “work out [their] own salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who works in [them]” (Philippians 2:12).

Enjoy the lesson!

– Nick Diliberto, Preteen Ministry

P.S. – Be sure to check out our 3 brand new releases for your preteen ministry: Fall New Release Bundle (now thru next Wednesday); Holiday Happy (4-week Thanksgiving/Christmas series); and Unafraid (4-week series).

PRETEEN LESSON ON BEING PERFECT

Written by Sean Sweet

Bible Verses: Philippians 2:12, Philippians 1:6, Isaiah 1:18, Hebrews 10:10, 10:14, Romans 7:15-16, Romans 17-20, 2 Corinthians 3:18

Bottom Line: As God works in us, we become more like him and reflect his glory more clearly.

SUPPLIES

1 Hand-held mirror for each student (You can usually find these at your local dollar store)

1 Wet-erase or dry-erase marker for each student

1 Wet wipe for each student

2 Large mirrors (the kind that you hang on the back of a closet door. K-Mart sells these for $6 each)

Dirt

1 Spray bottle

Optional: 1 Large squirt gun

2 Buckets

1 Towel

PREP

Fill one of the buckets with water.

Fill the spray bottle and squirt gun with water.

Cover one of the large mirrors with dirt. Start by misting a mirror with a spray bottle, then grab some fine-grain dirt and throw it at the mirror. Repeat this until the mirror is covered with dirt. You may need to use your hands to smear the dirt and give it a “dirty” look.

Put the wet wipes in the fronts of the room. Preselect leaders to hand out the wet wipes during the last part of the lesson.

On the side of the spray bottle and squirt gun, write the word “SANCTIFICATION” in large letters.

On the side of the bucket of water, write the word “GLORIFICATION” in large letters.

TEACH

(SAY:) Imagine one day you make a decision to fly, superman-style, toward the Sun. (Put your hands up as those you are flying super-man style.) So you start flying toward the Sun like this. You are flying and flying and getting closer and closer to the Sun as you go. What will start to happen to you?

(Take responses. You’ll probably get responses like “catch on fire”, “get hot”, “glow”)

It’s interesting, because if I asked you what the Sun is like, you’d probably give some of the same answers. The Sun is fire. The Sun is hot. The Sun glows. And these are the same things that would happen to me if I started flying toward the Sun.

If I made that decision – to fly toward the Sun superman style – I would start to become more and more like the Sun.

Tell me, who’s doing the work of changing me to become more like the Sun? Is it me that’s doing the work? Or is it the Sun?

(Take responses. Both you and the Sun play a factor in these changes, but it’s the Sun that’s changing you as you draw closer to it.)

The reason I’m talking about this today is because the same type of thing is happening to you and me as Christians.

The day we believed in Jesus as our Savior is the day we started flying toward the Son. Not the Sun – the Son. I’m talking about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

And the longer we are on this journey – the longer we are a Christian, the more we are changed to be like the Son. Not the Sun – the Son.

As we draw closer to Jesus, he changes us. Here’s how 2 Corinthians 3:18 says it:

“So we are being changed to become more like him so that we have more and more glory. And this glory comes from the Lord, who is the Holy Spirit.”

As Christians, we look at Jesus. And that changes us. But, also we reflect Jesus to the people around us.

It’s like this mirror. (Pull out clean mirror.) If I angle the mirror so that it’s “looking” at the lights on the ceiling in this room, it reflects those lights toward you. (Have a little fun flashing lights in the preteens’ eyes.)

As we look at Jesus’ greatness, and he changes us, we also start to reflect his greatness to the people around us – our friends, our family, our neighbors.

However, there seems to be a problem with this “reflecting God’s glory” thing, doesn’t there? (Look into the mirror as you say this next part:) If I look at myself, even though I’m a Christian, there are sinful tendencies in my life. I mess up. Every day. And that sin seems to block my ability to see God…and to show others God, too.

In Matthew 5:8, Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” But if I’m being honest with you guys, my heart isn’t 100% pure. Isaiah 1:18 says that even though my sins are like bright red, they will be washed away and I shall be like pure white snow. But I don’t feel like my heart is like pure white snow.

I mean, I’ve accepted Jesus as my Savior, but I still sin. A lot. Does anybody else see this in themselves, too? (Look for response.)

Let me tell you some of the sin that is in my heart, even now. (Be general, and give the preteens a few examples of sins that you struggle with, like selfishness or pride. Remember to be age-appropriate in what you share. By sharing your struggles, you’ll let them know that even a teacher like you isn’t perfect…yet. This can help remove the pressure that some of them feel to be “perfect”. As you share a few sins, write them in big letters with a red dry- or wet-erase marker on the mirror.)

Many of you, when you look into the mirror at yourself, see all the sin that’s in your heart, too. I want us to try something here today before we continue.

Right now, we are going to hand out mirrors and dry- or wet-erase markers to each of you. Don’t do anything with them until I tell you. (Hand out mirrors and markers.)

First of all, I want each of you to look silently at yourself in the mirror. Look right at your own eyes for a minute. God loves you. God forgives you. When God looks at you he sees somebody who was wonderfully made. Somebody that he carefully knit together. God loves you.

As you look at yourself, though, you may think of some of the sins in your life. I want to give you a minute to use the marker we handed you to write some of the sins in your life on the mirrors. You may have something in your life that you don’t want the people around you to know about, so instead of writing the whole thing out, you could just put a letter. So, for instance, if you struggle with stealing things, you could put a letter “T” for thief. Or whatever letter you want.

I’m going to give you a minute to write all the things down on your mirror that you are sin in your life.

(Give students a minute to write these down before continuing. If you are able, you could break into small groups for a time of sharing before continuing.)

Alright. Here are two sentences. You tell me which one is correct:

We have been made holy.

We are being made holy.

Which one is correct? (Take responses before continuing.)

Let’s see what it says in the Bible, in Hebrews chapter 10.

“We have been made holy because Jesus Christ offered his body once and for all time…By that one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (v. 10b, 14)

So it’s both! We have been made holy, and we are also being made holy.

Wow! That’s so good to know.

See some of you, if we looked at your hearts, it would look like this. (Pull out dirt-covered mirror and place it in the empty bucket.) That’s pretty gross! And it doesn’t reflect light very well either. A heart like that doesn’t see God clearly, and doesn’t reflect God clearly either.

But because “Jesus Christ offered his body once and for all time” on the Cross, you have been made Holy in God’s eyes. When you stand before God, he doesn’t see any of your sins, because Jesus already paid for them on the Cross. So in one way, you’ve already been made holy even though you still sin. There’s a fancy word for this – it’s “JUSTIFICATION”. Everybody say “Justification”.

But justification is not the end of the story (or the fancy words). No – your first day of being a Christian was just the beginning of something called sanctification.

See, you and I, as we go through life, are continuing to go through this process called “sanctification.” (Hold up spray bottle to show the word “SANCTIFICATION” written on the side.)

When you come to church and hear his word being taught (spray some water on the mirror so that some of the dirt rolls down), God changes you to become more like him…more holy. When you spend time with God in prayer (spray some water on the mirror so that some of the dirt rolls down), God changes you to become more like him. When you read your Bible (spray), when you worship God (spray), when you do a good deed with help from the Holy Spirit (spray).

As you go through life, God is making you Holy. (Squirt…Squirt.) This is called “SANCTIFICATION”. Everybody say “Sanctification.”

Now, when you have a season where you are really pressing hard into Jesus, spending extra time in prayer, and reading your Bible more than ever, and worshipping God with more of your heart that you’ve ever done before, those seasons of sanctification change us even more (pull out the squirt gun and give the mirror a good shot of water).

Throughout your lives, you will continue to fight against sin, and you’ll continue to grow closer to God. Remember how 2 Corinthians 3:18 says it:

“So we are being changed to become more like him so that we have more and more glory. And this glory comes from the Lord, who is the Holy Spirit.”

And this will make you able to more clearly see God, and more clearly reflect him to the people around you. That’s what sanctification is all about.

I want everybody to know today that if there is sin in your life, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t a Christian. It just means that God is still working in you, and you still have some work to do, too.

Just like flying superman-style toward the Sun changes us to become more like the Sun, choosing to spend time with Jesus will change you to become more like Jesus. That’s sanctification.

There’s this guy named Paul that wrote a lot of the New Testament of the Bible. When I read what Paul wrote, I say, “MAN! This guy is so awesome. I wish I could be like him.” But, listen to what Paul says about himself in Romans 7:

“15 I don’t understand what I do. I don’t do what I want to do. Instead, I do what I hate to do. 16a I do what I don’t want to do. 17 As it is, I am no longer the one who does these things. It is sin living in me that does them. 18 I know there is nothing good in my desires controlled by sin. I want to do what is good, but I can’t. 19 I don’t do the good things I want to do. I keep on doing the evil things I don’t want to do. 20 I do what I don’t want to do. But I am not really the one who is doing it. It is sin living in me that does it.”

So, according to Paul, was he perfect just because he was a Christian? (NO!)

And we aren’t either.

I want all of you to know that God was working in Paul’s life, and I want you to know that God is working in my life right now. AND he’s at work in you, too!

Just keep flying toward him. Keep spending time with him. He will continue to change you!

And one day, that day in the future when we see Jesus face to face, something new will happen! (Pick up bucket of water that has the word “GLORIFICATION” on the side. As you speak the next sentences, pour the bucket over the mirror and then use the towel to wipe off all the dirt.) On that day when we see Jesus face to face, all of our sins are washed away completely in this amazing, beautiful thing called glorification. When God is done with you and me, we will shine his glory so perfectly. We will be holy as he is holy – perfection will come! This (looking at clear mirror) is glorification. Say “Glorification” with me.

This is the day that we all are looking forward to.

Every Christian goes through all three of those fancy words: Justification – on the day they receive Jesus as Savior; Sanctification – throughout the rest of their lives; and Glorification – on the day of Jesus Christ.

Look at how Paul says it in Philippians 1:6 (NIRV):

“God began a good work in you. And I am sure that he will carry it on until it is completed. That will be on the day Christ Jesus returns.”

I love this verse. It has all three of the fancy words that I used today:

“God began a good work in you. (JUSTIFICATION)

And I am sure that he will carry it on until it is completed. (SANCTIFICATION)

That will be on the day Christ Jesus returns.” (GLORIFICATION)

Look at those mirrors that you guys wrote on earlier. How many of you would like all those sins in your life to be washed away? (Look for response.)

Well, here’s some great news for you. Throughout your life, God is doing a work in your life called Sanctification, and he is removing those things from your heart and mind. And one day, the day that you stand face to face with Jesus, all of those things will be gone.

We want you to take these mirrors home with you and keep them as a reminder that God is doing a work in your life. But first, we want you to do one more thing to symbolize what God is doing and WILL DO in your heart.

I have a leader (or leaders) who is coming up to the front of the room right now. As we go into a time of worship, I want to invite you to come to the front and get a wet wipe from them. As you do, thank God for what he’s doing and WILL DO in your heart as you spend more time with him. Thank God for sanctifying you.

Then take that wet wipe and wipe away the sins on your mirrors. Do this as a symbol of what God is going to continue to do in your life.

God is at work in you! God loves you! God is sanctifying you, and you are becoming more and more like him as you continue to know him.

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” -Philippians 2:12-13

Let’s pray.

[End lesson]

P.S. – Be sure to check out our 3 brand new releases for your preteen ministry: Fall New Release Bundle (now thru next Wednesday); Holiday Happy (4-week Thanksgiving/Christmas series); and Unafraid (4-week series).

This lesson is written by Sean Sweet, who is the Community Facilitator for FourFiveSix.org, and is dedicated to raising the value of your ministry to preteens.

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