Paul explained how Abraham had been justified through grace. Paul then described blessings that come to those who are justified and taught that baptism symbolizes becoming dead to sin and alive in Christ.
Copy the following picture and phrases on the board.
Invite students to imagine that they are dying of thirst in a desert and that there is a bottle of water on top of a nearby hill.
Which of the following will save you: (a) your belief that the water can save you, (b) your effort to get to the water and drink it, or (c) the water itself? (Do not say whether students’ responses are correct.)
Explain that this scenario can help us understand Paul’s teachings in Romans 4–7 concerning how faith, works, and grace relate to the doctrine of justification. (Remind students that Paul’s teachings regarding justification were introduced in Romans 1–3.)
According to Paul’s teachings in Romans 1–3, what does it mean to be justified? (To be pardoned from the punishment for sin and declared guiltless or righteous.)
How might some people today have a similar misunderstanding of justification?
Which option written on the board could represent the idea that we can be saved by our works? (Write (Works) next to option B.)
Explain that Paul tried to correct the misunderstanding that existed in his day by reminding the Jews about the ancient patriarch Abraham, whom many Jews saw as being justified.
What was Abraham not justified by? (The “law of works.”)
According to Paul’s teachings recorded in Romans 1–3, why can we not be justified by the law of works? (Paul taught that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” [Romans 3:23]. To be justified by the law of works would require us to never sin.)
Explain that as recorded in Romans 4:6–8, Paul quoted King David to further illustrate that our works alone do not justify us or make us innocent.
To summarize Romans 4:9–15, invite a student to read the following paragraph aloud:
To discredit the idea that only those who had been circumcised and were keeping the law of Moses could receive the blessings of being faithful, Paul taught that Abraham had received the blessings of his faithfulness before he was circumcised and that circumcision was a sign of his faithfulness. Abraham continued being faithful after covenanting with God and being circumcised. In this way, Abraham became the father of all the faithful, whether uncircumcised (Gentiles) or circumcised (Jews).
How are we justified? (Students should identify a doctrine similar to the following: We are justified by faith and works through grace.)
Remind students that grace refers to the blessings, mercy, help, and strength available to us because of Jesus Christ’s Atonement.
Which of the options written on the board could represent the Atonement and grace of Jesus Christ? Which option could represent our faith in Him? (After students respond, write (Atonement and grace of Jesus Christ) next to option C and (Faith) next to option A.)
If we were in this situation, could we be saved by our belief and efforts if there were no water? (No.) How is the water in this scenario like the Atonement and grace of Jesus Christ?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency:
“Salvation cannot be bought with the currency of obedience; it is purchased by the blood of the Son of God [see Acts 20:28]. …
“Grace is a gift of God, and our desire to be obedient to each of God’s commandments is the reaching out of our mortal hand to receive this sacred gift from our Heavenly Father” (“The Gift of Grace,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 109, 110).
Point out that while the scenario portrayed on the board helps us understand how faith, works, and grace contribute to us being justified, it does not illustrate all the ways we can receive the Savior’s grace. Jesus Christ not only provides the life-saving water that represents His grace, which justifies us and cleanses us from sin; He also enables us to have the faith and strength we need to obtain the water, or access His grace. We can be blessed by this grace before, during, and after we exercise faith in Him and perform good works.
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“The power of the Atonement makes repentance possible and … strengthens us to see, do, and become good in ways that we could never recognize or accomplish with our limited mortal capacity” (“Therefore They Hushed Their Fears,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 47).
How can the Savior’s grace help us exercise faith in Him and do good works?
What are some works we can do to show our faith in Christ and be justified through His grace? (Repent and obey the commandments and receive the ordinances of the gospel.)
Invite students to divide into groups of two or three and to explain to each other how faith and righteous works help us receive the Savior’s grace so we can be justified. (Make sure students understand that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in His power to save us will motivate us to receive necessary ordinances and to obey God’s commandments, which allows us to become justified through the Savior’s grace.)
Summarize Romans 5 by explaining that Paul taught of the peace that comes to those who access the grace of Christ by faith (see verses 1–2). He further explained that the grace available to us because of Jesus Christ’s Atonement is more than sufficient to overcome the effects of the Fall.
Ask students how they would respond in the following scenario:
Your friend is planning to eventually serve a mission but is currently making choices that oppose the Lord’s standards. When you express concern about your friend’s behavior, he says, “It is not a big deal. Because of the Atonement, I can always repent before I go on my mission.”
Explain that some people knowingly break God’s commandments, planning to repent later, such as before they go to the temple or serve a mission. Invite students as they study Romans 6 to look for why this attitude denotes a grave misunderstanding of the doctrine of grace.
Divide students into pairs. Invite each partnership to read Romans 6:1–6, 11–12 aloud together and to discuss how Paul’s teachings could correct their friend’s thinking. After sufficient time, ask:
How did Paul respond to the misconception that the Savior’s grace will automatically free us from our sins?
According to these verses, what does baptism by immersion symbolize? (As students respond, help them identify the following doctrine: Baptism by immersion can symbolize our death to sin and newness of spiritual life.)
Explain that the new spiritual life we begin when we are baptized includes receiving a remission of our sins and committing to obey God’s commandments.
To prepare students to identify additional principles in Romans 6, display some money.
Who pays for an employee’s wages? Why does an employer not pay for the wages of someone else’s employee?
Invite students to read Romans 6:13 silently, looking for the two “employers,” or masters, someone could yield to and serve. (You may need to explain that yield in this verse means to offer or give yourself to.) Ask students to report what they find.
Draw the following chart on the board:
Wages of sin
Invite students to read Romans 6:14–23 silently. Ask half of them to look for the “wages” (verse 23), or consequences, of sin and the other half to look for God’s wages. After sufficient time, ask a few students to come to the board to write on the chart what they found. (Under ”Wages of sin“ students should write Death [see verses 16, 21, 23], and under “God’s wages” they should write Righteousness [see verse 16], Holiness [see verses 19, 22], Everlasting life [see verse 22], and Eternal life [see verse 23].) Explain that death as a wage of sin refers to “separation from God and His influences” and means “to die as to things pertaining to righteousness” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Death, Spiritual,” scriptures.lds.org).
What principle can we learn from Romans 6:16 about the consequences of yielding to sin? (Students may use different words but should identify the following principle: If we yield to sin, then we will become servants of sin.)
How does yielding to a sin make us a servant to that sin?
Invite students to ponder instances when someone’s yielding to sin led to a loss of freedom.
Refer to the list under “God’s wages.”
What are the benefits of serving righteousness rather than sin?
What principle can we learn from Paul’s teachings about how to become free from sin and receive the gift of eternal life? (Students may use different words but should identify a principle similar to the following: If we yield ourselves to God, we can become free from sin and receive the gift of eternal life.)
In what ways can we yield ourselves to God?
In what ways have you experienced freedom from sin by yielding yourself to God?
Testify of the importance of yielding ourselves to God. Invite students to write down a goal regarding how they will better yield themselves to God.
Summarize Romans 7 by explaining that Paul used the metaphor of marriage to teach that Church members had been freed from the law of Moses and joined to Christ. He also wrote about the struggle between the “flesh” (verse 18), or physical appetites, and “the inward man” (verse 22), or spirituality.
Conclude by testifying of the truths taught in this lesson.