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God-Given Instincts
The Holy Spirit

Main Point of Discussion: This small group discussion helps teach that because we are made in God’s image, we have a moral instinct (conscience) that helps us know what is inherently right and wrong. Taking it further, as Christians, we also have the Holy Spirit who makes God’s commands very clear.

Vital Info Before You Get Started: (The following should help you contextualize this important issue so you can have a great discussion about it with your kids.)

  • Optional Opening Activity: You’ll need a guitar or a piano that (preferably) you or your spouse can play. If neither of you can play the guitar or piano, and your child or children can’t either, then consider using the following links: (really bad piano playing—just about a minute) (totally amazing piano playing—under a minute)

  • The point of the activity is to demonstrate the difference between music that sounds horrible and music that sounds wonderful—that we all have an instinct about what sounds good and not so good, just because of the ears God gave us. Further, we can make a connection regarding our instincts of right and wrong—especially as Christians with the Holy Spirit guiding us.

Activity: Have your family members sit around the piano/guitar or close enough to hear it. Ask your family members to look at the keys on the piano/strings on the guitar and tell you which ones are “wrong.” Of course, it's a confusing question with no right answer…at this point.

Ask for a family member who doesn’t play piano/guitar to come forward and play two keys at the same time—any two will do. After the notes are played, ask the group if the two notes he/she played sounded good together. Repeat this several times with different family members. Some notes may sound good, and others will sound bad.

Now have a family member who plays the guitar/piano play a bit on the instrument. It will sound magnificent compared to the plinking from earlier.

(Again, if you have no instruments at your disposal—the caveat being that if you do, presumably someone in your house can play them—just show the two clips provided with no introduction, then proceed to the Three Questions…)

Three Simple Questions (with Answers You May Be Looking for):
    Q: What makes the “bad” notes sound bad & the “good” notes sound good?
    A: Most people react negatively to musical atonality; conversely, most people respond well to musical harmony.

    Q: How do you suppose we—as serious Christ-followers—should react to the sounds we heard?
    A: We should recognize that just as we have an instinct about good vs. bad music, we have an instinct about right vs. wrong, morally speaking—in short, a sin conscience.

    Q: How can we move from healthy, Bible-based opinions about this exercise to actually living out those opinions?
    A: We need to listen to the Holy Spirit a lot harder and longer, ignoring the other “sounds” in our lives and world. And not only do we need to listen, but also we must do what the Holy Spirit is asking that we do!

Where to Take It from Here:
Wherever it feels natural. If these questions lead to a longer discussion on the topic, wonderful! (There’s a guide just after this paragraph that helps you do just that.) If your kids are barely uttering grunts, don’t get discouraged—the next time it feels right, keep engaging them.

For Deeper Discussion: (If your kids seem into diving in deeper, the following discussion guide can help take you there.)

CLICK HERE if you want to look at a quick training article on small groups and drawing questions out of young people—you may find much of the information applicable as you go through this subject with your family members.

Transitional Statement:

This activity is designed not only to show us something about our musical instincts, but also to illustrate something about the way God wired us.

Parent Note:
Above all, don’t appear as if you have a “canned” discussion in your head and rattle off questions like a teacher giving a pop quiz—your kids get enough of that in school. This is a guide, primarily—not a verbatim script. Just familiarize yourself with the content here and start a conversation in the most natural, unforced way you know how.

More Discussion Questions:

    First, read the following passage:

      Romans 2:14-15 (The Message)
      When outsiders who have never heard of God's law follow it more or less by instinct, they confirm its truth by their obedience. They show that God's law is not something alien, imposed on us from without, but woven into the very fabric of our creation. There is something deep within them that echoes God's yes and no, right and wrong. Their response to God's yes and no will become public knowledge on the day God makes his final decision about every man and woman.

  1. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: So, if everyone has God’s moral standards woven into them, is there anyone who can claim ignorance about sinning? Why or why not?

  2. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: How is a guilty conscience like hearing the bad chords in our piano activity?

  3. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: How does following God’s law bring harmony between our spirit and life?

  4. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: How have you heard the ‘echo’ of God’s yes and no?

  5. HAVE ALL YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS ANSWER: How is a Christian’s moral instinct enhanced by God? (Parent—answer you’re looking for: through the presence and voice of the Holy Spirit)

  6. ASK A FEW: What do you think happens when we continually ignore our moral instincts?

  7. HAVE ALL YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS ANSWER: What are some specific ways this week that we can practice more sensitivity to the voice of the Holy Spirit…as well as following it?

Wrap Up:
Studies show that most people believe guilt or guilty feelings are always wrong. But just like we have God-given musical instincts, we also have God-given spiritual/moral instincts designed to help us when we are going down the wrong path. They are also there to help people realize their need for Jesus Christ as Savior. Maybe tonight you hear the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to you about your negative choices and/or attitude right now. Let’s take three minutes of complete silence and listen for God’s voice and the echo of right and wrong as you evaluate your life.

Then after a few minutes...

Close in Prayer

Written by Lane Palmer

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