Teaching for Transformation, Part 1: The Affections

As I have said before, the main purpose of any small group or Sunday school class is transformation.  To see the hearts and minds of our people renewed and transformed by the power of God is the ultimate goal.  As a teacher or leader, you should earnestly desire this for your class.  This is why God called you and gave you the gift of teaching; so that you may clearly teach His word to His people and that they might be transformed into the image of His Son.

But what does this transformation look like?  What are the evidences of transformation in our people?  I believe this transformation primarily takes place in 3 areas of our peoples lives: their affections, their thinking (mind), and their actions.  All of these work together and influence each other.  So in part 1 of a 3 part post, we will discuss the affections.

What are the affections? Many  might hear that word and think just about our emotions or feelings.  While our affections are emotions and feelings, it is not just that.  Our affections also have to do with what we desire, what we value, what we choose, and what we will.  We teach God's word because we desire people to have holy affections.  We desire that people's affections be stirred by His Spirit as the word of God is taught.

In Romans 1, Paul describes perfectly for us what unholy affections look like.  They worship the creation instead of the Creator.  Their affections crave immorality, their minds are worthless, and they are full of envy, deceit and malice.  He then states later in 3:23 that all have sinned.  In Galatians 5, Paul lists unholy affections as idolatry, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, and dissensions. We all had unholy affections.  Our wills, values, emotions, and desires were all warped by sin.  So when we trusted in Christ, God through His Spirit began the process of transforming our affections.

Holy affections are a work of God, and God uses His Spirit in conjunction with His word to work in us these holy affections. What do these holy affections look like?  I think they are best summed up in Galatians 5:22-23 in what we call the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This is the fruit you should desire for your people.

Paul even says something more important about holy affections in verse 24, "Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires". Our unholy affections have been crucified with Christ.  We are no longer bound by them.  We are now empowered by the Holy Spirit to live a life of holy affections.  We desire the things God desires.  We value the things He values.  Our will becomes aligned with His will.

That is why what you do in Sunday school is so important.  In order for our people's affections to be transformed, they must be under the influence of God's word.  So continue to pursue these holy affections for yourself.  Desire them for the people of your class and model them.  Continue to diligently teach God's word so that you might see this transformation of affections happen in your people.


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