Biblical Truth #3—God has Subjected the Whole World to a Curse Because of Sin

Biblical Truth #3—God has Subjected the Whole World to a Curse Because of Sin

Introduction for Parents:

In the midst of peace, prosperity, and comfort, people often gloss over the utter brokenness of our world. But sudden calamities, like the one we are experiencing, have a way of stripping away the veneer of “all is well.” Something is desperately wrong with the world. All creation groans. Why?

… the meaning of all the misery in the world is that sin is horrific. All natural evil is a statement about the horror of moral evil. If you see a suffering in the world that is unspeakably horrible, let it make you shudder at how unspeakably horrible sin is against an infinitely holy God. The meaning of futility and the meaning of corruption and the meaning of our groaning is that sin—falling short of the glory of God—is ghastly, hideous, repulsive beyond imagination.

Unless you have some sense of the infinite holiness of God and the unspeakable outrage of sin against this God, you will inevitably see the futility and suffering of the universe as an overreaction. But in fact the point of our miseries, our futility, our corruption, our groaning is to teach us the horror of sin. And the preciousness of redemption and hope.1

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Supplies:

  • Microwave popcorn2
  • Microwave 
  • Large bowl
  • A sheet of plain drawing paper (1 per child)
  • Crayons, markers, or colored pencils (including dark colors)
  • Optional: the gift bag from the previous devotional

Pique Their Interest (3 to 5 minutes):

(Option 1:  As descriptively as possible, pose the scenario described in Option 2 to your children. Make sure to fully describe what the outcome would be.)

(Option 2: Before the devotional time, tell your children that you are going to make a special treat. Carefully read the instructions for making the popcorn in the microwave including the wording that states that overcooking will cause scorching and burning. Proudly point out that you know better than the popcorn maker and increase the recommended popping time by 2-3 minutes. Take the popcorn out of the microwave. Open the bag as instructed and pour the popcorn into the bowl. Ask the following kinds of questions.)

I decided not to trust the instructions from the maker of this popcorn. Was my way of doing things really better? Is this the way popcorn is supposed to look? Should I be surprised by this? Why not? [The instructions said that it would burn if you overcooked it.] Can I undo the burnt-ness? Why not?

Did my actions impact only the treat? [No, the awful stink is spreading through the kitchen and the house.] Do you think I could say, “But it’s not my fault that the popcorn didn’t turn out right”? Why not?

In the end, would you say that I have been wise or foolish?

Conclusion:

You should have trusted the popcorn maker in the first place.  Instead of a wonderful treat as it was intended to be, it’s now ruined. Actions have consequences.

In some ways, the world in which we live is a little like this burnt popcorn. Something is terribly wrong. But just like this burnt popcorn didn’t come about by accident, the brokenness of our world didn’t “just happen.” There is an important reason for what we are seeing and experiencing.

Activity:

(Give each child a piece of paper and some crayons/markers/colored pencils.)

The first two chapters of the Bible describe a time when the world was very different than it is today. When God first created the world, He pronounced that everything was “very good”—everything was perfect, beautiful, wonderful, peaceful, pleasant, and happy. There was no worry, unhappiness, sickness, pain, or death.  

(Instruct the children to use the paper to begin drawing something beautiful from God’s creation as it might have looked during this time. At this time, they should only use one side of the paper. You may want to encourage them to keep drawing until indicated, as long as it is not overly distracting.)

Study the Scriptures:

(Read and talk about the following Scriptures. Depending on the age of your children and the time available, you may choose to have children look up one or more of the texts in their Bibles. Make sure to define any unfamiliar words or terms after reading each text.)

Is that what the world is like today? Can you give some examples of how the world seems the “opposite” of how it was back then? [Encourage responses that are both global in scope but also very personal and specific.] So what happened? Why are things so different?

(Explain that just as the popcorn was intended as a wonderful treat but ended up being burnt instead, there is a reason why the world no longer looks and acts as it did when God first created it.)

Romans 5:12a—…sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin…

What came into the world through the one man? [sin] Who is the one man? [Adam, the very first human created by God]

In what way did Adam sin? [He and his wife Eve ate of the one tree in the garden that God had commanded them not to eat from. (See Genesis 3:6.)]

And what came into the world through sin? [death]

Should Adam and Eve have been surprised by that? Had God given them any and warning about the one tree?

Genesis 2: 16-17—And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Was God kidding when He said they would die if they disobeyed His command? No. 

  • God is righteous, and all His commands are right. They must be obeyed.
  • God is faithful and true. He always does what He says He will do. He said they would die, and now they will die.

So why didn’t they trust God’s word and do what He said? Why did they do something so foolish when God had warned them?

Romans 1:21—For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

(Explain that Adam and Eve knew that God was their Creator and Ruler. They had enjoyed special fellowship with Him. God deserved to be treated with the highest honor, respect, love, and praise. He deserved to be trusted and obeyed. But they decided they would rather do things their own way instead of trusting God and His ways.)

(Display the gift bag from the previous devotional if you have it. Have the children recall that it was used to recall that every good thing we have and experience is a wonderful gift from God.)

What is the right response when someone gives you a wonderful gift? What about hundreds upon hundreds of magnificent, “best ever” gifts? [gladly and eagerly thanking that person]

(Point out that God had given Adam and Eve the most marvelous gifts to enjoy. But they  weren’t thankful to God for giving them everything that was good, pleasant, beautiful, and perfect. They thought that God was keeping something good from them.)

That kind of thinking and those kind of feelings, attitudes toward God are all wrong. Adam and Eve’s “foolish hearts were darkened,” meaning they now had sinful hearts.

(Scoop up some of the burnt popcorn in your hand. Have the children recall how it got that way. It was not by accident. You deliberately chose to disregard the instructions on the package. It was a very foolish thing to do. You were warned about what would happen if you overcooked it. You cannot undo it This illustration can help us understand what Adam and Eve had done. They were now like this popcorn—they were ruined sinners with darkened hearts.)

(Have the children stop drawing something beautiful on their papers, if they haven’t already done so. Instruct them to use a dark-colored crayon, marker, or colored pencil to draw a large heart shape on top of their beautiful drawing and color it in in such a way to make it look ugly. How do they feel about doing this?)

Sin is awful and terrible. It grieves God and it angers God. God has decided that the right punishment for sin is death.

But sin and death did not stop with Adam and Eve. 

Romans 5:12—Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—

It spread to their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and to all their descendants. That means each of us. From the time that Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, the world has been filled with sinful people. 

Why is disobedience to God—sin—such a big deal? It was only one little sin! Adam and Eve just ate one piece of fruit. Why couldn’t God just say something like, “So you made a mistake. I’ll just ignore it, and we’ll pretend that it never happened”?  

  • God is righteous, and all His commands are right.
  • God is faithful and true. He always does what He says He will do.
  • God would not be reliable and trustworthy if He said something was right to do but then acted like it didn’t matter. 

Habakkuk 1:13a—You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong,

  • God is holy—He is completely separate from sin. He is perfect and pure in every way. God cannot tolerate sin.

(Hand out some kernels of the burnt popcorn to everyone.) 

How would you describe how this popcorn looks and smells? Would you want to keep a bowl of this in your bedroom? Do you think it would taste yummy?  Would you be telling the truth if you said this popcorn is delicious for eating? 

What would be the right thing to do with this popcorn? [Throw it away…far away!] 

Romans 1:18a—For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,

  • The way sin appears to God is millions upon millions of times worse than the burnt popcorn appears to us.
  • Because God is holy, He cannot tolerate sin. Because God is holy, He hates sin and is right to be very angered by sin.
  • But God did not “throw away” His world. Instead, He placed a curse on it, and now the entire world is experiencing God’s judgment in certain ways.

(As you call out the following, see if the children can quickly guess words that would mean the opposite of the underlined words.)

Before sin there was only life; now there is _______ [death]

Before sin all creatures were healthy,; now there is ________ [sickness]

Before sin there only was pleasure; now there is _______ [pain]

Before sin there was only happiness; now there is ________ [sadness]

Before sin there everything was clean and pure; now there is _______ [pollution, trash]

Before sin there always was peace; now there is _________ [fighting, war]

Before sin there was always plenty; now there is __________ [hunger, not enough]

The Apostle Paul described the world in which we now live this way… 

Romans 8:22a—For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

Because the world is under a curse, what is all creation doing? [groaning] So, not only are all people groaning, but also everything else—plants, animals, mountains, oceans, sun, moon, and more.

But Paul says that it is like the groaning or pain that happens when a woman is giving birth to a baby. It hurts for a time, but then there is a beautiful new little baby born. The pain stops, and there is great joy. What joy is Paul talking about?

1 Peter 1:3-5—Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Pray Together:

Praise God for the beautiful world He created. Express honor and thanksgiving to Him. Confess ways in which you have not given Him the honor, thanks, and praise He deserves. Acknowledge God’s righteous judgment on sin. Call upon Jesus for forgiveness. Pray for those who are suffering, asking for God’s comfort and that He would be at work bringing sinners to salvation in Christ.

Apply the Truth This Week:

This week, look for opportunities to remind your children of the truths learned. Reflect on how difficult it is to get rid of the stench of burnt popcorn from the house. What should this remind us of? Have them look at their drawings again. Although their pictures have been ruined to some extent, there are glimpses of the beautiful picture that was once there. Even in a world under a curse, God is still revealing His greatness, beauty, goodness, love, and mercy. Ask: What are some groanings you have experienced today? How does God want you to think about this? What does His Word say? How should our hearts respond—what feelings and desires does God command? What does God call us to do?

Optional Activity Pages:

1. John Piper, “Subjected to Futility in Hope,” a sermon delivered at Bethlehem Baptist Church of Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 28, 2002. 

2. Instead of microwave popcorn, you could make another kind of baked treat, such as cookies, cupcakes, muffins, etc.

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Next week’s devotional will be “Biblical Truth #4Disease, Disasters, and Calamities Point to Our Desperate Need for Jesus."

This lesson is part of an eight-part devotional series, which was kicked off with this post.

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