Why do bad things happen? That is the question to which all people desire an answer since it is those bad things which get in the way of the abundant life we seek. It is also those bad things which cause us to doubt that this is God’s goal for His creation. The answer to this question however lies not with God, but us. Because of our sin, we have forfeited our right to possess the blessings of abundant life promised in Scripture. In other words, it is because of our sin that bad things happen and abundant life is forfeited rather than realized. This then is the problem of our sin. Consider:
a. What is sin? (1 John 3:4; Romans 3:23)
The apostle John defines sin as “lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). The apostle Paul on the other hand, tells us it means we have “fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). So which is it? It is both! As a matter of fact, they are one and the same thing! Lawlessness in 1John refers to someone who is without God’s law. In other words, they refuse to submit to God as their authority and obey what He tells them to do (or not do) in the Bible–deeds which by their very nature, indicate the disposition of this person as one of disrespect rather than respect; of failing to give God glory versus glorifying Him. This sinful disposition also means failing to receive His abundant life blessings since this is the key to their realization. Sin therefore is as much a state of being as it is an action: people are sinners and they sin.
b. Who is guilty? (Romans 3:23; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Proverbs 20:9; 1John 1:8, 10)
It is pretty obvious from the contents of these verses that we are all guilty when it comes to the issue of sin. We have again “all fallen short” (Rom 3:23). There is nobody who “never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20) or who can say they are “pure from sins” (Proverbs 20:9). To deny this, means we are sorely deceived and calling God a “liar” since it is Him more than anyone else who is claiming this about us (1 John 1:8, 10). From first to last then, humanity is a race of sinners.
c. How does it affect us? (Genesis 6:5, 8:21; Deuteronomy 28:15-45; Psalm 11:6, 31:10, 32:10, 38:1-4, 51:5; Proverbs 10:27, 13:21; Ecclesiastes 8:13; Isaiah 24:1-6, 59:1-2; Jeremiah 4:18, 5:20-25, 6:16-19, 13:23; Daniel 4:27; Matthew 15:19; John 5:14, 8:34; Romans 1:18-31, 6:23; Ephesians 2:1-3)
It is no understatement to say that humanity’s biggest problem is her sin problem. As stated, sin is why we fail to realize God’s abundant life promises (Deuteronomy 28:15-45; Psalm 11:6, 31:10, 32:10, 38:1-4; Proverbs 10:27, 13:21; Ecclesiastes 8:13; Isaiah 24:1-6; Jeremiah 5:20-25, 6:16-19). Our free and willful choice to rebel against God has brought only the promise of His wrath (Jeremiah 4:18; Rom 1:18). It has also separated us from Him relationally (Isaiah 59:1-2). The correlation between our sin and the forfeiture of abundant life is both real and clear in the pages of Scripture (Daniel 4:27; John 5:14). And though we may desire to stop in our rebellion against God, we are powerless to do so (Jeremiah 13:23). Sin has become our nature; the spiritual state in which we are conceived (Psalm 51:5). It is what flows from our heart (Matthew 15:19). Like an addictive drug, it enslaves us and takes us deeper into disobedience, dishonor and depravity of the mind and flesh (John 8:34; Romans 1:24-28; Ephesians 2:3). Through it we become instruments of the devil (Ephesians 2:2), infested with all forms of evil thoughts and unrighteous acts (Genesis 6:5, 8:21; Romans 1:29-31). Sin makes us idolaters, children of wrath, enemies of God, spiritually dead and awaiting death (Romans 1:19-23; Ephesians 2:1, 3; Romans 6:23).
d. Where does it ultimately lead? (Matthew 10:28, 13:41-42, 25:29-41; Mark 9:42-48; Revelation 20:11-15)
As if the picture painted by our sin was not bleak enough, the Scriptures go on to tell us that such rebellion and disobedience against God will have its day in a heavenly court and the outcome will not be in our favor. Our deeds will be judged and found wanting (Revelation 20:11-15). Our lawlessness will afford to us a place in God’s eternal penitentiary; a place the Bible calls “the second death”, “the lake of fire”, the “furnace of fire” or “Hell” (Revelations 20:14-15; Matthew 10:28, 13:41-42). It is a place of real and lasting pain; a place where the “fire is never quenched” yet those in its midst cannot die in order to escape its torture (March 9:42-48). It is a place of “outer darkness”, “eternal fire”, “weeping and gnashing of teeth”; the place of the “devil and his angels” (Matthew 13:42, 25:29-41). It is the final resting place of all those under God’s awful and horrific wrath. The Scriptures promise that this will be the righteous and well-deserved verdict of God against those who have lived in cosmic treason before Him. Hell will be the forever home of all who leave this world still holding to the guilt of their sin and rebellious ways.
This once more is the problem of our sin; where it has left us. In the words of the Apostle Paul, it has left us “without hope and without God” (Ephesians 2:12). Abundant life and any claim we had before, has been forfeited. This too is a part of the Gospel message found in the Bible. Fortunately however for us, it doesn’t end there. Amidst the bad news of lives shipwrecked on the shores of sin, the mercy of God appears and a lifeboat of salvation is found. His name is Jesus and He is the focus of our next post later this week.
 Though not all things that happen can be traced directly to a specific sin, nor does Scripture always demand a direct corollary between a person and their personal struggles or problems (ex. John 9:1-3), there is nonetheless always some connection which does exist as this lesson will demonstrate from multiple passages in the Bible.
 This is discussed under the Exesto section of the first lesson. Glorifying God is the means to receiving His abundant life blessings.
 The “prince of the power of the air” is the devil or Satan. According to Scripture, he is: an angel of God who possesses great power (Ezekiel 28:11-14), the first of God’s creation to rebel against Him (Ezekiel 28:15-16; Isaiah 14:12-20) and the chief deceiver and evil taskmaster of all humanity still bound in sin (John 8:44; 1Jo 5:18). Though he is not the focus of this particular lesson, he nonetheless plays a major role in humanity’s plight of sin. See the Exesto section for further discussion.
 It is worth noting that Scripture portrays God’s wrath and killing of human beings as something He takes no pleasure in doing (Ezekiel 18:23, 32). It is considered His “alien” or “strange” work (Isaiah 28:21). Such statements further support the goal of abundant life since wrath and death are its antithesis; a strange and alien work for the God of abundant life to perform.