I am painfully aware this day of the truth of several verses dealing with the impending nature of sin ...
“Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Gen. 4:6,7).
Yesterday for a number of inconsequential reasons I was pretty pissed off for a large majority of the afternoon. I knew immediately that I was only going to grow increasingly irritated as the evening continued ... unless, I sought the Lord for grace ... the same grace offered to Cain in light of his "less desirable" offering to the Lord, which angered him.
The key words are "Sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it." ... Its interesting to see that in Gen. 3:16 the same Hebrew word for desire (itstsabon) is used in regard to the Lord's pronunciation of the marriage relationship, "Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." ... This verse speaks to the discontinuity of leadership in marriage, where the woman will have to submit (against her own interests), and the man will rule over the wife. So, the same discord exist between the heart of man and the spirit of man. The heart's desire is for self-promotion, rather than submission to the Lord ... and oh how vividly I experienced this yesterday, and the battle was raging and bold!
God told Cain, "If you do well ..." and "If you do not do well ...". With regret I fell in line with Cain, and did not do well and the truth of the matter is ... as sin had been crouching, and it desired me ... it had me. Temptation gave birth to sin in the form of anger. Anger ruled over me ... rather than I ruling over it.
The imagery of sin crouching makes me think of a lion, or some predatory animal, crouched and instinctively awaiting the moment to take the life of its soon-to-be prey! Its horrifying. And I believe the worst part of it all is that I knew it was there waiting for me to give in like a stupid sheep. If you don't know, sheep are literally some of the stupidest animals alive. That is why the Lord chooses to use them as illustrations of humans ... cause we are not wise!
So, then the question is, what should have happened? What should I have done? How could the outcome have been different?
First, if I do well. That is what God says. What to do I have to do well ... to be accepted? I think, He means that if you do well to recognize the evil desires of my flesh, to denounce them, and to turn to the Lord for grace to get beyond myself, and to submit to Him alone ... then that is "doing well". If I am to do well ... I will then be accepted. Now, do not take this to mean that I must do it. We know thats not ever going to happen. I cannot do well. However, I am responsible to do well. It is by God's grace alone that I will ever do well. But, even so I am held responsible as a sinner when I do not do well.
Secondly, I think there is a great piece of instruction on resisting temptation and adverting sin in 1 Peter:
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world." (I Pet. 4:6-9).
What am I to do?
- 1) Humble myself before the Lord. Admit my inability and my total and complete depravity, and my dependence on the Lord's grace to abstain from sin, unto holiness. The grace given from the Holy Spirit by the work of Christ Jesus is the exaltation (as well as a final exaltation at the Day of Jesus Christ). But I do believe that grace given empowering a sinner to abstain from his natural sinful ways in a means of exaltation by the Lord ... and that exaltation, exalts and glorifies the Lord!
- 2) Closely related to humbling ourselves to the Lord is to "pour our hearts out to God" (Ps 62:8) ... I believe that if we know and feel the impending darkness and weight of temptation and sin crouching, that we will be an anxious people ... and casting these worries upon the Lord is a second means to doing well.
- 3) We are also called to action. Be sober and watchful! Its similar in my mind when God tells Job to gird himself like a man (Job 38:3)! Also, if you have ever been drunk you know what it is like to not be sober. Decisions are not easily made ... at least good decisions. Your mind is not sharp, your reactions slowed, inhibitions down, etc ... it is not a mindset in which to be "watchful" ... instead we are to train and be like well disciplined soldiers who are trained and obedient to the given commands of the commanding officers.
- 4) Lastly, DENY SATAN. He has no power ver the child of God ... for the child of God has the power that raised Christ from the dead at his command, in the name of Jesus Christ (Eph 1:19-21) !!! Thats outrageous ... and that is why, in the name of Jesus Christ the Lord, Satan must flee, that slimy dastardly foe!
So, finally I am reminded of the importance of brotherly battle. Battling the entities of darkness hand-in-hand and arm-in-arm with my brothers (and sisters in some cases) in the faith is supremely important. No Christian is a force to compete with Satan. But a band of three is not easily broken! So I leave you with this:
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." (Heb 12:1-2).