SIN 101: The Crouching Sin
Evangel Tabernacle | On 05, Dec 2018
By: Fernand D. Peralta / 25 November 2018
KEY TEXT: GENESIS 4:4-8 (NIV)
4bAs The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. 6Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” 8Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field”. While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
Illustration: The Apple & the Fruit Fly
Christmas is truly around the corner; we can now feel the hustle and bustle that this season brings. Our sidewalks are now starting to bear all kinds of fruit, the bestseller among which is the apples.
Do you know that before they can be displayed on the fruit stand, these fruits have to survive the attack of their worst enemy—the fruit flies? It was reported that fruit flies brought a potential disaster and it took an all-out effort by the farmers to save California’s fruit crop years ago.
It is interesting to know that fruit flies take a different way of attack: They do not eat their way into the fruit from the outside. Rather, fruit flies lay their eggs in the blossom. The fruit grows around it, and after sometime, the worm hatches inside the fruit and eat its way out, leaving it looking yummy on the outside but rotten on the inside.
This simple metaphor shows us some important truths that relate to our key text today:
(1) Sin begins (or germinates) in the HUMAN HEART and, if unguarded, works its way out in our thoughts and emotions, words, and actions.
(2) The Heart of the Battle is our Heart. The real battle is within.
But the sad scenario among many of us Christians today is that we have gotten so accustomed to our external struggles that we have neglected the internal one—the heart battle—just like Cain in the scripture that we have just read. Not heeding the stern warning and advice from God, he leaves the door of his heart defenceless, thus, resulting in a terrible destruction—his banishment.
7If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.
Based on this account, I hope to provide some insights that can help you reflect on the following questions:
Why do some of us (still) easily get trapped in sin?
How does the Father God want us to see sin? (our attitude toward it)
How are we to rule over sin in our lives?
I. THE WAY OF CAIN—MAN’S INTENTION
Who is Cain? What do we know about him apart from his story?
Studying the implications of Cain’s name, his sacrifice, as well as his actions and discourses reveals striking similarities between Cain and us today.
1. His Name
In Hebrew tradition the name given reflects a lot about a person’s character and [in some occasions] also suggests promised future. Verse 1 records Eve’s declaration when she gives birth to the first human baby. Eve must have high hopes on the first born. [It must have been an epic moment… witnessing another point in human history.]
1Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man.”
The name “Cain” is based on the Greek Transliteration of the Hebrew “qayin” which means “to acquire or to possess something.” His name carries the connotation of “being a possessor”.
As the first born of Adam based on the law of succession, Cain also receives the promised blessing stated in Gen. 1:28: the blessing of productivity and authority (dominion over and use of God’s creation)
28…”Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over living creature that moves on the ground.”
Cain is a man of great promise—a possessor and ruler. But why does the ending of story portray a Cain that is defeated, hardened, fearful, dominated, and lost? Cain lost his identity, inheritance, and opportunity for salvation.
PARALLELISM—Like Cain many of us were given new identity, inheritance, gifts, and the new nature when we received Christ as savior, but also like Cain, we are losing our inheritance (promised job, house, opportunity, relationship, etc.), our identity in Christ (position, inner peace, victors, etc), our chance to change our lives, and worse our salvation because we do not see who we are in Christ and we allow sin to take residence in our hearts and to snatch away God’s intended blessing for us.
2. His Sacrifice
Cain’s manner of sacrifice reveals significantly about his understanding of who God is and his concept of worship (which is his service). In can be inferred in Verse 3 that both brothers know the concept of bringing offerings to the LORD. They must be aware of God’s expectation (or standard) when approaching His presence (relationship) or engaging in His service (ministry). After all, Adam and Eve might also have given them some orientation.
3In the course of time, Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. 4And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.
It is interesting to note that the narrator here makes an important distinction on the difference of the offerings of the two brothers, with Abel’s offering being accepted by God while that of Cain rejected.
“some of the fruits of the soil”
(Cain offered out of a religious act.)
– half-hearted worship
– thought he was doing God a favor
“fat portions from…the first born”
(Abel offered his BEST in FAITH.)
– faithful worship (Heb. 11)
– thought to do it God’s way to please Him
The nature of Cain’s offering exposes the real inner motivation beyond the offering—his CARNAL heart.
Revelation: Here Cain starts out attempting to serve God, to please Him, and to gain his acceptance. But he does it not according to who God is but according to who he thinks God is (limited self-based perception of God). Cain does not have the RELATIONSHIP with God. He lacks deep and personal understanding of God and his ways. Instead, he decides and chooses his offering and service or worship to God according to his CARNAL MIND and WAYS OF THE FLESH.
4bAs The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor.
Cain’s offering was also made out of a PRIDEFUL thinking. He thought his he would gain God’s acceptance simply because he was DOING something for God without really BEING with God. Cain was just presumptuous!
Cole (1996) has this to say about pride.
“Pride tells us that we have something in ourselves that will commend us to God. Pride whispers, ‘You’re a pretty good person. Sure, you’ve got your faults, but nothing so bad as to send you to hell. Do your best, be sincere, and you’ll get into heaven. After all, if God is good, He wouldn’t condemn a decent person like you!’ Such prideful thinking is at the root of every human religion, but it is totally opposed to biblical Christianity which plainly declares that we are all sinners by nature and by deed and that no sinner can save himself from God’s judgment. If we can offer God anything for our salvation, then Christ did not need to die as the substitute for sinners, thus satisfying God’s holy justice.”
[So why is Cain’s sacrifice not accepted?] It was not Cain’s sacrifice that was rejected; God rejected Cain himself.
5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
God says in Hosea 4:6 (NKJV), “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”
3. His Actions and Discourses (Responses/Attitude)
Cain’s actions and discourse also expose the true state of his heart and his attitude toward God. When he finally realizes that God has rejected him, the Bible states that—
5Cain was very angry and his face was downcast.
Later in the story we’ve read that his carnal nature gets the better of him after not heeding the warning of God; Sin takes over and leads him to commit the first murder in human history.
8Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go to the field”. While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
In verse 8 the narrator uses dynamic verbs “attacked” and “killed” to reveal Cain’s evil intention—willful sinning which is to be an act of open rebellion against God. Cain started out attempting to serve God, but his willful disobedience, lack of repentance, and offense gave way to murder. He was beyond rescue.
Cain also shows contempt against God. Verse 9 records Cain’s disrespect and hatred toward God. He becomes hostile to God.
9Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Because of his evil deed and attitude God cut him off from His presence and send him away as a wanderer.
REFLECTION: If we spurn God’s offer of repentance and forgiveness and instead continue on our willful disobedience and open rebellion against God, we will suffer the same fate as Cain. Sin awaits us and takes full control of us. If we die in sin, we will suffer in hell for eternity.
II. THE NATURE/POWER OF SIN: SATAN’S INTENTION
Our key text also provides us the basic teaching on sin. [It’s like Sin 101]. Our way of looking at sin also affects our attitude toward it. Many of us Christians have become very soft [nurturing] and tolerant toward it. Our attitude towards dealing with sin in and around us lacks a sense of urgency. It seems to take the stance: We are good as long as you don’t touch me.
But let us see how God himself would want us to treat sin.
1. Father’s Teaching-Warning
God always provides a way of warning us when we have done wrong and teaching us what to do to get right. In +Verse 6 God positions himself as a gentle but at the same time firm Father. As a good Father he initiates a conversation with Cain to reason with him. He does not scold him for his wickedness, but he offers the solution.
6So the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door….”
The LORD opens with the series of questions not because he does know the answers. God wants Cain to realize this: Cain knows the right thing to do, but he chose to do things his own way. God talks to Cain as a father talking to a willful child. He is offering him a solution—a chance to repent. REPENTANCE. He offers him a chance to be restored to his position and status as “a man of great promise”
7If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?
God is asking Cain to adjust his understanding of what is “good” or “right” to God’s understanding of goodness. If he does well by God’s standard, God will accept him. The cure for his rejection is OBEDIENCE.
But Cain is too proud to see this. He pays attention to the voice of God. He is blinded by his “tantrum” and “sulking” as NKJV puts it. So God issues a divine warning.
Here God himself uses a literary device called personification (giving human qualities to inanimate objects) as a way for us to understand sin SIMPLY and to see it the way He does. This is the first time the word “sin” is introduced [so God does not use hard theology to teach sin 101].
7But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door….”
We need to have an appropriate image of sin as God sees it. God uses the Hebrew idiom “crouching at the door” which is usually used to refer to a “wild beast ready to attack at a perfect moment to gain dominion.”
The term “crouching” is defined as:
(a) a position in which the knees are bent and the upper body is brought forward
and down, typically in order to avoid detection. (deception)
(b) readiness to attack. (destruction)
Sin “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) Just like a hungry lion, sin desires to have us, and is ready and waiting for an opportune time to devour us.
REFLECTION: If we have an honest check of our hearts this morning, imagine what sort of wild unclean beast we would find crawling at our door steps—venomous serpents, fierce and bloody tigers, lustful and mischievous monkeys, etc. We should not maintain an attitude of passivity and tolerance toward sin. We should treat it with urgency and alertness in order to rule over it. They may come in various disguises, but we must not be deceived.
[Remember, Satan’s lie had been “You will not surely die.” Satan has always denied the penalty for sin.]
3. Sin’s Desire
Satan wants Sin to rule our lives. God wants us to rule over Sin. It seems we are locked in a battle with sin’s desire for us or our desire to sin.
7….it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.
The term “desire” interestingly is associated to the holy union of heart and affection between husband and wife. (Related to Eve’s punishment “Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.)
Connotation of a conjugal relation: A man is married to his wickedness, is mated to his evil, and it has, as it were, a tigerish longing for him, unhallowed and murderous.
You are bonded to sin. There exist a master (sin)-slave(man) relationship. A soul tie. It has that PARALYZING EFFECT.
“…A man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.” 2 Peter 2:19 (NIV)
“Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey-whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” Romans 6:16-17 (NIV)
III. THE ULTIMATE PLAN: GOD’S INTENTION
1. Take the Command and Promise to Rule
In Verse 7 God gives us a stern command that comes with a promise.
7….it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.
Christians should not be DOMINATED by sin—meaning addicted to or controlled by the sin.
Blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.” Genesis 22:17 (NKJ)
“And they blessed Rebekah and said to her, ‘Our sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands; may your offspring possess the gates of their enemies.’” Genesis 24:60 (NIV)
2. Take the Position of a Warrior
God positions us to be rulers and. God wants his people to be warriors who walk in victory and power. The Lord is a warrior that leads us through battle to victory.
Put on the full armor of God and wrestle with the wild beasts crouching at the door of our heart. If we are willing to wage war against the enemy by remaining humble, teachable servants, then we can hold fast to the promises of God.
Ezekiel 36:26-29 (NIV)
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God. I will save you from all your uncleanness.”
3. Guard the Door of our Heart
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
God is more than capable to demolish the strongholds of the enemy. He does the work, but we must submit to God our body, mind, emotions, and will, making the choices required.
Guard our Body
Prevent the enemy propaganda from entering the ears, eyes, mind, and heart.
What we take in through our mind, ears, and eyes affect our perceptions, thoughts, and longings. We also need to guard our mouth from speaking what should not be spoken. From the mouth the fruit of the heart is revealed.
Protect our Soul
Remain open to the voice of the Lord, walking in His truth, righteousness, and peace.
Be quick to repent and willing to study (Devo) so that you will know the Word of God and will not be easily deceived.
He is the God that promises to tear down every stronghold in our body, soul, and spirit. He will keep us walking humbly before Him if we choose to allow Him access to every area of our being.
Today let us look within and around and see what sins are crouching at the door of our heart and mind. Let’s ponder on these questions:
Am I on my guard to make sure sin is not creeping into my life to render me ineffective in fulfilling God’s purpose for my life?
Am I daily asking the Holy Spirit to put to death the misdeeds in my body so I can live?
Let’s us not open our door to Sin. Rather, let us open our door to Jesus. The Bible also tells us that Jesus is also standing and knocking at the door of our heart. Jesus declared—
“If any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
Before we open our door, whose voice are we hearing today—Jesus, Sin, or Self?