Cain, Abel, Crouching Sin, and the Gospel

Way way way back in the beginning, Adam and Eve had two sons.  Cain, their firstborn was a farmer.  Abel was a keeper of the flocks.  Somewhere along the way, Cain brought an offering of crops to the Lord.  Abel brought an offering of firstlings from his flock.  Abel’s offering was accepted by the Lord, and Cain’s offering was rejected.  Cain became angry and jealous.

Recognizing the temptation Cain was facing, the Lord said to him, “Why has your countenance fallen?  If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?  And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at your door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it” (Gen 4:6-7).

We know from the rest of the story that Cain did not master the “sin crouching at his door”, but was mastered by it.  So Cain rose up and killed his brother Abel.

Fast forward to today.  Sin is still crouching at our door.  Sin is still seeking to master us.  The stark contrast between us and Cain and the struggle with sin is what the gospel is all about.  Cain was clearly instructed that he must “master” the sin crouching at his door.

But it is not that way for us.  By the grace of the gospel, we are not called to “master” sin.  Rather, Christ through His death and resurrection has “mastered” sin for us.  There is an interesting connection with the word “master” between God’s instruction to Cain and His promise to us in Romans chapter 6.

Look at God’s instruction to Cain.  “You must master it” (Gen 4:7).  The responsibility was all on Cain’s shoulders.  Now look at His promise to us; to those who have placed their faith in Christ.  “Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin … Even so, consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.  Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts … For sin shall not be master over you” (Rom 6:6,11,12,14).

Rather than calling on us to master our sin, Christ has promised that our sin shall not be master over us.  Sin’s dominion and power have already been taken away.  What a powerful promise!  What a powerful reversal of Cain’s problem with crouching sin!

But the removal of sin’s mastery over us does not eliminate our own temptations with sin.  What it does change is our approach to it.  Cain had no power or promise to overcome his crouching sin.  He only had the will-power and self-effort that he could drum up.

We, on the other hand, have the resurrection power of Christ living in us.  When sin comes knocking, we do not have to answer the door.  We are not compelled to open the door.  We do not need to invite him in.  For the believer, sin cannot crash the door down.  He must be invited in, and you have the power to say to crouching sin, “No thanks, just move along, there is no one here that you are compatible with.  There is no one here wishing to serve you.  You are no longer my master.”

When crouching sin comes knocking, what will your answer be?