Cain and Abel (2)


Exposition (continued)

Genesis 4:6, 7

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 master it.”

Is this not a crucial statement by the LORD? This is the first time in the NIV translation that the word “sin” occurs; and the LORD utters it. Note the tenderness with which He addresses Cain, but also note the uncompromising standard that is being set. Even though sin has entered the world through the disobedience of Cain’s parents, Cain is under the obligation to “master it.”

What goes for Cain also goes for us. How much better off would we be if, rather than imagining “sin” to be a far off concept of primitive peoples, we realized that it is crouching at our doors, desiring to have us, but we are called on by the LORD God to master it?

To ask such a question brings up imaginings of dour, drab Puritan lives and Salem which trials. But are our lives truly the better for having banished sin to the periphery of our concerns? We certainly are made available to a massively increased set of options for distraction and entertainment. Have we asked ourselves, though, distraction from what, entertainment to what end? To seriously explore these questions is to discover not truth and hope, but rather emptiness and despair.

The small victories that I have allowed Christ to win in me against sin have been freeing experiences. They confirm by actual experience that sin is bondage and to throw it off through Christ’s power is to taste true freedom. What astounds is that my flesh still desperately fights to hold onto its pathetic, hopeless autonomy in spite of my spirit’s delight upon being freed from sin’s hold. How are we to account for such a conflict except by the doctrine of original sin?

Q. 25. Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consisteth in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the want of that righteousness wherein he was created, and the corruption of his nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually; which is commonly called original sin, and from which do proceed all actual transgressions.

The language of the Larger Catechism may be out of date, but I submit that the content is timeless to the extent that it is in harmony with Scripture. On this point I cannot find fault.

But, you may well ask, what of Christ’s power in the redeemed lives? Why is it not immediately victorious? That is a question that must be answered over the span of the entire Bible as we seek to understand the chief end of man.

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