Genesis 4: 6-8: The ‘mustard seed’ beginnings of sin.
“Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If 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.’ 8 Now 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.” NIV UK
‘Genesis’ is the book of ‘beginnings’. Of course it tells us about the origin of life, of human-beings and of the universe. But we quickly move on to the entrance of sin. Further more, it doesn’t take long to see that the fundamental sin against God (vertically) affects every day domestic life (horizontally). We are all too rapidly into the beginning of evil. So in this chapter we meet the first brothers, and, tragically, we very soon witness the first murder.
As Jesus taught, it begins in the heart.
‘Notice how sin begins in a small way and, if not mastered, quickly grows and grows (James 1:14-15). Cain’s sin started in carelessness and lack of faith, grew into jealousy and anger, and ended in murder – all because Cain did not master his sin in the beginning. This is why the biblical writers warn us to be watchful. James tells us: Resist the devil, and he will flee (James 4:7); that means we need to resist him at the very beginning of any temptation, when it is easiest to do so. Paul says: Flee the evil desires (passions) of youth (2 Timothy 2:22). Don’t wait around, don’t think about them. Flee! Resisting temptation, sin and Satan is something we ourselves must do; it is our responsibility.’
That is wise counsel from the pen of the missionary, Tom Hale (‘Applied Old Testament Commentary’, p. 139). It is possible for us to do this, if the Holy Spirit has taken up residence within.
In a similar vein, Warren Wiersbe writes: ‘Cain’s anger slowly became envy and hatred, and then it led to murder (Matt.5:21-26). When you start to play with temptation, you will soon be caught (James 1:13-16). Cain was guilty of every sin that God hates (Prov.6:16-19).’ With the Word’, p.17.
So, I find myself feeling the need to say once again, ‘Nip it in the bud.’ Don’t let this seed take root.
I heard a high profile preacher being interviewed about his personal life. The questions put to him were along the lines of, ‘How do you guard your marriage? How do you protect your personal purity? He said something like this in reply: I DON’T WANT TO SPEND TIME IN THE FUTURE RESISTING TEMPTATIONS I DON’T NEED TO FACE. In other words, he builds in lots of safeguards now, to keep himself from unnecessarily vulnerable situations.
John Glass was the General Superintendent of the ‘Elim’ Pentecostal movement for many years. I remember him saying: ‘A fence at the top of the cliff is better than an ambulance at the bottom.’