Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” 2 And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. 3 In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. 6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 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 contrary to you, but you must rule over it.” – Genesis 4:1-7
Many of us have gotten used to it. The masks (or lack of them). The social distancing. The limited seating. The dire warnings. The constant news. This virus pandemic has worn very thin. It tempts us to let down our guard. I, for one, am all too ready to ignore the warnings and get on with my life. I’ve been vaccinated. I’m good to go.
Then a friend dies from the virus. Another dies. Then another. Still another is still recovering after 2 months in the hospital. This is no little thing. This virus is here for a while longer. It’s not giving up easily. It’s always crouching at the door. Ready to strike. Relentless.
What about sin? I’ve been baptized. I believe in Jesus. I have the Holy Spirit. I’m sanctified, or at least I’m being sanctified. Maybe I’m done with sin. Maybe I can just go about my business. Surely this isn’t something I’ll have to battle the rest of my life. This is certainly going to get better.
But sin is all too much like the COVID virus. It’s not easily set aside. In fact, as long as we live on this side of eternity sin will cling. And even though we’ve been redeemed it still lurks. Even though we are saints, we are also still sinners. Even though we win battles against temptation, we also give in all too often.
The Bible’s witness to this is clear. We are saint and sinner. Both. And we live with that tension.
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. – Galatians 5:17
As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; – Romans 3:10
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. – 1 John 1:8
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17
Cain was warned about the crouching menace that sin posed. Though we’ve not killed our brother, we must hear God’s warning ourselves. And take it to heart.
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, – Hebrews 12:1
Thank God the Seed of the Woman has come. Thank God that when we confess our sins, God forgives us. Thank God that there is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Thank God for the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit who keeps us in the faith and leads us again and again to Jesus and his cross.
May he also lead us to walk the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. To honor him, and to be careful, lest this crouching menace have its way with us.
You may listen to this on my David Bahn Reflections podcast.