Do you have an issue with sin? I do. My issue with sin is that sin is constantly tempting me to disobey and to rebel against what God has commanded me to do. But I also have specific sin issues that plague me and lure me into specific disobedience, things like a lust issue, a greed issue, a coveting issue. Perhaps the most prevalent of my sin issues is the anger issue.
CAIN AND THE SIN OF ANGER
Cain was the very first person ever born. He was the first child that Eve bore to Adam and so he was the firstborn of all mankind. And Cain had an anger issue, and that was a problem. One day, Cain and his brother Abel both brought offerings to the LORD. “The LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So, Cain became VERY ANGRY, and his countenance fell (Genesis 4:4-5).” When someone is very angry, explosive things can happen. Cain is in a dangerous place, so the LORD graciously warns him of the danger.
6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why is your face gloomy? 7 If you do well, will your face not be cheerful? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” – Genesis 4:6-7
The LORD warns Cain that “sin is crouching at the door.” Notice that Cain’s anger is not a minor flaw. Anger is sin, and all sin is dangerous. Sin is like a poised lion ready to pounce or like a coiled rattlesnake ready to strike. Sin will ruin Cain. Sin has the power to destroy Cain’s life. Sin is bad news.
The LORD warns, “Sin’s desire is for you.” The LORD is stating the danger in graphic terms, as if to say, “Sin desires to tear you apart! It is your enemy!” Cain was supposed to fight against the anger, against the sin, so it would not master him. “But you must master it.” As we know, Cain failed. He failed to master his sin. Instead, his sin destroyed his life. The Bible’s consistent message about Cain is, “Don’t be like Cain!”
US AND THE SIN OF ANGER
For Cain, sin was crouching at his door, waiting to destroy his life. And sin is still crouching at our door, having the power to destroy my life and to destroy your life. In the Garden of Eden, the cost of disobedience was death (Genesis 2:17). And it still is: “For the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).” “The soul who sins will die (Ezekiel 18:4).” God still graciously and loudly warns from His Word that sin’s desire is for me, but I must master it. Do not surrender to sin! DO NOT BE LIKE CAIN!
DEALING WITH THE PRESENCE OF SIN
In all this discussion about sin, there is good news to be proclaimed and to be kept constantly in mind. The good news of the gospel declares that Jesus Christ has defeated sin by His death on the cross. For those who have trusted Him as Lord and Savior, Jesus has broken the power of sin and He has paid the penalty for sin. So, the believer in Jesus has been set free (John 8:36; Romans 6:7).
But the believer also knows from personal experience that, in this life, we continue to live with the presence of sin. In this life, the disciple of Jesus will never be sinless, but the disciple of Jesus should see that, day by day and year by year, they sin less. This sanctification is not automatic but is rather something that we work out with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12). The disciple of Jesus has responsibility in growing in their practical holiness. How do we become more effective in this process?
First, we need to grow in our awareness of sin. We need to read the Bible carefully with an eye to what the Lord regards as sin and not what we have decided is sin. I used to think that if I did not have explosive outbursts, then I was not sinning with anger. I did not realize that resentment, sarcasm, silence, and abrupt words were all manifestations of anger and were just as sinful as an outburst. Sin is deceitful, so sin uses many disguises to fool the naïve, but the Holy Spirit unmasks sin, if we listen to Him. The primary way to become more aware of sin is by exposing ourselves to God’s Word. Reading the Bible, listening to good teaching and preaching.
Second, the disciple of Jesus must recognize when “sin is crouching at the door.” Just as the LORD told Cain that sin was near, so the believer has the indwelling Holy Spirit to tell them when sin is crouching nearby. The key is to quickly recognize that sin is crouching before it can strike and cause damage. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and heed His warnings. Is this “discussion” heading toward an anger situation? Can you feel the heat rising? Sin is crouching at the door, and you must master it. Growth in this area asks the question, “How can I more quickly recognize ‘sin crouching at the door’?” Increase your hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matthew 5:6). Spend more time in the Word and with God’s people. We become like those we spend time with.
Third, we must have a strategy for responding when “sin is crouching at the door.” Develop a strategy that replaces the crouching sin with a righteous response or with an act of obedience. Several strategies for dealing with anger were mentioned in our Community Group:
- Get away from the situation until the emotions are under control
- Talk to a spouse or trusted friend about what is making you angry to defuse it
- Go through the alphabet with reasons to praise God
- Pick a Scripture to obey in that moment, like 1 Thess. 5:16-18
The goal in all these strategies is to keep the door to sin shut! Sin is crouching, but do not let him in! Keep the door shut! Make the strategic response an automatic reflex that quickly goes into effect whenever you detect sin crouching.
After developing a strategy for dealing with anger, take these same principles and apply them to other sins. You should see your practical holiness grow.
SDG rmb 3/16/2021