In the book of Genesis, we find this admonition that God gives to Cain.
“Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 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’” (Genesis 4:6-7).
Have you ever thought about what it means that sin is crouching at your door? To be in a crouching position is an offensive posture where you are prepared to attack when the right moment presents itself. While these words only appear once in Scripture, this idea of sin standing at the door of your heart is not a foreign concept throughout the Bible.
For a moment I want you to consider the imagery of this verse in Genesis. Can you see sin lurking at the door, in an attack position ready to pounce on Cain and take him down? Whether Cain realized it or not, he was dealing with a reality that not only affected him, but has the potential to affect every one of us, requiring us to make sure we understand what it means that sin is crouching at our door.
What Does It Mean That “Sin Is Crouching at Your Door”?
When you think about what it means that sin is crouching at your door, this is probably one of the best pictures of temptation that we find in the Bible. Temptation forces us to decide between doing what is right or doing what is sinful; this is the battle that Cain was fighting. Cain knew what was right to do, the question is would he do it?
In Cain’s life, as in ours, sin was pulling him in one direction and his knowledge of doing what is right was pulling him in the opposite direction. This is something we all must come to grips with.
While there are different angles you can use to understand what it means that sin is crouching at your door, I believe this passage begs us to go deeper into the reality of temptation in the life of a Christian. Everyday that you live you will have decisions and choices to make. You can choose to do what is right or you can allow sin to overtake you. How you handle these decisions makes all the difference in the type of life you live and the impact your life will have.
Photo credit: Unsplash/Roberto Huczek
What Is the Context of This Verse?
Within the context of this verse is a discourse between God and Cain centered around the offering Cain brought before the Lord. Here is what we know from Genesis.
“Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast” (Genesis 4:2-5).
What we know for certain from this passage is that God accepted Abel’s offering, but he rejected Cain’s offering. What we don’t know for certain is why. There are suggestions as to why Cain’s offering was rejected, which I can’t dive into too deeply in this article, but I will at least sum up for you three possible reasons Cain’s offering was rejected. Feel free to study these more if you like.
1. It wasn’t the right type – One argument suggests that Abel brought a blood offering and Cain brought an offering of vegetables.
2. It wasn’t the right source – Another argument is that Abel brought his from the fat portions of the firstborn of his flock, while Cain brought some of the fruit of the soil, not necessarily the best.
3. It wasn’t with the right heart – The third one is that Cain brought the offering with the wrong attitude in his heart, while Abel didn’t.
I highlight these things just to give you some context, not to figure out why because that moves us in a different direction. What I really want to focus on is the question of what it means sin is crouching at your door and how do we deal with temptation and sin in our lives?
Photo credit: ©SparrowStock
Do Christians Have to Be Wary of Sin, even though We Are Saved?
Cain’s story causes us to ask an important question. As Christians, is sin crouching at the door of our hearts? The answer is a resounding yes.
Remember the crouching position is an offensive position that is waiting for an opportunity to attack. Are you giving sin that opportunity? For every Christian, there is a wrestling match with the sinful desires that live within us, even after we are saved. Here is how Paul defined this battle.
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me” (Romans 7:15-17).
Every Christian battles with their sinful nature, and when we are tempted to sin it is because there is something that is in our flesh that we are drawn to. The truth is every person is not drawn to every type of sin, however there are certain types of sinful behavior that can be more appealing to us, even though we are saved. It is these areas where we are weaker or more vulnerable that sin may look to attack.
Because of our weaknesses and affinities for certain things, as Christians we must be aware of what we do, where we go, and who we do it with. If we are not careful and if we don’t put up guardrails in our lives, then we are all capable of falling into sin. No one is immune from this.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/fizkes
Beware of Small Opportunities to Open the Door to Sin
Like it or not, we can create opportunities for sin to enter our lives. When sin is crouching at the door of your heart, it is simply looking for someone to unlock the door. Let me make you aware of a truth about sin. Sin can crouch at the door all it wants, however, for sin to come in, we must open the door. Sin does not need a big opening; all it is looking for is a little crack. It is the little decisions and choices we make along the way that give room for sin to come in and overtake us.
Many times, these things can start off very innocently. When it comes to sin, we often focus on the result of the action, what we sometimes miss is how they got to that result. As bad as the result may be, that is not where it started. Let me give you some examples.
The person who commits adultery or any type of sexual sin didn’t start out in bed with another person. Maybe it started with a conversation in a coffee shop that ended with an exchange of phone numbers. Maybe you spent too many hours working with that co-worker.
The person who is struggling with alcohol didn’t start out drinking too much. It started because one day they decided to take one drink.
The person who steals things from the office and takes them home for personal use started by taking a pen.
Regardless of what the sin is, the person indulging in it left the door open and created an opportunity for sin to come in. That’s why we must guard our hearts and be careful about what we let in. At the right moment and in the right situation we can all fall victim to sin, because sin is crouching at the door of our hearts, ready to pounce if we give it the opportunity.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Rawpixel
What Should We Do When We Feel That Sin Is Crouching at Our Door?
Since sin crouching and temptation go hand in hand, what can you do about it? We will all experience temptation, so how we do we overcome it? I am going to give you a spiritual answer and a practical answer.
The spiritual answer - pray for power from the Holy Spirit.
In Paul’s letter to Galatians, he says that if we walk by the Spirit we will not gratify or indulge the lusts of our flesh (Gal. 5:16). The first thing we must do is get help from the Holy Spirit to overcome these desires that live within us.
The practical answer – run and remove.
For some temptations, the only answer is to run from them. For example, if you are facing a sexual temptation, you don’t need to stand and fight, that’s not the time to be brave. You need to run and remove yourself from the situation. Don’t pray for willpower in that moment, run as if your life depends on it. By the way this is Biblical, because 1 Corinthians 6:18 literally says flee from sexual immorality.
If there are things you can’t run from, then you must remove them from your life. Remember, temptations come because there are certain things we are drawn to. If there is any influence, be it a person, a place, or something that causes you or entices you to sin, you need to remove it. This is not about being strong, it is about being wise. Look at the words of Jesus.
“If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell” (Matthew 5:29).
Remember, sin is just looking for a way in and the choices you make are either going to keep sin out or let sin in.
Sin is a devastating thing that has consequences far worse than the momentary pleasure you may get when you indulge in the sin. In a culture that is overrun by sin and sinful activity, it is imperative that we stand watch over our hearts, minds, and the decisions we make, because sin is looking for a way in. It is our job to keep it out.
Photo credit: Pexels/Samuel Silitonga
Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. He has also just released his new book The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. Do you want to go deeper in your walk with the Lord but can’t seem to overcome the stuff that keeps getting in the way? This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.