God speaking to Cain (Gen 4:7) “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.” Wow. God actually provides a complete explanation to Cain of where sin is in his life; what sin desires to do to him; and then God ends with a command…”You Must Rule Over It”. Wow!!! Note to self: sin was at Cain’s door “before” the sinful act was committed…!!
Today, sin and the manifestations of sin are explained as one and the same thing. As a result, the explanations themselves cause confusion and does not give us confidence that we can Rule Over sin – as God said we should. Don’t take my word for it. Ask people at church “what is sin?” Don’t go all judgemental now, just ask. Early warning, be prepared to be shocked. Almost everyone will give you a version of “when you do something wrong, or missing the mark”. Clearly if we don’t know exactly what sin is; or when it’s at our door; or even how to properly explain what sin is, how on earth can we in this generation rule over sin? But our God is gracious, so be encouraged.
Fast forward to new testament times; Jesus said to many people, “go and sin no more”. How can Jesus say go and sin no more, how does that work? Was he saying, go and don’t make mistakes; go and don’t miss the mark? He specifically said “go and sin no more”. Jesus gives a command which is totally consistent with the command God gave to Cain all those years before. “Go and sin no more…you must rule over it”. Sin clearly is powerful but from what God and Jesus are telling us, we are more than able to rule over sin. Wow, they should know, they created us…!!
God in His wisdom gave us laws, He did it so that people could make the ultimate free will choices and in the process, rule over sin. These laws also open a window on the beauty and harmony of God. The law serves as our starting point to understanding God. We are used to hearing about the big ticket laws – murder, steal, adultery but there’s some less discussed ones which are simply master classes in kingdom planning – don’t lust, covet, bear false witness, honour your father and mother – come on!!! These are laws for our hearts…!!!
Now, building on the foundation that is the law, we are called to live in spirit and truth. The law by itself does not enable anyone to live in spirit and truth. The law requires our obedience, whereas Spirit and Truth requires our hearts, our love, our passion. Does that makes sense? God said “…The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
So when it comes to sin, guess where us good church folk look? We look for good and bad behaviours – the bad behaviours we call sin. Problem is, even behaviours that appear good can be sinful… God on the other hand looks at sin from a completely different perspective – He looks at our hearts. You may say, we can’t see into human hearts…I disagree…but that’s for another time.
Back to Cain’s case – his heart was not focusing on anything Godly, as a result sin was crouching at his door to have him. Anyone looking at Cain “appearance” may sympathise thinking “ahh he is trying really hard”; they would be terribly wrong, deep in his heart Cain entertained other thoughts. Sin therefore starts in the heart long before the “act” happens. Remember God warned Cain about the impact of sin before he took his brother’s life. But today, teachers continue to teach the “manifestations” of sin, as being the sin.
The problem gets bigger because if sin is only the act, then what happens to our thoughts? No one can see or hear my thoughts, does that mean I haven’t sinned in my thinking? I love Gods laws, because its about our “intention” as well as the outcomes.
To make the point further about sin starting in our hearts, Jesus said something profound about adultery in Matthew 5:28. That by looking at someone lustfully, you are “already” guilty of adultery. Ouch…!!! How can this be, I haven’t “physically done” anything…surely I’m pure!!! God is just simply amazing. To be guilty of sin committed in our hearts and mind, means we are accountable to the one who can see the heart and mind.
Why is God interested in judging our hearts and minds? Let’s use the first commandment – love the Lord our God with all our heart mind soul and strength. If there’s space in our minds to entertain lust, that demonstrates to God we haven’t given Him “ALL”. And He is the only one that can see ALL those human parts. Do you see the wisdom in the commandments?
Paul wrote at length about renewing our minds, because he understood that sin starts long before the actions come about. And he also understood who we all are ultimately accountable to…the Great I Am!!
As we look forward to revival; we must reflect on our understanding of the basics. Have we just accepted teachings or have we tested and found them to be Holy? Ready or not revival time is here, the challenge is, are we ready to accept people God desires to SAVE “as they are”, and help them to fall in love with Jesus? They may while attending church continue in sin – ie they are on route to surrendered “ALL” of their mind heart soul and strength to God. What will be our response!! Will we revert to the “safety” of religion – expel them or help them rule over sin?
Finally, if LOVE as Paul writes, does not keep a record of wrongs, which also explains Jesus’s sacrifice to give us LIFE (John 3:16 get it?)…let us then start practicing true agape love. God knows, the salvation of this world requires us to love like He does.