Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Croucher

I’ve been reading through the book of Genesis recently. It’s really so different when you read it as an adult. When it’s not just the stories of creation, and Noah, and Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, there are all these wonderfully deep theological truths in there. I love this book! mean, I’ve read it before, but I always end up with all these questions - like,  who were the Sons of God? It says that they thought the daughters of mankind were beautiful and they bore children together. The Bible says their children were powerful and famous men, but it doesn’t say directly that they were godly men. Where are these “Sons of God” now? Were they angels? When did they stop having children with the daughters of mankind? 

Or like in Genesis 3 when the Bible says that the serpent was the most “cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God made.” That one gives me pause, too. Yeah, I get the whole thing about this particular serpent being Satan incarnate and all that, but don’t you find the description of “cunning” a little weird for something that God had made?

Did you ever wonder if the animals could talk? I mean, we know the serpent did. But, when Adam was naming all the animals was there this running dialogue with them like, “Nah, man. I don’t want to be called a Platypus. But yeah, a lion, that’s cool, Bro.”

Okay.....maybe not exactly like that, but you get the picture.

Why did God make Adam go through naming all the animals before he gave Eve to him? God knew no suitable helpmate would be found among the animals he had made.

You see, questions. Welcome to my “dizzying intellect” or lack thereof. 

Maybe when we get to heaven and we’re perfect we’ll understand perfectly. But, if we don’t get supernatural understanding of scripture in it’s entirety, I’ve got a long list of questions and you’d just better get in line. I call dibs on the front of the line.

However, today I want focus on sin and something I never really understood in its depth until the last few days. To begin with, let’s examine the first sin. That leads me to all kinds of questions and leads me to think maybe the animals did talk. I mean, Eve certainly didn’t seem to be too shocked to carry on a conversation with the serpent. 

It’s so strange to me that she was even tempted by that tree. The Bible tells us that God himself came and walked in the garden with them each evening. When you are physically walking with God everyday, how does sin have such a pull on you? How much greater then does it have a pull on me? How was Eve not immediately put off by the suggestion that she should do something that God had forbidden?

That lead’s me to my first conclusion about sin: It’s powerful. Way more powerful than me. In Jeremiah 17:9 the Bible calls the human heart “deceitful and desperately wicked.” Knowing myself the way I do and reading the story of the first sin, I’m inclined to believe that.

Just a few short verses down in chapter 3, the Bible says the “woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that is was desirable for obtaining wisdom.” That verse just kind of slapped me in the face. Isn’t that so like sin? It seems so necessary.......like it will enrich our lives or fill a need (food), it seems fun or like it will fill a void (delightful), and it seems like it will make us more well-rounded, or experienced (wisdom). The Holy Spirit within us sends out little warning bells, but we look anyway. We try to justify, to make whatever it is we want align with the Word of God. It’s like the Casting Crowns song, “Slow Fade” which says, “It’s the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings.” You see, once we try to justify, sin has become the master, and we are  but puppets. We think we are in control. We think we can stop or change anytime we want to. What we don’t see is the strings that bind us, that Satan uses to pull us deeper in to sin.

That’s my second conclusion about sin: Sin is attractive. We tend to think of sin in like the haggard, old wicked step mother offering us the apple. On the contrary, sin is like Prince Charming riding in on his white horse to save the day. That’s why we must be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Sin is not the package with thistles and thorns. It’s the package tied up with a beautiful bow. It’s isn’t till we’re in far too deep that we realize we’re sinking. 

I also wonder about Adam and I think of his sin before he ever ate that fruit. Adam was with Eve when she was having this conversation with the serpent. He was entirely entranced, too. Not once did he, as Eve’s spiritual covering, try to pull her away or tell the serpent to leave. He saw what was happening and he was completely silent.

How many times have you seen a friend, a loved one, or just somebody you knew headed down the wrong path and you just remained silent because “it wasn’t your business?” Not only does silence allow someone’s decent into sin, it desensitizes our own hearts to the sin that “so easily entangles us.” We weren’t meant to be silent about sin. Jesus was forever compassionate to the sinner but always outspoken about sin as well. We must be compassionate, but unafraid to speak the truth in love. 

I’ve also been examining the first murder. I guess the first problem there was rebellion. Cain knew what God required, but his desire for what he enjoyed overruled his desire for God. Working the ground and loving to work the ground wasn’t wrong. The problem was that God required a certain type of offering and Cain was unwilling to do the work to present God with what he required. When the Lord did not accept Cain’s offering, instead of realizing his own problem, Cain became angry at his brother who had presented the right offering to God.

Before Cain ever attacked his brother, God said to him, “Sin is crouching at the door. It’s desire is for you, but you must rule over it (Genesis 4:7)” However, Cain did not heed God’s warning, again choosing rebellion. He took his brother out to the field and he killed Able. Instead of recognizing the war within himself (pride), Cain killed his brother and destroyed his relationship with his parents. For all of the rest of his days, he was cursed.

Sin is like that, you know. Before there is ever an action, there is rebellion and pride in our hearts. We think we know better, understand more or we just plain decide not to care. Martin Luther once said that we cannot break any of the ten commandments until we have first broken the one that says not to worship idols. You see, once we choose sin - whatever it is - we are making that thing, our rebellion, our pride, our desire the most important thing. And whatever ‘thing’ is the most important thing takes the place of Jesus, and that is idol worship.

That’s my third conclusion about sin: It frighteningly subtle. It’s so subtle that we often don’t even notice it.

Maybe it’s food. Or, maybe it’s the desire to always have more material things. For some it’s the desire to be successful. It a thousand different things to a thousand different people.

Sin is not always so visible. It’s not always drugs, alcohol, and sex. It’s not always about stealing or lying. No, I think the more dangerous sins are the once crouching at the door, the ones, like jealousy and gossip that are so easy to miss and ignore.

I want to see those attitudes and those desires as what they really are. I want to get in my mind is that sin is out to destroy me!

It’s not a salvation thing. I am sure of my salvation. It’s a missed opportunity thing. When I choose to hold on to little attitudes or unforgiveness, when I choose my way instead of the God’s way, when I choose what I feel over what I know - what am I missing?  What was God offering when I selfishly chose my way? There is so much more freedom so much more joy when we choose His way. But His way won’t always bring immediate gratification to my flesh like my way will. His way is more tedious, to be sure. His way requires less of me. It requires that I think of myself less and I pick up my cross more.

His way is the hard way. But, I don’t want to look back with regrets any more than I already do. I don’t want that “What if...” question hanging over me at the end of my life. So, I beg of you. I beg myself. Please see sin for what it is. There are no ‘little’ sins. All sin starts with pride and all sin is out to destroy you.

As a child, when my parents would give us a new Bible, my mom would write this in the front cover, “Sin will take you further than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”

How heartbreakingly true.

That’s all. Satan has come for your soul - to kill, steal, and destroy. It is Jesus who came to give us abundant life (Jn. 10:10) Let’s say ‘no’ to ourselves more often and I think we’ll find that He will fill the ‘no’ void with so much more that we could have ever imagined.


mmdwhitten said...

Jen_ Could you email me a daily devotion each day:)

Great post!

Miss you,

Agnes said...

Thanks for your "sermon," Jenni. You are a great preacher. Willie and I liked what you said about "getting in line" to ask God some questions. One of our elderly friends of long ago said he wanted to ask God why he didn't put the "fleshy" part of the leg on the front so when you bump your leg it wouldn't hurt so bad. You look very happy in the picture. I hope you ARE!

We love you,