Sin’s Dominion

Genesis 4:6–7 (ESV)
"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.”

When I was working through my biblical counseling classes, it was the above verse that stood out to me. In this verse, where God is gently admonishing Cain, lies the heart and soul of biblical counseling: if we allow sin to rule our lives, we cannot live in harmony with God and therefore the relationships we invest in here on Earth will also suffer accordingly. We must look to God and His Word as our ruling authority first before we can hope to live in harmony with our fellow man (Matthew 6:33).

In Cain, we see an individual who is focused solely on himself, which is a direct result of the original indwelling of sin (see Romans 5:12). Such a condition creates an inherent focus towards self-centeredness that, in turn, affects every aspect of our interpersonal relationships with the world. While we do not know the reason God rejected the sacrifice of Cain, perhaps we can glean some clue from the book of Haggai. In the second chapter, we see that if an unclean person attempts to bring forth something holy to the Lord, it will be rejected (Haggai 2:11–14). If Cain had held any unconfessed anger (sin) towards his brother, he would be considered unclean. This is just speculation on my part, as are any other commentators on why his offering was rejected.

The focus on this verse should be in its application for us today: The Lord’s words challenged Cain to do better, just as they should you and I. In this little verse, we can see the corrupting power of an evil heart that leads to sin, righteous chastisement from the Lord (Proverbs 3:12), and divine grace afforded to the guilty party.

Cain’s heart was filled with anger, displaying a heart not in harmony with the Creator (Matthew 15:18-19; Romans 6:16-23). Just as God did with Cain, He does with us. When we hold on to anger, we too are allowing sin to rule in our lives. Our God is faithful to forgive us of our sins if only we will turn to Him and let go of the evil that permeates our hearts (Psalm 19:12; Proverbs 28:13; 1 John 1:9).

However, if we choose to continue in such evil, God will allow us to do so, and suffer accordingly:

“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” - Romans 1:28-32

As I write this post, I’m reminded of how divided our country is, full of people who are far from God who let anger and hatred rule in their bodies. I try to imagine what Christ would feel walking down the streets in the midst of such violence and anger.

Then it occurred to me, He did already.