“You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” Genesis 4:7 (NLT)
Like it or not, we all have a master. We’re gonna serve somebody. But Ii would rather choose to serve God rather than being enslaved to serve sin.
When I was first saved as a young college student, I just wanted a simple verse to hold onto, a “magic bullet”, if you will, that would help me to be faithful to God in my walk with Him. Basically, I wanted instructions that I could understand and thought it was as simple as obeying those instructions or commands.
Oh, if it were only that easy. But if there ever was a magic bullet, this verse above from Genesis ranks pretty high as one of them. And this verse reveals the reality of a mighty spiritual battle going on around us all the time, whether we know it or not, ready or not.
Sin wants to master us. That’s simple to understand.
But we must master it. Simple to understand, but not so simple to carry out. And we were not meant to try and carry it out in our own strength as a good work.
This verse was spoken to Cain before he murdered his own brother. God knew his heart and made a way out. But Cain’s hardened jealous heart was bent on killing the competition rather than examining his own heart.
Cain had the “magic bullet” verse spoken to him before he sinned. But he still chose sin. The verse “didn’t work”. Why?
Sin mastered him.
His mindset mastered him.
His flesh mastered him.
Cain chose to listen to the thoughts convincing his mind rather than to God. Emotions fueled his mindset rather than the words from His loving God. And his own evil desires won out. He was walking in the flesh instead of the Spirit.
Before we judge Cain hardcore, we are not so unlike him.
Ever been jealous of another?
Ever spoken a harsh word (even in your mind) and judged another?
Ever wanted what someone else had?
Coveting. Jealousy. Hatred.
Such ugly words, and yet they can form in our own hearts and minds if we are not so aligned with the word of God that we don’t recognize them and deal with them.
Sin is not always so obvious. It deceives us and we are convinced that our feelings are legitimate.
Our feelings are innate, within. We believe them and our thoughts so often without questioning them. Sometimes we accept them and let them in at the door of our minds without doing the litmus test—is this from God?
But it is not just the removal of negativity that needs to happen. When we replace those thoughts with truth, we are able to overcome evil with good.
Jealousy can turn into rooting for the other person and praying for them.
Coveting can turn into gratitude for our own portion.
Hatred can turn into love when we see that person as God’s child and have compassion for them.
Through Christ, we can do all things.
Cain’s momentary decision affected his whole life.
And so it is with us. We have a choice each day—life or death (Joshua 24:14-15), even if we feel that we do not.
But if we are aware of sin’s trickery, we can arm ourselves with God’s word to master sin, instead of it mastering us.