Sin is Crouching at the Door. What Will YOU Do?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

There are pivotal moments in my life where I can relate to Cain.  Though we don’t know how, he disobeyed God when it came to making sacrifices.  His brother obeyed.  When Cain's sacrifice was rejected because of his own disobedience, what he would do with that rejection was a pivotal decision, a pivotal moment.  It was a moment like a door hinge where one’s entire life could swing one way or the other depending on whether you open the door or not.  

Normally those pivotal moments come in the form of anger, at least for me.  Something really ridiculous or frustrating or just plain out unjust happens to me, and I get angry.  Even now as I write this I can feel anger trying to rise up inside of me.  A frustrating event just happened in the last four hours.  It’s an event that has happened to me multiple times in the last four years.  And as usual, there’s no one to hold accountable.  I don’t want to relay the event here because I’m justifiably fearful that it would create resentment, bitterness, and even hatred inside of me.  

In those moments of anger God asks me just like He asked Cain that day when his offering was rejected.  “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 master it” (Gen. 4:6, 7, NIV).   A wrong response to disobedience was the warning from God here to Cain.  Quite often for us however, it is facing a wrong response for someone else’s disobedience to us.  This makes things feel complicated.

The event that happened to me a few hours ago was disobedience on the part of someone else toward my house and one of my children.  It was flat out wrong.  And there’s no one around to be held accountable.  As I stood outside leaning against my shed staring at the ground, I could feel the justifiable anger rising up inside of me.  I was really, really angry against the person who did this.  It was the ninth time in four years it has happened.  And it’s just plain wrong.  No amount of irresponsibility on my part created the scenario.

Yet how I responded to it is just a significant for me as Cain’s response to God’s rejection of his offering.  Cain disobeyed.  I did not.  Yet sin was and is crouching at both doors.  Why?  Because it has a keen sense of smell.  “It” is actually a person.  Moses, the writer of Genesis, is simply personifying sin.  Sin is an intangible thing.  It doesn’t have legs.  It can’t crouch.  But Satan seems to have legs.  At least all the angels in the Bible I’ve seen seem to have legs.  So it seems to me that the mention of “sin” in Genesis 4 is a personification of the person of sin mentioned in chapter 3, the devil.

The ministry of deliverance is clear about one crucial truth: how we respond to our anger can be a pathway to demonic oppression.  Demons were crouching outside the door of my heart an hour ago.  They flocked to my anger like south Georgia mosquitoes do to me in the summer time.  Demons can smell anger.  And after years of battling both anger and demonic powers, I can smell them, too.  I could sense with the greatest sensitivity that my response would be pivotal for me.  Would I give in to the thoughts of “I hate my f------ neighborhood!!!”  Or would I pray, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing”?

It is on occasions like this that many give in to their anger.  They open the door and allow the ferocious, ravenous wolf, whose looking to devour us for lunch, to come in and give a feeling of justified power and revenge.  I’ve opened the door before and felt it many, many times.  Your mind becomes filled with rationalizations that simply overpower any biblical sense.  Your adrenaline pumps and you can begin to feel the capillaries filling at the end of your fingertips.  Rage is filling your mind.  Your hands are ready to destroy something…or someone.  Your breathing becomes heavier and more frequent.  You can feel your head starting to swim, almost like you’ve been intoxicated.  You wish you could turn into the Incredible Hulk and wreak havoc on those who did you wrong.

But stopping is key in this moment.  It is the very first decision in destroying strongholds of anger built inside a heart.  There are three things God wants us to do in those pivotal moments.

1. Pray like Jesus taught you to pray.  

“Our Father, in heaven, holy is Your name.  Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, right here and now on earth, just like it is being done in heaven.  Give me right now the daily bread I need to sustain my spiritual life.  And forgive me of my sins as long as I am forgiving of those who’ve sinned against me.  Do not let me be led away into temptation, but deliver me from the evil one.  For to you belongs the power and the glory forever and ever, God.  Amen.”

When Jesus taught us to pray this way, it’s because these thoughts are the best thoughts to think when it comes to living life as a human being on this planet.  If you haven’t studied the Lord’s Prayer in-depth before, I challenge you to do so, if for the simple reason that the prayer includes the very words of Jesus Christ Himself on exactly how you should be praying.  If you’ve ever felt before like your prayers don’t make it passed the ceiling, it could be that you’re probably not praying the way Jesus taught you to pray.

The prayer is filled with exactly the kinds of things that a Christian needs to think on when he or she is feeling angry.  Pivotal moments of anger where the evil one is crouching at the door are moments where we need to be praying that God’s plan will be done in that moment, and not ours.  It is a moment where we need to focus on the fact that His name is holy, not ours.  The one who offended us and did wrong needs to be forgiven, and that’s why Jesus teaches us to focus on our own forgiveness.  We’ve done wrong too, but we received forgiveness instead.

That pivotal moment is a crucial time when we must decide what we will eat.  Will we eat the sweet meat of revenge pushed under the door by the enemy whose crouching right outside?  Or will we eat the sweeter manna of forgiveness the Father offers?  Deciding which meal to eat all depends on whether or not you actually ask the Father to give you the spiritual sustenance, the daily bread, He wants to give you in that moment.

And in that pivotal moment, when you can feel the rush of angry energy about to surge through your veins and send you off the deep end, that is exactly the precise moment when you must pray that God would deliver you from the evil one.  Jesus taught us to pray this very prayer because it is the very prayer God wants to answer.  So praying like He taught us means we will have our prayers answered, every single time.  

2. Do what is right and endure what is wrong.

God told Cain to “do what is right.”  But what if someone else has done you wrong?  Isn’t the right thing to go and pay them back?  The right thing to do when someone has done what is wrong to you is to hand the matter over to the Father, first and foremost.  Abraham asked a rhetorical question of God one day, when it came to God’s decision to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.  “Will not the Judge of the earth do what is right?”  Of course He will.

So what is the right thing to do?  The right thing to do is to give it over to the One who does what is right.  After all, this is nothing different than Jesus Himself did when evil men were doing evil things to the most Innocent Man in the history of the universe.  In 1 Peter 2 we get a glimpse of this when Peter says, “But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.  To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.  ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’  When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats.  Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (vv. 20-23, NIV).

Most often for the follower of Jesus, the right thing to do is endure it.  I know firsthand that it will feel very much like you are doing nothing at all.  But enduring, as Peter teaches, is actually doing something.  Why do I believe that?  Because again, there is invisible war going on.  Demonic powers are crouching outside the door of your heart, smelling the anger welling up inside, and they want access to your heart and soul so they can destroy you just as they are destroying the person who did wrong to you.  In this invisible war you feel like you are caught in the middle between the human offender and the spiritual offenders.  And you know what?  You are caught in the middle.

Learning to live right there, in that pivotal moment, with the pressure of being literally sandwiched in a spiritual world, and doing so with the heart of Jesus is called endurance.  It is the spiritual power to remain up under a very stressful and frustrating and angering situation and stay faithful to following Jesus.  Remaining up under the strain of an invisible war shows that you see behind the curtain to the reality of what’s actually going on.  What is actually going on is not the frustrating, angering event that happened to me an hour ago.  What is actually happening is that demons have infested my neighborhood and rule peoples’ lives through fear which most often displays itself as crime.

If I give full sway to my anger and open the wolf into the home of my heart and allow revenge to pump through my heart and course through my veins, I will become a part of the very thing I hate.  I will actually become part of the system of evil that harms me.  I turn from resisting evil to participating in it.  That is why I, why we must endure.  And we must endure to the end.  We must not, and can not give sway our anger.  As Paul taught in Ephesians 4:26-27, “’In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold” (NIV).  The devil, who is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Pet. 5:8), is crouching outside the door of my heart every single time I have been harmed or offended.  He senses my anger and wants to get in, or at least get a foothold.  To keep him out means keeping the door of my heart locked.  And that means committing in that moment to endure what’s been done to me, forgive those who did it, and entrust myself to the One who judges justly.

*     *     *     *     *

When we pray like Jesus taught us to pray and do what Jesus told us to do, we actually live like Christians.  We live like people who acknowledge the invisible world in which we live, where beings can see us but we cannot see them, and where they can harm us, but we cannot seem to harm them.  In all actuality, our commitment to endure what’s being done to us is part of God’s greater plan of making a point to these beings that we belong to Him.  In some strange, mysterious, and humanly unexplainable way our struggles and endurance are part of a way bigger plan than we can possibly realize, which is why it is so absolutely crucial to do just that…continue to endure the struggle.  For when we do so, God’s point is being made to the powers of darkness – that we are His and nothing can ever change that – and His glory is being revealed inside of us – by maturing us one day at a time.

About the Author: Rob is a entrepreneur in Statesboro, GA, where he envisions and pursues missional-shaped business for the kingdom. He and his wife Sherri have been married for 18 years and together have three sons and a daughter. Rob believes the mission of the gospel is summed up in four simple phrases: know God, obey Jesus, make disciples, and plant churches. This is the pursuit of his life, as well as the point of his blog.

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