“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.”
If you and I have anything in common on today it is that I am having major withdrawals of the ABC show Scandal. Each episode is filled with a high profile person committing an outrageous scandal. Olivia Pope is hired to fix the wrong that was done and some miraculous way the high profiled character walks away not getting what they deserved.
In Genesis chapter 4 we find one of the first stories in the Bible that would make for a great episode of Scandal, Cain and Able. Cain and Able were the children of a high profiled couple, Adam and Eve. Cain and Abel were both to bring an offering to the Lord. Scripture tells us that Cain brought some of his belongings as an offering (v.3) and Able brought a fatted portion (v.4). In modern day terms this is the equivalent of Cain bringing an offering to church where as Able brought the tithes and offering. As a result God favored Abel for his sacrifice and his obedience. God gave Cain a warning that if he chose to live a sinful life rather than a righteous life to be careful because sin can be over powering. As a result Cain became angry and jealous of the favor God showed his brother and killed Able. As a result of Cain’s sin God punished Him beyond what he could bear. Ouch!
I love our God! What I have learned from this verse and over time is that sin doesn’t always sneak up on us. God will give us a warning just as He did Cain, and He will also provide us with a way out. ”No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) I will be the first to admit this Christian walk is NOT easy. I am like Paul. There are many times I desire to do right by God and live as He has commanded me to do. Then there are times I get weak and chose to be lead astray or there are times I am doing something not realizing at the time that I am not pleasing my Heavenly Father.
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 15:15-25)
If this man of God who walked with Jesus and ministered God’s word by teaching, preaching, and healing had struggles, then surely those of us who don’t come near this capacity will have struggles as well. No matter how long we have walked with God, how much we pray, and how much we read God’s word and meditate on it the fact still remains we are not a perfect being. In case you weren’t aware there will be some days YOU WILL MESS UP! God warns us in our scripture today to be careful because sin is at our door eager to control us. The enemy is present in all of our lives and he desires to keep us out of God’s will. “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) In order to be alert we have to keep our mind renewed so we do not conform to the patterns of the world and gratify our flesh. Sin desires to be our master, but if we exercise the fruit of the spirit, self-control, we can master sin.
For those of us who are saved and have received Christ we have to remember that this Christian walk is a daily walk. We have to wake up every morning and die to self, because we are not perfect. Not you, your Pastor, your parents, those you may look up to, mentors, teachers or anyone you may put on a pedestal, and think they are close to perfect, because they are not. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
In our story Cain had to suffer the consequences of sin. He was so fearful of what he had done that He thought others might retaliate and kill him. God extended mercy to Cain by saying that no one would be able to touch Cain. If anyone did kill Cain they would “suffer vengeance seven times over”. (v. 15) Mercy is a beautiful thing and one of those Godly gifts we take for granted so often. Mercy is when we don’t get what we deserve. The reality is Cain was a murderer. He was bold enough to kill his brother, his own flesh and blood. In modern day and in the state of Texas we would have sent Cain to a murder trial, convicted him and sent him straight to death row. However, God’s mercy was extended to Cain. God placed a hedge of protection around Cain to keep him from being killed by others. No death row option for Cain. God loved Cain enough that He extended mercy.
For those of us who are Christians there is a wonderful promise for us through Christ’s death on the cross, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) If we mess up and do something not pleasing to God we do not have to worry about others trying to condemn us for our sins. We do not have to dwell on the fact that we messed up. When mercy is extended over our lives we still may have to suffer the consequences for our actions. Sometimes the consequence is not as severe as it should have been. Sometimes God spares us from the consequence all together. During the Christmas holidays I was driving and not paying any attention to my surroundings. I was speeding down the highway looking straight ahead and I noticed out of the side of my eye a vehicle riding along the side of me. I glanced over and guess who it was? Yes, a police officer. Not just any police officer either. He had SUPERVISOR written across his vehicle. He graciously looked at me with a stern look and I got the message he was implying “Slow down!” Through my smile and a gentle nod I communicated back, “You’ve got it Mr. Officer”. What was even more extraordinary about this situation is this police department does not play and is notorious for dishing out speeding tickets. I was not following the traffic laws and was extended a warning and spared the consequence. Whew!
We don’t need Olivia Pope to fix our mess. We have the blood of Jesus that was shed on the cross for us. Yes, we all mess up, but we have the mercy of God. We can turn to our Heavenly Father who extends forgiveness of our sins and He remembers them no more. (Hebrews 8:12) Be blessed and encouraged!
Heavenly Father, thank you for your grace and your mercy that are new every morning. We thank you for the days you send warnings our way when sin and Satan is on the prowl. We thank you for the way outs you provide us to avoid temptation. Help us to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. On days we battle between flesh and spirit ,give us the strength to remain in the center of your will. In Jesus Name. Amen
~Written by Felicia McKnight~