Passage for Study: Genesis 4: 6 - 7 … NIV 6 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 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."
My Journal for Today: Do you have trouble dealing with sin? I sure do. Sometimes I feel like the Apostle Paul wrote about in Romans 7: 13 – 24 [linked for your study] . And when I struggle with my wretchedness (Paul’s term; but mine too!), I have actually wished that God had refrained from giving us free will, … that we just would always make the right choices automatically. However, it just doesn’t work that way, does it?
We are sinners; and that sin nature – our Adamic DNA – came from one who was created to live and walk with God in a perfected setting, … The Garden. But God gave Adam (and Eve) free will, the ability to choose good versus evil; and we know that Eve first and then Adam, being her responsible head, chose evil. And we certainly could ask why would they do that, being so close to God? Why do we, now, choose evil when we know – full well – what is right versus what is patently wrong?
Well, as my devotional author, F. LaGard Smith, writes today, perhaps we choose wrong over right at times because it just feels so immediately good [what a lie Satan perpetuates and we buy]. Perhaps we do so because we just rationalize our humanity, excusing our sinfulness because we think, “I’m only human; and aren’t humans expected to sin.” Maybe we even go so far in our sin habits to pin the blame on God, saying something like, “Well, since God’s in control, He could prevent me from sinning if He so desired.” But none of those excuses or “rational lies” hold water, do they?
No, sin is sin; and it never can be excused or rationalized! God allowed for EVIL in this world so the concept of GOOD would have meaning. If there was no evil in the world, we’d never be able to recognize goodness; and the concept of free-will, the part of us that makes us like God, would be neutralized and made null-and-void. One cannot have free-will without the ability to make choices; and choices require an ability to recognize two opposing forces from which we can choose. Hence, good cannot be good unless there is evil to give definition to what is good.
So, we have the law of God’s good working in the universe He created so that we can honor God by choosing to avoid what is recognized to be not-good (or evil). And without this ability to choose (i.e., free will), the entity of faith has no meaning as well. God chose to allow evil in the world and for us, His created children, to see that evil, recognizing its nature as not-good, so that we can exercise faith in our loving, grace-giving God. If we didn’t have the inborn ability to recognize good and evil, we could not have faith in a God who has created evil to allow us to recognize good.
I know that can be somewhat convoluted in its logic. But it’s important for us to realize God has engineered into mankind the ability to choose good or evil; and when we do NOT have faith in God and choose evil (i.e., sinning), there will be consequences; and we recognize those consequences, as Smith points out, as “shame, guilt, fear, and regret.” And this ability to recognize the consequences of sin (as was evidenced in that passage of Romans 7 to which you were referred above) becomes infinitely more acute in the born-again Christian who has God’s Spirit residing in him/her. It is easy for the non-believer to develop human, emotional calluses which blind him to the consequences of his sinfulness (i.e., doing or perpetuating evil). But when one is in Christ, he/she is tuned into the mind of God by His Spirit residing in our hearts; and this allows us born-again Christians (prayerfully you as well) to more easily detect the consequences of sin.
So, may we thank God for this sign of our salvation in being able to detect, regret, and even to hate our sin nature; and may we celebrate – as we move into this New Year – God’s grace in allowing us to be cleansed from our sin when we come to His throne of grace and confess (as we read and believe from 1st John 1: 9). Today I (and you) have a choice. I (we) can pursue self or my Savior. We can choose to ignore God’s law and respond to the law of sin in our nature; or we can avoid sin and walk in victory with a God Who created us for His glory as we choose His way over the way of sin.
My commitment today is the latter; … my challenge - everyday - is always the former.
My Prayer for Today: Lord, make sin ever apparent, every moment of this day. Shine Your light so brightly that I cannot help but see my own sin choices. And give me Your strength so that I can choose Your good over Satan’s evil. Amen