cost of sin

Crouching Desire, Hidden Deathtrap

As sons and daughters of Adam, all of us like Cain, are subject to the temptations of sin. But unlike Cain we must learn to master it. God never commands us to do something without also giving us the wherewithal and strength to do it. The victory Jesus Christ won for us through His death, burial and resurrection defeated death, sin and their agent the devil. The devil may come to steal, kill and destroy but Jesus came that we might have a victorious and abundant life. (John 10:10)

Temptation often happens as it did with Cain when we make ourselves vulnerable to it through wrong or selfish choices. As a result we put ourselves in a precarious situation where sin literally crouches at our door waiting to pounce. Cain cut corners with his offering by trying to pass off seconds to God while keeping the first fruits of his crops for himself. His half-hearted and hypocritical worship of God opened the door for jealousy and anger toward his brother, Abel. Abel had offered the best of the fruit of his labors to God, the firstborn from his flock. (Genesis 4:3-5)

In a loving intervention, God warns Cain that he must deal with the sin issues in his heart lest they open the door to its ravages. This warning is echoed in the New Testament writings of Peter. “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 NIV)

One of the greatest deterrents to sin is stopping to consider the death and destruction it wrecks upon both the sinner and others whom his/her sin affects. That is the essence of the appeal that God was making to Cain. He was saying to Cain, and also by the Holy Spirit is saying to all of us, “Stop a minute and get a grip on your self. Think about the unfolding consequences of this sinful attitude and action if it is allowed to play itself out! You are opening the door to death!”

The great cost of forgiveness

Dealing with sin back in Old Testament days was a time consuming, expensive and bloody affair. Whenever someone sinned, in order to receive forgiveness and re-consecrate themselves to God, they were required to experience up close and personal the consequence of their sin. They had to take one of the best animals from their own flock and parade it through their neighborhood to a place of worship, while bearing the embarrassment and shame of their sin. Before the priest, they were to lay one hand upon the head of the animal thereby transferring their sins to it, and with the other hand slit its throat and kill it. The priest would then collect the blood, place some on the horns of the altar and pour the rest out at the altar’s base. Then the animal had to be skinned, the fat removed and burned on the altar. Now tell me, if that is not a deterrent to sin what is? Sin directly affected not only the pocketbook and the conscience, but cost an animal its life while creating a gory mess. The writer of Hebrews puts it succinctly: “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Hebrews 9:22)

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