Yesterday I encouraged you to consider what it would be like if that force didn’t ruin everything that it touched. Today I’m asking you to deepen your understanding of the problem, so that we can find the solution – a solution that was pointed to in the Old Testament and the Solution was provided in the Person of Jesus Christ.
sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you, but you must master it. – Gen 2:17
That first sin by Adam and Eve triggered a release of something called death which has utterly shaped our world. In response to that over thousands of years Kings, Priests, Pharisees and Sadducees all created different strategies and rules to avoid sinning and be free from the consequence of death.
We have lost the battle to sin in modern times and we not simply accept the reality of death in our lives. Modern solutions to cope with death include: we get insurance to cope with when it happens, we reinforce buildings in preparation for earthquakes, we have airbags in our cars… all for when it happens. We make better and better medications to stop it and we have jails for when it eventually breaks through and ruins someone’s life. We have retirement homes for when it catches up to us.
It seems like our whole lives and all of our economic might is spent resisting this immense force. Over thousands of years all of mankind’s best efforts to deal with sin and death has not brought freedom to our existance, we just get more and more organised in limiting it and compensating for it. How did we get into this situation? How did sin come to be in this dominant position? To find out, we need to re-read the beginning of it all… in Genesis in the garden of Eden. (BTW it is speculated that Eden is in northern Iran!)
Paul says that sin has a symbiotic relationship with law. Where you find law, you will find sin. Do you know what the first law is that was given in the bible? God gave a law to not eat from the tree in Gen 2:16-17. That description of that first law includes an explanation of the consequence of breaking that law.
Let’s take a look at that first law. To break God’s command is to sin, so in Gen 4:7 it explains the consequence of sin. Here it is: if you do good, you can avoid sin and death, but if you do not do good you cannot avoid it. It says something we know well, that sin is always crouching and waiting.
So, the solution is to work hard and be smart to create ways to ensure we measure up. But our failure to do this lead to greater and greater distance between people and God as the amount of sin grew in the world and the amount of death increased. At first God was walking in the garden with them, then they had to leave the garden. Then God came to them in response to the smell of incense burning. Later He was in an ark that specially prepared priests could carry. If unprepared people touched the ark, they died. But still sin continued to build. And plus, it began to build all over the world in far away countries where idolatry was really taking root and massive building programs and equally big sacrificial projects were mushrooming.
Still later God could be found on top of the Mountain of God (located in Saudi Arabia) but the people were afraid and they told Moses to go to God, they didn’t want to. And later still God departed from the top of a hill in Jerusalem. By 500BC He stopped sending prophets. By about 1000AD He had destroyed His own temple and the people He chose for Himself were scattered just as the prophets described they would be.
This first covenant approach of hard work and planning clearly wasn’t working. The promises were attractive (Deut 28:1-14) and the downside was terrifying (Deut 28:15-68). The condition of attracting blessings was clearly given: do what is right in the sight of the Lord (Deut 21:10). Again this condition was given when God put before us blessings and curses, life and death (Deut 30:19) and the condition there too was your performance.
But God moved further and further away from this world because no one could be good enough, no matter how many schemes they came up with. God’s law could not be kept, so sin was empowered and through increasing sin the power of death grew greater and greater.
In Genesis 4:7 God says we must “master” sin. That is one of the purposes of this book, to explain to you how to master sin, but not only in your own life, but in the world around you. But first let’s explore how sin entraps and entagles, so that we can see our condition and hopefully come to feel just a little more desperate to find a way to be free.
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