Genesis 4:7

Sermon preached on November 13, 2016 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2016. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.
One of the great tragedies of the 20
th century was the appeasement of Hitler by the Allies before World War II. Rather than preventing war, it made it inevitable. It also made the war worse than it should have been. If the Allies had reacted in 1936, when Hitler remilitarized the Rhineland, they would have been in a much better position, militarily, because Hitler wasn't ready for war then. But the Allies did nothing. They believed Hitler that his aims were limited. In March 1938 Hitler annexed Austria into Germany, without the consent of the Austrian government. Again, the Allies did nothing. They were hoping that Hitler would stop at Austria and demand nothing more. In early September 1938 Hitler stirred up trouble in the Sudetenland, part of Czechoslovakia where a German minority lived. At the Munich Conference on 30 September, Britain and France agreed to Hitler's demands and gave Hitler the Sudetenland. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain of Great Britain was confident that he had secured peace with Hitler, that this would be the end of Hitler's expansion ambitions. But in March 1939 Hitler invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia. Again, the Allies did nothing. But appeasement failed. In September 1939 Hitler invaded Poland. By that time Britain and France realized that Hitler couldn't be appeased. But it was almost too late. They declared war on Germany. But Germany had been preparing for war for years and they were unprepared. Germany invaded Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Norway. He then tried to invade Britain but lost the air war known as the Battle of Britain. Without air superiority he gave up that idea. Instead he invaded Romania, then the USSR which was made up of many countries. They couldn't appease Hitler. He was a liar, a cheat, a war-mongering egomaniac who wanted to rule much of the world.

Sin is like that. In our text the Lord said to Cain, (Genesis 4:7)

"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."

This is an important passage for it teaches us something about the nature of sin. The Lord told Cain that sin was crouching at the door desiring to have him. The great truth we see here is that

sin wants to dominate, it wants to overcome the person and have its way with him.

God likened sin to a beast outside the door waiting for its victim to emerge so he can pounce on him, overpower him and kill him. Gordon J. Wenham put it this way, (Genesis 1–15, WBC p. 106)

"sin is personified as a demon crouching like a wild beast on Cain's doorstep."

Sin desired to have Can. Sin wanted to rule Cain. It did not want to be Cain's servant—it wanted to be Cain's master. Sin, by its very nature, does not want to be controlled, it wants to control. It desires to have you. The Hebrew word that is translated 'desire' here, (David Talley, "ת," NIDOTTE, 4:341)

"emphasizes craving, desire, or urge… the desire of sin that lies poised, ready to leap at and dominate Cain. It is a reference to conquering, the desire to defeat a foe."

Sin is like Hitler. He had an overwhelming desire to conquer and subjugate or destroy people of other countries.

The New Testament also highlights this aspect of sin. In Romans 6:6 the apostle Paul wrote,

"we should no longer be slaves to sin…"

Before the Roman Christians became Christians they were essentially slaves to sin. Because of God's common grace, they are not nearly as bad they could have been, because God's grace held sin in check—but the nature of sin is to enslave people, to take away their freedom, to make them subservient. In verse 14 of the same chapter Paul wrote,

"sin shall not be your master…"

It is of the nature of sin that it wants complete mastery. Sin seeks to enslave. It doesn't allow people to be free. It doesn't allow them to keep control of their lives. It seeks to dominate. Sin seeks to be uncontrollable.

It's like a fire that starts on a dry forest bed driven by wind. It spreads with every increasing ferocity. That's the nature of fire and that's the nature of sin.

What does the devil want to do with you? He wants to have complete mastery over you. He doesn't want you to do what you want to do, he wants you to do what he wants. We see this in 2 Timothy 2:25–26 which talks about the Lord's servant. Paul wrote,

"Those who oppose him
he must gently instruct,
in the hope that God
will grant them repentance leading them
to a knowledge of the truth,
and that they will come to their senses
and escape from the trap of the devil,
who has taken them captive
to do his will."

Satan has taken sinners captive to do his will. Sin seeks to enslave people.

Sin's desire also means that before it destroys, it seeks to grow, to dominate in the sense of getting worse and worse. We see that in Cain. His first sin had to do with his offering. Commentators debate why it was defective. Some see in Abel's offering an acknowledgement that death was required for sins to be forgiven. Others suggest the defect in Cain's sacrifice was that he didn't give the best of the harvest to the Lord. But the point is that it was a sin that was somewhat lesser than his later sin of murdering his brother. The first sin was the type of sin that people in our society would defend saying that,

"It doesn't hurt anyone. He's a consenting adult and he can do what he wants. It's okay. Don't be upset with him, just accept it."

You've all heard that argument. The problem with that type of argument is that it fails to recognize the desire of sin to completely dominate. There was a connection between Cain's defective offering and his jealousy and hatred of his brother. Sin desired to have Cain and it did have him—he went from very bad to much, much worse. Sin was not content with anything less that complete domination. In verse 19 (Romans 6) the apostle Paul put it this way,

"I put this in human terms
because you are weak
in your natural selves.
Just as you used to offer
the parts of your body in slavery
to impurity and
to ever-increasing wickedness,"

It's the nature of sin to lead to more sin. Sin could be added to lists of things in Proverbs 30:15–16 that are always seeking more. It says,

"There are three things
that are never satisfied,
four that never say, 'Enough!':
the grave, the barren womb,
land, which is
never satisfied with water,
and fire, which never says,
'Enough!' "

Sin desires to enslave us, to take us over so that we sin more and more. It desires to have us completely. John Owen, the great English Puritan wrote, (Works, Vol. 6, p. 12)

"Sin will not only be striving, acting, rebelling, troubling, disquieting, but if let alone, if not continually mortified, it will bring forth great, cursed, scandalous, soul-destroying sins."

If you are to be successful at sanctification, one of the things we need to know is this characteristic of sin. You need to know that it's your enemy, that it seeks to overcome you completely, that it seeks to master you totally and wants to destroy you. Sin is not your friend. Sin shouldn't be trifled with. You cannot indulge in a little sin and think that sin will be satisfied with that. You can't appease sin. You can't make a truce with it and expect it to lie dormant. Sin is your enemy. Sin is deceptive, It's seeking to destroy you. It wants more and more from you. We need the help of the Holy Spirit in rooting out sins, even small ones, even ones that don't seem to hurt anyone else. John Owen writes, (Works, Vol. 6, p. 12)

"There is not the best saint in the world but, if he should give over this duty, would fall into as many cursed sins as ever any did of his kind."

It happened to King David, the great hero who defeated Goliath.

What was David's first sin in his series of sins that led to the murder of Uriah? Some see his first sin in verse 1 of 2 Samuel 11. It says,

"In the spring,
at the time when kings go off to war,
David sent Joab out with the king's men
and the whole Israelite army.
They destroyed the Ammonites
and besieged Rabbah.
But David remained in Jerusalem."

They say that David was negligent in his duty, that he should have been with his army. That certainly could be true. David's negligence could have resulted in him being on the roof the night he saw Bathsheba. But if you don't agree with that we can begin with the first time he saw Bathsheba. Perhaps when David first saw Bathsheba bathing it wasn't an intentional look. But he didn't turn his eyes away. He wasn't like Job who said, (Job 31:1

"I made a covenant with my eyes
not to look lustfully at a girl."

David continued to look. You've all heard the saying,

"There's no harm in looking."

But there is. David then saw she was beautiful. He lusted after her. He then wanted to know about her, who she was. So he sent someone to find out who she was. Then he sent messengers to get her. Perhaps David only intended to talk and one thing led to another. He slept with her. They committed adultery. She became pregnant. David sent for her husband Uriah to come back home, hoping that Uriah would sleep with her and would not know he was not the father. But Uriah didn't go to his home. So David got him drunk. But Uriah still didn't go home. So David sent Uriah back to the army with a message to Joab. That message was to put Uriah in the thick of the fighting and then have the men withdraw from him so that Uriah would be killed.

The treachery, the betrayal, the shame of David! A lesser sin led another sin which led to a bigger sin, which led to huge sin which led to a monstrous sin. David went from someone who was conscience stricken for having cut of the corner of King's Saul's robe to someone who was hardened and callous to some of the worst sins in the world. That's what sin did to him.

That's what sin does. John Owen writes, (Works writes, Vol. 6, p. 12)

"Sin aims always at the utmost; every time it rises up to tempt or entice, might it have its own course, it would go out to the utmost sin in that kind. Every unclean thought or glance would be adultery if it could; every covetous desire would be oppression, every thought of unbelief would be atheism, might it grow to its head… every rise of lust, might it have its course, would come to the height of villainy: it is like the grave, that is never satisfied.… sin is still pressing forward, and that because it hath no bounds but utter relinquishment of God and opposition to him; that it proceeds towards its height by degrees, making good the ground it hath got…"

Sin desires to reign. It wants to be make you its slave—it wants to rule you. It wants you to subjugate you completely and then destroy you.

What this means for you is that

you must rely on God and resist sin with everything in you.

Don't be fooled by sin. Sin is deceitful. It wants us to believe that we can indulge in it a little bit and control it. Nothing could be further from the truth.

When I was taught how to fish one of the first things I learned was that when you feel a fish nibbling on the worm, you don't yank the rod hard right away. You let the fish nibble a bit and then when you feel the tug, when you feel that he's taken a big bite and has the hook in his mouth—then you give it a pull to set the hook in the fish's mouth.

Sin is like that. A person dabbles in sin. He takes a little nibble. And there doesn't seem to be any negative consequence. So he indulges in sin a little more. In other words, he takes another nibble and it's the same thing. He seems to get away with it. There are no negative consequences. So he takes a little bigger nibble and then, suddenly, before he realizes what is going on—he is hooked and reeled in. He's a goner. Sin deceived him. Proverbs 6:27–28 warns us about sin. It asks,

"Can a man scoop fire into his lap
without his clothes being burned?
Can a man walk on hot coals
without his feet being scorched?"

Of course not. You must use the means of grace to fight against sin with all your might. No sin is harmless. Sin is against you. Sin seeks to completely destroy you. The devil and the forces of evil would like us to believe that we can control sin—that we can indulge a little bit and that sin wouldn't get out of control. It doesn't work that way. Sin crouches. It's like a lion before an attack. It crouches down. It hides its true intentions. It deceives.

I saw a speech that Adolf Hitler gave to the Reichstag on April 28, 1939. In it Hitler became a something of a comedian and he gave one of his best public performances ever. Everyone was hooting and laughing. What got them laughing was that Hitler read part of a letter that President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent him. Hitler said that Roosevelt,

"asked for assurances that German armed forces would not attack, and above all not invade—not invade the territory or possessions of the following independent nations, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain, Ireland, France, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Poland, Hungary, Rumania, Yugoslavia, Russia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iraq, the Arabias, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and Iran."

Everyone was in convulsions they were laughing so hard. Hitler made it seem ludicrous that Germany would invade those countries. Yet, Hitler did in fact invade many of them. He probably would have invaded them all if he had not been stopped. Hitler went on to say that he would give assurances to any of those nations if they asked him. Hitler was a liar. Four months later he invaded Poland and started World War II.

Sin is like that. It's a great deceiver. People think that they can control it, that it won't get out of hand, that they can stop it any time they want. People watch porn and think it won't do any harm. David perhaps thought that a little look wouldn't do any harm. But it did such great harm.

You should never tolerate any sin in your life. Ephesians 4:27 says,

"do not give the devil a foothold."

You should be very wary of sin, we should resist the first temptations of sin. Seek to root all sin out of your life.

Secondly, this means that

you should not accept the sin of the world.

The society in which we live will tell you that there is nothing wrong with abortion, with gay marriage, that we need to be respectful and accepting of those and similar sins.

But if it is the nature of sin to control people, to corrupt, to get them to sin more and more, to destroy— you should realize that our society today, in its toleration of sin, is playing a very dangerous game.

Sin by it's very nature leads to other, worse sins. For example, why are there so many abortions in our country? A major part of the reason is because of the sexual revolution, sexual promiscuity that arose in the 60's. The sin of sexual promiscuity has led to millions of unborn babies being murdered in their mother's wombs. Sin escalates. One sin leads to another. Sin tends to get worse and worse. Do you think that abortion will stop there and not lead to other sins? If sin has its way, it will not stop there.

It's the same with the acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle. Where does that lead? The visit of the angels to Sodom in Genesis 19 shows that it led to unbridled lust and lawlessness.

Not many in our society are concerned about gay marriage leading to that. Indeed, they would think that we're crazy to even suggest it.

We don't know where the sins of today's society will lead. Perhaps God in His great grace with stop or reverse the evil effects of sin. But if sin has its way, it will lead to more and more sin, more and more lawlessness.

Where will it lead in America? I don't know. But the acceptance of abortion and homosexuality is already changing our society in very fundamental ways. Those sins are already leading to an intolerance toward Christians and Christianity. Some recent court rulings seem to be moving in the direction of eliminating religious freedom. Not only that, but when we out into society with the gospel of love and teaching the commandments of Jesus—we're called hate-mongers. They tell others that we're people of hate that we preach hate. They don't want to tolerate us.

Christian, don't accept the sins our society wants you to accept. Sin is not going stop there. It wants to dominate. Make no mistake, darkness will not tolerate the light.

If you're not a Christian this means that you need Jesus, to deliver you from the domination of sin. Sin has you. You may not feel the piercing of the hook yet, but sin has its hook in you and is seeking to cast you into hell. But Jesus can save you. He came to save sinners. He died for them. Go to Him. Find freedom, find life in Him. May God give you grace to do so.