When Scripture says that sin is crouching at our door, and desires to have us, what exactly does that mean? Is sin a person? Does sin think and engage in strategy? How should we understand this verse?
What Does 'Sin Is Crouching at Your Door' Mean?
Scripture is filled with many different genres of literature.
1. Narrative Literature: A narrative is simply a story of events. For example, the Book of Acts tells us about the early church. It relates the history of how the Holy Spirit came to the 12 apostles, how they preached in Jerusalem, and the spread of the gospel message.
Likewise, the Book of Exodus tells us of the history of the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness. In short, these are the writings that give us history and biography. From such literature, we can gain spiritual insights that apply to our own lives, even in modern times.
2. Wisdom: These writings are designed to teach us different moral and ethical principles. You will find everything from marriage and child-rearing to finances and courtship covered in such literature. Examples of these in the Bible are the Book of Proverbs and the Book of Ecclesiastes.
3. Poetry: When we think of poetry we might think of such notables as William Shakespeare, William Butler Yates, William Wordsworth, or Lord Byron. We might not instinctively think of Scripture in terms of poetry, but poetic language is used throughout, and the Book of Psalms is quite literally a book of poetic songs.
We can add prophecy, letters (epistles), and the gospels to this list as well. However, the one that has bearing on the topic of sin desiring to have us is poetry. Poetry often uses word pictures to describe things. Let me give you an example of a word picture you commonly find. You go to church on Sunday and one of the choir members sings a solo.
Her performance is technically precise, she’s always perfect in pitch, and the song moves many people in the congregation to tears. Now, generally, we do not describe her performance this way. We would say something like, “She has the voice of an angel.” Now, none of us actually believes an angel sang through her.
What we intend to convey is how beautiful and touching her performance was. The way in which we expressed that sentiment was an example of poetic language. It is the same in Genesis 4:7.
The author is not trying to tell us that sin is a living being that plots against us, sneaks around the house, and waits for an opportunity to attack us. Sin is crouching at your door.
Rather, he is telling us that sin can almost imperceptibly become a part of our lives. Sin is not a person that can think or act. In fact, sin does not even exist as an action or attitude without someone to give it expression.
What Sin Is - Sin Is Crouching at Your Door
Simply put, sin is any act or attitude that is in violation of God’s Law for humanity. “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). Like Satan, who refused to serve his Creator, we rebel against God’s order, and that rebellion is sin.
Remember this and never forget how you aroused the anger of the Lord your God in the wilderness. From the day you left Egypt until you arrived here, you have been rebellious against the Lord (Deuteronomy 9:7).
The proclivity to sin is something we have all inherited and which has caused death and suffering in our world.
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned — For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 5:12; 6:23).
“Mankind by Adam fell under death, and the deception of the serpent; we are born sinners...Nothing good dwells in us...For neither by nature, nor by human understanding is it possible for me to acquire the knowledge of things so great and so divine, but by the energy of the Holy Spirit.
Of ourselves it is impossible to enter the kingdom of God...He has convicted us of the impossibility of our nature to obtain life...Free will has destroyed us; we who were free are become slaves and for our sin are sold...Being pressed down by our sins, we cannot move upward toward God; we are like birds who have wings, but are unable to fly.”
But there is good news in all of this! God loved each of us so much that He has provided a way for us to be reconciled to Himself and overcome sin. Our Heavenly Father sent His only begotten Son into this world to teach us, to guide us, and to restore us to our Father in heaven (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 6:23; 1 John 2:2).
As Theophilus of Antioch wrote: “And God showed great kindness to man, in this, that He did not suffer him to continue being in sin forever.” All you must do to receive this gift is to make a firm commitment to follow Jesus, be baptized for the forgiveness of sins, and resist sin in the future (John 14:6; Acts 3:19; Romans 5:12-21).
Justin Martyr also wrote: “If you are eagerly looking for salvation, and if you believe in God, you may...become acquainted with the Christ of God, and, after being baptized, live a happy life.”
Why Does 'Sin Is Crouching at Your Door' Matter?
Unlike so many religions of the world that require you to work for your “enlightenment” or advancement in the organization, Jesus does not require such things of you. You do not have to wear any special clothes, submit to a pope, ask Mary or any saints for their assistance.
There is no entrance fee, no special handshake, and nobody to stand between you and Jesus Christ. All you have to do is tell Him you want to serve Him, enter the waters of baptism for the forgiveness of your sins, and then do your best to avoid sin in the future.
And the best ways to do that are to fellowship with other disciples, study the Word of God daily and pray in all things. It really is that easy.
Sin is crouching at your door, but thankfully, we have a Savior who watches our backs. Turn to him and ask him to help you to navigate the treacherous waters of temptation.
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J. Davila-Ashcraft is an Anglican priest, Theologian, and Apologist, and holds a B.A. in Biblical Studies and Theology from God’s Bible College in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is a recognized authority on the topic of exorcism, and in that capacity has contributed to and/or appeared on programming for The National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, and CNN. He is the host of Expedition Truth, a one-hour apologetics radio talk show.
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