Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your affections. For they
influence everything else in your life” (TLB)
We started this lesson off
with a skit of a jury trial where Cain is accused of murdering his brother
Abel. The prosecuting attorney brought forth witnesses who testified
as to Cain’s actions before the murder was committed. This illustrated
how sin stalked Cain through his attitude and emotions. He was jealous
of his brother Abel and that resentment and jealousy led to his murder
Did the crime begin with
the actual murder or did it happen beforehand? It was birthed in his
mind when God accepted Abel’s sacrifice but didn’t accept
Cain’s offering. Was Abel’s death the result of an accident?
No. Cain planned what he was going to do, and then he lured his brother
Abel out into the field and killed him in cold blood.
“3 When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his
crops as a gift to the Lord. 4 Abel also brought a gift—the best
of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his
gift, 5 but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very
angry, and he looked dejected.
6 “Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why
do you look so dejected? 7 You will be accepted if you do what is right.
But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching
at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its
8 One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into
the fields.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his
brother, Abel, and killed him.”
It all started in Cain’s
mind, then grew into a plan. The plan was executed just as pictured
in his mind.
“13 And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God
is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong and he never
tempts anyone else. 14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which
entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions.
And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.”
Temptation comes from your
own desires. First you are tempted. You can only be tempted where you
are weak. If you are strong and your spiritual armor is complete, temptation
can’t penetrate your defenses. But if you are weak and your spiritual
armor is weak, damaged or non-existent, temptation can gain a foothold
and penetrate your defenses.
Even though temptation has
penetrated your defenses, are you defeated? No, you aren’t defeated
yet. What could you do next?
Well, you could do one of
two things. Either kick out the temptation from your mind – flee
from it OR you can let it sit there and stew.
What happens if you banish
the temptation? You are no longer tempted. You have stopped the intruder
at the gate and sent him packing. Since the temptation is now gone,
you are free of it and you have not sinned. Being tempted is not a sin.
7 “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will
flee from you. 8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you.
Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is
divided between God and the world. 9 Let there be tears for what you
have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness
instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10 Humble yourselves
before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.”
What happens if you let that
temptation sit in your mind and stew? It grows. It gets bigger and stronger
and becomes more appealing. Just like the forbidden fruit started to
look really good to Eve, temptation that gets past your defenses and
is allowed to sit and stew will look more and more appealing. You will
start to justify to yourself why this would be a good thing to have
or to do. You may be obvious or you may sneak around hoping no one will
notice, even though God is noticing everything you do and think.
12 “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation.
Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised
to those who love him. 13 And remember, when you are being tempted,
do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to
do wrong] and He never tempts anyone else. 14 Temptation comes from
our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires
give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives
birth to death. 16 So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters.”
So far, temptation has by-passed
your defenses and you have allowed it to sit and stew and become appealing.
Can you still stop it before it becomes fully sinful? Yes you can! You
still haven’t sinned yet, but you are playing with fire and might
yet get burnt.
When does this temptation
become sin? When you decide to follow that temptation. Sin begins in
the mind and progresses until it pollutes your thinking and your actions.
You can stop it if you refuse to let that thought take root. You can
stop temptation before it becomes a sin. You can stop temptation from
becoming a sin any time before deciding to sin. The longer you entertain
a temptation the harder it is to stop. The secret is to stop it at the
beginning when it first manifests itself.
What could Cain have done
to prevent the death of Abel? He could have prevented the temptation
from growing into sin. He could have said “No!” to the thought
of murdering his brother. He could have changed his attitude.
What could Cain have done
when God asked him where was Abel? He could have admitted his sin to
God, repented, and asked God’s forgiveness. What did he do?
9” Afterward the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother?
Where is Abel?”
“I don’t know,” Cain responded. “Am I my brother’s
Cain wasn’t honest
with God and he even got sarcastic with Him. “Am I my brother’s
guardian?” So God confronted Cain with his sin.
10” But the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your
brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground! 11 Now you are
cursed and banished from the ground, which has swallowed your brother’s
blood. 12 No longer will the ground yield good crops for you, no matter
how hard you work! From now on you will be a homeless wanderer on the
Did Cain repent? No. He worried
about himself – about how horrible the sentence was and that he
might be murdered too.
13 “Cain replied to the Lord, “My punishment is too great
for me to bear! 14 You have banished me from the land and from your
presence; you have made me a homeless wanderer. Anyone who finds me
will kill me!”
15 The Lord replied, “No, for I will give a sevenfold punishment
to anyone who kills you.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain to
warn anyone who might try to kill him. 16 So Cain left the Lord’s
presence and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.”
Even in the face of blatant
sin with no sign of repentance, God was gracious and merciful to Cain.
He could have struck Cain with lightning, killing him then and there,
but God is loving, caring and merciful. Cain was punished for his sin,
but not as he deserved to be punished.
God is just as merciful and
loving to you. He does not strike you with lightning because you have
sinned and not repented. He allows you time to learn about him and to
establish a relationship with Him leading to repentance for your sins
and acceptance of the gift of forgiveness and salvation He offers to
8 “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls
around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 9 Stand firm
against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian
brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind
of suffering you are.”
11”Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to
stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting
against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities
of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against
evil spirits in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be
able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle
you will still be standing firm.”
Satan wants you to fail.
He wants you to give into temptation. He wants you to sin. You can stop
him by resisting him. Put on your spiritual armor and resist him and
anything he offers. Don’t become a prey to sin stalking you. Don’t
let a bad attitude, hatred, resentment, or any other emotion lead you
into temptation. Stop it when it is first revealed. And if you should
slip and sin, pick yourself up, go to God and confess your sin, truly
repenting of it and He will forgive you.