My house is full of doors. I’m sure yours is too. I decided to count them today and discovered that including my furniture and appliances I have 50 doors in my house! And for the most part (excluding a knock on the front door) I know what is behind each one of them. The most common word for door in the Old Testament is a word (pehtah) which can refer to an opening, an entrance, a door, or doorway. It could apply to tents, homes, or even caves where there was an unobstructed entrance into an enclosure which also allowed this word to be used metaphorically as well. We find an example of this very early on in Scripture in the account of Cain and Abel (Gen. 4:1-8). Most of us are familiar with the story. Adam and Eve have two sons. Cain, the older, becomes a “tiller of the soil” while his younger brother, Abel, tends to flocks. At some point each man determines it appropriate to bring the Lord a sacrifice. Cain approaches this quite casually and grabs whatever is handy from the harvest (v.3) but Abel takes this more seriously and brings the finest of his herd with a fat portion (the tastiest and most desirable part of the meat- v. 4). The Lord is pleased with Abel’s sacrifice but was disinterested in Cain’s (v. 5). We are not told how these men knew one offering was preferred over the other, but we are told how it affected Cain. The NASB says his “countenance fell” and that he became angry. The Lord challenges this behavior and basically tells Cain, “If you do what you know pleases Me, you won’t be downcast and angry”. The Lord then reveals to Cain that “sin is couching at the door and it desires you, but you must master it” (v.6-7).
Cain is presented with two choices. The first is to do what he knows is right. The alternative is to allow what is “at the door” to enter. The allusion here indicated by the word “couch” (rabas) is that of a wild animal which is lying down, either at rest or stalking prey. Sin is at rest, just outside the door of Cain’s heart. But its desire (tsoo-kay) is for him like a wild animal which desires to eat. This word is the same type of longing that lovers have for one another. That kind of longing is not always a healthy one and that is certainly the case here. Cain must “master” this- a word which means to rule, reign or have dominance over. Cain must tame the beast. Sadly, as one commentator noted, Cain does not respond to the Lord’s guidance. Rather than allowing the reprimand to lead to contrition, it embittered him toward his brother. Cain allowed sin to master him by opening the door to it. Kenneth A. Matthews wrote, “In this account we learn that sin has a pervasive power that seizes occasion to enslave its victims (Rom. 3:9; 1 Cor. 15:56; 1 Jn. 5:19).” Paul echoed this struggle in Rom. 7:14-25 emphasizing that the only hope in mastering sin is Christ Himself. Matthews concluded, “Cain’s refusal to deal rightly with his sin permitted his anger to fester into murder.” It was a tragic ending to something that could have easily been corrected.
And that is usually the outcome of sin, isn’t it? We think that some little indiscretion, a miss-step, a lax of attitude, a burst of anger with a quick, haphazard apology, an undetected wrong, can be overlooked or not held against us. But with each “little sin” we have cracked open the door. We have given over our freedom to a master other than Christ and before we know it, we’ve become “dinner” for the beast (1 Pet. 5:8). But we do not have to open the door to it. Through the power of Christ and through the work of the Holy Spirit, we can tame the beast (Rom. 8:1-8; 1 Cor. 2:10-16; Eph. 5:18). The Church at Laodicea thought they had their sins covered. They thought their wealth and beauty masked the stench of sin hiding underneath all the glitz and glamour of their city. But they didn’t fool Christ. Neither do we. Jesus admonished them that He was standing at the door knocking (Rev. 3:14-22). And I believe He is often knocking upon our “door” as well. The question is, who are we letting in?
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
https://www.annhlefevre.com; Olivetreeann@mail.com; https://www.linkedin.com/in/annhlefevre; https://www.facebook.com/ann.h.lefevre