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Earthly Thorns That Trouble Us 4- The Thorn of Sin

Earthly Thorns That Trouble Us
Day 4-The Thorn of Sin

“Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1, ESV)

“The Lord said to Cain, ‘… If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it’” (Genesis 4:6-7, ESV).

There are times, after I do or say something, that I respond to myself internally, “Why are you such an idiot?” I’m disappointed in myself because I know I’ve done or said something I shouldn’t have. In other words, I sinned, and I knew I had. Sin is obnoxious. It affects all of us (see Romans 3:23) and is the root cause of every single problem in the world. And although we may be able to sin less, we will not be able to be sinless. It is an ever-present thorn that will afflict us until we are in heaven. The two passages above point out two aspects of sin and how it affects believers, and both can easily be related to the imagery of a thorn. First, sin clings to us; second, sin springs on us.

I can’t begin to count all the times I would come home from some great adventure in the woods only to find all sorts of stuff on my clothes. Sometimes it would be bugs or ticks, but it was usually some kind of thorn or burr. While barreling through the brush, these annoying little things would cling to my clothing. I didn’t want them, but there they were. Isn’t sin like that in our lives? Here we are, moving forward through life, and there it is, clinging to us like an annoying little burr. Actions of sin and the causes of sin are right there. Our aging, aching bodies—that’s a result of sin. The temptation to fall morally—that’s sin. Pride and arrogance—that’s sin. And all around us, sin does its very best to cling to us like an unwanted plague. It’s found in the music blaring in our ears, the shows dangling in front of our eyes, the activities drawing our bodies. It’s clinging, pleading with us not to let it go. It’s no wonder the verse in Hebrews says that, even with sin clinging closely to us, we have to run the race of life with endurance. Combatting sin is, indeed, a battle, a daily, constant battle; not giving in to its pull is a matter of endurance. I’m sure, like me, you can’t wait until the day that battle is over forever. When we arrive on heaven’s shore, we’ll finally be in a place where sin doesn’t cling to us at all. We’ll be in a place where sin doesn’t even exist. Sounds pretty amazing to me!

The second thing to point out is that sin also springs on us. The image the Lord used with Cain in Genesis speaks of sin crouching at the door, ready to pounce. And it appears that’s exactly what happened. It’s hard to understand how two brothers would be talking in the field, and suddenly one is dead. Sin (likely jealousy punctuated with a moment of anger) worked its way in Cain’s life, and suddenly his brother was lying dead on the ground.

This is another pervasive quality when it comes to sin in our lives. We can be legitimately going about our day only to have sin spring almost out of nowhere. A sex-forward ad sends us down the path to lust. A bad driver cuts us off, inviting the rage monster into our brains (and out of our mouths). A friend goes on a great vacation, and we find ourselves overwhelmed with jealousy and covetousness. We weren’t actively doing anything sinful to invite more sinful thoughts or actions, but there they are. It’s so frustrating! It can feel like sin is hiding around the corner, just waiting to pounce.

As stated earlier, it is an ever-present thorn we must deal with. We must train and focus our minds to push past the sin that clings to us. And we must train our minds to ignore the impulse to sin that springs upon us. A momentary win is just that—a momentary win. This constant, grinding fight will always be with us on this earth. Our guard must be up and our radar on. Sin doesn’t rest and Satan doesn’t let up. So neither should we.

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