YHWH said to Kayin:
Why are you so upset? Why has your face fallen?
Is it not thus:
If you intend good, bear it aloft,
but if you do not intend good,
at the entrance is sin, a crouching demon,
toward you his lust

but you can rule over him.

Genesis 4:6-7 (Everett Fox translation)

*   *   *

Here, for the first time, the Bible mentions sin. Obviously, there is already some understanding. (How often that’s the case in history, where the concept finally entered into writing often has already been long discussed.) Again, we have the Holy One speaking directly with a human, as apparently was the case in the early days of the chronology. While the Holy One asks Cain about his appearance, the words that follow indicate an acute perception of Cain’s psyche and interior struggle.

Pointedly, the Holy One sees this as a moral choice. We can choose to act out of our lower nature or to raise ourselves to rule over it, from our higher nature.

*   *   *

This advice from Ohio Yearly Meeting’s Book of Discipline shows how far-reaching that “lust” can be: “Avoid and discourage any kind of betting or gambling, as well as commercial speculation of a gambling character. Remember how widespread are the temptations to grow rich at the expense of others, and how apparently harmless indulgence leads often by degrees to ruin and crime.”

In short, many of traditional religious concerns have recognized the importance of minding the details in maintaining the essential witness.

*   *   *

O! let us take heed that we do not vex and quench the Spirit of Christ within us, that so we be not of those complained of by Nehemiah, to whom the Lord gave his good Spirit, but they rebelled against it. And what then? So he became their Enemy, and fought against them. These were such of whom Job speaks, saying, They are of those that rebel against the Light. (Elizabeth Bathurst, 1655?-1685)

 

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