Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.”
Sin is a deadly companion. For our lives, from womb to tomb, we will remain in Adam as long as we live in flesh and blood. Even now, in the current state of affairs, being in Christ, the presence of sin will require a lifetime struggle between the flesh (sin) and the Spirit.
Cain says to Abel, “Come with me to the field, out there where we cannot be bothered–and where you cannot escape from me.” Cain knew what he was doing; he did not wake up one day, with nothing to do after a long week of work and think, “I have nothing to do; I should kill my brother.” This was a calculated murder.
Cain is not a type for sin. But the narrative for sin, especially nagging, habitual sins, can fit into the narrative of Cain’s murder of his brother. The sins which are familiar always lead us into out to the field, out to the wilderness. The gambler goes behind his family’s back and secretly squanders his–and his family’s–earnings; the fornicator does not invite her illicit lover to dinner, but instead goes “out of the city” to fulfill her sinful desires.
We have no power to win the battle of sin alone. The Holy Spirit is the agent of sanctification; it is through his power that we begin to undergo the transformation into new creations after baptism. What we human agents can be aware of are the patterns that lead us to sin. That, too, is a gift of God: the way out of sin. A dear friend of mine reminded me that there is a setting in which sin takes place. We are wise to search our lives and eliminate the wilderness areas where the devils of destruction await the proud and the unaware.