The Sin of Esau - The Modern Dilemma?


(SeanO) #1

Hebrews 12:16 - See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son.

A friend of mine noted that Esau does not seem like a bad guy. He tries to please his father and forgives Jacob for stealing from him. What’s the big deal?

Esau did two things that were huge - he despised his birthright and he married Canaanite women.

What is significant about these two things is that they both show a complete disregard for the God of Abraham and Isaac. Marrying a Canaanite was equivalent to inviting foreign gods into his household and despising his birthright was a denial of the promise of God through Abraham (and ultimate through Adam of the promised seed).

Esau appears to have suffered from two chief sins:

  1. Being worldly minded (carnal)
  2. Having no room for God in his mind (which explains why he never properly understood the significance of his inheritance or his marriages)

Romans 1:28 - just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God

In some ways, is this not the modern dilemma? Our culture has no room for God in its thoughts and is focused on fulfilling fleshly / worldly desires.

Thoughts? Push back? Implications?

Was Esau’s sin that serious? What was Esau’s sin? How is modern culture similar in its seemingly harmless decision to ignore God while still trying to be ‘nice people’?


(Melvin Greene) #2

I agree, @SeanO. It seems to me that Esau thought only of the here and now. He wanted to satisfy his desires now. Forget about the future ramifications. Maybe God didn’t seem all that real to him. I can see how the problems of modern culture are similar. For one thing there are so many things vying for our attention it’s easy for God to get crowded out. People running here and running there, with there faces stuck in their smartphones, tablets, or laptops. Families seem to have their kids involved in every activity you can think of. Far too often I’ve seen families absent from church on Sunday because they had to drive their kid to some sports tournament that’s out of town, or even out of state. It also seems that people can no longer tolerate delayed gratification. They see something and they have to have it now, or tomorrow at the latest. There doesn’t seem to be any, “Well, lets pray on this and see what God would have us do”. I cannot lie here. I’ve done things like this, too. It’s so easy to get caught up in this culture of “Got to have it all and got to have it now”. And these people aren’t necessarily evil, or bad. They’re fine upstanding, law abiding citizens, who love their families, maybe even love the Lord. But somehow they allowed God to be crowded out of their lives. So, yes. I can see similarities between Esau’s existential, and I would say compulsive, behavior (sins) and that of our modern culture.


(SeanO) #3

@Melvin_Greene Certainly impulsiveness and a demand for immediate gratification are good insights into modern culture. Those are good points! It can be hard to pull ourselves away from the smartphone or twitter feed and really get alone with God.

You know, for me, I think a lack of prayer / time to meditate on the Scriptures in the family or a lack of worship / obedience in a person’s private life worry me more than missing Church. Church is meant to encourage those things and we ought not to forsake the gathering together of ourselves (Hebrews), but I tend to prefer placing than emphasis on life transformation rather than attendance at all times. It’s so easy for us humans to be drawn into a checklist and forget that it is a relationship.


(Melvin Greene) #4

Those are good points, @SeanO. I did not mean to infer that church attendance is the main focus of our spiritual growth. I do think it could be an indicator of other things such as lack of prayer and scripture study. Actually, I’m glad you pointed out prayer, scripture reading, worship and obedience. These are disciplines that are the core of our walk with Christ. They are also the disciplines that are the first to be compromised. I struggle with consistency in these areas all the time. In fact the only consistent thing about me is my inconsistency!


(SeanO) #5

@Melvin_Greene That sounds a lot like ‘the only thing that never changes is change itself’ :slight_smile:


(Melvin Greene) #6

That sums it up nicely, @SeanO!


(SeanO) #7

@Melvin_Greene I love how Paul handles this struggle in Philippians 3:

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

He recognizes he hasn’t made it, but he is giving his life, mind and soul in the pursuit of the prize!


(Melvin Greene) #8

And that is the mark of the Christian walk, @SeanO. It’s the struggle, the striving to “attain the resurrection from the dead”, as Paul put it in verse 11. But, just as Paul states, he has not obtained perfection but continues the struggle in a life in a fallen world. And we are to do the same. We are to always strive to be more like Christ. Not for our salvation, but because of our salvation. I’ve heard this struggle analogized as trying to climb a greased pole. You continue to strive to reach the top, but the progress is slow and some times we slip down a ways. And if you stop striving and seek to just maintain your position on the pole, you will slide down. You always must be striving to reach the top. I realize that this sounds a bit bleak and futile, but we have the Holy Spirit who strengthens us and helps us in the striving. I think it’s a bit funny when we end up failing, or messing up, we often say in some sort of defense, “Well, I’m only human.” I think this is the wrong way to look at it. When God created the first humans, he made them perfect. They were perfectly human who bore God’s image perfectly. But, since we have fallen from that perfection, we are somewhat less than human. So, we should say, in a feeble attempt to defend our bad behavior, “Well, I’m not quite human.”

I noticed a little farther down the passage of scripture that you referenced, Paul mentioned those who are enemies of the cross of Christ: (18) For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you, even in tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. (19) Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. I can’t help but think of Esau. His god was definitely his belly and his mind was definitely set on earthly things.


(SeanO) #9

@Melvin_Greene Very succinct summarization!

Evaluating our own walk is very difficult, imho, because it requires both knowing God and knowing ourselves. We have to understand both our own heart / body and God’s heart so that we can live a self-controlled and godly life.

Going back to the illustration you mentioned, I think the pole is only greased when we misunderstand either ourselves or God. Such a misunderstanding may cause us to set goals that are unrealistic or unnecessary, thinking God demands of us what He does not. Or they may cause us to ignore sin that needs to be dealt with…

Which is why RZIM is such a great ministry - if we learn to think clearly about God and ourselves, we can more successfully strive towards Christ!