Monday, December 5, 2011

Raising Cain, Part 1

But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him, Genesis 4:5-8.

Cain is an interesting man. Here is a man who had nothing to really fall back on by way of excuses for his conduct toward God and his actions toward his brother. We learned from our first parents that sin will create in us self-defense mechanisms that attempt to shift blame, point fingers and otherwise make us appear better than we are by lessening the level of guilt our deed should incur or trying valiantly to make so-and-so look worse than ourselves.

Cain had no poverty to blame. He was not abused as a child. He didn’t have drugs or alcohol or urban violence to blame. He didn’t have a bad job, an unloving family, an abusive spouse, or any number of things that we have mastered in laying down the blame for our own sins. I am not belittling circumstance, but I am insinuating that many use circumstance as a cloak for sinful behavior. A very simple command must have been given to our primeval parents since we find Cain and Abel bringing offerings to the Lord. Abel’s offering happened to be the finest of his flock and their fat, which sounds reminiscent of the sacrifices offered under the Law. Cain brought fruit of the earth, which he might have grown and tilled himself. The fact that God accepted Abel and his sacrifice while rejecting Cain’s presents the idea that both men knew what to bring and one of the two did not see the need to listen. Proverbs 21:27 says, “The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?”

We read in the New Testament that Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, Hebrews 11:4. Abel offered this sacrifice in faith, and the act of offering what God commanded him in sacrifice was a witness that Abel was righteous; that is, Abel was a saved man through faith in God. Abel’s act then demonstrates three things: Abel had faith in God; his faith justified him; his action, performed in faith, was an outward demonstration of his heart’s inclination toward God. What he believed within was witnessed without. Abel’s act, like faithful Abraham centuries later, showed the world where his heart and loyalty lay.

Cain is mentioned several times in the New Testament. The writer of Hebrews only mentions the man in passing, referring to Abel’s sacrifice and the excellence of it when contrasted to Cain’s. John and Jude make mention of Cain. John refers to him as being of the wicked one, namely Satan, 1st John 3:12. Jude, when writing about false teachers who defile the flesh, speak evil of heavenly powers and corrupt themselves in their natural tendencies, contrasts them to Cain who apparently went in that same direction, Jude 1:11. We see then the mentality of Cain and his spirit revealed to us in Scripture and get a clearer idea of his thoughts and motives when bringing the fruit of the earth to the Lord as an offering. It was not in faith because it was not in obedience. Cain thought little of God’s will and word and decided that he could better choose what God would be pleased with.

In this way Cain smacks of a modern thinker in many circles. They wish to greatly broaden the road that leads to Heaven and God, making it so wide in fact that no man could ever hope to fall off the edge; salvation is all but universally assured. When we hear the apparently broad-minded jargon of modern thinking that suggests “God will accept me as I am” or “God just wants me to be the best person I can be” or “God made me this way,” we hear Cain’s philosophy mouthed by a new generation. And seeing as how the Apostle John clarified the origin of this mentality we know that back of modern thinkers is the spirit that now works in the sons of disobedience and in Cain: Satan.

1 comment:

  1. Great Post Ian.

    You are right about how often circumstance is used to excuse sin, rather than taking responsibility.

    Cain definitely decided he didn't need to do it God's way and got angry when he couldn't make God accept it. the same arrogant attitude is so prevalent today.


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