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#329 SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON #3 GENESIS 4
AN ACCEPTABLE SACRIFICE
In Genesis 4, we can clearly see the fruits of the fall that are recorded in Genesis 3. ROM 5:12 says, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." As the result of the sin of Adam, all men are now born in sin.
God made man in the likeness of God. In GEN 5:1-3 we read, "This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, and after his image; and called his name Seth."
God made man in His own image. Man lost that image of God when he fell. We read that Adam lived 130 years and begot a son in his own likeness. There is the awesome nature of the fall. God created man in the image of God, but Seth was born in the image of Adam in his fallen state. Now we will see the fruit of that fall. Adam and Eve bore children, but the children were fallen in sin, because they were born in the image of fallen man. The result is also recorded in the New Testament as we read in ROM 5:12. It was not possible for Adam to have a sinless son; sweet water cannot come forth from a fountain of bitter water. Adam was no longer a fountain of sweet water. So out of a corrupt Adam comes the fallen race of men.
The account recorded in Genesis 4 of Cain murdering his brother reveals how soon the enmity spoken of in the gospels first voice revealed itself in fallen man. GEN 3:15 says, "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." The seed of the woman is Christ (GAL 3:16) and all those who are in Christ (V: 29). Christ, and all those who are in Him, will be at enmity with Satan and all his seed that are outside of Christ.
All mankind are the servants of Satan until God, by His grace, gives new desires and affections as we see from EPH 2:1-3 "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others."
Those who are the chosen of God by grace are delivered from this service of Satan by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit and brought into the service of Christ. "But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ," 2TH 2:13-14.
Cain and Abel were both sons of Adam and, by nature of the fall, were both born as servants of sin. Abel, however, had that work of regeneration of the Holy Spirit, giving him a heart tender with the fear of God, to serve the Lord according to His will. Yet, he still needed the sacrifice because he was no longer able to keep Gods will perfectly in a way that pleases God.
The enmity spoken of in GEN 3:15 reveals itself in the enmity between Cain and Abel, i.e., between the regenerate bride of Christ and the unregenerate servants of Satan and sin. The Lord told Satan, "I will put enmity between thee and the woman " The woman is a type of the bride of Christ as we see from EPH 5:24, "Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing." This enmity was not only between Satan and Christ, but also between Satans seed and the woman, i.e., the bride of Christ.
The work of regeneration is absolutely hated by those who are unregenerate. Therefore, there is hatred, bitterness, and jealousy in their enmity. Scriptures account of Cain and Abel clearly demonstrates the enmity that sin has caused between those who fear the Lord and those who fear Him not. Those who serve Satan, that ugly monster self, and sin hate those who fear the Lord and have a holy reverence for the will of God. That enmity brings a constant warfare.
This principle comes through so clearly in 1JO 3:11-16, "For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."
There is another enmity we must consider; it is the enmity within every persons breast. In the heart of the regenerate, there is a constant spiritual warfare. When the new man of the Spirit is born, the old man of sin is never completely slain as long as we have life. The new birth of the Spirit immediately reveals the enmity between our old nature and the new as we see from GAL 5:16-17, "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would."
This spiritual warfare between the desires of the flesh and the desires of the spirit is a constant warfare, a struggle, a striving for survival. Each side wants the pre-eminence. Cain saw Abels pre-eminence when the Lord rejected his offering while accepting Abels. This was Cains big problem. He became jealous because of what we read in ROM 8:8, "So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God."
When the work of grace is worked in the heart, we experience the same struggle in our soul. Which side will rule and control? Will the new man of the heart control, or will the old man of sin control the affections, actions, and the walk of our lives? The Scriptures are replete with examples of this principle.
2CO 6:14 says, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" What is there in common? You cannot fellowship with unbelievers because you have nothing in common with them. One desires to serve the Lord, doing the will of God; the other is interested only in serving things of self, the flesh. Their desires are as far apart as North is from South, causing enmity with each other because of the great contrast between them. They are diametrically opposed to each other. You cannot serve these two masters. The regeneration of the Holy Spirit brings the desire to serve the Lord, and brings on the spiritual warfare.
This distinction between Cain and Abel revealed itself in their attitudes toward the law of love. We see the fruit of this fall and warfare; we also see the fruits of whom we serve. How do we tell whom we serve? It is found in the answer to the question, "Do we love our brothers and sisters?" If we can fight with our brothers and sisters, showing hatred and bitterness, then we are not serving the Lord.
1JO 3:10-12 tells us, "In this the children of God are manifest [The original word means clear as day, as distinct as the sun shining and the pitch darkness of night.], and the children of the devil [The distinction is that clear.]: whosoever doeth not righteousness [loving your neighbour as yourself] is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brothers righteous."
Righteousness is observing the second table of the law, i.e., loving your neighbor as yourself. Whosoever does not do righteousness is not of God. If we do not have a right attitude toward our brothers, if we do not love our brothers, we are not of God. This is the message we heard from the beginning. When was that? That is the message we heard from Cain and Abel. Cain did not love his brother; Cain murdered his brother. Lets go back and read that again. "...For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one." His seed shall be in enmity with the "woman" or the bride of Christ. GEN 3:15 says, "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."
Those who serve the devil will be at enmity against those who serve Christ. Cain murdered Abel because his own works were evil while his brothers were righteous. In other words, Abel had love for his brother; he was serving the Lord according to the will of God. The Lord had commanded them to bring an offering that would point to the perfect sacrifice of Christ. Cain wanted to serve God in his own way; he would not submit. He took liberty to do as Satan had promised in the Garden of Eden, to serve God according to what he thought was right and wrong. Cain had lost sight of the authority of Gods Word. Satan does the same thing today. Satan has very few atheists even today. Satans followers are those who will serve God according to their own dictates. They will not submit to the authority of Gods Word.
Yesterday, I talked to a blessed sister in Christ. The Holy Spirit had moved upon her, and she learned to know the Lord and desired to serve Him. Now the Lord had said, "Let there be light," and she received light by the new creation spoken of in EPH 2:10. What did the light do? She saw the authority of the Word of God. Her heart overflowed, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."
It was a complete reversal of her previous state. Now she could relate to what God says in His Word! She said, "I always had such tunnel vision. All I ever saw was what I wanted to see. Now I have seen the Word of God and its authority. All of a sudden it was a new world." In the new creation spoken of in EPH 2:10, it is again begun by the Holy Spirit saying, "Let there be light." What light? We must come into total surrender to the light of the authority of God.
Because he acted upon what the Lord had said, Abels offering was accepted. It was by his obedience of faith. The central truth to be gleaned from Genesis 4 is that God can only be worshipped in His ordained way! It is a lesson we must learn. The only way we can serve the Lord acceptably is in His ordained way, according to His Word. This is to prove we are willing to bow to the authority of His Word.
Look now at Abels action. He heard, he believed, and he obeyed. It was his obedience of faith, upon which the Lord looked. HEB 11:4 says, "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh." Wherein does Abel yet speak? By his actions! He obeyed and offered according to Gods ordained way. God was pleased and accepted that offering.
"By faith," means by acting upon what he had been taught as the will of God. Unbelief is rebellion against the will of God. Saving faith is acting upon the will of God; it is "Thus saith the Lord," and "Amen" is the immediate response of the heart. Obedience of faith is without gainsaying or questioning. It means obeying and doing the will of God from a heart of love for God. That is the obedience of faith.
This is the mystery that was withheld from the world until it was revealed in Christ as we read in ROM 16:25, "Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith."
Lets take notice where the great distinction lay between Cain and Abel. Cain and Abel were both children of the same parents. They were both born after the fall; "Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others," EPH 2:3.
Both Cain and Abel were born in sin, and therefore, both stood in need of a Saviour. In these things there was no distinction, but one was born again of the Holy Spirit and feared God, and the other did not. One had a holy reverence for the will of God, and the other did not. Abel was regenerated by the work of the Holy Spirit and had the new desire to do the will of God. Abel had received the new man of the heart by the grace of God.
This new man of the heart was revealed by the type of sacrifice each one brought. Abel brought a lamb for His sacrifice whereby he openly declared that he could not stand righteous in his own works but needed a Saviour for his soul. By faith, Abel brought a sacrifice that was a type of " the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," JOH 1:29. Cain came in his own righteousness, offering the works of his own hands. GEN 4:3-5 states "And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell."
The nature of the offerings which Cain and Abel brought unto the Lord, and why the Lord rejected the one and accepted the other, points us to the most important truth in the whole chapter. All Scripture is the Holy Word of God, but if I may make a statement, I would say this is one of the most important truths in the Bible. I may not weigh one part of Scripture against another; however, if we miss this distinction, we miss the truth of the entire gospel. We will not understand any part of the gospel until we understand the distinction between their offerings.
Our attention must not be so much upon the difference between the two men, but upon the difference between their offerings. Up to this point in Genesis, there is nothing on record to tell us that Cain was the worse man of the two. Both men were fallen in sin, both needed a Saviour; not one verse shows that God accepted Abel or Cain on the basis of who they were. The difference between them is distinguished by their offerings.
Cain was not an infidel or an atheist; he was willing to acknowledge the existence of God. Cain was also ready and willing to worship God with an offering, but the important distinction was that he would do it in his own way. He would not surrender to the authority of Gods Word, and therefore could not see the need of a Substitute as a ransom for his naked soul. There is the important distinction. He would act on his own terms, in his own fashion. He was not in submission to the will of God. The authority of Gods Word did not impress him.
GEN 4:3 says, "And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD." Until we understand the distinction between the two offerings, we will not understand the gospel. So what was wrong with Cains offering? In the first place, it was a bloodless offering, "...and without shedding of blood is no remission," HEB 9:22. Cains offering lacked the essential element--atoning blood. It did not point to the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Secondly, his offering consisted of the fruit of his own labour. It was an offering of Cains own works rather than pointing to the substitutionary death of Christ. He probably invested much thought and labor in preparing that offering, but it was of his own labors. God was unable to accept anything outside the substitutionary death of His own Son. Cains offering lacked any correlation to the death of Christ.
Cains offering of the fruit of the ground thus ignored Gods divine sentence recorded in GEN 3:17b, "cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life." God had passed sentence upon fallen man, and Cain was taking the fruit of that curse to offer up to God. The ground was cursed because sin had entered in. Cain expected this fruit of a cursed thing to be acceptable to God.
GAL 3:13 says, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." There is no way God could accept anything that was under the curse of the broken law. Therefore, Cains offering was not acceptable.
Now, see why Abels sacrifice was more acceptable than Cains! His sacrifice was according to Gods revealed will. GEN 4:4 says, "And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof [the choicest]. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering." Abel took the choicest of the herd, one without spot or blemish; it was a lamb, "the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof."
Abels offering was the offering ordained by God because it was a type of Christ, " the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," JOH 1:29. Abels offering pointed to the humble obedience unto death of the Lamb of God. The Lord Jesus Christ stepped into death voluntarily, without hesitation, in perfect obedience to the will of His Father. He was a Lamb as a sheep before the shearers. He opened not His mouth. In other words, He showed no resistance. These are the elements we must consider when we study the nature of the offerings.
Abels offering was a replica or type or shadow of the sacrifice that would be made by Christ. It pointed to Christs perfect obedience to the will of the Father. Christ obediently stepped into His Fathers wrath to appease that wrath against our sin. Since the penalty for the broken law was death, Christ laid down His life voluntarily, stepping into death in humble obedience to pay the penalty for our sins.
That act of obedience glorified the Father. PHI 2:8-11 says, "And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Abels offering pointed to this perfect submission of Christ in offering Himself as the Substitute for our sins; that is why his offering was acceptable unto the Lord. This sacrifice pointed to the blood shedding and death of Gods dear Son! This is why we read in HEB 11:4, "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain."
Gods Word does not say Abel was more excellent, but that the offering he offered was more pleasing and more acceptable to his Maker. It was not because Abel, outside the grace of God, was more holy than Cain; but it was an offering of submission, unconditional surrender to the will of God to do according to His direction. God had respect unto Abels offering, but as we read in GEN 4:5, "...unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell."
You and I cannot please God by serving Him outside of His revealed will. If we have a religion that is outside of the Bible, it is not of God no matter how many experiences we have nor how sacred we may believe it is. Our religion must be according to the will of God.
When God did not show respect to the fruit of Cains own work, it did not cause Cain to repent or mourn over his sin. Instead Cain became wroth, angry. With whom? He became angry with God. Undoubtedly, Cains offering was a very beautiful one, costing him much toil and labour; yet God did not show respect unto Cains offering. Why? Cain had believed Satans lie that he could be as God, equal with God, knowing right and wrong and deciding for himself what was good and evil. Therefore, he decided how to make his offering. Cain believed Satans lie recorded in GEN 3:5, "For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."
Cain was angry that he could not decide how to worship God according to his own dictates. He refused to reverence the authority of Gods Word! He was wroth. Why? See the enmity of which God spoke. Cain was the seed of the evil one. He would not make the offering the way God directed. It is an example of refusing to reverence the authority of Gods Word.
The unregenerate or carnal mind rebels against the impossibility to please God outside the substitutionary death of Christ as we see in GEN 4:6-7, "And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? [If you will do as I tell you, I will accept you!] If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. [God also dealt with His jealousy.] And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him."
The Lord was saying that if Cain would obey and do as he was told, he would have the birthright as the oldest son. Abel, then, would serve under Cain. Therefore, Cain had no reason to be jealous; he had only to obey the Lord.
Had Cains offering been presented in the right spirit, there would have been no reason to be "wroth." Cain should have asked for wisdom to know Gods will and grace to do His will. This is the problem: Cain was in rebellion against the revealed will of God.
"If thou doest well," meaning if you bring the proper offering, "...shalt thou not be accepted," or in the Hebrew "shall have the excellency," [or the preeminence.] And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door." The Lord is telling Cain that if he refused to bring the proper offering, sin would lie at the door. In the original Hebrew, that means sin was crouching at the door like a wild beast to catch him unaware, like a cat catching a mouse. This is the cautioning the Lord gives Cain: sin will catch you unaware; it will sneak up on you and snare you if you do not obey.
What was the sin that caught Cain unaware? It was jealousy! PRO 6:34 says, "For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance." When the Lord allowed the power of jealousy to consume Cain as a judgment for refusing to obey, Cain took his vengeance upon his brother and killed him.
When the Lord is displeased with our rebellion, one of the judgments He sends upon us is envy. If we suffer from envy, we should turn to the Lord to ask what we are doing that is so displeasing to the Lord, "What is the sin of my heart that needs to be cleansed?"
PRO 27:4 says, "Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?" Envy was the sin crouching at the door that the Lord allowed to trap Cain because he would not obey.
Those who walk under the law of love, as well as those who have been left under Gods judgment for rebellion, will find the truth of SON 8:6. "Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death (Love is strong enough that it moved Christ to die in our place, but now see what it says about envy!]; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame." Love is so powerful you can die for your brother, but if you heap coals of fire upon someones head, they are the coals of love that cannot be put out.
The word "grave" comes from the Hebrew word "sheowl" which means "grave, hell, or pit." Jealousy is as cruel as hell; it knows no mercy. It is a horrible thing to be given over to jealousy. It was the destruction of King Saul, Cain, and those who rebel against God. Jealousy is one of the most horrible judgments of God. It was Cains rebellion against the authority of Gods Word, which exposed him to the power of jealousy.
When we live under the law of love, we find the truth of SON 8:6-7. "Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned." You cannot drown love; you cannot buy love. It must be shown and given. How? If someone offends you, heap coals of fire upon their head, coals of love, instead of becoming jealous. You show love, and by love, you melt their rebellion and hatred, bringing them into fellowship. Cains jealousy was as cruel as hell; vengeance consumed his heart until he killed his brother.
These are the coals of fire spoken of in ROM 12:20, "Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head." Coals of fire do not refer to vengeance or revenge. Why? When we rightly understand this, we can see the blessedness of these words in the context in which they are written. Watch carefully. ROM 12:18-21 says, "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."
You may have a quarrel with me, and you will make a decision. A big wall is built between us when you believe you have figured out what I am thinking. This is sitting in the judgment seat--a horrible sin against God for He says in MAT 7:1-2, "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." Only God knows my heart and my thinking and planning.
That is why we must commit all judgment unto God as we have Christ for our example. 1PE 2:20-23 says, "For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously."
In the Day of Judgment, I do not have to account for what you have done to me nor take vengeance for it; I must only account for what I have done to you. If I have lived by the law of love, I see wherein I shall be judged in MAT 25:34-40. "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For [or because]I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
Therefore, I must heap coals of love upon your head regardless of what I may presume you are thinking. Heaping coals of love upon your head overcomes evil, even if you are out trying to destroy me. Do you see the full context of this message?
One time an attorney was taking my deposition. He said we both knew the bank was trying to destroy me in every way they knew, so why, he wondered, did I make a large payment that secured their position? My answer was that in the Day of Judgment, I had to account for what I had done, not for their actions. I must do for them what I would have wanted them to do for me.
You and I must live in obedience to our Saviours law of the gospel in LUK 6:31-35, "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful."
Doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, is the gospel law of love. Do you understand the principle involved here? ROM 12:21 says, "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."
Lets return to the subject of sacrifices. Even when Israel brought their sacrifices before the Lord in the ordained way, they were still not accepted unless they were brought in the right spirit, the Spirit of Christ according to the law of love. Serving the Lord according to the letter of the law with a hypocritical or Pharisaical spirit is not acceptable. Serving the Lord according to the spirit or intent of the law is wherein the Lord is pleased.
Turn to ISA 1:11-15 and take notice that they were bringing their sacrifices and offerings exactly according to the Word of God. "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats [same offering Abel brought]. When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: [Why?] your hands are full of blood."
What was wrong? They were not walking in righteousness; they were not showing love to their fellow man. Like Cain, their hands were full of blood; they had murdered. Dont come before the Lord with bloody hands to make a sacrifice. The Lord wants it away, gone from His sight. It is an abomination. When you and I come before the Lord, we must come in the right spirit, the Spirit of Christ. When we are not walking under the law of love, we are following the ways of Cain! Our hands are full of blood! That does not mean we have literally put the blood of our brother on our hands. Those who walk in unrighteousness have blood on their hands.
See how in 1 JO 3:10-12 God uses the murder by Cain to illustrate how He looks at those who will not walk under the law of love: "In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God [They are of the devil: those who do not walk in the Spirit of Christ are none of His!], neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brothers righteous." Envy was the problem.
It is so important to keep verses of Scripture in context when we study them. It is the only way to learn the true meaning of the Word. A bit earlier we read ISA 1:11-15. Now see what the Lord told Israel would make their prayers be heard. He refused to hear their prayers when their hands were full of blood. ISA 1:16-19 continues, "Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil [Unbelief is doing evil; put it away. Faith is to obey the will of God; it must be put into exercise.]; Learn to do well; seek judgment [Seek to do what is just.] relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow." To do what is just is to do that which is upright and honest without any conniving, bickering, or gainsaying.
Notice the condescension of our blessed Lord to one who has his brothers blood on his hands. Verse 18 begins saying, "Come now, and let us reason together." See how our Lord pleads with us! He is asking, "Is it reasonable that Christ should cover all our sins from before His face with His lifes blood, and then you should uncover your brothers sins and spread them to the wind, thus getting Christs blood on your hands? Isnt it reasonable that you should repent of your iniquities before you come before Me to ask any petition of Me?" Then after teaching that we must first repent, He says, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
I have heard this verse quoted many times in my life, but never once in its context. Now lets read it in context: "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it."
Do you see that the cleansing of our sins is contingent upon being willing and obedient; not only that, but if we are rebellious, we will perish. Does that mean there is contingency with God? From eternity God has decreed and chosen His elect. The Word of God clearly shows that, but DEU 29:29 says, "The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law." We are not to govern our lives by the secret will of God. Jonah did; read JON 4:1-2. Jonah presumed upon the secret will of God and absolutely defied the revealed will of God.
"Come now, and let us reason together..." Is it reasonable? Is it logical to come before the Lord with your brothers blood on your hands, and expect Him to hear your prayers? That is why the Lord calls for repentance first! Verses 15-17 say, "And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow."
Do we desire to be the friends of Jesus? See what Jesus said in JOH 15:14, "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." Notice the word "if" in that sentence. It doesnt say anything about being predestined or elected. It says nothing about the secret will of God. We are told we will be His friends if we do whatever He commands us to do. We are to govern our lives by the revealed will of the Lord.
This was where Cains enmity revealed itself! He was not willing to do what God had commanded him. He refused Gods admonition that we find in GEN 4:7. "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."
After Cain killed his brother, there was no remorse over his sin. See how he answered God! GEN 4:9 says, "And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brothers keeper?" Rather arrogant, wasnt it? He didnt show remorse. He is mocking the God of heaven who watched him kill his brother; He watched Abels blood spill on the ground. Asking if he is his brothers keeper shows no remorse over his actions.
How did God respond to Cains arrogance? GEN 4:10-12 says, "And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brothers blood crieth unto me from the ground. And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brothers blood from thy hand; When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth."
Now see Cains reaction in GEN 4:13, "And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear." Cains only remorse was over the consequences of his sin. How many people today are heaven seekers; they seek heaven to escape the consequences of their sins. They have no desire to walk in the way of the Lord. They have no desire to serve the Lord according to His will. They do not truly love the Lord. Examine your heart that it does not have the spirit of Cain.
Love shows remorse over sin, not over the consequences. Sin itself becomes exceedingly grievous. If we are friends of Jesus, we will love our fellow man. See what Jesus said in JOH 15:12-13, "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you." Jesus covered our sins with His blood. Do we have any right to uncover those sins and scatter them to the winds? If we do such things, it shows we do not love our brother. If we love our brother the way Jesus loved, we will cover the brothers sins if it takes our blood to do it. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you," JOH 15:13
The word "do" is what made Abels offering more excellent than Cains. Why? By the exercise of saving faith, he did the will of God. HEB 11:4 tells us, "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh."
So what sacrifice does God require of you and me today? Do we make an offering unto the Lord? The Lord Jesus Christ died to make His sacrifice. Therefore, we no longer need to sacrifice a lamb or offer a burnt offering. Are we exempt from making an offering? Do we no longer need to make a sacrifice? Lets find our answer in ROM 12:1-2. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." Is it not reasonable service to now walk under the law of love? We are to love God above all, with all our hearts, our souls, and our minds. We are to keep our hands clean of our brothers blood; we are to show our brother love under the second table of the law. Our sacrifice is to present our bodies to the Lord; it is our walk of life, our heart, soul, and mind that is presented as a living sacrifice. We no longer need a slain sacrifice because Christ was slain. Our living sacrifice means our life. We must sacrifice our lives as a reasonable service, which is holy and acceptable unto God.
Verse 2 continues, "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Doing is the exercise of saving faith; we are to do the will of God. Will we merit anything by our doing? No. All the merit is in Christs perfect obedience and sacrifice. The major question we face is, "What is my evidence that I have a part in that sacrifice of Christ?" The answer lies in the sacrifice we make. "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you," JOH 15:14. If we want to be His friends, we must do the will of God rather than being conformed to this world.
The followers of Cain are those who decide to serve God according to their own desires and according to how they interpret the Word of God. Their service is based on what they think and their own liking. It is not reasonable to be a follower of Cain with our brothers blood on our hands and expect it to be acceptable to God. We are to follow the Word of God doing "Thus saith the Lord." Why? Slavish fear? No. Love. Yes. Love is based on reverence. God looked at the Lord Jesus Christ and His vicarious death with pleasure. It was well-pleasing because Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, Cf. PHI 2:8.
The Lord Jesus Christ had a holy reverence for the Word and will of God. Turn now to ISA 66:2. "For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word." If we ever learn anything about the Scriptures, let it be that we recognize the authority of His Word. What He says is unalterable; we cannot gainsay it, add to it, or change it.
No human being has ever been commissioned to add his private interpretation to the Word of God. The only thing we may do is unfold the Word to aid in understanding it. "Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness," 2TI 2:14-16. Amen.
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