Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Why the World is in Woe: The Way of Cain

"Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core." (Jude 11)

There is a great deal of woe and pain in this world.

There are many false teachers, as well, men and women have rejected the grace of God and want to return to trusting in man's opinion of himself or his efforts to making himself acceptable.

Man is dead in his trespasses, and apart from Christ, apart from a new birth, there is no hope for him.

Despite the Finished Work of Jesus Christ on the Cross, and the fervent efforts of the Apostles and their  ministry throughout the known world, false teachers, Judaizers, and Pharisees who prized the traditions of men over the truth of God were attacking the New Gospel, the fulfillment of all things in the Old Testament, which opens the world to God's goodness and saving grace through His Son.

To review, here is the Gospel in Paul's own words:

"38Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: 39And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." (Acts 13: 38-39)

Not just the world, though, but even men and women in churches may find themselves falling into one of these three doomed outcomes

Jude warns believers about these evil teachers, people who would turn man to himself and make nothing of Jesus, who would despise leaders and reject the perfect work of Christ Jesus, His death, His resurrection, and His intercession at the Father's right hand.

"Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. 4For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." (Jude 3-4)

The grace of God which brings salvation has appeared to all men (Titus 2:11) and no one is limited, prevented, or denied access to His grace. For this reason, Jude called it "the common salvation", not that anyone can call the blood of Jesus common, but rather that we can all receive His favor by faith (Ephesians 2: 4-6).

Now, let us consider the first source of woe in the world: The Way of Cain.
The Way of Cain: Man's Efforts Make Man Right Before God
(They Cannot)

Contrary to the beliefs of many readers, the way of Cain does not refer specifically to his murdering his brother, but to the sacrifice he offered:

"11For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12Not 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." (1 John 3: 11-12)

Notice that the unrighteousness of Cain's works contrasts with his murder, since he murdered his brother because his works were unrighteous.

Not taking his brother's life, but the sacrifice that Cain took to God speaks of his unrighteousness:

"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." (Hebrews 11: 4)

Here is the account for us to focus on so that we can understand what is the Way of Cain"

"1And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. 2And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. 4And 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: 5But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. 6And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7If 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." (Genesis 4: 1-7)

Cain was a tiller of the ground, but the original Hebrew reveals something deeper: "Obed Adamah", or "A servant of Adam" or "a servant of the ground." One can even read this passage to reflect that Cain was serving the flesh.

What was wrong with Cain bringing something from the ground which he had tilled?

 The ground had been cursed because of Adam's sin:

"And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;" (Genesis 3: 17)

Now, at one time the two brothers brought God a sacrifice. Cain brought of the fruits of the ground, while Abel brought one of the first born of his flocks.

Here, we see the two approaches to righteousness before God. Cain wanted to present his own efforts, and not even the best of his efforts, to God. He brought a sacrifice from a posture as though there is no sin problem which must be cleansed away,  but rather a task to be completed.

Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin:

"And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission." (Hebrews 9: 22)

The way of Cain speaks of man's attempts to make himself right before God without the Blood of Jesus. The Way of Cain asserts that man's efforts are acceptable, and if he tries hard enough, then he can make a way to God and be made righteous.

This "progressive" approach is regressive to its core. Man is dead in his trespasses, and he needs to repent from dead works (Hebrews 9: 14), which includes empty efforts to make ourselves right before God.

The way of Cain is a pathway of frustration and defeat which then gives way to bitterness and hatred.

For all of his efforts, man finds that he never measures up, cannot reach the standard of making himself righteous before God.

Consider the account in Genesis once again.

Cain is a son of Adam, as much as Abel was. He is dead spiritually, with sin in his nature just like any other  man. Yet instead of recognizing the seriousness of his state, he tries to take corrupted, cursed elements (the ground), and gives only substandard or marginal produce from the ground, and he brings something which his efforts culled.

There is no hope in our efforts, and there can be no confidence in our flesh:

"26For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29That no flesh should glory in his presence. 30But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness." (1 Corinthians 1: 26-30)

and also

"For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." (Philippians 3: 3)
 In the New Testament, we find references to Cain and his unrighteousness:

"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." (Hebrews 11: 4)

Righteousness is not a work which we can earn. It is a gift which we receive:

"8But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
"9These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God." (Genesis 6: 8-9)
Noah found grace, not though his efforts, but because he identified with God, was righteous, believing on Him
The same is true for Abraham:
"5And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. 6And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." (Genesis 15: 5-6)
Abraham looked to the stars, where he saw the Gospel account declared:
" The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork." (Psalm 19: 1)
and then
"And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Selah." (Psalm 50: 6)
This righteousness comes from Him (Isaiah 54: 17; Jeremiah 23: 6).
Christ Jesus is made unto us righteousness (1 Corinthians 1: 30), and through Him we receive this righteousness as a gift:
"15But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 16And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. 17For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ." (Romans 5: 15-17)
We are all dead though the offense of one man, Adam. Through the perfect obedience of another man, Jesus, we are all made righteousness, and we continue to receive the gift of righteousness.
It is a gift, for we cannot earn it.
For anyone to claim that the righteousness of God is achievable, that it must be achieved not just believed, that person is adopting the Way of Cain.
And there is nothing but woe for those who seek to attain righteousness through their efforts:
"2Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. 5For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love." (Galatians 5: 2-6)
"For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." (Galatians 3: 10)
and also
"For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." (James 2: 1)
There is no hope, there is no accomplishment, there is no achievement of righteousness through one's efforts. Man needs a new life, He needs redemption. He needs the righteousness of God, and He can only receive this gift of righteousness because of Jesus' blood shed for all the sins of the world.

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