3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD…
5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. Gen. 4:3-5
The saga of God and Cain teaches us another important spiritual lesson: that God is not a God of law, but of grace.
By the way, have you ever wondered how it was that Cain knew that it was needful for him to give an offering to God?
You would be surprised to learn that long before God gave the law to Moses, law was operative. Clearly, Cain knew that a sacrifice was required of him by God. So he proceeded to fulfill the letter of the law.
Where there is sin, law comes in to try and turn man into many God-like things. Law tries to make man holy. Law tries to ‘cleanse’ man. Law even tries to perfect man. But it cannot.
It is in the same vein that we find Jesus severely rebuking the Pharisees. They gave tithes perfectly – or near as perfect as they could – but it was through law. Law does not touch the heart, so although they did outside rituals perfectly (perfect washing of hands, perfect offerings, etc.), yet none of this could deal with the sin in their hearts. Their hearts therefore remained full of sin, no matter they did so many things so well on the outside. That is why ultimately they came to murder Jesus, a man whom even the cruel Romans decided was innocent. These “law-abiding” Jews were murderers!
There are many murderers in church today, and a disproportionate number are pastors and church leaders. That is not a judgment. It is a fact.
Let us move on and see another instance. Do you remember the case where they brought the woman caught in adultery to Jesus? The Bible says that Jesus told them, “Whoever has no sin, let him be the first to stone her”.
The Bible records that when they heard that, they all left and went away. And they made sure to leave while Jesus was still writing on the ground. Why, pray, do you think they left while Jesus was still looking down? I can tell you why: it was because they feared what would happen once Jesus looked up. They knew they would not be able to look into Jesus’ eyes. There are no eyes as dangerous to a sinner as the eyes of a righteous man, a man full of grace!
These men knew that the minute Jesus looked up into their faces, He would see straight into their hearts. And you don’t want to believe the first sin He would find there: it would be the sin of adultery! These men were adulterers, and in all likelihood, it was in their jealousy at what this woman had done that they were going to kill her. That’s the way it always goes: the shoe hurts he who wears it.
But praise God, these men met with the ultimate barrier, grace. They turned tail and fled.
The grace of God is the most powerful force in heaven; how much more so on earth? How can we be under something as weak as law? Look what law did to Cain; it failed to change him. He was forever an angry man, and full of hatred for his brother. He was not free in his spirit.
God will never accede to law. God’s judgment on law is final and it is found in His refusal to accept Cain’s offering. That is an unequivocal, unflinching declaration that God is not going to deal with us on the basis of law.
In Galatians 5:4 the Apostle Paul boldly writes: “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”
That is why you will not find any laws in the New Testament. People try to scrape together the little they can find in the Bible to uphold the law in their hearts; but it simply won’t work with God. That’s simply because there is no law under the new covenant. It is so simple and clear, and yet we are so hard-hearted.
In church today, it is probably in offerings that we find law at its worst. But we cannot become slaves to such weak things as 10%. You won’t find 10% discussed anywhere in the New Testament. (But, ironically, you will find it in many church records!)
But the grace of God which works way down deep in our hearts brings out results that are infinitely incomparable to any stingy laws!
A case in point is the early church at Jerusalem, which the Bible says that they went and sold all their property and brought the proceeds and placed them at the apostles’ feet. That’s incredibly powerful, is it not? That is grace at work. Grace produces FREEDOM!
Later on, the Macedonians would do the same (2 Cor. 8).
In the church at Jerusalem, poor Ananias and his wife Sapphira tried to bring in the law, but it was early days and God quickly put out the strange fire they were attempting to light! He wouldn’t allow any old thing to interfere with the wonderful work He was establishing. Today, probably, God is not as quick to execute judgment, but He has not changed in the least. If we keep on holding onto the letter of the law, we will die, one way or another.
God would not allow something as weak as law to dictate to Him.
Man admires the strong and powerful. In the same way, God admires the powerful; but with Him it is the powerful work of the cross in a man’s heart. Not just power to save, but power to break a man’s pride, to set him free from the powerful forces of his nature, from sin.
That is why Paul says that the cross is the power of God. That is what God admires.
In dealing with God, let us always bear in mind that God refused Cain’s offering. In fact, the Bible says that God refused to honor even the man himself! How much more do you think God refuses to honor us when we are serving Him under law, and not in freedom?
May we humbly desire the work of the cross in our lives, so that we may offer to God freewill sacrifices of grace and love, which alone are acceptable to Him.
[3 Little Pigs!]