Cain, A Man of Law

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!]

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God’s Love for Cain

3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.

4 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:

5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

6 And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?

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. Gen. 4:3-7

It is interesting to read that God could actually refuse an offering from someone. In today’s church world, the improbability of such a thing happening is extremely high. Men have become so greedy for money that there are very few preachers of the gospel who can refuse an offering, for any reason whatsoever.

In fact, on the contrary, offerings are the highest item on the agenda of most preachers. For many (yes, the Apostle Paul says many), every fibre of their being is wired to the offering basket. If things don’t go well there, then the ministry is in danger of collapsing. Or, the church risks being closed!

Today, you would be forgiven for thinking that the foundation of the church of Jesus Christ is money!

I really admire God. He is not affected in the least by any vagary, be it heavenly, earthly, or from below the earth. All these can collapse, and God will remain exactly on the spot He was on while they were standing. God is so self-sufficient He can afford to refuse any offering.

But it is the reason why God refused this particular offering that concerns us here. Theories have been advanced from every corner of the church as to why God refused Cain’s offering. There are even suggestions that Cain offered God maize while God wanted only meat. You would think God eats meat!

But God does not eat meat, just as He does not eat maize.

I can tell you right here why God had no respect for Cain’s offering. It was because Cain did not carry a good heart. His offering did not come from a good heart. Cain’s offering did not bring a sweet aroma of self-sacrifice, and God rejected it on the spot.

Cain’s heart is bared for all to see in verse 5. It was quite a rotten heart that he carried.

That is why God is not happy with today’s preachers. Many are accepting offerings without looking into the hearts that give these offerings.

Now, it is not that God wants preachers to come up with a device, made in China or wherever, that can measure the sincerity of people’s hearts. But the true task of a pastor or preacher is to do just that – to know what is going on in people’s hearts. If a pastor cannot care about the condition of the hearts of the people he is leading, then that is a very big failure on his part, regardless of the nature of the gospel he might be preaching.

In Acts 16:16-18 we read, “16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: 17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. 18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.”

There are some preachers who love to be praised so much they wouldn’t have cared if the girl had a demon in her or not. This girl was putting Paul & Co. under the truly big lights, and they could have glowed under her praise. But with these men of God, the issue was straightforward: there was a demon in the girl, and the only thing that was needed was for the demon to be cast out. When the moment arrived, Paul did just that. He cast out the demon.

There was no fanfare. No cameras rolling. No interviews with the demon. No “Man of God…” stuff. Nothing other than to cast out the demon.

Now, today you have preachers on TV who hold hour-long interviews with demons purportedly talking through the people they are trying to ‘deliver’. The purpose of this spiritually offensive circus, of course, is to draw attention to the ‘power’ in the minister’s church or ministry. Many people get deceived by these theatrics, but Jesus said you shall know them by their fruits. You can easily tell that a person is not really concerned with the spiritual condition of the people he is ministering to when he uses them – through excruciatingly humiliating experiences on live TV – to advance his ministry.

If someone has a demon in them and you have the God-given ability to cast out that demon, you should be able to cast it out in the blink of an eye. And for the victim’s sake, you wouldn’t hold any interviews. That person has suffered enough.

Paul did not do what these modern-day preachers do. He wasn’t pleased with the situation in the least. Instead, the Bible says that Paul was “grieved” in his spirit and, when he could not bear it any more, he simply cast out the demon.

There are many pastors who aren’t bothered by the condition of their flock’s hearts. To them, it is more important to keep the dollars, the shillings, the euros – and the compliments – flowing in. They love it when those fat checks come in, and when people call them “Man of God!”

But that is simply the flesh at work. The flesh grows fat on these things.

But thank God, God is not carnal. His is a Spirit of righteousness. And He has put spiritual ministries in the church. And with Cain we see that God was the perfect Pastor. He saw into Cain’s heart and told him, “I would be failing you if I honored your offering.”

That was love in action. Some people assume, by reading “But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect”, that God was at war with Cain. But God’s one-sided conversation with Cain proves otherwise. God loved Cain so much that He used every effort to make him see the error of carrying a bad heart. He even told him, “You need to defeat that sin in your heart!”

God was trying to lead Cain to the cross.

And, in refusing to receive Cain’s offering, we see God’s ultimate show of love. God wanted Cain to bring a heart offering, not a ‘religious’ offering. He wanted an offering that would be spiritually beneficial and fulfilling to Cain, not an offering that would simply fill some earthly coffers.

Ultimately, therefore, we can only come to the conclusion that God probably loved Cain even more than He did Abel. But God’s love for Cain was in the cross.

People mistakenly think that money is the root of every good in church. But the Bible disproves that, for it says: “For the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Tim. 6:10).

Grace and truth are the things upon which Christ’s church is founded, and God wants our hearts to be perfected in these two qualities.

That is why Paul preached the cross, for it is in the revelation of the cross in our hearts that we can walk the narrow road wherein grace and truth are found.

Let not pastors and other ministers of the gospel be not led by greed, but by a true love for God’s people. Were they to do so, they would lead God’s people to the cross, like the Apostle Paul did. In every church, the Apostle Paul taught the same message, a cleaving to the cross of Jesus Christ:

“16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me. 17 For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.” 1 Cor. 4:16-17

[Below: A humble spirit is of more value to God than any offering that we can make]

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