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Genesis 4_1-24 Do what is right

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Do what is right

… you will be uplifted

06-11-05pm

Announcements

Call to worship

Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86:11)

Blessing

The Lord is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one. Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever. (Psalm 28:8-9)

Hymn 328     “Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness”

(?Music “William Fiske Sherwin – loose sheets?)

Prayer of Adoration, thanksgiving and confession, The Lord’s Prayer

Declaration of pardoning

Show us your unfailing love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation. Surely his salvation is near those who fear Him, that his glory may dwell in our land. (Psalm 85:7,9)

Hymn:                            “Conquering now and still to conquer”

(Trinity Hymnal)

Prayer for others

Scripture Reading                     Luke 18:9-14

Hymn No 26:                               “The God of Abraham praise”

Offering and Dedication

Will the offering is taken up, all remaining seated, sing

Hymn no 365:                              “We give Thee but Thy own”

(only verses1,2,3,6)

Scripture Reading                     Genesis 4:1-14

Sermon                                          Do what is right … you will be uplifted

Introduction

My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,

When it comes to an appreciation of the human nature, the catch-cry of humanism (and its off-shoot liberalism) is basically this, and here I quote Kenneth Phifer:

; Humanism teaches us that it is immoral to wait for God to act for us. We must act to stop the wars and the crimes and the brutality of this and future ages. We have powers of a remarkable kind. We have a high degree of freedom in choosing what we will do. Humanism tells us that whatever our philosophy of the universe may be, ultimately the responsibility for the kind of world in which we live rests with us.

Basic to the philosophy of secular humanist then is that man is essentially good, able to choose for himself, because ultimately he has the ability to choose for himself.

Morally and ethically there is virtually nothing good in the so-called “reality TV” shows, apart from the fact that it proves the description of secular humanism wrong.  Early into any one of the episodes of any of these programs, the essence of human nature displays itself in greed, hatred, self-centeredness, and realization of the self – almost always at the cost of the rest of the cast.

Christians have to disagree wholeheartedly with the notion that human nature is basically good.  Read the first few pages of the Bible and you will have to agree. ; Adam and Eve, however created in the image of God and not created with a sinful nature, rebelled against God, seeking authority over their own lives and thus becoming utterly corrupt in nature and deeds. 

Then, the third name of any human being recorded in history shows the true nature of mankind after sin:  he was a murderer.

Eve was well pleased after the birth of Cain.  She declares that she received him as a gift from God:  “I have brought forth a man.” The very name Cain means to possess.  I have a man.  Maybe she though this man would be the one who would crush the head of the serpent as God promised in Paradise.

Let’s hear what some people say about Cain:

He was “a sullen, self-willed, haughty, vindictive man; wanting the religious element in his character, and defiant even in his attitude towards God.” (Easton's Bible dictionary)

In a fit of jealousy, roused by the rejection of his own sacrifice and the acceptance of Abel’s, he committed the crime of murder, for which he was expelled from Eden, and led the life of an exile. (Smith's Bible dictionary)

; The name of the fourth person ever to have lived on the face of the earth was Abel. He did not become an old man, because he got murdered by his brother.  What do we know about Abel?  What do the books say about him? Nothing bad.  It is almost as if Abel is seen by all as the innocent victim of the brutal crime of Cain.  Abel was the good; Cain was the bad and the ugly.

So who do you think was the better of the two?  Who would you pick as the best? Who was morally the superior?

; But the name of Abel reveals something.  It means vanity. It is as if the parents were so disappointed with the first son, Cain, that they called their second Hopeless.  What a name.  The dreams of parents were shattered with Cain, and maybe they lost hope of having a son who would crush the head of the serpent.

Adam spent some time in bringing up his two sons to fear the Lord.  An aspect of worshipping the Lord was to make sacrifices to Him.  ; And it would be a neglect of Adam not to stress the fact that the human race had been perfect and sinless, but that sin entered into the world and therefore each one of the offspring of Adam and Eve was sinful!  On the basis of this truth, really there is no pick between Cain and Abel.  ; The very fact that both needed to bring a sacrifice to the Lord indicates that they both needed grace in the eyes of God.

Abel’s sacrifice of the firstlings of the flock and of their fat indicated his desire to offer the best to God. What he sacrificed was the fattest of the firstlings, and not merely the first good one that came to hand.  The offering of the fat, which was the tastiest part, symbolized the worshiper’s desire to offer the best to God. Further, Abel ; brought his sacrifice by faith:

By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead. (Hebrews 11:4)

To understand what the Bible means with faith is to read its own definition:

; Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

An offering such as Abel’s was therefore welcomed by God. A sign of God’s acceptance of an offering in some cases was accompanied by the fact that God literally devoured it.  It happened in the history of Israel that they offered to the Lord, and then:

Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown. (Leviticus 9:24)

; Cain also sacrificed to the Lord.  The reason for the different reception of the two offerings was the state of mind towards God with which they were brought, and which manifested itself in the selection of the gifts. It was rather in the fact that Abel offered the fattest firstlings of his flock, the best that he could bring; whilst Cain only brought a portion of the fruit of the ground, ; but not the first-fruits.  Sacrifices were offered because it presupposed the spiritual separation of man from God, and were designed to satisfy the need of the heart for fellowship with God.

Cain brought ; some of the fruit the produced for him. But in this case God didn’t accept it.  There was no fire.  More than that, covenantal blessing in the Old Testament is always accompanied by signs like increase of land, increase in crops, increase of joy, increase of livelihood. One can assume this did not happen for Cain.

; Cain complains not of his sin, but of his punishment. It shows great hardness of heart to be more concerned about our sufferings than our sins.

To see the blessing of God upon Abel and not on himself made Cain angry.  His anger was directed at God.  The Bible says his face was downcast.  He became depressed and lost direction for the future. He was furious and heated.  The word used here denotes to be dried out because of heat. The bottom of his world dropped out and life became meaningless. Now his shows the true colours of any sinful soul:  ; he directs his anger to God.  He clinched his fist at God and blamed Him.

; This is where we find God talking to Cain.  “Why are you angry? Why are you downcast?”  Amazing is the fact that we don’t find an angry God, pointing a finger to Cain saying: “Cain, this is of your own doing.  You have to take responsibility.  You aught to know this is not a way to treat God.  You have brought it upon yourself.  I am just here to tell you to own up and go to hell!”

The amazing aspect of God’s contact with an angry, depressed and rebellious Cain, is ; the grace of God to still involve Himself with the sinner.  Not to plead as if God felt Himself losing out on devotion; this is pure grace.  This is what you and I cannot understand about God.

; God is offering grace and restoration here.  Cain, it is not the end; there is hope and reinstatement and reconciliation possible.

After careful study and research I want to offer a different translation to verse 7.  I know it is a dangerous and risky thing to do, but I believe there is enough contextual support to translate the verse somewhat different.

Let me explain.  ; How should we understand the expression “Do what is right and you will accepted”, combined with “You must master sin”?  How does this translation keep into mind the fallenness of the sinful human heart?  Is God really saying to Cain: “Cain you have sinned; moreover, you will have a battle with sin because it lies at your door like a prowling lion.  Do the right thing and master it:  take the lion of sin, break its power like a Samson, put your feet upon it and destroy it.  That’s the right thing.  After that you will feel better; your spirits will lift again and you will not be angry with Me again.”  If we understand it this way, and if this is the way of salvation, we find ourselves alongside the humanists:  there is enough good in you to do the right thing and master sin.  Don’t wait upon God, do it yourself!

Imagine, my dear brother and sister, this is the content of the message tonight:  Do you feel angry with God?  Do you feel God did not treat you fairly?  Well, then do the right thing – take sin by the horns, take the devil, defeat him and rule over him, and your face will shine again.  You would have done the right thing be God and your anger against God will disappear!  Is this understanding to be reconciled with the rest of the Scripture?  I honestly don’t think so.

You might respond and say:  this is exactly my problem.  I have tried so many times on my own, but the despair and loneliness and sense of failure remains. Don’t tell me to go and try again to master sin.  I can’t! Deep inside me it is broken and I need help to put things together, but I can’t do it myself. This is the attitude of the sinner in the parable:  “Have mercy on me, for I am a sinner!”

As we have seen God in his mercy came to Cain, not to condemn hin the first place, but to offer reconciliation.

; To do the right thing by God is not to do the right thing by us.  Do good is the covenanted servant’s response to be well pleasing to his Lord. This “doing good” is not capricious, but based on the covenant relationship revealed by God.  Do to the right thing by God is to live in a covenant relationship with Him.  Here He stets the standards, here He shows mercy and provides reconciliation.  Here we are the minor party and here He is the saving God.  In the covenant He provided the way out.  For God then to say, “Cain, do what is right”, is to take him back to his personal relationship with God.  That will put a smile on his face, and take away the anger with God.  It will remove the dryness in his soul.  God will restore confidence, faith, favor, and acceptance through forgiveness. ; Sin can be forgiven and forgotten, because it is taken up and carried away.

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. (Psalm 32:1)

Sin can only be taken care of by a creative and gracious act of merciful forgiveness by God. And the cure was effective, bringing about a new life of joy and fruitfulness.  How then do we need to understand “sin” in this verse and the need to be “master” of it? May I paraphrase and then explain?

;“When you do what is right you will be accepted (or restored). Doing right is to look at the gift of God placed at your door:  there is a sin offering, ready for the taking.  You must make it your own.”

; See, the word for “sin” in this verse, translated as “sin” in most translations is the very word for a sin-offering. And of course this refers to the grace of God to accept a pure attitude of humility and contriteness as an offering.  And within the context of all Scripture it refers the sacrifice, first of all as prescribed by God in the Old Testament,   but ultimately to Jesus Christ, who died not only for the people of the New Testament, but for people of all time.

To master this sin-offering is do the same thing as Abel did:  he pleased God by bringing his best: his heart.  God accepted it in his Son Jesus Christ. 

But this was too hard for Cain. He rejected God’s offering. He turned away from God, hardened his heart and killed his brother Abel.  He became a prototype of Judas in the New Testament. He blatantly lied to God, and became great in his own eyes. He had to wear the consequences. “You now live under a curse!” God said. The opposite of blessing would be his portion:  no crop will yield a thing and he would be forever restless and wanderer on earth, with a life in constant danger, with the reality of facing death each day.

Conclusion

My brother and sister, who was the better one, Cain or Abel?  If they are exemplary of the human race, I would find it hard to make a choice.  I would rather turn away from them and consider the gracious God.  Abel was what he was because of grace.  Cain became what he became because he rejected grace. Where do you stand in relation to the grace of God? To you once again comes the message of grace:

“When you do what is right you will be accepted (or restored). Doing right is to look at the gift of God placed at your door:  there is a sin offering, ready for the taking.  You must make it your own.”

AMEN.

Prayer

Hymn No 409:                            “Rock of Ages”

Benediction

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)

Threefold “Amen”

Hymn 637

 

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