Summary: Our works are not acceptable if our motives are not pure.
January 11, 2004
Text: Genesis 4:1-9
Subject: Acceptable Worship
Title: Doing the Right Things for the Right Reasons
We live in a society where we are required to make decisions every day. For many, decisions are made without any consideration, other than, “What is best for me?” Popular ethics tells us that there are no absolutes. Therefore doing what is right is directly related to the situation. If there is something to be gained from lying, then do it. If no one else knows, then what is the problem?
This phenomenon has become evident through the entertainment media. The onset of “reality TV” is teaching people everywhere that the only way to play the game is to play to win – regardless of the cost. On these programs lies, deceit, double talk, and back – biting have become the expected methods of gain. It is not a new theology, but look at what it is doing to our culture.
Dennis Prager writes, “It is no wonder that in 15 years of asking high school students throughout America whether, in an emergency situation, they would save their dog or a stranger first, most students have answered that they would not save the stranger. "I love my dog, I don’t love the stranger," they always say. The feeling of love has supplanted God or religious principle as the moral guide for young people. What is right has been redefined in terms of what an individual feels.”
Dennis Prager in Good News, July/Aug, 1993, quoted in Christianity Today, Oct 25, 1993, p. 73.
The clear waters of good decision making then, have become clouded. For those who are concerned about making moral decisions, there must be a pure motive. In our passage today, we will see that Cain made decisions that were influenced by what others thought of him and what he thought of himself, instead of his standing with God.
You should understand that as Christians, you are empowered to make right decisions for the right reasons.
I. LOOKING GOOD IN THE EYES OF OTHERS. (VS 1-2)
A. First born. “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived…”Did you ever stop and wonder what Adam and Eve might have thought when Cain was born. This was a historic event. The very first birth of a human on earth. Call the diaper companies. Get the baby food endorsements. Something big has happened and the whole world needs to know about it. Read the headlines! WOMAN GIVES BIRTH! God had told the man and his wife earlier to go forth and multiply, and He wasn’t talking about math. I want you to look at the expansion of the sin nature in mankind. Eve said, “I have acquired a man from the Lord. She did not say “the Lord gave him to me”, but “I acquired him…” One of the recurring themes in Genesis is man’s attempt to obtain blessings that only God can give. First, there was the attempt in the garden, to gain the wisdom of God. Now Eve thinks she has done something huge. Verse 23-24, Lamech bragged about killing a young man and thought that he would receive even more of God’s mercy and love because of his sin. It goes on and on – the Tower of Babel, Abraham and Hagar, Jacob and Esau … Man continually strives for the blessings that only God can give. So, when Cain was born, Eve thought that she had really done something. And she did. She allowed the sin of pride to continue to grow in her and spread to the next generation. Cain was the firstborn of all humanity, but he carried the seed of sin.
B. Flesh born. Cain was not only born from flesh, in the physical sense, he was conceived in the flesh (sin nature). Unlike his parents, who were created in the image of their Creator, Cain was created with two conflicting forces working in him. God’s image and sin’s image. Can’t you just imagine, that as the first born, Cain thought that he had it made? He wanted to be just like dad so he became a farmer. Under normal circumstances, we want what is best for our children. But Adam and Eve went beyond normal circumstances. They thought that Cain would be the one that was promised, who would bruise the head of Satan, and restore them to their rightful place in Paradise. Jesus said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” When we want to receive from God, but force the issue, that’s flesh. But if we are sure of God’s will and allow Him to do the work, that’s Spirit. And it requires faith.
C. Faith born. There is an element of faith in Eve’s statement in verse 1. “I have acquired a man.” Since Adam and eve had both been created as adults humans, it may have been that they both expected their offspring to come as adults. They could have seen in the animals a pattern – that the young were a small representation of the adult – but humans were different. So, when a baby was born Eve spoke out in faith and accepted that which was not as though it was a fact. “I have acquired a man…”. She was also showing her faith that what God has promised, He is able to perform. As misguided as her understanding was, her faith remained in tact. That is one area where Satan will attack you. He will tell you that if it doesn’t make sense, you can’t believe it. He will tell you that your human experience carries more authority than the word of God. He will steal your faith away if you let him.