"When Sin is at Your Door"
The story of Cain and Abel offers us today some invaluable lessons on the destructive power of greed and jealousy, and the type of offering God is truly pleased with from us.
I. NOT ALL GIFTS ARE EQUALLY PLEASING TO GOD (4:2-5).
A. Abel was a shepherd; Cain a farmer.
B. Each brought an offering to God. Abel’s offering was accepted with favor, Cain’s was not.
C. Abel’s was accepted because he gave the best of what he had with an attitude of gratitude.
D. Cain gave what he felt was required out of a sense of obligation. What is your giving like: Cain or Abel?
E. God looks at attitude and intent of what we do. Cain was angry at God’s reaction.
II. GOD SEEKS TO GIVE DIRECTION TO US (4:6-7).
A. God warned Cain about his attitude.
B. He encouraged Cain to use self-control.
C. He warned Cain that sin was very near to his heart.
D. Many of us are "very near" to sin today because we are harboring attitudes that are not pleasing to God.
III. SIN IS AN ACT OF THE WILL (4:8).
A. Cain plotted to kill Abel and did so. It was not an accident or an act of instant passion.
B. He did so in spite of God’s previous clear warning to him.
C. Cain could not blame his act on his parents. He was personally responsible.
D. It has become popular in today’s culture to blame our willful acts on someone else - parents, society, government, bad schools etc. That does not wash with God! We are personally responsible for our actions.
IV. SIN CARRIES WITH IT CONSEQUENCES (4:9-12).
A. Cain WAS responsible for Abel. We cannot live unto ourselves as though others do not exist.
B. Sin demands judgment. God is all-loving but He is all-just as well. He will not turn a blind eye to sin.
C. God is the ultimate Judge of right and wrong - not focus groups, special interest groups, self-proclaimed experts etc. The Creator and the Sustainer of Life is worthy to be the ultimate Judge of all!
D. Nothing could bring Abel back. Cain’s act of sin had terminal, terrible consequences, both for himself and others. Our sin is destructive to us personally but also to those around us. Lift your gaze for a moment from yourself and look at what your actions are doing to your wife, husband, children, co-workers, fellow church-members. Are you giving a pleasing offering to God in the way you are treating them and through your attitudes toward them?
V. GOD’S JUDGMENT INCLUDES MERCY (4:13-15).
A. Cain claimed the punishment was too great to bear. He claimed that he, the first recorded murderer, would be murdered.
B. God responded with mercy by "marking" Cain as a sign to others to not harm him. Please note that the "mark of Cain", as it is called, was a mark of protection to preserve Cain’s life. It was a mark of God’s mercy when Cain was truly worthy of death for plotting the vicious murder of his own brother. The teaching that the mark of Cain was some form of punishment has long been with the Church, and depending on the age the mark has been interpreted as racial color, appearance/deformity, etc. All such interpretations are FALSE and misunderstand the truth that the "mark" was to protect and had nothing to do with race etc.
C. The ultimate example of God’s Judgment being accompanied by mercy is found in the death of Jesus. Jesus bore the penalty of sin, yours and mine, in Himself. But in so doing He also provided a way for all to be forgiven and saved eternally from their sin. Today, God offers you His mercy and He has already borne your judgement.
1. God wants us to give as an act of love and thankfulness, from the best that we have and are.
2. God seeks to guide us by His Word to avoid sin. What is He warning you about today?
3. Our sin is just that -- OUR PROBLEM!!! We are personally responsible before God.
4. Sin demands judgment.
5. God desires to "mark" you today, out of the midst of your sin -- with the mark of Christ Himself. Is the the Lord of your life? Do others see His mark of mercy and grace reflected in your life day by day? Let is be so today and forever!!