The Self Made Secret | Week 4

Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the Lord said to Cain, 'Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.' Now Cain said to his brother Abel, 'Let’s go out to the field.' While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, 'Where is your brother Abel?' 'I don’t know,' he replied. 'Am I my brother’s keeper?' The Lord said, 'What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.'

-Genesis 4:1-10

God says to Cain...

…sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.

-Genesis 4:7

Do you know what God is saying here?

At the earliest stages of sin you still have some control. You know what is happening and you can do something about it. However, when you give into it, whatever it is, it creates a force in your life! It takes shape. It is personified.

Do you know your crouching sins?

Message to self. Stop this!

Now, what is the difference between Cain and Able?

By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.

-Hebrews 11:4

What is the difference then? Faith!

Abel: offered his sacrifice out of humility and dependence on God. Appreciation and Gratitude and Faith.

Cain: But Cain offered his sacrifice out of entitlement and manipulation. In other words, out of a means to his ends.

Do you know what Abel’s name means?

Able? A Worthless Nobody

Cain? Productive, Fruitful and Successful

Do you see what this narrative is trying to say to you and me?

The more successful you are - the less you think you need God.

The less you think you need God - the less grateful you are.. Spiritual activity will seem laborious and unnecessary.. You will start going through the motions without feeling.

The sin beneath the sin - the sin that is crouching at your door is simple: Ingratitude and Entitlement.

When Cain is confronted, how does he respond?

Then the Lord said to Cain, 'Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? Now Cain said to his brother Abel, 'Let’s go out to the field.' While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

-Genesis 4:6-8

Why is Cain so angry?

First, Cain is angry. Cain was angry because Abel, who is literally a nobody, would be regarded, and Cain, who was clearly a somebody, should be disregarded. Why was he angry? Cain's identity was constructed from the start in relationship to Abel. He was great because he was better than Abel. When God favored Abel, Cain either had to readjust his identity or eliminate Abel. When Cain is confronted by what truly matters and what is truly great, he has to exclude both God and Abel. His premise goes like this: If Abel is who God regards him to be, then I am not who I have always understood myself to be. The power of sin rests not so much on the insuppressible urge of violence but on the reasoning of the perverted self which insists on maintaining its own false identity. The essence of sin is to build an identity outside of God. To convince yourself that you are good, valued, right because your parents, culture, society, family or even your church tells you you are.

-Miroslav Volf

Cain is building his life on three false assumptions.

  1. I deserve all good things.
  2. My identity is based on what others think of me.
  3. God is to be used for my gain.

Cain is indeed religious. Religion is his way of manipulating God.

Why has your face fallen?

Then the Lord said to Cain, 'Why is your face downcast?'

-Genesis 4:6

Cain has no peace! He is experiencing soul tension. Deep down he knows that his greatest adventures are with God not apart from Him. Yet, God has measured him and disapproves. Cain becomes mentally unstable.

How can I get my faith back?

Do you remember that God puts a mark on Cain?

'Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.' Cain said to the Lord, 'My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.' But the Lord said to him, 'Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.' Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

-Genesis 4:11-16

1. If you stop showing gratitude to God for his provision, and live with a sense of entitlement and manipulation, He will withdraw his blessings.

2. God cares for the sinner and will not allow you to live in peace while dwelling in the wilderness.

'Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.' Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.

-Genesis 4:15

The mark is not a mark of stigma but a mark of protection - while God waits for repentance.

He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

-Matthew 10:39

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