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Refusing to Raise Cain, Part 1

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
January 3, 2023 12:00 am

Refusing to Raise Cain, Part 1

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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January 3, 2023 12:00 am

When we remember the story of Cain and Abel merely as the first murder-account in history, we miss the real, Divinely-inspired weight of the account. Join Stephen in this message to rediscover what makes this story so unforgettable.


The world hates the believer for at least three reasons, like Cain hated Abel. First, because of the way the Christian lives. The believer's life represents a condemnation to the world around them.

A life of purity will, on the one hand, breed a measure of respect. But if that light and purity is understood at the core of its foundation and motive, it will breed anger and conviction and resentment. Have you ever been resented or even abused simply because you were trying to shine the light of the Gospel into a dark situation? Very often, the unbelieving world resents your Christian influence. When you reflect Christ, your behavior draws a comparison to the world's wicked behavior, and the world resents that. Stephen Davey examines this idea today in the relationship between Cain and Abel.

He'll help you understand the important principles that should guide your life today. For those who know the biblical narrative in the early chapters of the book of Genesis, you may remember the tragic event where Cain took the life of his younger brother Abel. His name became a byword for trouble, didn't it?

And to this day, it still represents trouble, disorder. I've never met any mom or dad who named their son Cain. In fact, they hoped he wouldn't raise so much of it as he was growing up, right? In fact, in the 14th century, if you do a little word study, which I did, you find that this phrase, raising Cain, appeared in literature as an expression of summoning up the spirit of evil, even of summoning the devil. In other words, you were raising up evil, you were raising up devilish things by raising Cain. Today, the expression raising hell is basically the modern equivalent to raising Cain. However, if you went out on the street and you said to somebody, even someone unfamiliar with the Bible, that your neighbors were raising Cain all weekend, they would know what you meant.

They would know that you're referring to your neighbors making a lot of noise, probably some really loud party, and maybe even doing some unholy things. Several decades ago, Orson Welles produced one of the most often watched movies in history. The name of it is Citizen Kane, K-A-N-E. His leading character was an obvious allusion to this Old Testament character, a man who over time became a ruthless, arrogant businessman who virtually destroyed all that was precious in life.

So, Citizen Kane was an obvious allusion. Not only of the ruthless tycoons that the movie sort of hinted at, but ultimately to Adam's firstborn son. To this day, the mere mention of his name brings up something negative, something discomforting, something disorderly, something sinful. It's interesting to me that the only Old Testament event referenced by the Apostle John in his letters is the biblical account of Cain and Abel. And what John will effectively tell the believer is that the marks of Cain are not to be the marks of Christian. To put it in contemporary language, the Christian should not be raising Cain.

Let's find out why. Take your Bibles and turn to 1 John in chapter 3. In verses 11 to 18, which we'll cover today, John underscores three characteristics of Cain. And I'm under the opinion that he makes reference or allusion to Cain throughout these verses. It begins rather obviously and then not so obviously later on.

I'll show you what I mean. The first characteristic of Cain that is very obvious is the ultimate act of murder. Notice how John begins in verse 11. For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

We'll stop for just a moment here before we dive into this account of Cain and Abel. John writes, this is the message which you have heard from the beginning. The specific word translated message, this is the message, appears only two times in the New Testament, both of them by the apostle John. He's not referring to a sermon.

He's not referring to a lecture. He's referring to the basic duty of every Christian life. This is the obligation.

This is the distinguishing mark. This is not optional. This is standard. Maybe you've been to the dealer and you had to pick out a car and you were shown the basic standard package, which amounted to a body with four wheels, two pedals, a steering wheel and some seats.

That was about it. You got to have that for this amount of money. But if you wanted a stereo system that was optional, it wasn't standard. If you wanted leather seats and a sun roof, they're optional. If you want that IT package where you can plug in your cell phone, your laptop, your hair curler, your microwave, whatever, all that is optional.

You got to be willing to pay extra to get those things installed. It struck me that what John is saying here in verse 11 is that loving one another is not an option. It's part of the believer's standard equipment. In fact, the present tense verb for loving or love indicates that this is the habit and continuation of life. It is our pursuit.

It is our goal. Love is not some optional sun roof that you might open up if the weather is nice and you feel like it. It's really more like the steering wheel, which keeps you in the right lane. So what John is going to do is show us what it looks like to drive your life over a cliff. These are the characteristics of Cain that lead to ruin. They are the opposite of what our lives ought to represent. Notice again verse 11, the latter part, that we should love one another.

This is standard equipment here, not an option. Verse 12, not as Cain, the evil one who slew his brother, and for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil and his brothers were righteous and he slew him. The word translated slew him occurs only here in John's book of Revelation. It's a verb that speaks of a violent death.

In fact, in the Greek translation of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint, which Christ and the apostles quoted from, it uses this word for cutting the throat of a sacrificial animal that's going to be offered. It may very well be implied here that the knife used by Abel to prepare his sacrifice as an offering to God was used by Cain, who cut the throat of Abel with that very knife, in this violent struggle which led to Abel's death. Cain hated Abel enough to end his life. So the first and the most obvious characteristic of Cain is this outward act of murder. But I want you to notice next that it also includes the inward attribute of hatred.

Simply put, Cain hated Abel. By the way, as we work through these three characteristics, he speaks of murder and many of us would say, well, that's not me, it's a disservice for somebody else in here. And then he's going to talk about hatred and that captures everybody and then he's going to talk about indifference.

So none of us have a loophole here today. But he says here that there was hatred involved. He nursed his hatred for years if you go back and study his life. The hatred in his heart eventually acted out in homicide. You see, murder is in the heart before it is ever in the hands.

And I want you to notice the progression in verse 13. Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everybody who hates his brother is a murderer. And you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. This doesn't mean, by the way, that murder is an unpardonable sin. Murder, like any sin, is exactly like Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for that sin and every other sin. However, it is impossible for God to forgive the sin of murder if the murderer refuses to confess and repent of it, right?

The unpardonable sin is the sin that mankind will not confess. It's been interesting to receive responses from inmates who listen online on Sundays and through the week and order the transcripts which we offer for free. We had one gentleman we were able to meet with not too long ago who said that they ordered the transcripts and they get them and they unstable them and they hand them down one page at a time down the row of cells in this one penitentiary in Texas. And he introduced me to another man who wrote me about a three-page letter just a couple of months ago who had murdered his wife. He had become involved with another woman and decided that the best way out or forward was to murder his wife.

And we're not talking about somebody on the other side of the road. In fact, this guy was a white collar businessman. In fact, he was involved in a church I highly respect. His wife was involved in the music program for years and he planned what he believed to be the perfect letter, was eventually caught and he wrote me from prison talking about how God had so worked in his life to bring him to utter and total repentance.

He knows he'll be in prison for the rest of his life. But in repentance he has approached God and God has forgiven him though there are lasting consequences. And John isn't saying that that particular crime is unforgivable. But be careful here to go to the other extreme. John isn't saying that you get eternal life by being a loving person.

That's a wonderful liberal message. You get to heaven if you love everybody. He's saying here that the evidence of having eternal life is by loving other people. Specifically you'll notice your brother, that is those who are with you in the body of Christ, but you don't love each other so that when you reach a certain benchmark God says, okay, you get into heaven. No, you don't love each other so you can go to heaven. You love each other as a demonstration that you're going to heaven. You're reflecting the life and the spirit of your Lord. He says here in verse 14, he reminds us that we have passed out of death into life. Hatred is the old life, love is the new life.

Literally he says you've migrated the expression. You've left one country for another. You've left the realm of darkness for the realm of light.

You've left the realm of death for the realm of life. What John is basically communicating here is that hatred and murder belong to the realm dominated by Satan who is a murderer from the beginning. John 8.44. He's also saying then that we are most like Cain when we hate. Most like Christ when we love. We're most like the kingdom of darkness and death when we hate each other. Most like the kingdom of light and life when we love each other.

And here's some surprising news you probably picked up on it in that text. God equates murder with hatred, hatred with murder. Which means God is holding us accountable not only for the actions of our hands but the attitudes of our hearts. Actions and attitudes are equally destructive. Hatred is one of these key characteristics of the unbelieving world. In fact, go back to verse 13 and notice the opening.

Don't be surprised brethren. He's saying don't be in the constant state of shock. What he means. If the world hates you.

If is what Greek students call a first class condition you can translate it since or because or it will happen. He's not referring to an unlikely hatred of the world for the Christian. He's telling us to anticipate hatred. So you can expand the phrase with that in mind so that the text reads if don't be surprised brethren if the world hates you and it will. That's what he means. You mean somebody can hate a believer like Cain hated Abel? Absolutely. Read your history books.

Read the newspaper. But why? Christians make pretty good citizens. They keep their word. They pay their taxes. They mow their lawn every so often. They help others.

They live lives of deference and humility. So why? For the same reason Cain hated Abel.

So let's explore that for a moment or two. The world hates the believer for at least three reasons like Cain hated Abel. First, because of the way the Christian lives. The believer's life represents a condemnation to the world around them.

A life of purity will on the one hand breed a measure of respect but if that light and purity is understood at the core of its foundation and motive it will breed anger and conviction and resentment. I mean you don't even say anything. You're just doing your job and you're getting along and somebody might come along and say well who do you think you are?

And you haven't said anything. The way a Christian lives exposes the corruption of the world around them. You may find yourselves right now in a pickle jar and all you're doing is living for Christ and you're just working. Your life, your marriage, your attitude, your purity breeds resentment and hatred.

It may not be expressed but it may be. The world hates the believer because of the way the Christian lives. Secondly, because of the gospel the Christian believes. Our gospel is one of sin and redemption. Our gospel is both condemnation and justification.

Our gospel is both there is a danger of hell and there is a promise of heaven. Our gospel is exclusive. It allows no other gods, no other paths, no other faiths. There is only one true faith.

The scriptures tell us. Our gospel condemns every other religion as false. It offers no other way to God and to heaven but through Jesus Christ alone and that breeds resentment and hatred. You travel around the world today, we're sort of sequestered away in this wonderful experiment of democracy but you travel around the world, you go to places like Iran and Pakistan and South Asia and North Korea, North Africa, Uzbekistan, China and you discover the reality of news you will not hear and that is for the most part around the world it is a war of religion. You discover the reality that those who convert to Jesus Christ do so at the peril of losing their lives where a genuine Christian would never conceive of someone converting to another religion as worthy of death. As a church family we're supporting one family involved in secretly training pastors from one of the countries I mentioned we don't even tell you where he is. The pastors who come and are trained risk their lives, the lives of their families as they attempt to learn how to interpret and exposit the word of God. Read the biography of Hudson Taylor sometime and you'll be marked by his rather stunning recollection as he planted churches and mission stations in China that he made the comment in his journal on one occasion he says I have never established a church without first experiencing a riot. That much resentment to the establishment of Christianity. Can you imagine telling church planters in America if you want to go plant a church you have to be willing to survive a riot. The gospel confronts everything. Ellen says foolish and flawed and false and fatally, eternally dangerous. The world hates the believer because of the way Christians live, because of the gospel Christians believe.

Thirdly because of the future the Christian will inherit. There is a motivation of devilish hatred that can't be really explained in terms other than the kingdom of darkness. Paul said that's our true battle and we wrestle against them. A collaboration of the world with the forces of darkness. The world acts as Satan's ready pawns to imprison, to torture, to discredit, to kill those who in the words of Jesus Christ dare to believe Christ who said that you will one day inherit the earth.

I mean who do you think you are? Matthew 5.5. Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Listen Satan is just not a good loser and he knows his future imprisonment is certain and it is eternal. The world hates the believer for the same reasons Cain hated Abel. Abel's obedient life was a rebuke to Cain's disobedient life. Abel's offering pointed to the coming blood sacrifice of the redeemer, the only way to approach a holy God.

It excluded Cain's offering and Abel's relationship with God was authenticated by the word of God and Cain is left out. He nurses his hatred until it turns into homicide. Premeditated murder of the first degree and keep in mind Cain is not presented as an atheist. He is devoutly religious.

He is a worshipper of God, deeply religious. We're told in Genesis chapter 4 verse 3 in the course of time Cain and Abel brought their offerings. I'm not going to have you turn back there because we're going to do a flyover but what that phrase means is in the course of time it refers to an annual sacrifice.

Literally at the end of a year's time, Hebrew scholars translated. The practice had resulted, we put the clues together, obviously from the atoning sacrifice made by God on behalf of their parents Adam and Eve who sinned against God and what did they do? They did the very first religious act in human history. They covered their guilt with fig leaves and every false religion since then is nothing more than the covering of fig leaves. God of course took the lives of innocent animals, skinned them and covered Adam and Eve with those skins, portraying, picturing, illustrating for them this key principle of atonement by the shedding of blood.

Sacrifices were not the creation of mankind. They were the illustration of the gospel created by God himself of an innocent animal dying on behalf of the sinful, repentant worshipper and Cain and Abel had seen their parents before them offering this annual sacrifice to God. This would be the precursor of the high priest who would annually sacrifice on the day of atonement and the tabernacle and later in the temple finally climaxing, culminating with the final sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb so to speak, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Everything looked forward to the cross. Every time they sacrificed, they in faith believed the gospel.

We look back to the cross by faith believing he died for us. Cain and Abel didn't come up with the idea, hey let's get some stones, what do you think, let's build this thing, smooth out the top and get an animal, shed its blood and no, God provided that atonement was not their idea, God's idea. Indeed, God would be approached only through the shedding of innocent blood. Now, there are some issues that need clearing up in order to understand the murder of Abel.

Let me quickly go through these. First of all, you need to understand that Cain didn't kill Abel after the first time they offered a sacrifice. If you want to understand his hatred and what we're told not to be in 1 John 3, you have to understand this. They had followed their parents, they had seen offerings, these annual sacrifices for years. In fact, Old Testament scholars put the clues together and placed Cain and Abel somewhere in their early 100s. Cain at about 120 years of age when he brings this blasphemous sacrifice. Cain's rebellion against God's prescribed method of worship through a tony sacrifice.

It's been building for years. The murder of Abel in Genesis 4 did not follow their first appearance at the altar. They had sacrificed perhaps 100 times before. Secondly, you need to know that Cain didn't get stuck with the short end of the stick. We know from the Old Testament that he was a farmer and Abel raised livestock. Cain brought an offering to the Lord eventually at this point in time of the fruit of the ground which he had obviously harvested himself and Abel brought the firstlings of the flock which he had raised himself and the Lord rejected Cain's offering and accepted Abel's offering and you think Abel had an obvious advantage.

Poor Cain, he had chosen the wrong career path. John makes it clear in chapter 3 here in verse 12 of 1 John that their deeds were evil. He's reflecting back not only on the murder but everything about Cain including the sacrifice. It was rebellion against God and he also tells us in verse 12 that Abel's deeds were righteous, that is they were right. They followed God's prescription for approaching a holy God. He obeyed God's plan.

He literally followed the gospel. The third thing I want to point out and final point is that God graciously and clearly warned Cain of his growing rebellion. Moses records in Genesis 4 that after rejecting his sacrifice of vegetables God warned Cain. He said sin is crouching at your door.

Be warned. God knew what was going on. Old Testament scholars believe that this scene takes place at an altar which had stood for centuries. Both Cain and Abel I believe had seen the fire of God fall year after year after year validating their sacrifice as acceptable. Cain has at this point which is where Moses injects the story has had enough.

Stephen is calling this lesson refusing to raise Cain. Please join us again next time to hear the rest of this important message. Stephen is the pastor of the Shepherd's Church in Cary, North Carolina.

You can learn more about us if you visit our website which is Once you go there you'll be able to access the complete library of Stephen's Bible teaching ministry. So if you ever miss one of these lessons you can go to our website and keep caught up with our daily Bible teaching ministry.

You can also navigate to the previous broadcasts as well if you want to go back a little bit. The library of Stephen's teaching ministry is also available on that site. Stephen has been teaching the Bible for over 35 years. In that time he's preached hundreds of sermons. All of those are posted to our website at Thanks again for listening. Join us next time for more wisdom for the hearts. you
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-03 00:19:54 / 2023-01-03 00:28:47 / 9

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