|Volume 23 Number 9 September 2021
Because God Said
“Because I said so” is a phrase I thought I wouldn’t use as a parent. When I was a child, I hated hearing that from my parents; I thought I deserved an explanation. So, I told myself that I’ll always tell my kids why. As you can probably guess, my mind changed; as a parent I have used the phrase multiple times for multiple reasons. My children will not always understand my reasoning, and I know they will not always like it. Yet, it’s important for them to trust me that I know what’s best for them and have their best interests at heart. It’s the same way with God and us. We will not always know the why behind what He says, but it’s important for us to trust Him. He most definitely knows what’s best for us, and God has our best interests at heart. When the Bible speaks, we should listen and follow its instructions, regardless of how difficult or unpopular they might be. Trust God. Stand your ground.
If You Do Well
“If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it” (Genesis 4:7 NKJV). The context of this passage is that Abel’s sacrifice was accepted by God, but Cain’s was not. As God questioned him about what he had done, God offered this rebuke. God told him three things.
1. “If you do well, will you not be accepted?” What the exact nature of the sacrifice of Cain was that made it unacceptable is not clear. One thing is clear, however. Cain did not offer what God told him to offer. Note: Hebrews 11:4 says, “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain…” Abel offered by faith, and obviously, Cain did not offer by faith. What does that mean? Further Note: “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). If Abel offered by faith, and the Scriptures say he did, then he offered according to the Word of God. Conversely, if Cain did not offer by faith (inherently implied in the Scripture), then he did not offer as God commanded. The bottom line is that God told him that he could not blame anyone but himself. He killed his brother because he showed him up, as we would say in today’s vernacular. God said he was the only one responsible. If he had done what God said to do, there would have been no problem. His sacrifice would have been accepted. A common reaction of humans, Cain wanted to blame Abel and ultimately God for the consequence of his own actions. If we simply do what God says the way He says to do it, we will not have to worry about our actions being acceptable to God. We cannot blame anyone else if we fail to do that.
2. “If you do not well, sin lies at the door, and its desire is for you.” Cain opened the floodgates by his simple failure to sacrifice as God commanded. He proceeded to murder his brother, and then attempted to lie to God with his “Am I my brother’s keeper” (Genesis 4:9) speech. Once we open the door to sin, it simply multiplies in our hearts, souls and actions. Look at the example of David and Bathsheba: a look led to lust, which led to adultery, which led to dishonesty and which led to murder. Once we crack the door with sin, it multiplies quickly. Down here in the south, we have a real big (small) problem: fire ants. The bite of one fire ant hurts a little and can cause a whelp on some people (me included). However, the real problem with fire ants is that you seldom have a problem with just one. Usually when you step where one is, you are quickly besieged with dozens more, and the stings are multiplied. When we take that first little step in sin, then sin attacks us like those horrid fire ants. (The best I can figure, the reason God put fire ants on the earth was to keep us humble!) The results with fire ants can be painful, and for some even deadly. With sin it is always deadly.
3. “But you should rule over it.” After Cain made the mistake with his offering, his reaction should have been to repent from his error. Then, he would not have been overcome by the sins of murder and lying that followed. We must “submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). If Cain had submitted to God, his sacrifice would have been acceptable. After it was unacceptable, if he had submitted to God, he could have resisted the sins that followed. We are responsible for our actions. We cannot blame anyone or anything else for our sins. It is an individual responsibility for us to ‘rule over sin’ in our lives. With the help of God, as we submit to Him, we can resist Satan and his temptations. We have to determine to submit our will to His, and to follow His Word and instructions for our lives. We can have the strength to overcome. God basically told Cain, “You are responsible for your actions, and you will have to face the consequences of them.” That is so true for us today.
May each of us dedicate ourselves to ‘doing well’ and being accepted. Let us be determined to listen to God and to do what He says, the way He says to do it. Much difficulty in life can be avoided by doing this, and much rest and delight will be obtained throughout the endless ages at home with God.