THE TWO WAYSEdit
By faith Abel offered to Yahweh a 'more excellent sacrifice' than Cain through which he obtained witness that he was righteous Hebrew 11:4
Why was Abel's sacrifice 'more excellent' than Cain? (The Greek for 'excellent is 'PLEIOU' from the word 'PLEROMA' meaning 'fulness')
A more excellent sacrifice! And why was that so?
It came from a full and complete obedience which measured up to the standard of His requirements. It was therefore a more complete fulfillment of the requirement which Yahweh had given them than the one performed by Cain. They were both either taught the sacrifices to be given by their parents or else Abel gained the understanding of what Yahweh required by revelation given to him through the relationship he had with Him, and out of an obedient heart, offered the right sacrifice.
And so, in humility of heart he brought the sacrificial lamb as the substitute for his own sinful state, his shortfall before the presence of a holy God.
What could atone for his sin? - nothing but the blood of a pure innocent lamb! What a price! A tender life from his own flock had to die to pay the penalty of his sinful state.
Nothing of himself - only a plea for acceptance. Can you imagine him proceeding forward with trepidation lest his sacrifice be not accepted?
But, he had met the requirements and Yahweh witnessed to the acceptance of his sacrifice and gave him the witness that he was righteous. His sin was atoned for by faith in the revealed manner of a sacrificial lamb.
And what was wrong with Cain's sacrifice? Why was it inferior?
Cain brought that in which he had invested a lot of thought, that which had cost him a lot of time, a lot of energy and it was a sustained effort in which he had needed to maintain and apply all his skill, wisdom and talents. He had put his heart into producing the very best that the ground could bring forth using every talent with which he had been endowed.
With great deliberation he chose the very best quality and put together an offering worthy of the Creator of all and proceeded with great delight and pride in the work of his hands to present this gift to Yahweh.
He expected commendation and praise for the fruit of his labour (see Genesis 4:2b-4)
- He was rejected!
- Why was it not accepted?
- What had he done wrong?
Firstly, we may assume either he had not enquired of Yahweh to see what was required or else had gone against what he knew to be right, but whatever, he devised his own plan, his own way!
Then what he did was based on the wrong assumption that Yahweh would accept him in his fallen state on his own merits and accept the produce of a cursed creation as an offering.
Cain ignored the fact of sin and disrespected and dishonoured Yahweh in presumptuously coming on his own merits and in his own way to meet with a holy God. Everything of his sacrifice originated in self - his own way, his own efforts, his own choice -
- And Yahweh did not respect his offering (Genesis 4:3-5)
Cain had gone his own way, either in ignorance or in direct disobedience to the revealed will of Yahweh which was made known to his parents. Even without a personal relationship, he still could have obeyed what was made known to his parents, but, he chose to go his own way.
"All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned each one to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6)
This is the root of sin.
THE WAY OF CAINEdit
Cain's face fell, and he became angry and Yahweh put His finger on the root of the problem - Sin lying at the door (Genesis 4:6)
And what was the sin that was identified here? The sin of self-righteousness!
Cain wanted to be accepted on own his own merits for his own works, and it was totally unacceptable to Yahweh.
One's own works always fall short even if an attempt is made to do it 'right'
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them" Galatians 3:23
The law requires complete, absolute perfection - no shortfall or imperfection from the standard of Yahweh's righteousness as was revealed in the life of Yeshua.
'The way of Cain' is under the curse (Jude 11)
"They have zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of the righteousness of Yahweh and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Messiah is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." Romans 10:2-4
Messiah is the end - the finish of operating by the law to obtain righteousness. And the only requirement? - Believing!
That is, receiving His righteousness by faith!
One's own 'righteousness' as opposed to the righteousness of Yahweh. The way of Cain or the way of Abel.
John says that Cain 'was of that wicked one' (1 Jn.3:12) whereas Abel was righteous. (The Greek word for 'wicked' is PONEROS = bad, malignant, miserable)
That takes us back to the garden to THE 'wicked one' The wicked one said 'ye shall be as gods knowing good and evil' (Genesis 3:1)
- 'as gods' - master of one's own destiny - independent
- able to discern/judge between right or wrong and therefore able to make one's own choices between right and wrong.
It has the echo of Lucifer's sin 'I will be like the Most High'
Instead of living in trust and obedience to what Yahweh told them, now they are 'as god' knowing and choosing what they will do.
They were now separated from the life of Yahweh, from being dependent on Him, and were in a state of spiritual death, as they only had life while in union with Him. Man has no life source of his own.
That is the fruit of the tree of which they partook! It was death to them as Yahweh had said.
THE FRUIT OF THE TREEEdit
Cain established his own way based upon his own perceptions of what was 'good' and right in his own eyes and it was unacceptable.
It was not obviously 'wrong' or evil - it actually looked good.
Good intentions, but the inner motivation was wrong.
Yahweh said, "If you do well, won't you be accepted?" Genesis 4:7 Sin was in control.
Sin is living in independence from Yahweh, deciding and making choices for oneself in life, rooted in what pleases or satisfies self. It is 'I' on the throne (i.e. being a god), choosing what is 'right' for oneself. That is, living from the knowledge of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The tree is the knowledge of good and evil. The knowledge of good as well as the knowledge of evil. Choosing to do good if it originates in a independent lifestyle to satisfy one's own ego is living from the wrong tree. it is just as wrong, though not obviously so to man, as doing evil in His sight, for it originates from the 'tree' of independence from God.
Cain's own ego was satisfied in what he chose to do.
A self-righteous person will mostly choose to do 'good' things, because doing good is what justifies the image they are establishing of themselves. A self-righteous person sees themselves as doing the 'right' thing. Doing evil can never really be excused to our conscience unless we blame others, and so a person is only made righteous in their own eyes by doing what is right and good.
WORKS OF THE LAWEdit
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is basically the law. It is the knowledge of right and wrong according to His eternal standards. There is only one standard of right and wrong - that which He set for Himself according to His own nature and the mould in which He created man 'in His own image and likeness'.
The written law was given to Moses and that served as a point of reference that was no longer subject to the functioning of man's conscience. It was an irrefutable reference to measure oneself by and thereby reveal sin for what it was. It was the 'schoolmaster' to bring us to Messiah, to the acknowledgement that we need a Saviour (Galatians3:24,24)
The law in essence is good (1 Timothy 1:8) but it is not the criteria for the 'saved' to live by, it is for the lawless and disobedient. The law brings death for the natural man.
James talks of the law for a believer as 'the law of liberty' as against the law which tends to bondage (James 1:25, 2:8-13). The 'law' now written on our hearts motivates us to do in freedom that which the 'law' articulates. But it is from the life of Messiah within. The 'law of the spirit of life in Yeshua the Messiah has made us free from the law of sin and death' Romans 8:2 But, living from the 'law', the revealed will of Yahweh, by one's own effort in one's own energies is equivalent to living from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Doing the 'works of the law' and living from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil are interchangeable terms.
"A man is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Yeshua the Messiah, even we (Jews to whom the law was given by Moses) have believed in Yeshua the Messiah, that we might be justified by faith in Messiah and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified" (Galatians 2:19)
As Paul said, he died to the law that he might live to God. (Gal. 2:17) That is, he 'died' to the knowledge of the law by identifying with Messiah in His death, thereby coming into a faith relationship with God through Yeshua. On the basis of that he could say, "I have been crucified with Messiah, it is no longer I who live, but Messiah lives in me; and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who love me and gave Himself for me" (Gal.2:20)
Paul died to his knowledge of the law which was extensive having studied under the best teachers of his day, and having died to it, he then lived out of relationship with Messiah.
No longer partaking of the wrong tree but living from the tree of life. He, as all other believers who by faith accept Yeshua's sacrifice are brought back into relationship with the Father through His Son, the sacrificial Lamb of God to henceforth to live unto God.