And Now Cain is Dead
August 27, 2017
Anger is a big deal and a very real thing. There is road rage in heavy traffic. There is the throwing of shade in Twitter accounts. There are numerous books and classes on anger management. And there is Mr. Bruce Banner. Don’t upset him, otherwise he will become big and green break a lot of stuff. In many Korean dramas, broken characters often have deep bitterness against their fathers or mothers. When you’re both hungry and angry at the same time, you say that you are hangry. And as the saying goes, “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” In the world of psychology, there is passive anger and aggressive anger and passive-aggressive anger. In the real world there is bullying and terrorism and racism and so many other social ills. And in the music world, it seems to me that Taylor Swift don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts Taylor Swift.
Anger. It seems that anger is everywhere. And sometimes it seems that anger is acceptable or even cool. But as believers who are united with Christ, we know that anger is not acceptable and not cool at all.
Today’s Scripture text is the story of Cain. And his story is a very sad one. Cain was the first human being to ever struggle with anger. And he is given as an example not to follow. Though the authorship of Moses, our God gave the saints of old and the saints of today this story. And it was a warning. Do not walk down the path of Cain. Do not be like Cain. Israel was to do well. They were to rule over sin. And they were to avoid anger at all costs.
Anger is a God issue. It is easy to think that Cain was angry at Abel. Perhaps he was angry at his brother. But Scripture shows us that he was first and foremost angry at God. He was angry at God because he was not accepted by God.
Perhaps he felt that God wronged him, that God was unfair to him by not accepting his offering. Perhaps he felt that God was showing favoritism toward his brother. Perhaps he felt that God slighted him or disrespected him. Perhaps he realized that he was not the center of the universe, and perhaps his prideful heart just couldn’t handle the news.
But no matter what was going on in his mind, Cain was angry at God. And God responded accordingly.
The Lord said to Cain these remarkable and gigantic words: “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”
You see, Cain’s problem was not God. Cain’s problem was sin. Or to be more precise, his own sin.
And sin is described like a crouching animal waiting to pounce and attack. This means that sin wants to kill you. Its desire is contrary to you. It wants you dead.
One time, when I was serving as a youth pastor in the east coast, my church went to this mountain in a state park in order to train for a mission trip. The idea was that we would hike up to the top of the mountain and then back down to the bottom and stop at various places along the way to pray.
So there we were with our backpacks and water bottles and walkie talkies. The team was broken up into smaller groups who would travel together. But for some strange reason, I was sent first to setup all the prayer stations on the mountain. And for some strange reason, I was sent alone. So there I was, hiking up this mountain for an hour and setting up prayer stations for the team members who would come after me.
I eventually got to the top of the mountain. And I sat down on a big rock and finished my water bottle and enjoyed the beautiful view. After a few minutes had passed, I noticed a splotch of black color move in the hiking path from where I came from. I thought to myself, “Wow, the first group really hiked really fast.” So I got up to greet them. But I discovered to my horror that it was not my church members. It was a big black bear.
The big black bear was about the size of Toyota Corolla, and it was slowly walking down the hiking path toward me. I freaked out. I speed walked down the path away from the bear and then stopped by another big rock and turned around to see if the bear was following me. But I discovered to my horror that it was following me. It was still a big black bear. And now it was about the size of a Toyota Camry. So now I thought I was going to die. So I gave up everything and ran.
I ran as fast as I could down that mountain. I turned off my walkie talkie so that my church members would not tip off the bear. I tighted the straps of my backpack. I hoped that I would run into other hikers along the way, but that didn’t happen. I remember my knees and thighs and ankles getting a pounding. And I just ran. It was the most scariest moment of my life. I seriously thought I was going to die. Thankfully, by God’s grace, I made it all the way down to the mountain safe and sound. And as the mission team groups trickled in, everyone kept asking me why there were no prayer stations on the way down.
I don’t know what that black bear was thinking on that mountain. I will never know its motive that day. But I do know this. Sin is like a crouching animal waiting to pounce and attack. Sin wants to kill you. Its desire is contrary to you. It wants you dead.
Brothers and sisters, this is a very sober and alarming picture of sin. It is a sober and alarming picture of mankind’s disobedience against God. But Israel needed to hear the truth about sin. And so do we. This story is a warning of the danger of sin. Sadly, too many people of old did not heed the warning. Too many people of old did not do well before the Lord and were not accepted by him. Therefore, so many people received eternal death.
But the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ is that he did well. He obeyed the law that we were supposed to obey in order to go to heaven. And He earned acceptability from the Father because of his righteousness.
But that’s not all. With his resurrection from the dead, our Lord Jesus Christ has defeated sin and death and the evil one. Ever since Genesis 3:15, the Lion of Judah was crouching at the door of salvation, ready to crush the head of the serpent. And then, in the fullness of time, he pounced and tore Satan apart. He conquered sin. He defeated death. He won. He rules over all things. And in him, we must follow accordingly.
How so? According to Scripture, we who are loved and forgiven are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, we do not let sin reign in our mortal bodies, to make us obey its passions. We do not present our members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness. Rather, we present ourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and our members to God as instruments for righteousness. Why? Because sin will have no dominion over us!
Therefore, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us - even when you feel like your knees and thighs and ankles are about to give way. Let us not grow weary or fainthearted in our fight against sin. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. It is for discipline that you have to endure. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees (and thighs and ankles), and make straight paths for your feet. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God. See to it that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled. For you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect. You have come to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant. You have come to his blood, which - we will learn next Sunday - speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Brothers and sisters, run away from sin and put it to death. Do you struggle with anger in your life? If so, I lovingly ask you this question: “Why are you angry?” Could it be thta you have something against God? If so, I warn you and I invite you to confess sin and draw near to Christ right now.
Please do not go the way of Cain. His is a way of tragedy and sadness. Put away anger. Put away sin. Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Everyone who is angry with his or her brother or sister will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his or her brother or sister will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. Do not let the sun go down on your anger. Do not give any opportunity to the devil. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
And so I close now with a sense of warning and encouragement and urgency and sobriety. Please do not blow up in traffic this week. Please do not fall into the tendency of transforming into a big green monster. Please let go of bitterness and revenge and anything that is passive or aggressive. And please do not hiss at the world and cry out “Oh, look what you made me do!” This is all in step with the way of Cain. Cain did not do well. Cain was angry.
And now Cain is dead.