July 16, 2013 § Leave a comment
The first murder on Earth foreshadows the attitudes of the Earth’s future inhabitants. Whenever I read about the encounter between Cain and Abel, I’m always amazed at how quickly sin spreads. Of course, sin was first manifested on Earth with Adam and Eve ate the fruit and then proceeded to place the blame on others instead themselves. And death had already manifested itself when God made clothes from animal skins for Adam and Eve. But with Cain and Abel, we see the death of the first human being and the first casualty of this great controversy.
God had explicitly told the first family about how to go about about sacrificing a lamb for their sins. The sacrificial lamb was to mirror Christ’s death on the cross and no other sacrifice or offering would suffice. “Without the shedding of blood there could be no remission of sin; and they were to show their faith in the blood of Christ as the promised atonement by offering the firstlings of the flock in sacrifice” (71). Abel followed the Lord’s command and followed His will. He recognized the importance of the sacrifice. Cain, on other hand, wanted to follow his own will. In his mind, atonement was obtained through his own works, not through the mercy of God. When God accepted only Abel’s offering of a lamb and not Cain’s offering of fruit and vegetables, Cain was enraged. See, Cain resented the fact that Abel’s offering was accepted; Cain knew that what he did was wrong and what Abel did was right, yet he still wouldn’t obey God’s command. God saw Cain’s anger and asked, “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.” (Genesis 4:6, 7 NIV). Again, here is the power of choice and here you can see God’s unchanging love in the mercy that He shows to Cain. He was given the opportunity to change, to make things right. Instead, Cain let sin rule over him and he killed his brother.
We see this dynamic many times in history and even today; we see the struggle between followers of Christ and followers of Satan, bringers of love and agents of hate, good and evil, right and wrong. Those who bring evil usually know what is good and right, yet they hate those living right all the more, for “everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.” (John 3:20 NIV). We’ve seen this throughout history in the murders of so-called heretics and in the injustices and oppression that we see in the world.
Not only did this murder set the stage for the great controversy, it also introduced the idea of being saved by works alone. Many people believe that so long as you do what you think is right and follow God’s law without surrender, you’ll be fine. Such is not the case. Simple following the letter of the law is not saves us, but it’s accepting Christ as your Savior and surrendering your life to Him. In Ephesians, Paul writes, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8, 9 NIV). We are saved through the grace and mercy of God, not by our own works. And even if we were to try and be righteous, “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” (Isaiah 64:6 NIV). We are sinful and even at our best we’re still sinful.
When we accept Christ as our Savior, following His law and His will comes next. We will find it a delight to follow it instead of a burden, and we follow it out of love for Him, not to gain a reward for ourselves.
The first murder painted a picture of the future of Earth, and today we still see its effects. Only when Christ comes again can the controversy be ended and sin be completely eradicated with its followers and originator.
July 13, 2013 § Leave a comment
We need a Savior. In our sin-cursed state, we need a Savior to save us from the power and presence of sin; “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23 NIV). Because we are sinners, we deserve to die. Sin can’t live in the presence of a sinless God and sin brings death to us. If we didn’t have a Savior, we would be forever separated from God our Creator. But in His love for us (remember, that’s the main point in everything), Christ died the death that we were supposed to die, thereby giving us access to God’s kingdom.
This plan was set from the very beginning, for “the Lamb…was slain from the creation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8 NIV). Because the plan of redemption was known even during the creation of the world, we have some insight into our eternal God. To Him, all times are present and He can see the end and the beginning. So He knew what to do to save us. We couldn’t save ourselves; how could we overcome the power of sin and death? We had already succumbed to sin and believed Satan’s lies, therefore, we are powerless against sin. The angels couldn’t save us, even though they are higher in intellect and righteousness. It is true that they are not tainted with sin, but they are not our creator and they have no power to save us. Only our Creator has the power to save us and only through His death could we be reconciled to our God.
That’s pretty powerful don’t you think? That Someone could love us so much that He would die to give us access to being eternally with Him. How many people would you be willing to die for? Or if not die, suffer immensely? Would be for your family? Your spouse? A close friend? These people we love and we know they love us. But Christ died for those He loves knowing that many don’t love Him. That’s the ultimate sacrifice to save us from sin. Sin separates. The weight of the world’s sins separated Christ from His Father when He died on the cross and sin separates us from being in God’s presence.
When Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden, they were not left without hope. God gave them this promise, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15). The seed from the woman that God was hinting at was Jesus, and He in bruising the serpent’s head would reign supreme and conquer evil. This promise served as a reminder to Adam and Eve about their Savior and that there is hope for them. This promise was repeated and refined throughout history through the sanctuary, through the sacrificial offerings, through the prophets, and ultimately, through Christ’s first advent.
When Christ died on the cross, He showed the Earth, heaven, and all other inhabited worlds that Satan seeks to destroy and God’s aim is to love. No other sacrifice could have done that and no other person on Earth has the power to save us from sin.