This follows the Way of Cain
Genesis 4:9 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?”
God knew where Abel was and knew the circumstances of his death but mercifully gives Cain opportunity to confess and repent of his actions. How often we are told of the merciful God of the New Testament and the God of wrath in the Old. But here we have a merciful act of God, giving the first murderer opportunity to repent.
He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Here is the response of the wicked, “I do not know” – Liar, “Am I my brother’s Keeper?” the answer is “Yes” we are responsible for the welfare of our brothers. Cain’s reply betrays a desperate resort to falsehood, a total estrangement of feeling, a quenching of brotherly love, a predominance of that selfishness which freezes affection and kindles hatred. This is the way of Cain.
Those who follow the “Way of Cain” will lie and negate their responsibility to love others. Their refusal to love results in “murder” for where there is no love there is only “hate” – The Apostle John makes this very clear.
1 John 3:10-12
In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. 11 For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, 12 not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.
The primary purpose of the letter of John is to combat certain errors that were creeping into the church and although not stated clearly it seems probable that he was dealing with the Gnostic heresy that was having such an impact on the church as a whole. The error of Gnosticism had some variation in belief but essentially it challenged the humanity of Jesus and elevated knowledge as being the route of salvation. The essential element of any and all heresy is a promotion or elevation of “self” – The Gnostic heresy has its roots in the “way of Cain”
Cain’s way is one of religious variance and self works.
Today the same “way” is prevalent in the world, especially in the religious world. Ultimately the test of this “way” is manifest by the way we live with our brothers and sisters!
Jesus said they would know we are his disciples by our love for each other – rather than the doctrinal standard we uphold. You cannot have love for one another without the right doctrinal beliefs but we can have the right doctrinal beliefs and not have love.
1 John 1
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— 2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—
The eternal life is Jesus – we so often reduce this reality of eternal life to simply life eternal, but the eternal life we have declared to us is “Jesus Christ”. The words – seen, looked upon, handled speak of conflict with the Gnostic heresy, becuase they indicate a physical saviour rather than just a spiritual entity devoid of any humanity.
3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.
The purpose of the declaration is that we may have fellowship with the apostles our brothers and in this family or body we have fellowship with the Father and the Son.
The fellowship of the saints in intricately linked to fellowship with God – the two are inseparable.
It is only in union with our brothers and sisters in Christ that we find true joy!
5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
The message given by Jesus is that “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all”. Darkness referring to sin and corruption. We cannot claim to have fellowship with Him and be walking in darkness. We cannot have fellowship with the family of God and be walking in darkness. One is not exclusive of the other, they are inclusive. Therefore if we walk in the light and in fellowship with Him we have fellowship with one another. The work of the blood is conditioned on fellowship.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
The Gnostic heresy made claims that once a person had been enlightened and a receiver of the “Gnosis” or knowledge / knowing, then sin became an act of the material realm and not of the spiritual. Therefore one can sin in the flesh or material substance but in the Spiritual they could claim to have no sin. This doctrine involved “self deception” and by its very nature would lead to disunity amongst the body.
1 John 2
1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
John is very careful “he is very aware that his proceeding comments in 1 John 8-10 can also be taken to support the view that we are to accept sin as a daily event in our lives and that rather than battle against sin we simple continue in sin with our hope founded on the grace and mercy of God.
The word rendered “propitiation” (ἱλασμός hilasmos) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, except in 1Jo_4:10 of this Epistle, its essential meaning is of “atonement”.
3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
This is the opposite of Cain’s way, this is Christ’s way. We know we are in the way of Christ “if we keep his commandments” and “we keep His word”. Those who claim knowledge of Him and yet fail to keep His commandments are living a lie.
We are given clear “markers” for the testing of our faith.
John proceeds to explain the commandment that we must keep. It is no new commandment but from the beginning, from the time of Cain and before.
7 Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning. 8 Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.
A contradiction seems apparent but we must understand from the words of Jesus, this so called new commandment, that is in fact the commandment from the beginning. The difference is that Jesus has brought this command to great light and depth of understanding by demonstrating to us the true extent of the love for our brother…….read the account of the crucifixion.
9 He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. 10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
Our relationship to our brother indicates the place of our walk – if we hate we are in darkness and have no fellowship with God or our brothers. If we love in this “new” dimension of sacrificial love that Jesus has demonstrated and commanded, we walk in the light.
John 13:34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. As I have loved you, you should also love one another.
John 13:35 By this all shall know that you are My disciples, if you have love toward one another.
12 I write to you, little children, Because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.
13 I write to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men,
Because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, Because you have known the Father.
14 I have written to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, And you have overcome the wicked one.
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
Our love of the world will by its very nature usurp any love that we can have for our brothers and sisters. The love of the world and its system as detailed above means the ultimate destruction of others, for this is its ultimate end. The world system and its promotion of self enlightenment, self realisation, self advancement and self self self stands in opposition to the Gospel and the commandments of our Master. The world has differing meanings, the material world and the world of people is loved by God but its system stands opposed to Him
18 Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.
The being “one of us” speaks of union in fellowship, being one of us results in a continuing with the family or body.
20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. 21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.
22 Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
24 Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life.
26 These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. 27 But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.
28 And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. 29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.
1 John 3
1 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God![h] Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
4 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. 5 And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. 6 Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.
7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. 8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.
10 In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. 11 For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, 12 not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.
John reiterates this once again that we are to practice righteousness and love one another. It is opposed too the “way of Cain” who did not practice righteousness or love his brother.
13 Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. 15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
If we do not love our brothers we abide in death and we have no spiritual life, in fact if we do not love we are not born again. Whoever hates – in the active continued form is a murderer and once again does not have eternal life abiding in them (Jesus)
16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?
How are we to love and by what standard. We know what love we are to exercise. He laid down His life and therefore we should do the same for the brothers.
18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 19 And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. 20 For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. 22 And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. 23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.
This is the command of God “believe on Jesus Christ and love one another” and this is to be done in deed and in truth and not simply in word or in tongue
It is only by this “way” that we can claim the promise that we receive what we ask from Him
24 Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.
1 John 4
1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.
4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. 6 We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
Let us and we must – being born of the One who loved would cause us to live in love. By imitation we ought to love one another as He loved us.
12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Saviour of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
It is love that manifests God to us through one another. How many times do we have to hear this. Our calling is to love one another in sacrificial servant-hood. How many of us are in church because of what church has to offer us.
If we come together for our own benefit and edification we have missed the whole of God’s truth in John’s letter to us.
17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us.
This love must be perfected “among us”
20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.
So plain so clear and so often repeated! without a love for our brother or sister we remain living in the way of Cain.