Skip Heitzig - Fact-Checking Your Worship
So we're going to look at the Book of Hebrews chapter 11 and verse 4, where we've left off the first three verses last time. Now, I can remember back to earlier sermons that I made years ago. And I remember reading illustrations in books and then saying those because I believed they were accurate because, after all, if it's in a book, it's got to be true. That's how I thought.
So I found it. I'd quote it. I would tell these stories. And they were great stories. Then the era of the internet came. And you could fact check things, and not many of them, but there's a few of them that I had to reel back in and never use again because come to find out it was sort of a wives' tale. You see, fact checking will do that for you. It'll give you a reality check to see if what you said or what you believe in or how you've acted is appropriate, if it's right, if it is factual.
Now, that's the same when it comes to worship because not all worship is true worship. Not all worship is acceptable worship. It might be acceptable to us. But it's not always acceptable to God. Now, let me give you a premise. And we're going to base everything on this premise as we go through this study tonight. The worship that God accepts is the worship that God prescribes. Once again, the worship that God accepts is the worship that God prescribes. You'll remember that our Lord Jesus had a conversation with a woman at the well in Samaria. And she was bringing up the difference in worship between the Samaritans and the Jews. You Jews worship in Jerusalem. We Samaritans worship at Mount Gerizim here. And we have our own style of doing things.
And Jesus said that there's only really one appropriate way to worship God. He said the Father is looking for those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. Now, a lot of people will say, well, my idea of God is this. I think of God in these terms. And I worship God in this manner. And my idea of worshipping God is being out in the woods or saying these things or having these statues or doing it a certain way. But if you fact check your worship, you may find that it's true. Or you may find that it's false. It could be authentic worship. Or it could, in fact, be idolatry.
You see, in the Book of Proverbs in two places, Proverbs 14 and Proverbs 16, it says, there is a way that seems right unto every man. But the end thereof is the way of death. Just because you feel it's good doesn't necessarily make it good. I was raised in a religious home. I had a belief in God. I had a certain kind of faith. I thought that I was good enough the way I was, practicing my little religion once a week or once a month. Later on, when I was about 18 years of age, I learned the facts. I fact checked my faith. And the way I fact checked it was with the Bible. And the Bible has an amazing way of checking one's presumptions. The truth has an amazing way to fact check what you assume to be correct.
So when it comes to worship, we understand the Bible is literally dominated by the theme of worship, worshipping God. Over 400 times the word is mentioned in the pages of scripture. So it's a very important theme, everything from true worship, false worship, the worship of Baal, the worship of false gods of Canan, the true worship of the God of Israel. And oftentimes the worship the Bible describes is false worship.
Charles Hadden Spurgeon, whom I am fond of quoting frequently, said, I believe a very large majority of churchgoers are merely unthinking, slumbering worshippers of an unknown God. Now, just let that sink in a little bit. Not everybody that goes to church or believes in God or even believes in Jesus may be approaching Him the way He has prescribed.
And that brings us to our verse tonight. It's a story of a man by the name of Abel and his brother Cain, who murdered him in the story. And both of them, both of them, came to worship God. One's worship was acceptable. One's worship was not acceptable. One worships by faith. The other worships by feeling. One worship is right. The other worship is wrong.
Now, Cain, the guy who did it wrong, the guy who killed his brother, Abel, Cain should have taken the time to fact check his worship. In fact, God gave him an opportunity. God appeals to him personally to do it.
Now, we're in Hebrews 11. But you should know that Hebrews 11, at least in part, is based on Hebrews 10 verse 38. And Hebrews 10 verse 38, quoting from the Old Testament Book of Habakkuk chapter 2 verse 4, says, the just shall live by faith. That's the premise. The just shall live by faith. So that's quoted in chapter 10. The just shall live by faith. Then in chapter 11, the author comes up with a list of those just people who lived by faith. And first on the list of examples is Abel. Why? Why Abel? Because Abel is the first person who lived by faith in the biblical record.
You say, what do you mean he's the first one to live by, what about Adam and Eve? No. They didn't live by faith. They lived by sight. Remember how the Bible says, for we live by faith. We walk by faith, not by sight? Abel was the first one to live by faith. Adam and Eve, his parents, didn't live by faith. They lived by sight. Before the fall, Adam and Eve walked with God, talked with God. God spoke to them verbally. They had a glory manifestation of God, the Shekinah glory, in the Garden of Eden, whereas Abel and his brother Cain were conceived after the fall.
They were conceived outside the Garden of Eden, born outside the Garden of Eden. There was no manifestation of the invisible God for them. Their parents told them about God. But it was not like the Garden of Eden. So Abel is the first person in the biblical record to live by faith. Cain and Abel were brothers. And Cain and Abel were human number three and human number four in the lineup of humanity. Adam and Eve, number one and two. And then Cain and Abel, number three and four. It says in Hebrews 11 verse 4, here's the one verse we're going to really drill down on. We're going to compare it with Genesis 4. By faith, Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of His gifts. And through it, he being dead still speaks. He being dead still speaks.
Now, we know that Cain and Abel were brothers. And they probably had a sibling rivalry. Most brothers and sisters do. Do you guys have brothers and sisters? And do you have a sibling rivalry with them? Was there ever competition that you guys had with them? Yeah. I had three older brothers. Are you kidding? We were always competing. And it seems that Cain and Abel, since they are post-fall, they're conceived in sin already, they had their own sibling rivalry. And it even shows up in worship in what they offer to God.
Now, I've always loved the story about the two brothers who were camping. And they got up in the morning. And they're leaning by the tent and having coffee. And one of the brothers spots in the background a grizzly bear coming at them full gallop. So he quickly reaches down to put his shoes on, shows his brother, there's a bear, and puts his shoes on. And the brother says, what? Do you think you can outrun a grizzly bear? Because I don't have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you.
So here we have Cain and Abel, one trying to outrun the other when it comes to pleasing God. It is the second generation of humans from creation. But get this. They're already starting, one of them at least, already starting to depart from the faith. Second generation after creation, already there is an apostasy taking place. And what we see in Cain and Abel is the difference between self-styled worship and spirit-styled worship. Spirit-styled worship, that's Abel. Self-styled worship, that is Cain.
But we're considering in verse 4 Abel's faith. And Abel's faith produced three things according to this verse. It produced a right sacrifice. It produced a righteous standing. And it produced a repeating sermon. That's all in this verse. The first thing his faith produced is a right standing. By faith, verse 4, Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. Now, the verse takes us back to the story. And the story is found in the Book of Genesis chapter 4. So I ask you to mark your Bible. So go turn to Genesis chapter 4. And let's sort of unfold the story so we can get at the heart of Hebrews 11.
Now, Genesis chapter 4, that goes back pretty far. Genesis chapter 1 is the beginning of everything. It's the beginning of the universe. Genesis chapter 2 is the beginning of the human race. Genesis chapter 3 is the beginning of sin. And Genesis chapter 4 is the beginning of the fallout of sin. We feel that today. The fallout begins to be felt and seen in Genesis chapter 4. If you remember that little outline that Paul gives in Romans 5, he said, by one man sin entered the world and death through sin. And then death spread to all men. And then death reigned. So it entered. It spread. And then it reigned. This is now in chapter 4 death spreading and reigning over God's creation.
Chapter 3 of Genesis is the root of sin. That's the fall. Genesis 4 is the fruit of sin. This is what happens when sin enters and spreads. So Genesis chapter 4 verse 1 introduces us to the story. Now Adam knew Eve, his wife. And she conceived and bore Cain and said, I have acquired a man from the Lord. The word "Cain" is a word that means "acquired" or "to get" or "to receive" or "to obtain." One translation says, he is here. So he is born. And she goes, he's here. And we wonder, well, who is she referring to? He is here and acquired or got. And what is it she's been looking for that she might get?
And probably she was thinking of a promise back in chapter 3 verse 15, where God made a promise. And He said, the seed of the woman will come and crush the head of the serpent. You see, after the fall of mankind, God gave a promise that one day, a child is going to be born. And this child, this seed of the woman, this male child is going to rise up and undo all the damage done in chapter 3, the curse of creation.
There's going to be a recovery. There's going to be a reconciliation. That was the promise that was given to Adam and Eve. And probably, Eve thought, he's here. I've gotten him. I've obtained the promise. This is the deliverer. This is the seed. Of course, she couldn't be more wrong. She was holding in her arms a baby murderer, the first murderer. I've gotten the deliverer. He is the one. Oh, no, he's not. He's going to prove how bad sin really is. So this is the first human pregnancy. Eve is pregnant with Cain, and she delivers him. I can just see Adam's amazement week by week, month by month. They'd never seen anything like this before. He's looking at her. And she's getting a little bit bigger every week.
And he says to her, you know, Eve, sweetheart, you seem to be putting on more weight. And what's with all these little stockings that you're knitting all the time? And what do you mean you want pickles and ice cream and all those new things that pregnancies bring? Adam is like, this is the first time ever, not only for him, but for everyone. Verse 2 continues the story. She bore again. So this is a second child. She bore again, and this time his brother Abel. Now, Abel was a keeper of the sheep. But Cain was a tiller of the ground.
The word "Abel" comes from the root word "vapor" or "breath." And what a fitting name because his life was cut short. It says in James, our life is but a vapor. His life certainly was a vapor. He lived for a temporary time, as it turns out. But his life was cut short because he becomes the first homicide victim in history. Now, these guys were different. These brothers were different, as most siblings are. And they're different in their occupation. We're introduced to their occupation in verse 2. Cain becomes a farmer. He tills the ground.
Abel becomes a shepherd. He's involved in animal husbandry, both born after the fall, both born outside the Garden of Eden. Both of them are under the curse of sin. So Adam and Eve have two boys. The story continues to unfold in verse 3. In the process of time, we are told, it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the first born of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering. But the Lord did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.
Now, you'll notice in verse 3 it says, in the process of time. Note that little phrase. Literally, that phrase could be translated, at the end of days, at the end of days. What this shows us is there was a certain time God had prescribed for worship to take place, for an offering to be made. And at the end of those days, whether it was the end of a week or the end of a month or the end of several months, we don't know. But at the end of that time, there was a proper certain time God had prescribed. And it even seems that there was a certain place that God had prescribed, for it says, in the process of time, it came to pass Cain brought an offering of fruit of the ground to the Lord.
So he must have understood that I bring something to a certain place. And we can't be certain, but I'm guessing. I'm inferring just from what I know of the biblical record. And since it was outside of the Garden of Eden, outside of paradise, and remember, outside of paradise, there was stationed, one on either side with a flaming sword, two angels, two cherubim. So it could be that there at that place where there were two cherubim and a flaming sword, there was a place where they were to bring a sacrifice. That's what I'm guessing. It's like this was the first mercy seat. Remember the Tabernacle and the mercy seat and the two cherubim that covered that, emblematic probably of the Garden of Eden? This is the first time and the first place that God required a sacrifice.
Not only was there a certain place and a certain time. But there was a certain style, a certain manner, a certain prescribed manner that God wanted to be worshipped, a certain way to do it. And it would seem that God had revealed what that way was, what the requirements were, probably to Adam and Eve so that the parents instructed the children. Let me explain that. And you'll remember this. In Genesis chapter 3 after the fall, after sin entered the world through the fall of Adam and Eve, you remember what Adam and Eve did because they suddenly realized they were naked? They sewed fig leaves together. They took some of the fruit of the ground, a tree, leaves, and they covered themselves with it.
And that didn't work out very well because what the Bible tells us is that God made tunics of skin. That required the death of an animal. He made tunics of skin. And He covered them. So animals were killed. And the fruit of the killing of these animals, the substitution for them dying, Adam and Eve dying, was these two animals. They were killed. And the skins were placed to cover their nakedness. So what did Adam and Eve learn in their approach to God and their worship of God? They learned three things, we discover in Genesis chapter 3. Number one, man needs a covering for sin. Because suddenly, one day they realize, hey, I'm naked. Hey, you're naked. We've got to cover ourselves up. They were immediately aware of their vulnerability. Sin caused that.
So they discovered, number one, I need a covering for my sin. They discovered, number two, that God will not accept their own garments or garments of their own making. You can't come to God on your own terms. They discovered that. And number three, the covering for sin comes only through the death of an innocent substitute. Blood must be shed. Now, remember that little premise we began with. The worship God accepts is the worship God prescribes. So Cain and Abel come at the certain time at the certain place to bring their offering to the Lord. Cain left out two important elements of worship that Abel included in his sacrifice, number one, the kind of offering, and number two, the quality of offering, the kind and the quality.
Abel brought a certain kind of offering. Abel brought a different kind of offering. Abel brought blood sacrifice, like his parents learned, the death of a substitute. An animal was shed or killed, slain, and blood was shed. Cain did not come with the shedding of blood. Cain came with the fruit of his own labor, what he had produced and grown from sowing and working in the ground. He came with his own works. That's what he felt like bringing to the Lord. Like his parents once tried with fig leaves, he grows it. And he offers it to the Lord. Now, I'm sure it was beautiful. Maybe it was a beautiful bundle of leaves and flowers and grains. And you'd look at it and go, wow, what a great spread. There's only one problem. There was no blood, no blood. No blood was shed.
Now, for a moment, think of all of the beautiful things people offer to God because they think, I think this is beautiful. God will think it's beautiful. Think of all the beautiful buildings that people make to worship in. Think of all the beautiful programs people put together. And they think God will be pleased with it. Beautiful talents, beautiful music, insightful sermons, great enthusiasm, all of that's great. But if you leave the blood out of any of that, you have no power. You have no gospel. You have not the way of God or the way of Abel. You have the way of Cain. You are coming with your own righteousness. In Romans chapter 10 in the third verse, Paul writes, being ignorant of God's righteousness and seeking to establish their own righteousness, they have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God. He is indicting the Jewish nation as a whole in that verse.
Now, if Cain would have come and would have first presented an animal sacrifice, like his brother did, in effect confessing that he is a sinner and has need of a blood substitute, an animal substitute, a living substitute, and then after that offering would have presented the fruit, no problem, like a thank offering. It's not that it's wrong to bring grains and plants to the Lord. In the Book of Leviticus chapter 19, there were grain offerings. And there were plant offerings that were given to the Lord as part of the produce of the land. But first and foremost must come a blood substitute. You can add things to it. You can bring thank offerings and praise offerings on top of that. If Cain would have done that, no problem. So the first mistake he made and what he omitted was having the right kind of offering, secondly the quality of offering, as I mentioned.
In verse 4 of Genesis chapter 4, it says, Abel also brought of the first born of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering. In other words, Abel gave the very best. There was a quality. It's not like, you know, I sort of feel like I want to give. And this is what I think. He said, I'm going to give what God requires. That's what He wants. I believe that. I'm going to give the very best that I have. I'm not going to give the sickest lamb or the scrawniest goat or some little reject animal. I want it, nothing's too good for God.
It's sort of like David and Araunah, a.k.a. Ornan in the Old Testament, when David wanted to find a special site for the temple. And he found one. It happens to be the Temple Mount today. But at first, it was just a threshing floor. And Ornan said, oh, if you're going to give this to God, I'll give it to you. You can have it. It's free. If you're using this for worship, man, take it. I'm not going to charge you for it. David said, no, no, no. I'll give you the fair market value. Ornan said, no, no, no, no. This is for God. Let me just give it to you as a gift.
David said, I refuse to give God something unless it costs me. It's got to cost you. And it cost Abel. It was the very best that he had to offer. So Cain omitted the right kind of offering and the right quality of offering. So you can immediately see just from this few verses in Genesis 4 the difference between these two worshipers. One was religious. One was righteous. One offered a sacrifice. One offered a better sacrifice. One lived by feeling. One lived by faith.
In short, to sum it all up, the irreducible minimum of all this is simply this. Abel brought to God what God wanted. Cain brought to God what Cain wanted. It was all about Cain. In effect, what Cain was doing in bringing this was denying his own sin and the need for the shedding of blood. Abel obviously believed that he was a sinner who needed forgiveness.
Now, I'll tell you why this is so important because the New Testament makes a big deal out of this, not only here in Hebrews 11, contrasting Cain and Abel, Abel a hero of faith, a man of faith. But twice in the New Testament, Cain is seen as a real bad example. The Book of Jude talks about the way of Cain. Woe unto them, it says, for they have gone the way of Cain. Then in 1 John chapter 3 verse 12, it says, Cain who was of the wicked one. Cain was of the devil. He followed the devil's suggestions. It was worship, but it was not God's worship. He was of the wicked one.
The way of Cain, what is the way of Cain? The way of Cain is self-styled worship. It's the way of personal righteousness. It's the way of false religion. Cain believed in God, obviously. It's not like he disputed the existence of God. He was not an atheist. He believed in God, obviously. He brought a sacrifice, an offering to God. He acknowledged God. But you could look at it this way. Cain believed in God. But Cain did not believe God. There's a big difference. He believed in God. Oh, I believe in the power greater than I am. There's a God who rules over everything. But he didn't believe God. He didn't believe the revelation God had given of the need for a blood sacrifice.
Now, whenever the blood of Jesus Christ is pushed aside and replaced with anything else, you have the way of Cain. You have the way of Cain. The way of Cain takes the narrow road of the cross and broadens it into a 12-lane freeway that says, anybody can believe anything because all roads lead to God. You've heard that before. A lot of people complain about Christianity. I've heard these complaints. I've had this told right to my face. You Christians, you're so narrow-minded. Drew, have you ever had somebody tell you you're narrow minded? Are you? I know I put you on the spot. So I've had people say, Skip, you are so narrow-minded. You Christians are narrow-minded.
My response is, you're wrong. I'm not narrow-minded. I'm worse than that. I'm close-minded. There's only one way to heaven, and that is through Jesus Christ and belief in what He has done for you. It's not Jesus plus anything or anyone else. Jesus called it a "narrow way." He said, I am the way, the truth, the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. So I have a closed mind. You've been brainwashed. You're right. Jesus washed my brain. And then he closed it up because I don't need to be open to anything or anyone else.
You know, it's funny this whole notion about all roads lead to God. It doesn't matter what you believe. Any way is OK. It only seems to work with religion, in most people's minds. You can't take that principle and have it work well in other aspects of life. For example, if you went to the doctor, you'd want the right cure, not just any cure. What if the doctor said to you, when you say, OK, doctor, what should I do? What should I take, what if he said to you, well, do whatever you think is best? Follow your own heart. Go home and find your own path for wellness. All roads lead to health as long as you're sincere and happy.
Oh, he would be out of practice. And he should be out of practice because that's called a "quack." And you'd be called "dead," probably. You wouldn't survive that. There has to be a set of absolutes that get you through to health. So all roads don't lead to God any more than all roads lead to perfect health. So that's the first thing that Abel's faith produced, a right sacrifice second. It produced a right standing.
Back to our text in Genesis 11 verse 4, by faith, Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which, here's the second part, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts. What does that mean? What does it mean that God testified or witnessed about him? Well, it could mean that it was a verbal affirmation. When Abel brought the sacrifice of the animal and killed it, God could have simply said, well done, Cain or Abel. Well done. Good job. Or it could have been a physical manifestation.
If I were to look at other portions of scripture, and we should always do that, by comparing scripture with scripture, it could simply mean when God testified that God brought fire down from heaven to consume His sacrifice. You know why I say that? Because five times, the Bible shows that when God approved of animal sacrifices, He brought fire down from heaven like lightning and consumed it. It happened with King David when he offered a sacrifice. It happened with Solomon at the dedication of the temple. And it also happened with Elijah in the contest with the prophets of Baal, 1 Kings chapter 18, on Mount Carmel. So God could have just said, good job, verbally speaking. Or fire comes from heaven, consumes it, showing that God is saying, right on.
But the heart of the passage here, the heart, the real idea, is that God declared Abel to be righteous because of his faith. That's the idea when it says, he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts. In other words, God made a declaration that Abel was righteous because Abel believed. Now, nothing is said of Cain and Abel as terms of their other activities or their character back in Genesis 4. It doesn't say, well, you know, Abel really was a nice guy. Cain was sort of a bad egg all the time. It didn't say that. It didn't talk about his character.
Indeed, Abel may have been a nicer guy, sweeter guy, happier guy, more blessed guy than Cain. But we're not told that. In fact, it doesn't matter. What really matters is the sacrifice because at the end of the day, no matter how good you are, you still need a blood sacrifice. That's the point. You're saved by faith, not by your good works. So Abel's righteousness is a declared righteousness. God declares it, testifies because Abel is still a sinner.
A little bit of a background, the Book of Hebrews is being written to, guess who? Hebrews. Right, Hebrews, Jewish people, probably a church congregation somewhere in Israel. That's what we believe. They came to faith in Christ, but they're struggling with their faith in Christ. And they're tempted to go back into the old covenant and leave that simple faith in Christ.
So he goes, don't do that. The just are made just by their faith. And here's an example. It goes all the way back to Able. Abel was the first guy who didn't follow a law. Before the law, he believed in God. And God imputed to Able a righteousness, a declaration. So he's kind of unpacking that for them. What he's saying is that righteousness is something imputed by God, not earned by us.
Romans chapter 3, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Then it says this right afterwards. Being justified freely, that means without a cause, without earning anything, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
So a right standing with God, whether you're Abel or you're you in this day and age, a right standing with God comes through faith in God's revelation number one, that we are all sinners, number two, that we need a blood sacrifice in our place. Number three, when we believe in that substitute, we are declared righteous by God. It's a verdict. It is a declaration. It is a proclamation.
So righteousness is never earned by the sinner. It is accomplished by the Savior. It's never earned by the sinner. It's always accomplished by the Savior. And that's why people hate it. They hate it because they want to work for it. And because you're told, no, you can't earn it, they take umbrage to it.
That's human pride. Human pride wants to earn it. Man is incurably addicted to working for his own salvation. But salvation is not a process. It is a position. It is a proclamation. It is as instant as turning on a light switch.
So when you say, I believe in you, Jesus. I believe what you did for me on the cross is enough, God turns on the switch, righteous, justified, set free, forgiven. The cross, then, becomes the spiritual sponge that absorbs all of our sins instantly. It's a declaration. You believe? Boom, you're saved. It's that quick. It's that instantaneous.
But that's not all. Real faith is obedient. Abel believed, but he showed that he believed by bringing the sacrifice. It was faith. But it was obedient faith. He brought the animal. James says, faith without works is dead. Faith without works is dead.
True faith, then, produces an obedient follow through. In sports, they talk about the follow through. If you're at bat and you swing and you hit the ball, it's all about the follow through with the bat. When you play golf, I remember my golf coach and my dad saying, you got to follow through. You don't stop at the ball. You follow through. And that follow through is a large determination of the accuracy of where that ball goes.
In so many sports, it's about the follow through. The shot can't be executed properly without the follow through. Works are the follow through of faith. If it's real faith, it will work. It will produce. It will be seen in obedience.
So Abel's faith produced three things, a right sacrifice, a righteous standing because he, by faith, brought that offering believing in God. God saw his faith, declared him righteous, testified to that. And he brought a third thing, a repeating sermon, a repeating sermon.
Back to our text in chapter 11 verse 4, by faith, Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, that's the right sacrifice, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts. That's righteous standing. God accomplished righteousness giving it to him because of the faith of Abel.
And finally, a repeating sermon is the rest of that text that says, and through it he, Abel, being dead still speaks. Now, he was killed. His name means "vapor." He lived for a while as an adult. He brought a sacrifice. His brother killed him.
We go back to Genesis chapter 4 since hopefully it's still marked. Back to Genesis chapter 4, in verse 4, Abel brought of the first born of his flock and their fat. The Lord respected Abel and his offering. But He did not respect Cain and his offering.
And Cain was very angry. And his countenance fell. He brought what he thought he wanted. And God should want that, too. Lord said to Cain, why are you angry? Why is your countenance fallen?
You could see it in his face already that it's, he wore his heart on his sleeve, we like to say. That's an expression. In other words, you can see by a person's facial expressions, body language what they're thinking. And if a dude does this, it's different than that.
So Abel brings his offering. God respects it. I'd be smiling. Did not respect Cain's. His countenance fell. He became angry. So God said, why art thou bummed out? Why are you so angry? Why is your countenance fallen? Verse 7, if you do well, if you lived right, if you did what is right, if you did what I required that you do, will you not be accepted?
Your brother did right. He brought the right sacrifice. You did not. If you were to bring the right sacrifice and you were to obey me and believe the requirement, you'd be accepted. And if you do not do well, sin is lying or crouching literally at the door like an animal ready to pounce. And its desire is for you. But you should rule over it.
This is God appealing to him. This is God giving him another chance. This is God coming to him and not just saying, I'm going to banish you, but saying, hey, you could do right Why didn't you do right?
Now, why didn't Cain at that point say, Lord, you're right. I'm sorry. There's no hint at all of any penance, any repentance, any turning at all, any reconsideration at all. He just stays bummed out. God calls him on it. God invites him to change.
But notice what he says. Sin lies at the door, and its desire is for you. And you should rule over it. If you don't rule over your sin, your sin is going to rule over you. Your sin will dominate you. If you don't wrestle it to the ground, it is going to eat your lunch, dude.
So what did he do after this appeal? It says, Cain was talking with his brother, saying, come out here. I want to talk to you about something. And it came to pass when they were in the field, Cain rose up against Abel, his brother, and killed him.
And the Lord said to Cain, where is Abel, your brother? And he said, I don't know. So now he compounds his sin by what? A lie, murder. Now he's lying to God. How stupid is that? He says, I don't know. Am I my brother's keeper? And He, the Lord, said, what have you done?
Now, God isn't looking for information. He's looking for an account from this guy. He wants him to fess up. What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground. He's dead, but he is still talking. So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand.
Cain knew exactly what he was doing in killing his brother. Some people try to excuse Cain. They say, Cain can't really be held responsible. He didn't know what he was doing. He had never seen death before.
What do you mean he had never seen it? He had just seen death. His brother brought an animal and killed the animal. He knew what happens when you deliver a certain kind of wound to a living being. He had watched it in that offering of his brother. So in delivering that wound to an animal, his brother now, Cain, delivers that wound to him and kills him, snuffs out his life.
Back to Hebrews 11, when it says, through it being dead he still speaks, the primary meaning is this. Abel, though he died at an early age, he preaches a message to every generation. He is still speaking today. So you would call this the sermon of a dead guy.
And what sermon is he preaching? What is the continual lesson is saying to the Hebrews in Judea who are struggling with their faith in Christ or to us today? Simple, it's the same message throughout. The just shall live by faith. The just shall live by faith. He is a preacher, Abel is, of the value of faith, of the excellence of faith, and of the need for faith.
There is an old pirate saying. In fact, at least I think it is. I saw it at Disneyland in Pirates of the Caribbean when you're going down that first little waterfall and it has that little skull talking on the wall. Dead men tell no tales. Dead men tell no tales.
Actually, dead men do tell some tales. This one does. And that is, faith has value. And here's the truth. Every life makes a mark. And every life becomes a testimony, for better or for worse.
James Moffatt said this. "Death is never the last word. When a man leaves this world, be he righteous or unrighteous, he leaves something in the world. He may leave something that will grow and spread like a cancer or a poison, or he may leave something like the fragrance or perfume or a blossom of beauty that permeates the atmosphere with beauty."
Whatever you do you, are leaving your mark. You are leaving your legacy. Abel left his. Cain left his. And the message he still preaches to every generation, picked up in this list, going back to Habakkuk chapter 2 is the just shall live by faith.
What message are you leaving? I've always loved that little poem. You are writing a gospel, a chapter each day, by the things that you do and the words that you say. People hear what you say. And they see what you do. So what is the Gospel, according to you?
Cain had his gospel. This is the best I got. It better be good enough for God. This is what I feel He should like. Or this is what I know God wants. He requires a blood sacrifice. I believe that I can be justified if I believe that revelation of God and bring that animal sacrifice.
Abel's faith made him a martyr. Cain's unbelief made him a murderer. Both of them were legacies. Both of them are sermons that are still lingering on to this day.
So Abel is the first man of faith. He bowed to the truth, and he brought a sacrifice. And the truth is everyone is a sinner. Everyone needs a substitute. And if I bring that right offering, God will forgive me. He will declare me righteous.
Cain is the first religious hypocrite. Cain is the first religious hypocrite. He brings an offering. But his offering is cloaked. He covers his sin with a cloak of religious activity. He shows up to worship God with a religious ceremony. But he does not have faith in the revelation that God requires blood to be shed. He has faith in himself.
So Hebrews 11:4 goes all the way back to the very beginning, the book of the Bible, Genesis chapter 4. And according to Donald Grey Barnhouse, he said, at this point in the Bible, the highway to the cross began to be built. With Cain and Abel, the highway to the cross began to be built because we have a man who lived by faith and died by faith.
So here, just like for his parents, with Abel, here it's one lamb for one man. Later on at Passover, it will be one lamb for one family. Later on on the Day of Atonement, it will be one lamb for the whole nation.
And much later on at Calvary with the cross of Jesus Christ, behold the Lamb of God. It's one lamb for the whole world. Same principle, requires faith not in your works, not in your goodness, not in your religion, but in the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
It's why Paul said, this is who I was. This is what I've done. I was a Hebrew of the Hebrews. I was righteous. I was a Pharisee. But he said, now I am found in Him, not having my own righteousness which is from the law, but the righteousness which comes by faith in Jesus Christ, period.
So all of that to say this, you have a certain kind of faith. My question is, do you have a faulty faith? Cain had faith in God. But it was a faulty faith. He believed in God, but he didn't believe God. Abel believed in God, and he believed God.
Boy, I wish Cain would have fact checked his faith to see if it was real or not. Maybe you've been relying on a false kind of faith. And you need to fact check it tonight right here, right now.
Maybe you've been trusting in a religious system. I was raised in a church. My parents, my grandparents, I was baptized as an infant. I've kept certain rituals and benchmarks throughout my life. I'm trying really hard and doing my best. I think I'm a good person. I think God will accept me. All of that is the way of Cain. And it will not be accepted.
It's a very narrow way. It's a very, very confined entrance and road. All roads do not lead to God. I suppose they do in the sense that all roads lead to the judgment of God. There's only one road that leads to life. And that's through Jesus Christ, who said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. And no one comes to the Father except through me.
Friend, I want to encourage you and invite you, like God did to Cain, and that was rejected, to make a decision to get things right, to fact check your faith if it's faulty, if it's false, if you're relying on yourself, the work of your own hands in the ground rather than the shed blood of an animal, but in this case the shed blood of God's lamb, Jesus Christ. Because the blood of goats and bulls are not sufficient, the Book of Hebrews says, anymore. Those were all preludes to the final event, Calvary.
So if you're watching this, and you realize, you know, I've been trusting in myself or my parents or my religion but I haven't been trusting personally in what Jesus did for me, that can change right now. You take personal inventory right where you are. And if you realize your faith is faulty, and now that I fact check it with the scripture, I believe in God. But I haven't trusted Jesus. I haven't believed in Him.
Change that now. How? Simply believing. No, I have to earn my way. I have to work. No you don't. You just have to believe in the one who did the work and said, it is finished. How do you do that? You simply pray to Him. So you pray right where you're at. Pray with me if you want to do that. Say:
Lord, I'm a sinner. I admit it. I believe it. And I also believe that Jesus is the way you've provided, the lamb you've provided. I believe Jesus came from heaven to Earth. I believe Jesus died on a cross for my sin and rose from the dead for me. I turn from my sin. I repent of my sin. I leave it behind. And I turn to Jesus as my Savior and as my Lord. But I need your help, God. I need your help to follow you. I'm weak. Help me to not just believe in you, but to believe you and to believe what I read in this book today and every day. In Jesus' name, amen.