Ever since the fall of man into a state of sin, there have been two different means by which man has attempted to find acceptance in the eyes of Yahweh. These two means are illustrated in the offerings brought to Yahweh by the brothers Cain and Abel.
It came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to Yahweh of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And Yahweh had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard.
Few ministers and teachers of the word of God have understood what is signified here. The Spirit of Christ has provided an illustration of the two means by which man seeks to approach God and find acceptance in His sight. In Cain we see man seeking to find acceptance through works of the flesh. In Abel we see man seeking to find acceptance by faith.
By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous…
In what ways do the offerings of Cain and Abel symbolize the works of the flesh and the offering of faith? Cain was a tiller of the ground. Man’s body was formed of the dust of the earth. Cain sought to bring forth from the ground of the flesh an offering that was acceptable unto God. Cain brought an offering that was surely magnificent to behold. The earth in those days gave forth abundantly, and Cain brought his most impressive offering to present to Yahweh. Perhaps it was even in his heart to show up his brother’s offering by presenting that which appeared surpassingly glorious in appearance.
Man has the capacity to perform both good deeds and evil deeds. We find that even among the lost that there are many who lead lives of great sacrifice, performing many acts of benevolence toward others. Many are those who have the thought that if their good works outweigh their bad works when they stand before God they will be accepted. They seek to produce a magnificent crop of good works to bring before God that He might accept them. Yet such works of the flesh, no matter how noble and righteous they appear, are rejected by Yahweh.
For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment…
Man is very reluctant to confess that he is altogether unclean in God’s sight. Man wants to be approved before God on the basis of who he is and what he does. No man born of the seed of fallen Adam will ever be accepted before God on the basis of his own merit. None of the acts of fallen man will ever serve to justify him as righteous in the eyes of a holy God.
Right standing before God, and acceptance into His presence, comes through one solitary means. All who would be accepted before God must come through Christ.
Yahshua said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
Yahshua was the only man to ever live a life of complete righteousness before the Father. He alone was the Lamb without spot or blemish. His life was accepted by the Father, for alone among all men He received the testimony that He was pleasing to God.
Having been accepted before God through the blood of Christ a majority of Christians then fall back into the pattern of Cain and seek to maintain their acceptance through works of the flesh.
Many men and women who profess to be Christians today do not perceive the depths to which they are unclean in themselves. Many believe there is yet some good in man. They perceive religion as a means to make good men better. Those who walk in the truth understand the depth of depravity in man. There is nothing that man can offer to God that will find acceptance before Him aside from faith in Christ.
Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” Yahshua answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.“
Like Cain, mankind is constantly on a quest to perform some work that will cause them to be accepted by God. Mankind wants to impress God with their own inherent goodness. When God shows no regard for their offering, great anger is kindled in the heart. It was this same anger that was manifested by the Jewish leaders when Christ declared that their good works were of no value, for they were performed to be seen of men.
This one-upmanship, this competition to have the most glorious works to offer unto God, is also what drives a great many churches today. Men are driven to create the largest churches, to collect the greatest offerings, to support the most missionaries, to broadcast on the most TV and radio stations, that they might stand before man and God and declare, “See all that I have done for God. Surely He will accept me now.”
Observe that in the following words of Christ, those whom He spoke of believed that God would accept their works, but they were rejected even as the offering of Cain.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”
These will be rejected as lawless for they do not approach God through the sacrifice of Christ. They are seeking to be accepted into the kingdom of heaven based upon their works. The work that God accepts is to believe that His Son has purchased the entrance into heaven for all who put their trust in Him. We work the works of God because we are accepted in Christ, not that we might be accepted by God.
Abel’s offering of the lambs of the flock was one of faith. He looked forward to that spotless Lamb who would one day shed His blood for the remission of sin and the acceptance of all mankind. Yahweh had regard for Abel’s offering, for it was one of faith, looking to God to perform what fallen man was unable to accomplish through the strength of his own flesh.
Cain’s offering did not admit of the impotence of man to walk righteously on his own. He brought forth the most glorious offering the flesh could produce, and he could see no reason for it to be rejected. Similarly, many Christians today can see no reason for their fleshly works to be rejected by God. They appear altogether righteous to them. After all, Christ also prophesied, cast out demons, and performed miracles. Should they not then be accepted if they do similar works, seeking to imitate the life of the Son of God?
Yahweh will permit no flesh to boast in His presence. Our only access and acceptance before Him is on the basis of faith. We must believe that He has done all that was necessary to reconcile man to Himself. When mankind was spiritually dead and unable to help himself, God sent forth His Son, righteous and holy, to fulfill all the righteous requirements of the Law. He then laid down His life, shedding His blood for the remission of all sin.
We fall short, however, if we stop there. Christ did not remain in the grave. He rose again for in Him was the power of an indestructible life. He has ascended and has sent forth His Spirit to produce this same life in mankind.
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Yahshua from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Yahshua from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
The entire Christian life is to be lived by reckoning on the reality of Christ indwelling, and thereby vivifying, our mortal bodies. I need not attempt to imitate the life of Christ. To do so is impossible. Only Christ could live the life He led.
No! I must reckon on the fact that the life of Christ is IN me. The Christian life is not to be a vain attempt to imitate the life of Christ. It is to be a revelation of Christ IN the child of God as they by faith believe that Christ is IN them, motivating them and empowering them.
For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
Apart from Christ in them, mankind would have no power to perform the works of God. Those who do not reckon on their union with Christ are resigned to seeking to imitate the works of Christ by their own strength. Those who see Christ as sitting in heaven, rather than dwelling within their being, are forever seeking to perform works that will find acceptance in His sight. Such a life is one of great unbelief, and it is totally unacceptable in the eyes of God.
One man has described the difference in these two viewpoints in the following way. Millions ask the question, “What Would Jesus Do?” They then set out to try to perform that which their soul directs them to do. This is the offering of Cain. The very question “What Would Jesus Do” implies that Christ is not resident in the person, but is somewhere removed.
Those who walk in faith, acknowledging that Christ is in them declare “Watch What Jesus Does.” These do not seek to imitate a Christ who resides in heaven. They by faith acknowledge that Christ resides in their being, and they yield to the Spirit of Christ within. The Spirit of Christ is released to motivate and empower their mortal bodies, and all around can watch the Son of God revealed in their midst. The apostle Paul understood this well.
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God…”
The Christian life is to be one of faith manifested in the indwelling Son of God. By faith we believe He lives IN us. By faith we surrender to the Headship of Christ residing in us. By faith we yield to His lead, and by faith we trust Him to perform those works that only One who is a life-giving Spirit can perform.
Is this the basis upon which your life is lived? Are you reckoning upon the living Christ IN you? Are you yielded to the Spirit of Christ that is resident in your being? Are your actions being directed by the indwelling Spirit, and being empowered by the same?
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
Flesh cannot overcome flesh. Many years of my life were spent in futile attempts to rule over the flesh by the power of the flesh. I was convicted of sin in my life, and by self-will and determination I sought to overcome these sins. What vanity this proved to be. The harder I tried, the greater was my frustration when I failed. I was caught in the crisis described by Paul in his epistle to the Romans.
For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
I suppose every child of God has experienced this dilemma. Tragically, many never pass out of it into the place of victory. Multitudes spend their lives futilely seeking to rein in the power of sin residing in the flesh. By determination and human will they seek to resist the pull of sin. It is a vain effort, doomed to failure. The honest man will admit his impotence over the power of sin and cry out for a deliverer. “O wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” The next verse provides the answer, though it is obscured in many Bible translations.
I thank God. He has through Yahshua Christ our Lord!
The One who was tempted in all ways as we are, yet without sin, resides IN the people of God. The same power that enabled Christ to walk victoriously over every sin and temptation resides in the child of God. We were once dead and powerless over sin, but now we have the dunamis power of God residing within. As we reckon on this power, and confess it, we will find ourselves ruling over those things that once held us captive. Truly, the Son of God came to set the captives free!
Can you see that the entire Christian life is predicated upon faith? To walk victoriously over sin, Satan and the world, one must acknowledge and embrace the truth that the overcoming life of Christ is resident within them, and will supply all that is necessary for a life of godliness.
II Peter 1:2-3
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Yahshua our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
His divine power, residing IN us, has granted us EVERYTHING PERTAINING TO LIFE AND GODLINESS. There is nothing held back. There is nothing lacking. We have been granted all that is necessary to live a life pleasing and acceptable in the eyes of God the Father. Christ IN us is the key to an overcoming life.
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