January 2

Genesis 4-7, Psalm 2

Union Square Park on a Sunday afternoon is an interesting place to be. Within this 3 block radius probably over 10 religions are represented and demonstrative. There is a man dressed like a monkey god, there is a group of women dancing in worship of small planters of grass, there are fortune tellers with crystal balls, there are those who follow Hare Krishna, Buddhists, Muslims, etc. Though many reading this do not adhere to these religions, anytime we alter the relationship prescribed by God’s Word to accommodate the will of man we have moved from relationship to religion. In the Jewish religion, though God always required a blood sacrifice for the atonement of sin, without a Temple( destroyed in 70 AD), they have devised the religious concept of making their good works outweigh their bad works, especially the week before Yom Kippur (the day of atonement). For Roman Catholics, rather than true repentance, they have developed the religious practice of confession, where your sin is absolved by the priest in response to your reciting a prescribed number of “Hail Mary’s” and “Our Fathers”. Religion destroys that relationship that God desires. The result in this Biblically illiterate society is a total disregard of the consequences of one’s own sin. Consider the YouTube which glorifies abortion with “Shout your abortion”, or the seeming lack of sincerity of those caught in sexual sin, like former Congressman Anthony Weiner or Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

We know that Abel makes it to the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11:4, thus we can assume that God clearly communicated what was deemed an acceptable sacrifice. We read in Genesis 4:3-5 that, “And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And 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.” God has given the way, but Cain thought he had a better way. Even this early in the Bible, this is the third example of man made religion. In Genesis 3:3, when Eve speaks to the serpent, she adds to God’s command by saying, “…’You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'” In 2:17, God only said not to eat of that tree, Eve added the part not to touch it. In 3:7, Adam and Eve devised their own method of covering up their sin, “…they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.” God offered Cain the opportunity to move from his religion back into relationship in 4:7, “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” God offers Cain both mercy and restitution, but blinded by his own pride and sense of right and wrong, Cain rejects God’s offer. When Cain then murders Abel and is confronted and punished, we read his response in 4:13, “And Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear!” Notice no repentance, no falling to his knees in acknowledgment. Religion blinds all of its adherents from a true relationship.

In Jude 11, we read, “Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain,…”. We are living in a society which does not acknowledge sin for what it is. Cain viewed his punishment as dreadful, but it is his sin and our sin which is dreadful. Sin means missing the mark. The more we do it without repenting and turning back to God the further we find ourselves from His best plan for our lives. God always required a blood sacrifice in payment for sin. Many look at this as barbaric, only because they don’t acknowledge the seriousness of sin. If we had to pay for our sins by sacrificing our own pet, we might begin to see it a little closer to how serious God views it. But God loves us so much that he doesn’t require our own blood nor the life of our own pets. God sent His Son to make the full payment of all of our sins: past, present and future, once and for all, the moment He took our sins upon Himself and died on the Cross. He is our sacrifice. The only thing that God requires is true repentance, honest acceptance of what Jesus did in our behalf, and to make Him Lord of our lives. Anything which adds or subtracts from this simple truth is religion which destroys the relationship with God which is necessary.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Aaron Salvato