Cain the Tolerant (1 John)
April 3, 2012, 1:20 pm
Filed under: Tolerant Calvinism

written by David Bishop

1 John 1:5-10   This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.  If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.   If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

1 John 3:4   Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. 11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

John asks a question in his first epistle.  Why did Cain murder his brother Abel? John answers, because Cain’s own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.  But Cain had not murdered anyone before he murdered Abel.  What deeds then, is John talking about? And what made them evil?

The story of Cain and Abel is found in the fourth chapter of Genesis.  Preceding this fourth chapter, Genesis alerts us to the concept of two seeds, or two offspring, or two classes of people – those who are elect to salvation in Christ, and those who are predestined to destruction in the serpent.

Genesis 3:15  I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.

It is within this context that Cain and Abel are introduced.

Genesis 4:2-8   And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground.  In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen?  If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”  Cain spoke to Abel his brother.  And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.

John tells us that Cain “was of the evil one.”  Whatever else this might mean, it means first and foremost that Cain was a member of the second class of people –   those who have been predestined to destruction in the serpent.  This was a decision God had made about Cain from before the foundation of the world, independent of Cain’s will, independent of his deeds.  John does not say Cain was of the evil one because his deeds were evil.  Rather, he argues that Cain’s deeds were evil because he was of the evil one.

John 8:42-44  Jesus said to them, “If God were your father, you would love Me, for I came from God and am here.  I came not of My own accord, but He sent Me.  Why do you not understand what I say?  It is because you cannot bear to hear My word.  You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.”

Cain was of the evil one.  For this reason his deeds were evil.  In other words, everything that Cain did was evil because Cain was of the evil one.  Everything.  Not just those deeds in reference to sacrifice, but everything.  Rising from his bed in the morning was evil.  Grabbing a cup of coffee and a bite to eat in the morning before heading out into the field was evil.   Even the act of drawing breath was evil.  Everything Cain did was evil, because Cain had been predestined to destruction in the evil one.  God would never justify him.  Rather, God would always charge the guilt of Cain’s sins to Cain.

God instructed Cain to master the sin that was at Cain’s door (an impossibility!).  God did not tell Abel this.  (Hebrews 11:4).  I am told in Hebrews 12:15-17 that Esau wept with bitterness when he learned the truth about God’s sovereign grace.  Cain did not weep though.  Cain exploded with rage instead.  He seethed with hatred until his hatred boiled over into a full blown act of murderous rage.

What do you suppose Cain told his brother when they were out in the field? Scripture does not say, but I think it would be safe in this case to conjecture.   He was probably trying to illicit a measure of sympathy from Abel.   Perhaps he was even trying to convince Abel to join him in his hatred for God.  When Abel refused however, when Abel told him that God is righteous to sovereignly choose, Cain rose up in hatred and killed him.

There are many people today who share Cain’s feelings about the brothers. They hate the gospel of God’s sovereign righteousness, especially where it concerns the message of sovereign election and effectual atonement.  Jesus warned as much in John’s gospel. “I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John 15:18-19.

These modern day Cains pretend to be with us.  They sit alongside us in church pews, meet with us in our homes for Bible study and prayer, and sometimes even pastor the local congregation.   But while they give lip service to God, their hearts are far from Him.   They seethe with hatred at the message of His sovereign righteousness.  Unlike Cain however, they are as yet too cowardly to rise up in murderous rage to strike us down.  They gnash their teeth quietly instead, and then continue to tell us and others that we are hypers, Gnostics, over zealous, cage-stage Calvinists for insisting that the gospel is the message of God’s sovereign righteousness.

John concludes his first epistle with the following words:

1 John 5:13-21   I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.  This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.   If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that.  All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.  We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.  We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.  We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ.  He is the true God and eternal life.  Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.

Why the sudden reference to idols?  What is the sin that leads to death?  And what does John mean by the One who was born of God keeps them safe?

Cain knew the sin that leads to death.  The One who was born of God did not keep him safe, for Cain was not His.  The One did keep Abel safe though, for Abel was His.  The One was charged with Abel’s sins and then died the death due to Abel.  Although Abel’s sins were wrongdoing, nevertheless, Abel’s sins did not lead to Abel’s death, nor shall Abel ever die the second death.  Cain however, shall die the second death.  Who is this One that kept Abel safe?  It is the same One who keeps all His elect safe.

John 17:12  While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me.  I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 

What is the sin that leads to death?  It is the sin that God did not charge to Christ.  In other words, it is the sinning of all the non-elect.

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Cain being born in a condemned state is enough alone for him to be unacceptable to God. Cain’s hatred of the gospel is not the first cause of his condemnation, but Cain’s hatred of the gospel is an evidence of his condemned state. It was not morality that Cain hated.

Cain hated Abel’s gospel because that gospel said that even Cain’s efforts to please God (the best of his fruits, with all sincerity) were an abomination to God.

But Is not I John about assurance because of better morality, because of “sin-removing faith”, because of “stopping your sin” without being perfectionist about it?

I John 4:17-18 explains that God’s election (love) is “perfected with us, so that we have confidence in the day of judgment, because as He is so also are we in the world. There is no fear in this love”

Imputation is the only way (the alone way, the mere way) that the justified elect can be AS Christ IS IN the world. I John 4:17 is about legal solidarity with Christ’s obedience even to death.

Not only the violence but the religion of Cain is evil.
You don’t have to be effectually called to become ashamed of murder. The reason Cain murdered Abel was that Cain wanted to glory in/ rejoice in (Phil 3:3)his religion (his idolatry).

Cain in the flesh “could not please God” (Rom 8:8).

To pass over from death to life is to be put into the new creation, to be given a new legal state, in which one’s confidence is not in what God does in you but rather in what God has done in Christ outside you. Only in this way can we be in the world as Christ was in the world.

Those who are still in Adam will not come to the light of the gospel of grace, because they love darkness and the light of gospel grace will tell them their deeds are evil, all their deeds, even their moral deeds. (John 3:19)

Comment by markmcculley

You said: “John does not say Cain was of the evil one because his deeds were evil. Rather, he argues that Cain’s deeds were evil because he was of the evil one.”

And from this we must deduce that Abel never sinned (had never done any evil). Or shall we say He sinned (had done some evil) but his evil was not nearly as heinous as that of his brother. If Abel had also done some evil, he too must be classified with those whose deeds are/were evil because they are of the evil one. Unless, of course, his evil was not of the evil one but of himself or even of God (for the Calvinists believe that God ordained everything that comes to pass, even the sins of fallen man, including the murder Cain committed).

Nonetheless, it seems that Abel’s evil deeds (though much less than that of his brother) were also evil because he too was of the evil one. And that’s exactly what 1 John 3:8 teaches: “He that committeth sin is of the devil.” OK, so we are told that John is speaking about habitual sin. Was Cain an habitual sinner? You yourself said: ” But Cain had not murdered anyone before he murdered Abel.” That hardly made him an habitual murderer. Moreover, the Bible does not tell us that he ever murdered again after he murdered his brother. Again, that hardly makes of him an habitual murderer. Therefore, he must have been an habitual murderer in other things. But, wasn’t his brother, Abel, also an habitual sinner in other things? Perhaps not. And yet the very fact that he brought an offering of his flock and needed to shed its blood so that God could approve and accept his offering (Hebrews 9:22), proves that he himself admitted that he was a sinner, albeit an habitual sinner.

This brings me to the main point I would like to bring to your attention. Abel’s righteous deeds refer to his offering which he brought to God from his flock of sheep and Cain’s evil deeds refer to his offering he brought to the Lord from his own sweat and toil and hard work in his tilling fields. It could not have been any other righteous deeds because even Abel’s best deeds of righteousness were like a woman’s menstrual rag in God’s sight (Isaiah 64:6).

Could Cain also have brought an offering that was acceptable to the Lord? Well God himself said: ““Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” If Cain’s evil deeds were the result of him being irretrievably a non-elect hell-bound predestined one of the evil one, and not because he was merely a sinner just like his brother, God would never have said such a thing.

I must say, I find it very offensive of you to suggest that those who do not believe in the doctrine of election unto salvation are all a bunch of Cains. Is that it? If I’m not a Calvinist I’m automatically a Cain who murders others? If your supposition is true then we ought to rather pin the Cain label onto the lapel of your mentor, John Calvin. He was not merely a one-man-murderer like Cain; he was an habitual murderer.

Comment by Tom Lessing

>>>And from this we must deduce that Abel never sinned (had never done any evil).

Why must we deduce this? John does not say Abel never sinned. Rather, he said that Cain’s deeds were evil because he was of the evil one. The only thing we can deduce about Abel is that his deeds were not evil because he was of the righteous one. Does that mean Abel never sinned, or that God never called Abel’s sins a sin? No. It means Abel was not charged with the guilt of his sins. It means that the sacrifice Abel made to God was acceptable because he was of the righteous one.

>>>>So we are told that John is speaking about habitual sin.

John was not speaking to habitual sin. John was speaking to unbelief. And as he reminds us with the story of Cain and Abel, belief and unbelief are both ultimately a result of election. Everyone starts life as an unbeliever, but God eventually justifies the elect and brings them to faith. He does not do so with the nonelect. Cain’s deeds were evil because he was OF the evil one (the serpent, the nonelect).

>>>This brings me to the main point I would like to bring to your attention. Abel’s righteous deeds refer to his offering which he brought to God from his flock of sheep and Cain’s evil deeds refer to his offering he brought to the Lord from his own sweat and toil and hard work in his tilling fields.

I used to believe this too, but the Scriptures reject it.

John 8:42-44 Jesus said to them, “If God were your father, you would love Me, for I came from God and am here. I came not of My own accord, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.”

Romans 4:1-8 What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

Romans 5:12-14 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. NEVERTHELESS death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

Hebrews 11:4 By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.

Can’t we deduce from Hebrews 11 that Cain’s sacrifice was not acceptable because it was not offered in faith? Where do you get the notion that sweat and toil made it unacceptable? Did not God later in the Mosaic economy demand a sacrifice of bread and grain?

>>>>Could Cain also have brought an offering that was acceptable to the Lord? Well God himself said: ““Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” If Cain’s evil deeds were the result of him being irretrievably a non-elect hell-bound predestined one of the evil one, and not because he was merely a sinner just like his brother, God would never have said such a thing.

Nonsense. The Scriptures are filled with such instances. PHARAOH HIMSELF WAS SUCH AN INSTANCE!!! You think it’s unjust of God to command men everywhere to obey Him? You think it’s unjust that He command them and yet not give them the power to obey Him?

2 Samuel 24:1 – Now again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and it incited David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah.”

1 Chronicles 21:1 – “Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel.”

1 Kings 22 19-23 And Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left; and the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, saying, ‘I will entice him.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘By what means?’ And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.’ Now therefore behold, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the Lord has declared disaster for you.”

Can you explain these passages in view of a god who gives everyone the opportunity to obey Him?

God instructed Cain to master sin in order to expose Cain’s self righteousness. Cain thought that he could obtain a good standing with God by offering a sacrifice. But the only righteousness Heaven recognizes is Christ’s death at the cross. This has always been the only righteousness. He is, after all, the lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

As Hebrews 11 tells us, Abel believed that his righteousness was found in Christ’s death alone. Cain, however, believed that his righteousness was found in his sacrifice.

>>>I must say, I find it very offensive of you to suggest that those who do not believe in the doctrine of election unto salvation are all a bunch of Cains.

Yes, I know it is. The gospel is always an offense to those who are perishing. It was offensive to Cain. So deeply offensive, in fact, that he rose up in rage and killed his brother.

Comment by Sovereign Grace Society

“Yes, I know it is. The gospel is always an offense to those who are perishing. It was offensive to Cain. So deeply offensive, in fact, that he rose up in rage and killed his brother.”

And that’s precisely why your mentor and guru, John Calvin, rose up in rage and not only had Servetus murdered but many others as well.

Comment by Tom Lessing

“Can’t we deduce from Hebrews 11 that Cain’s sacrifice was not acceptable because it was not offered in faith? Where do you get the notion that sweat and toil made it unacceptable? Did not God later in the Mosaic economy demand a sacrifice of bread and grain?”

How on earth can I debate you when you don’t even understand what I’m saying? You yourself quoted Romans 4:1-8: ““Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,” I used “sweat and toil and hard work in his tilling fields” as a metaphor for good works which CANNOT make anyone righteous. I said exactly what Romans 4:1-8 says. I’m not so stupid to think we’re talking about one’s daily mundane work (employment) to earn a living and not about the Bible’s concept of good works that cannot save. In any case the sacrifice of bread and grain had one purpose and one purpose only and that was to point to Christ’s final offering for the sins of all people (including those of Cain). It too had nothing to do with anyone’s daily employ.

You admit that both brothers sinned but that Abel’s sins were not evil. In fact, you are making a distinction between the sins of the elect and the sins of the non-elect because the elect’s sins are not charged to them. No, Abel’s sins were just as damning as those of Cain. The only difference between the two was that Abel (in foresight of the one and final sin offering of Jesus Christ on the cross) brought an offering acceptable to the Lord whilst his brother rejected Christ’s offering for sins on the cross. (1 Corinthians 1:18). What you are saying is that Abel’s sins were not charged to him because he was an elect and that Cain’s sins remained on him because he was a non-elect.

“God instructed Cain to master sin in order to expose Cain’s self righteousness.”

Really??? Nonsense! What God meant was that he ought to have mastered sin through the cross like his brother. In fact, the cross is the only means by which sins are mastered. Paul explained the principle in Romans 7:

24 O unhappy and pitiable and wretched man that I am! Who will release and deliver me from [the shackles of] this body of death?
25 O thank God! [He will!] through Jesus Christ (the Anointed One) our Lord! So then indeed I, of myself with the mind and heart, serve the Law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.

“1 Chronicles 21:1 – “Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel.”

King David was a man after God’s own heart and yet he was not immune to temptation and its pitfalls.

Then you ask: “Can you explain these passages in view of a god [why do you use a little “g”) who gives everyone the opportunity to obey Him?”

If God gives everyone (the entire inhabitants of the world) equal opportunities to obey him, then Cain must have had ample opportunities to obey Him as well. Therefore, we may conclude that God expected him to use his own free-will to choose to obey him. If Cain did not have the choice to obey God, it would follow that Abel too never had that choice and that God therefore forced him to bring the offering he had offered, and so too also Cain. You call it “Irresistible Grace.”

Your theology is typical of Calvinism. As I said: it is based on the ramblings of a serial killer who never repented of his evil deeds.

Comment by Tom Lessing

How long do you intend to ignore the verses I give you, Tom? And by the way, if you are misunderstood, then it is because you don’t make yourself clear.

I am NOT making a distinction between the sins of the elect and the sins of the non-elect. Sin is sin. The distinction I am making instead is one of guilt. The elect are not charged with the guilt of their sins, while the non-elect are. If you deny this, then you deny that Christ took the guilt for His people’s sins to Himself at the cross and satisfied the punishment for it by dying for His people. Now, let’s watch you ignore this too.

You say:

>>>The only difference between the two was that Abel (in foresight of the one and final sin offering of Jesus Christ on the cross) brought an offering acceptable to the Lord whilst his brother rejected Christ’s offering for sins on the cross. (1 Corinthians 1:18).

To employ an old cliche, you are trying to have your cake and eat it too. You are clearly trying to avoid saying that Abel’s sacrifice was offered by faith, while Cain’s was not. The problem is that you insist that the first cause of Cain’s condemnation was his choice to not offer his sacrifice by accepting Christ’s sacrifice for sins. What is the object of faith in your little self-refuting scenario, Tom? It is Cain.

If it is true that Christ took the guilt for a person’s sins to Himself at the cross and there upon the cross satisfied the punishment for that person’s sins by dying in that person’s stead. . .

. . . then it cannot also be true that the first cause of that person’s condemnation is a choice that he makes.

A and -A cannot both be true at the same time, Tom. You cannot have Christ as a satisfactory propitiation for sins, and yet the sinner not saved by a choice. Let’s watch you ignore this one too.

You tell me:

>>>>What God meant was that he ought to have mastered sin through the cross like his brother. In fact, the cross is the only means by which sins are mastered.

Another self-refuting statement. You claim sin is mastered by the cross, and yet somehow at the same time it was up to Cain’s choice to master sin by choosing the cross. Is Cain the cross now? A and -A cannot both be true at the same time, Tom. Romans 7 has nothing to do with mastering sin. In fact, Paul even closes that chapter by stating quite clearly:

Rom 7:25 So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

Unlike yourself, Tom, Paul was not into self-refuting arguments.

Concerning 2 Samuel 24:1 and 1 Chronicles 21:1, you ignore 2 Samuel 24:1 before writing:

>>>>King David was a man after God’s own heart and yet he was not immune to temptation and its pitfalls.

Perhaps you are confused. I agree that David was not immune to temptation and its pitfalls. However, what I am asking you to acknowledge is that the Bible states quite clearly that it is God who ordains sin. The two in verses in question concern the same incident! Here they are again:

2 Samuel 24:1 – Now again the anger OF THE LORD burned against Israel, and IT INCITED David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah.”

1 Chronicles 21:1 – “Then SATAN STOOD UP AGAINST ISRAEL AND MOVED DAVID to number Israel.”

What say you about these two verses, Tom?

Comment by fuddybuddy

What deluded absolute crap altogether! Thank God for the Glory of the fullness of His Divine Mercy!

Comment by Balaam's Ass




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