Cain said to Abel his brother, “Let us go out to the field.” And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand...
When we visit this account in Genesis 4, we look to the previous chapters to try and find a "law" against murder. We find no such law. Before we continue, let us dismiss the argument posited by some that the law was given, just not yet in writing. This argument should be dismissed with prejudice for many reasons, but we can simply point to two obvious reasons.
- There was no Israel at this point as specifically denoted in the Law of Sinai
- Paul's argument for grace states unequivocally that the Law was given 430 years after Abraham
Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
We have covered the place of the Law in previous studies. We now return to Cain. It is clear from the passage in Genesis 4 that the taking of Abel's life was clearly wrong. It was clearly sin. Cain brought a curse upon himself. He knew in his conscience that he had done wickedly despite attempts to sear that conscience.
In the previous chapter, Adam and Eve violated the only Law they had at the time, "Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" The Lord had "commanded" them not to eat from a specific tree. Is this a "law" for this age? No. It makes no sense in this age. The economy is quite different today.
But let us not miss another aspect of God's words to Adam.
But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of thee in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked?..."
At this point, being naked was natural and good. This was not so afterward. Of course, the only people at that time were Adam and Eve (husband and wife) and nakedness is no sin in that relationship. But we must note that the Lord clothed them before the birth of Cain ("And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins, and clothed them" Gen 3:21). This may have been in preparation for the birth of Cain, but regardless, conditions and expectations (economies, dispensations) and rules changed.
What did not change with the birth of Cain was the understanding that murder was wrong. Some things are inherently wrong. The act of the Serpent to deceive Eve was counted as wickedness despite no specific law being violated. Adam and Even were essentially Gentiles. Paul notes that even Gentiles without the law understand certain things are wrong and/or evil.
For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.
What "law" do they have written in their hearts? Check virgins for purity? Do not wear clothes of mixed fabrics? Pay 50 shekels for a defiled daughter? The law have we all have written in our hearts tells us stealing is wrong. Murder is wrong. Lying is wrong. Cain needed no written law. The inward law is confirmed in the conscience.
The conscience can be seared, however. Refusing the witness of the conscience or simply caving to the desires of the flesh can quench any voice within (for both the believer and for the unbeliever). This will be especially true in the last days.
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron...
-1 Tim 4:1-2
It is for the seared in heart and mind to whom the law is concerned. The Gentile does not need the law to tell him murder or sexual depravity is wrong. Romans 1 lays out the decay of the Gentile mind from conscience to wickedness. It is only here that we might introduce the law, solely to, perhaps, revive the conscience.
But we know that the law is good if one uses it according to the rules, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers...
-1 Timothy 1:8-10
AC Gaebelein notes of 1 Timothy, "To use the law is for the believer a denial of grace." The believer may sear the conscience in his old nature, but he has a new nature (holy spirit) to which we can appeal. We do not need the law. In his Roman epistle Paul speaks of the believer being dead to the law. We will examine that further in our next entry.
The immediate context of the 1 Timothy 4 passage above is those who speak lies with no pang of conscience left in themselves. This passage goes on to state that while these have internally seared consciences, they will impose external laws and expectations on others (particularly in a religious context, but we can see a greater application). We have seen some of the greatest wickedness over the centuries from those within a religious context (as we are careful to note atrocities also arising out of atheistic philosophies).
forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth
Imposing an external set of laws on others gives one a sense of righteousness not found in the darkened heart. This is why some of the most Draconian laws and the loudest voices against perceived and manmade evils come from those involved in true wickedness.
Crimes against children are heinous and clearly wicked. Yet, in our day, children suffer unimaginable horror at the hands of many who seek to impose manmade measures of "righteousness" upon the rest of us. They practice wicked ritual involving children and other vulnerable and they signal their self-defined virtue to the world about them. They hold up banners of heroism in themselves as they commit acts that we dare not eve mention the level of wickedness is so high.
It is often the sexual deviant who screams the loudest about popular movements of the day. It is the supporter of torturing and murdering children in the womb who often carry the banner of "love" and "acceptance," pitting themselves against imagined windmills of perceived evil.
I believe this is partly because of the searing process for the conscience and a manifestation of the fallen nature which exalts itself above all that is of God. Do not be fooled when this external virtue comes in the cloak of religion. It is in this context that itcan the most deceptive and attractive. Paul warns us that this tactic will be the case. We must recognize that Satan presents himself as an Angel of Light and his ministers as the ministers of righteousness (2 Cor 11). This is a powerful warning.
It has often been unfathomable to me how anyone who comes in the name of the Lord can "celebrate" the torture and murder of babies in the womb (and now some are calling for legalizing this slaughter in the birth canal). Similarly, it seems unfathomable that millions would turn a blind eye to the exploitation and horrible abuse of children.
The pattern has been the same with many evils.
- Deny the evil exists and that it is only a conspiracy theory
- Embrace the evil as good
They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do this because they have not known the Father, nor me.