Marked by Jesus
How many of us hear the word sin and roll our eyes? We think Oh, we’re not *that* bad. Or, even better, we take our life and pin it up to someone else’s life and think well, I haven’t done ______________, so I’m not *that* bad. Here’s the thing about sin. We all do it. We’re all guilty. However, the beautiful thing in that is that God loves us, regardless of our sin.
Let’s look at Cain and Abel. Cain and Abel were children of Adam and Eve. Abel was a shepherd, and Cain was a farmer of sorts (Genesis 4). Both brothers presented a sin offering to God. Sin offerings were used before Jesus came because people needed cleansing from their sin to stay connected to God. This is the first offering mentioned in Scripture. Cain offered produce, while Abel offered some of his livestock. The Lord accepted Abel’s offering, but refused to accept Cain’s. This sent Cain into a fury. He was outraged, which suggests that God had seen the sin of Cain’s heart. We know from Samuel that God doesn’t judge our outer appearance, but instead sees our heart (1 Samuel 16:7). God asked Cain, “Why are you so angry and down about the refusal of your offering?” (Genesis 4:6). Can we relate here? Do we get annoyed, angry, or despondent that God won’t accept our sin too? I mean we tried our best, right?
In this specific story though, God makes it clear regarding his love for Cain, yet his hate for his sin. He said to Cain, “If you do what is right, won’t you be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it (Genesis 4:7). That’s pretty clear. Let’s pause here again and think about this in relation to us: Sin is after us, knocking at our door at all times, yet we must rule over it.
What’s easier though: to rule over sin or to look the other way and ignore the sin that’s crouching in the corners of our lives? We all have it. It’s there for each and every one of us; it just looks different for each and every one of us. Some sin is louder and more outward, while some sin is quiet and only known by the person who is doing it.
Back to Cain and Abel: in response to this, what did Cain do? He went out to the field and attacked his brother, Abel, killing him. In response to this sin, God cursed Cain. Cain would never yield a harvest from the ground that absorbed Abel’s blood, and he would be a restless wanderer on earth, separated from God (Genesis 4:12). This could have been the end of Cain’s story. The apple doesn’t fall from the tree. Am I right (ehem, Adam)? Cain was driven out of his land and separated from God, just like his father Adam. The chances of him surviving were slim in the wilderness, and he knew that. He told God the punishment was too great to bear and pointed out that someone would surely kill him as a wanderer. BUT true to His forgiving nature, God chose to protect Cain by marking him and cursing anyone who killed him (Genesis 4:15).
So how can this relate to us? Well first and foremost, all sin is equal to God. He doesn’t look at the gossiper and think “Oh, he or she is so good compared to ___________, who cheated on their
spouse.” They are equal, so we need to stop comparing ourselves to others in order to justify our sin and make ourselves feel better about our lives. We’re in this together.
In accepting Jesus, we are justified. It’s a one-time event. Everything we offer to God, in terms of sacrifice, is just like Cain’s offering - unworthy. Sin is all around us. We smell of it. However, when we accept that Jesus died for our sin, and He is the living sacrifice, we are justified and free. Does that give us the ability to just go about sinning freely and living our best earthy life? No. God commands that we must rule over our sin. That means there is effort required of us to conquer the very sin that haunts us. However, in the process of sanctification ( AKA becoming more like Jesus), even in our sin, God protects us. He marked Cain to keep him safe. He marked us with Jesus Christ’s blood. So how does that translate?
We are called to living water, which is freely gifted through Jesus. No one can condemn us for our sin, because there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). In fact, once we accept Christ into our hearts and lives, NOTHING can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39). And when we think really deeply about what was required in the marking of us for our sin, we should want to be better. Why? “... God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” (Romans 5:8).
I hope this encourages you to accept the fact that God sees you. He knows you. He sees your best and your worst. Even so, He still chooses to love you and protect you through the mark of Jesus. If you got this far, I am praying that God shows you this week just how much He loves you and desires a relationship with you, regardless of what your sin and life look like.