by Mike Ratliff
If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. (1 Peter 4:14-19 ESV)
I watched a series of shows yesterday about psychopathic serial killers. It did not take long to see one common thread with each one. The murderers preyed upon those whom they sought to control. A few were sexual predators but most simply sought to kill one weaker than them in an attempt to fulfill their desire to dominate another. They got off killing people. The tremendous sermon I heard in Church today from our Pastor dealt with Genesis 4, which covers the birth of Cain and Able, Able’s murder, the fallen nature of Cain and all mankind, and the godly line of Seth. Then as I was watching a car race on TV today the local affiliate broke in with a news flash that Dr. George Tiller from Wichita, KS had been murdered. Dr. Tiller was one of a few doctors in our state that performed late-term abortions. He was shot and killed in the foyer of the Lutheran Church in which he was an usher. The alleged shooter was apprehended just about a mile from my house on I-35.
I am anti-abortion because I believe that an abortion is a form of murder. The dialogue over when life begins is about the most asinine discussion I have ever heard. These people cannot possibly believe that a baby is not a human being until it is delivered and his or her value is based on whether he or she is wanted by the mother. The arguments from those who claim that a woman has a right to kill her unborn baby are merely justification for murder by choice in order that the mother not be burdened by becoming a parent.
Dr. Tiller and those like him have blood on their hands. That being said, I am in no way trying to justify his murder. Murder is a violation of God’s Law. “You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:13) Our Lord even took this further.
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. (Matthew 5:21-22 ESV)
All truly in Christ, still must deal with the flesh. When God regenerated us and we then believed and repented, God justified us by His grace through faith. We are forgiven because our sins were atoned for at the Cross. However, our flesh is not redeemed. This is that fallen nature that was dethroned in our hearts by the washing of regeneration. However, those unredeemed desires are still there. This is the σαρκικός or sarkikos. This refers to all things pertaining to the unregenerate nature, which is carnality. The flesh, σάρξ or sarx, referes to our weak and corruptible state outside of the grace of God. God referred to the vulnerability of this weak and corruptible state as “sin crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7) We make a huge mistake if we neglect this warning. Our fallen nature may be dethroned, but its deposing is not complete. It is still within desiring to rule over us, to make us slaves to those things that it sees as the only way to fulfillment.
Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.” 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. (Genesis 4:1-5 ESV)
Carefully read this very familiar passage my brethren. The failure of Cain began with his failure at the altar. Able had a right relationship with God. His offering was regarded by God because of his righteousness. He worshipped God as His Lord and he gave from the firstborn of flock. His heart was on God and His glory. His God was God. His offering was of blood, which is what is required after the fall in order to have a relationship with God. On the other hand, Cain’s offering was not regarded because it was not one of blood. His god was himself. What was his reaction to God’s regarding Able’s offering, but not his? He became angry. Never forget my brethren, Cain’s offering was the fruit of his σάρξ while Able’s was not. Cain’s nature is that of fallen man whom God has not regenerated. Able’s nature was that of the redeemed. He believed God and worshipped Him. He fought against the sin that crouched at the door desiring to rule over him, but Cain was being ruled by his σάρξ.
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. 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 you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” Then the LORD said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the LORD put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him. (Genesis 4:6-15 ESV)
Cain slew Able in an attack on the image of God. Cain hated God and in his anger against Him, he attacked the one whom God regarded. He could not attack and kill God, but He could sure take out his anger on his brother. The first human being ever born was a murderer. This is the nature of fallen man. Able was not perfect, but he worshipped God and God regarded his offering. Those in Christ are like that. We still struggle with our σάρξ demanding that we indulge it, but if we do well, that is worship God and live for His glory then our σάρξ is crucified on the cross we take up each day as we follow our Lord in self-denial. When we do this, we will not murder anyone, either physically or with our words. On the other hand, if our σάρξ is controlling us then we will respond to our sin as Cain did when God confronted him about the murder of his brother. He had no remorse. He was only concerned about himself. His god was Cain. He saw his punishment as “greater than I can bear!” The regenerate heart responds to the chastising of God in confession and repentance and faith. Cain responded in the σάρξ. He was totally σαρκικός and we see the very same thing in his line of descendants.
Then Cain went away from the presence of the LORD and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. When he built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch. To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad fathered Mehujael, and Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech. And Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. Zillah also bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah. Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say: I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.” (Genesis 4:16-24 ESV)
Cain settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. The Hebrew word for Nod is נוד. This word means “vagrancy.” It implies that Cain and his descendants were living in a state of restlessness with little or no peace. This is the state of the unregenerate. No matter how productive or well thought of a person is, if they are unregenerate the best of their fruit are just works of the σάρξ. We are called to walk through each day yoked up with Christ, carrying our crosses. We worship God in Spirit and Truth each day and the fruit we produce is not of us at all, but the fruit of the spirit. Our works are the result of God working through us. Our Treasure is in Heaven with Him. On the other hand, the unregenerate can do nothing more than the works of the σάρξ.
And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.” To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD. (Genesis 4:25-26 ESV)
From the line of Seth eventually comes Noah. From Noah eventually comes David and from him eventually comes our Lord Jesus Christ. He is our Saviour. In Him is life. On the other hand, our enemy is a liar and a murderer. Those who are σαρκικός belong to Him. However, all of the redeemed must still do battle each day against their σάρξ to keep sin, which is crouching at the door desiring to rule over them, from gaining a foothold in their hearts. They confess their sins and walk in repentance and faith.
As Christians, we must understand that failure in our walks is the result of failure at the altar. If we are not walking through each day in worship, confession, repentance, and faith then we are actually worshipping ourselves. This is why our σάρξ has control of us and we wake up one day and find that we have become σαρκικός, that is, carnal. Those who would drive hundreds of miles to shoot a man who was an abortionist is not one who is controlled by the Spirit of God. Instead, he is one who is controlled by his σάρξ. Dr. Tiller may have been operating within the legal boundaries of U.S. and Kansas’s law, but he was a murderer of the unborn. His shooter should not have killed him for God is the judge of man. I cannot help but believe that the abortion rights people will respond to this in a huge backlash against Christians, but that is not really the issue. The issue is that God forbids murder. The only institution allowed to kill people in God’s economy is the government through execution of murderers and in war. Dr. Tiller is in God’s hands now. I do not think he is going to enjoy God’s response to his guilt over the murder of so many innocents.
Soli Deo Gloria!