Monday, January 18, 2021

Living Biblically - Separation

Ever notice this symbol on newspapers? It’s called a registration mark. Any time you are printing multiple colors, to get a picture clear, you must align the registration marks on each separate printing run. These are standard in the printing industry on everything printed that has multiple colors. You won’t see them in magazines because the registration marks are on the excess part of the paper that is trimmed off.

When we are seeking to understand what God says in His word, we need the registration marks to align. Otherwise, we have a fuzzy picture of what’s going on. Everything in Scripture isn’t black and white. God prints in an array of colors so that clarity can only come when everything fits together as He intends it. Alignment is essential.

Which means, I cannot take one verse and go off and build a belief from it. I need the rest of Scripture to support what that one verse says. Even in accusing a person of a crime in Bible days, you had to have at least two witnesses, one to verify that the other is telling the truth.

A guy was trying to discover God’s will for his life using the one-finger approach. He’d open to a page, close his eyes and point at a verse. That verse would then be his answer from the Lord. He pointed and it said, “Judas went out and hanged himself.” That can’t be right so he tried again, “Go and do likewise.” He said, “I’ll try one more time.” “What you do, do quickly.” He closed his Bible and decided to watch TV instead.

I hear people say all the time, “But the Bible says this…” Yeah, but it also says this, which is different than what your verse says. If we have opposing views, let’s back up to what we know is true – God is not the author of confusion and will never contradict Himself. We need more context. That’s why we must study harder to align the registration marks.

2Tim 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 

The KJV said: study to show yourself approved. For those who remember school days, why did we study? To hopefully do well on our assignment or test. Study is the process of diligently taking content and attaching a handle to it so we can use it. Paul sees our responsibility before God to handle His word in such a way that what we discover will be usable because it is accurate to the whole. That what we believe will be consistent with all that God has said.

Have you ever read part of the instructions and not all of it? Sometimes in my zeal to get a project finished, I don’t always follow the steps. If you skip a step, you can mess up the final result.

I was installing a kitchen faucet. I’d done so many times before. So, who needs to read instructions, right? When I got to a certain point and had some important stuff left over, I looked at the instructions. I was supposed to put this on and run this through that and connect this piece here because I cannot take it off once I’ve connected it. I skipped some important steps and as a result, the faucet didn’t work as designed. There was a right way and a wrong way.

Throughout Scripture God uses contrasts to draw a line between the right way and the wrong way. He uses goats and sheep, flesh and spirit, righteous and unrighteous, Jews and Gentiles, life and death, lost and found, light and darkness. But one contrast that has powerful symbolism is good and evil.

The name of the tree that bore the fruit that Adam and Eve ate was called the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. When they lost their innocence by disobeying God, they suddenly saw both sides of life: the good side and now the evil side.

Why was the tree there in the first place or at least have been fenced in? The answer you’ll find most often is: Since God doesn’t force people to obey Him but wants them to want to obey, the tree provided man with a choice: a choice to love and serve Him willingly or to rebel against him. That tree represented the line between good and evil. From that one tree, what they chose to do would lead them down two separate roads of life.

Another image we see in the Garden is light and darkness. When you take away the grey matter of dusk and dawn, God uses light and darkness as stark contrasts. It’s an either/or. Either light or darkness, not both at the same time. In creation, light was the first thing God made. He did so to distinguish day and night. It’s a physical phenomenon. But here with Adam and Eve, it turns into an analogy of what went on in the spiritual realm. Having lived in the light, they now discovered what the darkness felt like.

When I was a kid, my family went to Carlsbad Caverns. I can still remember the moment the guide turned out the light. I had never felt darkness before. Even today, it is one of the most uncomfortable moments in my life. I’d been by myself before, but never had I felt truly alone as I did in that darkness. Even with people all around me I felt a deep emptiness that gripped me until the light came back on. Light brought comfort to an uncomfortable moment. You can see how God would use Light to represent His presence.

1Jn 1:5 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 

Eph 5:8-9 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 

As children of the light, we should be uncomfortable in spiritual darkness. Ever wonder why you don’t see a lot of roaches during the day? They don’t like the light.

John 3:19 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 

Children of the Light are drawn to the light because their desire is to walk in fellowship with their Heavenly Father.

In general, like the chameleon, people tend to adjust to fit their circumstances. They want to live close to the middle and lean in whichever direction they believe will be most comfortable. That affects Believers just like it does people of the world.

Here’s my problem and maybe yours. Having no boundaries to force us to be separate, no fences to divide between the two, or walls that make it impossible to compromise, we often linger in the shaded zone of a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll, a little bit light and a little bit darkness. It’s easy to adjust our actions to conform to those with whom we associate.

Paul saw this as a threat to the identity of the church in Corinth. 2Cor 6:14-17 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE," says the Lord.

They had a man in the church that was blatantly living in darkness yet wanting fellowship as though he was in the light. Paul said they could not allow that within the church. He needed to make a choice and then live within that choice. Either come back into the light and live accordingly or stay in the darkness. It was a call for that man to decide on which side of the line he choose to live.

God faced this same challenge with the people He got out of Egypt not fully knowing who He was. They had lived over 400 years in a pagan world. Their minds were divided. They knew of Him but didn’t know Him. God had to show them who He was.

So He told them: Lev 11:45 For I am the LORD who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God; thus you shall be holy, for I am holy.

The goal was: draw near to God and move further away from Egypt. But the tendency to compromise continued. The people kept blurring the line between the two – a little bit holy and a little bit Egyptian pagan.

Ps 81:8-13 Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you; O Israel, if you would listen to Me! Let there be no strange god among you; nor shall you worship any foreign god. I, the LORD, am your God, Who brought you up from the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide and I will fill it. But My people did not listen to My voice, and Israel did not obey Me. So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart, to walk in their own devices. Oh that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways! 

You almost hear God crying out: “Hey, I’m not over there where you are. I’m over here. Come over here and walk with Me.” When we pray: “God be with us,” I hear God saying, “Why don’t you be here with me?”

Heb 2:1-2 For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?

We drift away when we neglect the life-consuming aspect of our salvation. Unless we stay moored to truth, we will be drawn away from it.

Ezra saw that the people in Jerusalem had already drifted. He said, “You’ve let people of the world draw you away from being the People of God.”

Ezra 10:10-11 Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, "You have been unfaithful and have married foreign wives adding to the guilt of Israel. Now therefore, make confession to the LORD God of your fathers and do His will; and separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives.

What was wrong with marrying foreign wives? It wasn’t the value of the women. It was the baggage they brought into the marriage. They were pagan women who expected their husbands to come over to their beliefs, not the other way. It’s the manipulating of a Delilah twisting Samson’s heart with: “If you don’t do this, you don’t love me.”

Deut 7:3-4 Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons. For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you and He will quickly destroy you.

1Kings 2:3-4 Keep the charge of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to what is written in the Law of Moses, that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn, so that the LORD may carry out His promise which He spoke concerning me, saying, 'If your sons are careful of their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.' 

1Kings 11:7-10 Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable idol of Moab, on the mountain which is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the detestable idol of the sons of Ammon. Thus also he did for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods. Now the LORD was angry with Solomon because his heart was turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not observe what the LORD had commanded. 

In the OT God didn’t call everyone to become His People. He was working with a singular, particular people He had called to become His Family. And to be His Family, He placed upon them very specific commands. These commands started with Adam then ran through Seth and into Moses. These commands called for a separation from the world, which became the spiritual battle ground for the Jews. They wanted the title People of God, but not the requirements.

Deut 14:2 For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. 

Peter adds us to that original calling. 1Pet 2:9-10 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY. 

Compromise blurred the identity of God’s people when they mixed good and evil, light and darkness, holiness and unholiness instead of separating the two. Which led to the flood.

Gen 6:1-8 Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. Then the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years." The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them." But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. 

The purpose of the flood was two-fold.

Do you remember the curse on the land? Gen 3:17 Then to Adam He said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat from it'; cursed is the ground because of you;

Gen 5:28-29 Lamech lived one hundred and eighty-two years, and became the father of a son. Now he called his name Noah, saying, "This one will give us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands arising from the ground which the LORD has cursed." 

Gen 8:20-21 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. The LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, "I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man's heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done. 

There are a variety of English words that can be used to translate a particular Hebrew word. The phrase I will never again curse the ground could be translated: I will not continue the curse of the ground. That through Noah, God cleansed the ground, which removed the curse caused by Adam.

The second purpose was to judge the world because of the compromise between the people of God and the people of the world. Now, I’m going to take out the part about the Nephilim because they weren’t a factor in the reason for the flood. Let’s look at what was going on between the people. The sons of God came into the daughters of men. In other places in Scripture, there are references to the sons of God being the people of God. There are also references to the sons of men being mankind, the unredeemed part of humanity. What I see here is the blurring of the line between the two groups that was to remain separate.

Because the line had been so blurred, God had to erase it and start over. But we’re left with a significant question: If the flood was to get rid of all wickedness, did it accomplish its purpose? Did the flood fix the problem of the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually? Not according to David. Watch how he contrasts the people of the world – the sons of men – with God’s people.

Ps 53:1-4 The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God," They are corrupt, and have committed abominable injustice; there is no one who does good. God has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there is anyone who understands, who seeks after God. Every one of them has turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. Have the workers of wickedness no knowledge, who eat up My people as though they ate bread and have not called upon God? 

The evil in men’s hearts survived the flood much like, after nuclear holocaust, when everyone else is gone, the roaches will still be around.

Jesus saw the same thing in people during His day. Mark 7:21-23 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders,adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man. 

That’s why Jesus prayed for us: John 17:15 I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 

Your Bible will have the word one after evil in italics. The translators felt Jesus was praying for the Father to keep us from the Devil, who tempts us to turn away from God and become like the world. What Jesus was concerned about was how evil permeates life. We are not of the world, yet evil drives the world. Father, keep them separate. Don’t let the evil of the world cause them to compromise their calling to holiness, godliness and righteousness.

We must reject what takes us away from God and instead run to Him. The story of the flood serves as a reminder of the consequence of making the wrong choice.

How does this fit into Living Biblically? Until we discover that Living Biblically is our responsibility, we will never embrace the life God called us to live. Since God has drawn a line separating the lives and lifestyles of the People of God and the people of the world, He intends us, His people, to choose to live on the side that reflects we belong to Him.

We can’t isolate ourselves from the people who operate in the dark, but we can refuse to live in the shadow of their darkness.

Living Biblically means staying true to who it is God has called us to be, regardless of what’s going on around us. How appropriate that is to this time in history!

TAKEAWAYS:

  1. In giving us Free Will, God knew the risk of allowing us choice.
  2. We can choose wisely or choose poorly.
  3. So, choose to reject that which takes you away from God and run deliberately back to Him.
  4. Then live with all the registration marks aligning to bring your life back into focus with God’s design.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Living Biblically - The Story of Cain


This past week, Jan and I watched a documentary about Doc Holliday. Not our Doc Holliday but the one from the old west. I learned much about him I didn’t know. Which is really the intention of documentaries. When you watch a documentary, you get information from a variety of sources that pull together to create one story, an interweaving of history, hearsay and speculation, and all of it together makes a fuzzy picture clearer.

I read the Bible like a documentary. I try to keep everything within the big picture. The NT was written by men who only knew the OT and made references to it often in their writings. They did so to show how one helps explain the other. We cannot use just one Testament; we need both to bring the picture into focus.

Part of that is due to God’s progressive revelation of truth in which He reveals the meaning later to what happened earlier, because men at the earlier point didn’t need to understand what those coming later do need to understand.

So, when we study things like the story of Adam and Eve using only the OT, we have a limited view of what really went on. For example:

·       We don’t know that Adam represented all mankind and his actions affected the lives of all people from then on.

  • We don’t know what the consequences of Adam’s sin really were.
  • We don’t know how death came into the picture: was it physical or spiritual.
  • We don’t know the extent of God’s judgment against sin.
  • We don’t know what God planned to do because of Adam’s sin.
  • We don’t know what the solution to Sin is until much later.

We learn all of this in the NT. Then, when we take what we discover in the NT with us when we read the OT, we get much greater understanding. The OT is the backstory for the NT. The NT clarifies the OT. The NT expects us to know the OT so we have a grasp of the significance of what went on in the past having relevance today.

Otherwise, what does it even matter what went on in the Garden? A great deal, of course. For one thing, needing to know where our struggle with sin comes from and what are our options.

Genesis doesn’t tell us but Paul does: Rom 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.

We typically focus on the results of sin: stealing, lying, murder. But behind these actions, there is a cause.

Rom 7:20-21 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 

Sin is the reason I sin. In me is a driving force that pushes me to disregard God’s commands and choose to be my own god and fulfill my wants and desires on my own terms. It is the heartbeat of idolatry. It is the urging of our own lust. Sin is not the evil actions. Sin is the ingrained willingness to disregard and disobey God which produces evil actions we call sins.

If the story of redemption is like a thread going throughout history, revealing God’s plan of Salvation and ultimately passing through our hearts, sin is the parallel thread of the willingness to disregard God and satisfy our own desires without Him.

Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion: "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." Affects both the physical world and the spiritual world.

The writer of Hebrews said: Heb 12:1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 

He doesn’t say lay aside the sins but Sin – the principle driving us to entangle ourselves with ungodly desires that trip us up and interferes with us running the race set before us. Sin is the steel-toed work boots we’re trying to wear while running the race. Take them off.

Lay aside – choosing to reject the influence. Which takes us back to Free Will – that ability and responsibility to choose. Because of that choice, God would declare people righteous. He also uses choice to target His wrath.

Rom 1:18-20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 

In those early days, God examined people’s hearts and watched their actions to determine if He saw righteousness or unrighteousness. He no longer does that. Later would come the Law that would give them specific requirements to obey which would determine righteousness. He no longer does that. Now He has presented Jesus as the final solution. Judgment is now based on whether a person has been declared righteous by having Jesus’ death applied as payment for the penalty of their own sin.

John 3:16-19 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 

Do you hear choice behind believing and the consequence for rejecting?

In the beginning God separated the light from the darkness. When Adam sinned, spiritual darkness came into the picture. And, according to John, with the opportunity to come out of the darkness, men chose to remain in it.

1John 1:5-7 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 

Choosing the light. Rejecting the darkness. Therein lies the intention behind God giving us Free Will – that we would choose Him and reject sin. Life is a daily series of choices: resist or give in to the temptation to sin, walk in light or darkness, obey or disobey, submit to the spirit or the flesh. That’s demonstrated in Cain and Abel.

Gen 4:1-8 Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, "I have gotten a manchild with the help of the LORD." Again, she gave birth to his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him

Why did Cain kill Abel? Because he chose to refuse to obey what the Lord told him when He said: resist the temptation. His was a spiritual act of disobedience. But in practical terms, driven by his nature to sin, Cain chose not to resist but to give in to the temptation to kill his brother. But if you had asked Cain, he would have said it was all Abel’s fault.

Why was Abel’s offering of a lamb accepted and Cain’s offering from the produce he grew not accepted? Several reasons:

1.      The lamb was a symbol of the Plan of God that would be one day fulfilled in Jesus, the Lamb of God, taking away the sins of the world.

2.     God was teaching future generations to be careful what they present as a sacrifice to God. Not everything is acceptable.

3.     Or it may go back to the curse in the Garden. Gen 3:17 Then to Adam He said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat from it'; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. 

4.     The ground was now under a curse so that what was produced from it would have been unacceptable to give to God.

5.     But, wait, there’s more.

Heb 11:4 By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous.

As with any offering, God judged the hearts and actions of both men through how and what they presented Him. He declared Abel righteous. That would lead us to believe God judged Cain as unrighteous.

Ps 24:3-5 Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood And has not sworn deceitfully. He shall receive a blessing from the LORD And righteousness from the God of his salvation. 

Offerings are a symbol of ascending the hill of the Lord in worship, not just an obligation. Abel came with a pure heart and clean hands. Cain did not. That’s why not only what we give but how we give our offering matters.

1John 3:11-13  For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother's were righteous. Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. 

John connected Cain’s actions to the actions of the Devil – the driving force behind our temptation to sin. Satan encouraged Cain to make an offering but to do so with a darkened heart. “God, You don’t matter so what I give you doesn’t matter.” Then you can hear Satan whispering, “Listen, Cain, you don’t deserve that rejection. You’re as good as your brother.”

Regardless of the actual reason, being rejected by God drove Cain to kill Abel, which drove him further into the world. Gen 4:11-12 Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth.

Here is the consequence of Adam’s sin being manifested in Cain’s life. Now, we know what kind of death Adam’s sin brought in. Spiritual death results in separation from God. Cain’s actions said his heart was more like unrighteous mankind’s than the family of God’s. So, God excluded him.

Now, to answer a question that has plagued people forever: where did Cain get his wife. If you believe Adam and Eve were the first people on earth, you have to believe that since they were the only other people on earth, Cain’s wife would have been his sister. That’s a hard thought to digest. But if Adam and Eve were formed as a special act of God separate from creation of mankind, you have a more reasonable answer.

Gen 4:16-17 Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. Cain had relations with his wife and she conceived, and gave birth to Enoch; and he built a city, and called the name of the city Enoch, after the name of his son. 

He settled in the land of Nod, had relations with his wife and produced Enoch. Then built a city. Why not just make a tent or find a cave? There’s only three of you.

Here’s my perspective: Cain would go off into the world where there were other people from God’s creation of mankind, take a wife from one of the families living there and begin his family. From the people collected around him, he built a city to honor his son. Then, at the same time this was going on, Adam and Eve had additional children.

Gen 4:25-26 Adam had relations with his wife again; and she gave birth to a son, and named him Seth, for, she said, "God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel, for Cain killed him." 

Gen 5:1, 3 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God…When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth. 

Did you notice the subtle difference in God making Adam and Adam making Seth? Adam was made in the likeness of God. Seth was made in the likeness of Adam. Why the difference? Adam’s image was now the fallen image caused by sin. But watch what Grace does.

Even though Cain, the firstborn, should have been the son through whom the thread of God’s purpose passed, God bypassed Cain and ran that thread through Seth. You’ll find that in many stories of the Bible: Esau and Isaac, David being anointed King.

Look at Seth’s response: Gen 4:26 To Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh. Then men began to call upon the name of the LORD. From Seth onward, men called upon the name of the Lord.

This is the first sign of redemption in the story. What is redemption? A returning to what was intended. Reconciling those who had lost the path back to the path. Redeeming the relationship God had originally desired. What Adam lost, Seth regained. Seth knew of his parent’s personal knowledge of walking with God, experiencing the favor of God, hearing God’s voice. That was the relationship he wanted with God. Then, his desire to walk with God as his parents did spilled out onto the lives of all who followed. From Seth, calling out to that same God for the same relationship created the righteousness-desiring legacy for the Family of God.

Joel 2:32 And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD Will be delivered;

Rom 10:13 for "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED." 

The word delivered in Joel and saved in Romans are the same word. There is always a delivered from and a saved into when we call upon the Lord.

The calling on the Name of the Lord is our response to the personal invitation for God’s activity in our lives. Calling for the greatness of God to fill our lives and infuse them with His goodness is our opportunity to become interwoven into the story of what God is doing. Calling on the Name of the Lord is the surrender by which God declares people right with Him and includes them into His family. It says, “God You are my answer and my only hope. There is no other God for me but You. I give you myself and all that concerns me.”

Do you see what’s going on? God is helping define who are His and who are not His. He is making that distinction between Mankind and the Family of God. Cain showed us not all in the family lineage of the people of God are within the Family of God. Only those who call out to Him and declare Him their God, surrendering their hearts and actions to Him.

That distinction will now carry us through the rest of the Bible, as Paul affirms:

2Tim 2:19 The firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness." 

God’s children are the products of God’s grace. They are those who have responded to His invitation to life, who He has cleansed, forgiven and declared righteous and now live with the new desire to honor and obey Him and reject the desires of the flesh to sin against Him.

TAKEAWAYS:

  1. Grace reaches through a sin-stained life and touches the heart with a desire for more than what the world can offer.
  2. Grace does not remove the Old Nature to sin, but gives us a New Nature infused with the power of a godly life.
  3. Calling on the Name of the Lord engages the mightiness of Heaven in our behalf when we choose godliness over darkness.
  4. Wanting what God wants is the driving force behind Living Biblically.