So, we’re doing this study because we live within this world system. Dwaine defined it and spent some time talking about what it is. Politics. Culture. Next week, we’ll talk about being in the world system, but not being of the world system. But today, we want to look at religion, and revelation regarding the whole subject of the world system.
Religion is basically any set of beliefs that deal with a person’s spiritual understanding or philosophy of life.
Revelation is God’s word. It is what God wants man to know that otherwise man could not, would not, know.
Gen4:1-8 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” 2 And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. 3 In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 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, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell.6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 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.”8 Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.
Genesis chapter 4 is the very first mention of religion as produced by the world system that Satan is in charge of. And there is a huge difference in Cain’s offering and Abel’s offering, notice three things here:
1 - Abel’s sacrifice was a blood sacrifice. Remember that Adam and Eve, when they sinned, right after they sinned, God killed animals, and he clothed Adam and Eve with the skins, painting a picture right out of the gate that there had to be the shedding of blood for the forgiveness of sins. This was continued in the OT law and was fulfilled in Christ.
2 – Hebrews tells us that Abel’s sacrifice was made in faith… faith that God would bring restoration because of His love for us. Because of that, he wasn’t trying to buy God’s favor, but rather he was responding to a God who loved him.
3 – Abel brought the firstborn… he brought his very best… and it says something about his heart – his sacrifice to God reflected that God was in the primary position.
In the NT, it says that Abel offered up a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. And in this chat between God and Cain it seems clear that Cain knew what he was supposed to do and didn’t do it. So, we find that Abel’s offering was by faith, believing that somehow blood would atone for sin. Cain comes along and says, “I’ll have none of that. I’ll do it my own way.” Then he gets really angry when it doesn’t work. It’s a simple point. When we take our relationship to God in our own hands, and we do it our own way in spite of what He tells us, it doesn’t work and it ends badly for us and the people around us.
All religions of the world system, all of them, present something from the works of man to the particular god they believe in to appease that god. In every religion in the world system, people are taught that if you will do these things, god will accept you. Every one of them.
Christianity is totally unique in the exact opposite approach. Christianity doesn’t say, “Do this and don’t do that.” Christianity says, “It’s done. Everything that you couldn’t do has already been done for you through Christ.” It is God coming to us. Even here in this story when Cain is angry and depressed, God comes to Cain, not the other way around. He doesn’t smite Cain. He doesn’t punish Cain. He doesn’t give him a verbal warning, followed by a written warning, putting a noted in his file to be read later. He asks him questions and gently but directly tells him that he is in danger. God tells Cain that there is a path forward, and that anger and murder aren’t the only option.
The repeated and direct refusal of God’s grace and His path puts us on a dangerous arc.
But God has given us a gift to connect with Him in real ways, through His gift of revelation. We see this in
1 Cor 2:6-9 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.”
In other words, we cannot get this through our human senses. The truth of God is something eye hasn’t seen, ear hasn’t heard, and it’s not even possible to conjure it up in our imaginations.
1 Cor 2:10-11 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
So, God has given us revelation. How? Through His Spirit. To understand what? The deep things of God.
1 Cor 2:12-13 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
He is saying that when a person is born into the family of God, he or she receives the Spirit of God to be able to understand the revelation of God. We’ve gone from revelation—that which man could not know about God except that God reveals it—down to saying that the words of God are inspired. And then we read this.
1 Cor 2:14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
But the natural person—those outside of Christ, the Cains of this world, the people in the bondage of religion—can’t grasp spiritual things of God because they are only understood through the Spirit of God.
One of the key things I think God wants us to understand is how important the person of Jesus is to redemption. Suppose there was a way to prove empirically that Buddha never existed? Would that wipe out Buddhism? No. Historical Buddha isn’t one of the key teachings there. Suppose you could prove that the founder of Islam, Muhammad, never existed. Would that wipe out Islam? Nope. The five pillars or Islam are still going strong. Suppose you could prove that Jesus never existed? Would that wipe out Christianity? Yes, it would.
Christianity is not based on the teachings of Jesus. It’s based on the person of Jesus, who He is and what He did. He is God who took on human flesh, and paid the penalty of death for us. That’s what makes Christianity so exclusive and beautifully unique. It’s God coming to us, once again.