We Are Justified by the Blood of Jesus
by Eric Geiger
One of the devastating results of sin entering the world is relational strife, evidenced by hatred and even violence toward one another. We have all lived it. We have fought with our parents, our spouses, and our friends. Anger has festered in our hearts and bitterness has robbed us of our joy. Even as young boys, we fought on playgrounds, sucker-punched kids we did not like, and bit each other. We can be ruthless. All this began in the garden of Eden.
If only the sin would have stopped in the garden. But it didn’t. It escalated. That’s how it always works, apart from God’s grace. We see this clearly just one generation after Adam and Eve’s devastating choice. Their children evidenced the devastating and natural progression of sin.
Consider the story of Cain and Abel found in Genesis 4:1-16. Cain was furious because the Lord looked with favor on Abel’s offering and not on his. So, despite the Lord’s warning about being mastered by sin (v. 7), Cain killed his own brother.
Why did God not receive Cain’s offering? What is really going on here? Some verses in the New Testament cast more light on the two brothers. “By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was approved as a righteous man, because God approved his gifts, and even though he is dead, he still speaks through his faith” (Hebrews 11:4).
“For this is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another, unlike Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil, and his brother’s were righteous” (1 John 3:11-12).
God receiving Abel’s offering and rejecting Cain’s was not based on what they offered with their hands, but on the condition of their hearts. Abel offered in faith. Cain’s heart was evil, and he proved his evil by killing his brother. Is there a problem with our world? Are things really that broken here? Genesis 4 shows us that, indeed, things are not as they were designed to be. The first son born into this world was a murderer.
“Then [God] said, ‘What have you done? Your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground! So now you are cursed, alienated, from the ground that opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood you have shed’” (Genesis 4:10-11).
Cain’s sinful rage caused him to spill the blood of his brother, and that blood condemned him. By God’s grace, we have a rescue from this sin, from this hatred! The New Testament tells us that the blood of Jesus speaks a better word, a different word than the blood of Abel.
“… to Jesus (mediator of a new covenant), and to the sprinkled blood, which says better things than the blood of Abel” (Hebrews 12:24).
Both Jesus and Abel were innocent and killed by sinful and hateful men. But their spilled blood speaks different messages. The blood of Abel condemned Cain; the blood of Jesus justifies us. The blood of Abel spoke against Cain; the blood of Christ speaks for us. The blood of Abel cries out for Cain’s condemnation; the blood of Christ cries out for our forgiveness and justification.
We have been like Cain. We have hated, been angry, acted cruelly, and held bitterness and jealously in our hearts. Thankfully, Jesus’ blood speaks a better word! We are not condemned. As Jesus’ blood fell to the ground, our liberation and salvation were secured. We are not sent to wander the land, but are welcomed to Him.
January 08, 2019
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