Don't Take God's Grace for Granted
I have been re-reading the Bible all over again (I have a “though-the-bible-in-a-month” plan) and right on day 1, the Holy Spirit revealed something I had hitherto not seen in the life of Cain. Why did things go so wrong in Cain's life? Well, primarily because man sinned and fell short of the glory of God. But from the account recorded in Genesis 4, Cain's tragedy started with his attitude: HE TOOK GOD’S GRACE FOR GRANTED!
Cain's attitude towards God appears good to begin with. He was the first to make an offering before Abel followed suit. Although we are not told what requirements there were for any type of offerings, God did not accept his offering (theologians are split on this with some arguing about God delighting in the Christological aspect in Abel’s killing of a firstborn lamb – But today I do not want us to be theologically technical). The rejection of his sacrifice then made him have a jealous attitude towards his brother Abel. Cain was a man in turmoil, on the knife-edge of sin, God comes asking questions with surgical precision. “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:6-7).
Grace is the generous character of God in the face of human rebellion. The God of grace is vividly portrayed in every angle of this account. In fact, throughout the whole Bible, God does not punish sin without giving people the chance to repent. Grace always warns the tempted. We receive this grace not because of who we are or what we do but because of who God is. “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45). “The LORD is good to everyone and his mercies extend to everything he does.” (Psalm 145:9). God’s saving grace is a freely available to those who choose to trust and believe in Christ Jesus. "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our sins according to the riches of his grace that he richly poured out on us (lavished) with all wisdom and understanding." (Ephesians 1: 7-8). It is undeserved and unmerited. "We are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from ourselves; it is God’s gift not from works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9).
What then should be our response to this? DO NOT TAKE THE GRACE OF GOD FOR GRANTED.
“God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting people’s sins against them [but canceling them].” (2 Corinthians 5: 18). [God's grace started right at the garden of Eden when God clothed naked Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. The two had sinned but God came looking for them and didn't treat them as they deserved (Job 42:8 NLT). But the word "Grace" per se (Hebrew: Khane), is introduced in Genesis 6:8 in relation to Noah. Grace (and truth) were revealed through Jesus (John 1:17), but we also see them 'foreshadowed' in the OT, just as we have Christophanies of the pre-incarnate Christ. As we always say, "the NT is concealed in the OT and the OT is revealed in the NT."]“Don’t take the grace of God in vain – don’t let it be wasted. Hear what God says: ‘When the time came for me to show you favour, I heard you; when the day arrived for me to save you, I helped you.’ Listen! This is the hour to receive God's favour; today is the day to be saved!” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2).
Coming back to Cain, he had Grace extended to him – he despised it. God did extend His grace to him and tried to prompt him into righteousness, but Cain was too indignant to hearken. Grace probes, Cain was probed with a view to having him recognise what is going on – and to repent. When such a turn looked unlikely, grace warned him thus: “Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” (Genesis 4:7). The warning is clear: death will be the result of your sin. (Genesis 4:7). Unfortunately, sin mastered him.
Grace empowers us to repent. Not just a once-and-for-all decision to follow Christ, but the continuing power to say no to sin. “The grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:11-13). “Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace”. (Romans 6:14).
I know EVERYONE reading this is at a point where grace is calling us to throw ourselves on the character of God. Grace is probing; grace is sounding a warning. Many of us are facing the just rebuke of God for our sin(s). Whatever the case, DO NOT TAKE THE GRACE OF GOD FOR GRANTED. Shalom!