17.1 From Cain On
17.1 From Cain On
© 2017 Christ Revealed Bible Institute
From Cain On
For the mystery of iniquity is already at work… (2 Thessalonians 2:7a). Paul made this statement inside his expose of “the man of sin” being revealed and consumed by the breath of the Lord. I make no attempt to “figure out” what Paul meant through the specifics of that passage. “Figuring out” is something I stopped doing over thirty years ago. Unless I see particular statements fitting into God’s patterns, I have little idea what they might mean. And God’s pattern is always, first, Christ. Yet this passage is what I translate into the statement: Christ is always all before anything not-Christ could ever vanish away.
It is apparent, however, that in using the term “the mystery of iniquity” Paul was speaking of something universal already at work among men on this earth. The word translated “iniquity” or “lawlessness” is anomias, which means, literally, no law.
Now, Paul wrote this letter on his second missionary journey, in AD 53, before his fight with the Christian Pharisees hounding his converts with “law-keeping,” and thus before any of his emphatic statements about our freedom from the law. Thus as Christians, we understand this term as the absence of Christ written upon the heart, and not any form of righteousness from the law.
Let me define iniquity: iniquity is self-right-ness. Iniquity is that boasting hubris of the human self-story that is convinced “I am right” and that works out from that certainty to manipulate and abuse others for self-gain.
And thus we see that the Pharisees, who “kept the law,” were men of iniquity, that is, lawlessness. One can keep the law to 99.999% and still be utterly lawless, that is, without Christ as their only self. And the incredible thing is that this mystery of lawlessness working through history, is found to an astonishing degree primarily among the faction of the Pharisees, people today who appear outwardly to be obsessed with the law.
A Mystery Already Working
But Paul referred to a mystērion ēdē energeitai, a mystery already working. A mystery is a hidden secret revealed only to initiates, that is, those few who are qualified to know. Yet this hidden secret explains so much of what is happening in appearance in the world. We might say that this mystery of iniquity is the fake substance behind all the fake appearance in the world. And “already working” means something we can trace from the beginning, something that underlies all the wickedness of this world.
Thus to trace this mystery we go back to Cain and Abel.
Jews Who “Believed” on Jesus
You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it (John 8:44). Jesus was speaking, not just to the Pharisees, but to “the Jews who believed on Him.” Jesus was speaking to the “descendants of Abraham.”
I am convinced that Jesus did not use the word “beginning” to speak of Himself as the source of all things created every moment. God does not create, and Jesus does not speak, evil. Rather, “the beginning” takes us right back to the first murder in the sad story of Adam’s children.
Now, before looking at Cain and Abel, let’s get right at the mystery of iniquity in our day. Look at the words of Jesus in John 8:44. Today it is against the law in most nations on earth to read those words out loud. This includes the United States. England just passed the same law that sits upon Germany and many other European nations. If a pastor in England were to read these words from the pulpit, he will go to prison.
Why? How? How is it that in most formerly “Christian” countries today, if you read the words of Jesus, you will be condemned by all as evil and thrown in prison. The mystery of iniquity is very specific historically and today.
Two Trees Again
Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell (Genesis 4:3-5). The word “respect” in the Hebrew means “to look upon” or “to regard” and thus includes the idea of favor.
God is very clear, and He gets right at His clarity right from the start. This is no mystery to those who will be honest; it is a mystery only to those who want to be “right” in themselves. These are, again, the two trees in the garden. God does not accept the works of the law, but only Christ our life.
Worth Less Than Nothing
And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.
The purpose of the tree of knowledge is to take the word God speaks and do it yourself, create your own invested self-story out of your own manipulation of God. All of that labor not only creates the false story of self, but invests in that false story a perception of great value. When someone invests themselves into what they have determined to be “right” and then are told that all they have built is worth less than nothing – it makes them ANGRY.
Cain offered to God his own worth; Abel offered God nothing of himself, but only a Lamb slain for him. The tree of self versus the tree of life.
Now this is God’s principle ruling human history, the law of the firstborn’s hatred against the second born. Those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed (Romans 9:8).
And then, the defining line. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now (Galatians 4:28-29). Paul was referring back to the firstborn Ishmael persecuting the second born Isaac, and also back to Cain and Abel.
Two Mysteries in Opposition
Cain began the mystery of iniquity; Abel began the mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh. The mystery of iniquity is flesh without God attempting to be “acceptable”; the mystery of godliness is flesh filled with God – and entirely by faith. What makes it a “mystery” is the opposition of one to the other resulting in first-degree, that is, planned, murder.
And this animosity is the fabric of Bible history – Cain versus Abel, Ishmael versus Isaac, Esau versus Jacob, Saul versus David, the Pharisees versus Jesus, the Judaizers versus Paul. The degree to which this same direct line of hatred rules our world today is beyond all astonishment.
Why Are You Angry?
So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it” (Genesis 4:6-7).
Now, amazingly, I have heard this word preached under a mighty anointing of the Spirit, but entirely out from Calvinism, and applied directly to us as believers in Jesus. God was speaking to Cain, NOT Abel. God was speaking to one living inside the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, not to one living inside the tree of life!
What is God doing? – whom He wills He hardens (Romans 9).
The Most Lawless People
God was not preaching the gospel to Cain; God was hardening Cain’s heart into the endless cycle of self-effort resulting in loss first, anger second, and murder third. The gospel is “Stop all self-effort – be silent before Me – and offer to me Christ as your only self-story.” Cain’s story was “I will obey God.” Abel’s story was “I have nothing to offer except Christ who is all obedience and who IS the only life I am.”
The ones who “keep” the law the most are the most lawless people on the planet. This is a great mystery, set by God from the beginning. (See Galatians 6:12-13 – boasting in the flesh.) Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt (Romans 4:4).
God Ripped Cain Off
We are not speaking of “theology” here, or of the “finer points” of grace versus law, but of the current of hatred that rules our entire world today. To understand this hatred, we must understand Cain and his progression from loss to anger to hatred to murdering his little brother, a man with whom he had spent his entire life, a man who had never done him wrong.
Cain had worked hard. He had invested of himself into his own self-story. To Cain, what he had created was who he was. Cain had stolen nothing from anyone. This offering was the fruit of the ground, entirely his by settler’s right. And God ripped all of that away from him, leaving him with nothing.
The Fear of Loss
Abel sat around all day, playing his harp and singing songs while his sheep wandered around eating grass. Cain KNEW that his story was better than, and certainly worth more than, Abel’s.
It is easy to understand why the fear of loss is the central driving vanity of men and angels. Their story is entirely fake, made up in their own minds. Yet to them, it’s all they have, and they have labored long and hard to build this world that defines them. A person who has labored long creating a story of self would prefer torture and death over having all the labor of their lives exposed as only an empty sham and of less than no value.
Now to him who works, the wages are counted as debt. You owe me, God!
Let me show you a progression of three words: covetousness, jealousy, and envy. To covet is to desire for self that which another possesses. To be jealous is to hate another for stealing what one considers to be his own. And to be envious is to seek, not to possess for self, but to destroy what another possesses. Cain coveted favor on his own false story. He was then jealous against his brother, perceiving that Abel had stolen favor that truly belonged to him. Finally, seeing that he could not win back that favor for himself, Cain destroyed both Abel and favor.
Murdering the Next Best Thing
Cain hated God, a God who refused to recognize his value. When God does not recognize a person’s value, that seems to them to leave nothing left. There seems to be no way out. They believe they are then trapped in an abyss that never ends, a bottomless pit. But Cain could not murder God, so he chose the next best thing at hand, to murder God manifest in the flesh. Whatever you do to the least of these My brethren, you are doing it to Me.
A huge part of my intent in this session is to convince you how Biblical this contention is, how much of Scripture is devoted to it, how much God has woven this conflict all through His story.
The Firstborn Against the Second Born
Because, you see, the modern church has eliminated this contention entirely from their knowledge; they read the words in the Bible, but cannot hear them.
This is the heir. Come, let us kill Him, that the inheritance may be ours (Luke 20:14). Jesus was referring directly to this conflict, the hatred of the firstborn against the second born, beginning with Cain and culminating in the Pharisees. Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman (Galatians 4:30). Paul is clear – he is referring to the natural Jew as the firstborn.
Building a Self-Story
In Matthew 20:1-15, Jesus tells the parable of the workers in the vineyard. In that parable He describes those who had labored long and hard in His vineyard and their jealousy against those who had not worked the same, yet received the same pay. This is part of the reason why I left the move fellowship of which I was once a part – the boasting of self-righteousness against “all those Christians out there who are so obviously displeasing to God.” Jesus ended by saying, “So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.”
The problem is never the work, neither is it in possessing many things. The problem is always the building of a self-story.
The Power of an Endless Story
In the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest who has come… according to the power of an endless life (Hebrews 7:15-16 condensed). – According to the power of an endless story.
You see, it is impossible for me ever to suffer loss. Take away from me everything that “belongs” to me and I have lost nothing. All that is mine will come back to me in its season. What I once loved to do, but am no longer able to do, I will do again in even greater glory – when the season is again right. I will build and I will teach. I will gather together and I will send abroad. I possess Christ; I possess all things. I lose all things; I lose nothing. Christ is all I am.
The Story of Christ
And inside this endless self-story, the story of Christ, I do not work. I do nothing at all to “please” God except to believe that Christ is more than enough for me and for my Father. Everything I do, I do only out from joy or necessity, and nothing that I do creates in me any story of self.
Yet as God shows His favor towards me, those who build their self stories out from working really hard for God will call me anti-Christ – as they already do towards Joel Osteen and others who teach God’s favor through Christ alone.
Yet to me, all that I do is more than more than enough. Rather, all that I am, all that I do, is Father utterly together with me, walking as One with me in pure and perfect fellowship. – All that I do is the Father working.
I posted a statement on Facebook regarding my conviction that Christianity will be fully successful on this earth, that is, that God will prove Jesus faithful and true through us, His body. Someone made a comment on my post that was entirely out from Calvinism, weaving together verses in an incoherent hatred against any claim I might have to Christ as my life.
This is typical Christian thinking – and my last statement, “All that I do is the Father working,” would incense that same mind towards acts of violence against me. Yet the hatred of that Calvinist against my testimony of Christ does not compare to the far greater hatred against Jesus that rules the entire world in which we live.
To understand that present hatred, we must work out from four Bible statements all the way through history until now. – Come, let us kill Him, that the inheritance may be ours.
Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake (Romans 11:28). – He who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now.
– Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known (Luke 12:1-2). The Pharisees and their teaching did not cease in Bible times, but continued on through the centuries, coming to all fullness in the present day.