Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. Hebrews 2, verses 14-15.
How does the devil hold the power of death over you?
Another observation of the men’s retreat I attended last weekend. The speaker, Chad Bird, made a point I had never considered before: man’s sin went from zero to sixty in a moment. Think about it. The first sin recorded for us was disobedience. Adam and Eve disobeyed God. They made idols out of themselves and failed to trust God (who had proven His trustworthiness at all times to them). Then they blamed each other, then they blamed God. To us, that seems pretty innocuous. Yet, to God, it spoke of a chasm in the human heart.
But if disobedience seems simple, the next sin recorded in Genesis wasn’t. If you aren’t familiar with the story, Adam and Eve sin, so God provides for them but expels them from the paradise on earth that was Eden. After awhile, they make love and have a child in the usual way; that child is Cain. Later, they have Abel. Remember that, just after the fall of man, God promises Adam and Eve that He will send a deliverer to them. Since Cain was the first person given to them, isn’t it possible that they thought Cain might be that deliverer? He was the first born child (indeed, the first child born in all humanity), and while first born children sometimes get the hardest treatment, they’re also the first born. In the ancient world especially, that carried connotations of birthright, favored treatment, and being set apart as special.
If you consider all that, then isn’t it likely that Cain was brought up knowing it? Maybe he was a little spoiled? It isn’t a logical stretch to understand that Cain had a problem with ego, and that ego problem manifested itself in pride. Cain and his brother became farmers, and when both of them decided to bring fruits of their labor to God, Cain’s pride burned into resentment. His brother, Abel, selected the best of his sheep herd, then slaughtered it in sacrifice to God. Cain, on the other hand, simply selected some nice crops and said “good enough” for his sacrifice. Result: God looked with favor on Abel’s offering and with scorn on Cain’s. It wasn’t the produce: it was the heart.
Result from that: chasm and chaos. Cain murdered his brother. Sin 1: disobedience. Sin 2: murder. Zero to sixty in the space of a few verses.
Flash forward to our so called modern day. Your flesh and mine aren’t any different from Cain’s (or Adam’s or Eve’s). We suffer the same emotions and temptations they did. While they never had the internet or indoor plumbing or supermarkets like we do, we have never enjoyed face to face relations with the Almighty the way they did (nor the simplicity of life lived at its most basic level). Satan isn’t very original. Jesus said he is the father of liars, that he has been a liar from the time of creation. Lies and deception are still Satan’s primary weapons against us…because they’re effective! They drove wedges between Adam & Eve & Cain & Abel and their God; they drive wedges into our relationships today. All our sins today start with the casual idolatry of Satan’s lies and how we choose to believe them. Disobedience, murder, cheating, adultery, stealing; pick your pet sin: they’re all based on simple tricks that Satan has used for centuries. We’re tempted and we fall time and time again. As a result, we die to God with every disobedience. Die enough and it’ll become permanent.
Yet the same Jesus who allows us to live in a world where we are tempted by Satan all day is the same Jesus who asks us to put our trust in Him alone because all blessings flow from Him: the same way they did in the days of Cain and Abel. He overcame death on Calvary, rendering spiritual death meaningless for those who would use their lives here to trust Him. He took away the power of Satan’s cunning lies and offered mankind the better way. Jesus made right what Adam, Eve, and Cain had taken wrong when they first trusted Satan’s deceptions.
We don’t know what happened to Cain. He wasn’t the promised deliverer, though in reality God delivered him. Cain absorbed the consequences of his actions, first focusing on his own selfishness but then, perhaps, later on something more. God put a mark on him so that other people wouldn’t kill him, and that mark was really a kind of blessing because it gave Cain the opportunity to reflect and turn back to God. Genesis tells of him building cities, and fathering other people (some good, some not). At some point, he (obviously) died; we don’t know when. His death meant that Satan’s power of sin resulted in punishment, namely that death. Yet it also meant God delivered Cain and each of us from further influence by Satan. He has no power over the dead; only God does.
For more reading: 1 Corinthians 15:50, Ephesians 6:12, John 1:14, Genesis 3:15, 1 Corinthians 15: 54-57, 2 Timothy 1:10, 1 John 3:8.
Lord, help me to resist the power of the devil in my life today. When I am tempted, help me to choose You and Your path of peace instead of Satan’s lies and death.