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Sunday, August 8, 2021

Bible Study with the Cincotti's - Faith or Works Again - 08/08/2021


 Today's Bible Study, Authored by Arthur Cincotti. 08/08/2021


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Faith or Works Again

 

The paradox of faith vs. works has caused some confusion in the church.

 

In Eph. 2:9&10, just between two lines Paul says, “not of works lest anyone should boast.” and “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works.”

 

In Gen. 4 I believe we glimpse and important first cause, in the account of Cain and Abel, which speaks to this. Most commentators focus on Abel’s sacrifice being of blood, for, we know, “without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.” Heb. 9:22, but there is an interesting negative element to Cain’s sacrifice.

 

Gen. 4:2&3 says, “Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the  LORD.”

 

But, in Gen 3:17-19 God pronounces a curse over the ground.

          vr. 17. “In toil you shall eat of it

          vr. 19. “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread.”

I present that Cain’s was a sacrifice of works. (not to say that tending sheep is not hard work) I suggest there is a different dynamic.

 

No doubt Cain was proud of his hard labor, as any of us might be.

Certainly the arduous task produced in him a bad attitude, see vrs. 5,9,13

His labor may have even made him stronger than his brother producing a sense of superiority. He may have developed an overly noble expectation that his offering was excellent. (though commentators disagree.)

 

The key take away is that, works of the flesh have little value in God’s economy, especially in regard to sacrifice and/or worship.

 

Is. 64:6 says, “all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.” NASB20

And Jesus says in Jn. 6:63, “the flesh profits nothing”

 

 “a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ” Gal.2:16

 

The law was given, primarily to govern the outworking of the flesh:

          Dietary practices

          Sexual practices

          Acquisition of comforts.

 

The culprits are fleshly, or what Scripture calls “dead works” and bringing them before God in order to strike a deal so to speak.

 

The fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5) is very different, even contrary to what Cain brought as an offering. Paul goes on to call the “works of the flesh...adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambition, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like”  Sounds like Cain’s resume.

 

The offering is an act of worship

Jesus said that, “true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth”

                                                                                                       Jn. 4:23

                     We do this by faith, for we can’t see the spirit

 

Both of these are at odds with the flesh.

 

Faith                      “The just shall live by faith ”______Abel

 

To fold in the dimension of faith, we read in Heb. 11:4, “By faith Abel     offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain”

 

Perhaps Abel was following God’s example. In Gen. 3:21 God slew and         animal to make, “tunics of skin and clothed them”

 

Again we see the similar contrast: Adam and Eve tried to make coverings of fig leaves in Gen. 3:7

 

Abel was a “keeper” (raw-aw) also translated; pastor, companion, shepherd

Cain was a “tiller” (aw-bad) also translated; servant and worshiper however,   the five times it is translated worshiper, it’s the worship of Baal

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