A Tale of Two Religions

A Tale of Two Religions

Just follow your heart

How often have you “followed your heart” and it didn’t turn out well? Today’s culture focuses on self-empowerment, self-help, and self-love. We are told to be authentic and believe in ourselves to manifest our own destiny. Sure, a strong dose of confidence can be beneficial but where does it lead us spiritually?

The last thing we should do is “follow our heart” when it comes to faith. We are sinful humans, hopelessly trying to apply logic and emotion to our faith. Paul even says in Romans 7, “I know that in me dwells no good thing.” When we use our own logic, we will end up like Cain trying to appease God with our own offering.

We know from the Old Testament that ceremonial law required offerings. More importantly, what made an offering good in God’s eyes? Was it the earthly value of it? Did he prefer animal sacrifices to grain ones? None of those things mattered. What did matter was the faith of the contributor. Was the sacrifice done out of a man’s faith in himself, or his faith in God?

“Faith” doesn’t create things if it is believing in something uncertain. For faith to be effective, it needs to be directed at a thing that is effective. Thankfully, God has revealed Himself to us. We don’t need to do anything to appease God, because Jesus has already made the perfect sacrifice. We know from Scripture, centuries of Christians before us, and the witness of the Holy Spirit that Jesus is Christ. It is in Christ that we should believe.

We don’t need to do anything to appease God, because Jesus has already made the perfect sacrifice. The Lord tells us in Hosea, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” and Jesus repeats this in Matthew. God doesn’t need any material items from us. He wants our thanks and love.

And that is a question we can apply to ourselves. Are we living a religion of sacrifice where we try to earn our own salvation, or a religion of mercy that knows that God loves us and we love God in return?

Thanks be to Jesus for being our most perfect sacrifice!

Here is today’s sermon text from Genesis 4:

Cain and Abel
Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”

Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” 13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14 Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” 15 Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him. 16 Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

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