The First and Second Birth: I Cor. 15:46 states a principle that follows all through manís history and we do well to understand it: "Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural, and afterward that which spiritual." We need not be surprised that the first seed of man is carnal, even that "carnal" mind which is enmity against God; which is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" Rom. 8:7. THIS IS CAIN.
The second birth is the spiritual mind in us, and ABEL is the figure of this. Abel obtains the witness of God that he is righteous. Long before Adam, the natural man, dies is us, we see these two minds striving together within. As I was learning to be led of the Spirit I found that every time my spiritual mind would seek to lead me in a certain way, there was another mind in me that would rise up to overrule or object to what had been said! I began to recognize that it was the carnal mind resisting the mind of the Spirit. If the thought originated from my own mind, there was no opposition or conflict. By this I came to discover the voice of the two minds within me.
Both the carnal mind and spiritual mind want acceptance from God. One is content to be religious; the other must know God. Both Cain and Abel knew what God required of a worshipper, but Cain refused to face sin and the fall (like our society today), so he brought the fruit of the ground. Donít just think vegetables here. Cain was the ground, made of earth, from which his worship came forth! He brought his own goodness, or self-righteousness, believing God would be pleased with it! He believed that cultivating his ground - by education, by self-improvement, or by any means to improve the fallen creature - was commendable.
Abelís offering of a life is an open confession of sin and the acknowledgment of the need for atonement through death, foreshadowing the death of our Savior. Both offer unto the Lord seeking His acceptance. The flesh desires to be accepted without dying to selfhood and this is impossible. This causes the flesh to rise up and slay the spirit (as Cain slew Abel). The carnal mind which lusts against the spirit is cursed by God: "Cursed art thou from the earth."
The acts of these two lives teach us of the two minds.
THE CARNAL MIND:
1) "goes out from the presence of the Lord."
2) busies itself with "cities".
3) "works in brass and iron" - Metals figure truths - gold and silver are most precious and are used in the temple. Brass and iron are an inferior class of metals use in the outward world
4) is busy building on the earth.
5) establishes itself in things, rather than dying to what it is, to reach something greater!
THE SPIRITUAL MIND:
1) finds itís rest in God.
2) suffers and dies in hope of resurrection
3) one form of life after another passes away and is replaced by a higher life.
4) in Sethís genealogy it says of each one: "And he died." (Gen. 5).
5) in Cainís lineage nothing like that appears, for the flesh hates to change and die.
The names of these two lines denote their character. Cain means "a possession, pointing to hopes fixed on earthly things." Abel means "a vapour, speaking of something arising into a higher atmosphere." Most of the names in Cainís line have negative meanings, so we will trace only Abelís line which reveals the story of the spiritual man as he progresses through different stages until he comes into the Rest of God.
First, Seth = replaced; Enos = infirm man; Canan = lamentation; Mahaleel = praising God; Jared = strong, commanding; Enoch = dedication; Methuselah = the spoiling of death; Lamech = humbled; Noah - rest, quietness. Now, put all the names together and see the progression: Instead of Abel, there is a life replaced in a state to serve God. Then comes the sense of wretched weakness; then lamentation for this; then praise; after which comes strength to command and overcome, then a life of real dedication; then the spoiling of death; then true humiliation; followed by a life of rest which passes from the world of the curse to a new world beyond the deep waters.
Cain and Abel are still very much with us today, for there are two great classes of men - not judged by race or creed - but simply known as carnal or spiritual. Both classes of men worship God in some form, but very differently (in New Age teachings, one may be his own God!) The word "carnal" comes from the root meaning "flesh", so the meaning relates to the things that are fleshly, temporal, or worldly. Carnal men desire a religion to fill that void that is in all men, but what they offer to God is the improvement of mankind. They ignore the fact that Cainís way of self-improvement was cursed, and so they continue to fill the earth with a mixture of good and evil: crimes, hospitals, schools, drugs, alcohol, and arts. For example, Russiaís spiritual seed are protesting the Rock music that is being brought to them (along with the Word) by ministering evangelists. The Cains, having a carnal mind, can see no contradiction here!
Spiritual men acknowledge that sin must be judged in them, and that their lives are no longer their own, but are to be yielded to the One Who paid the price of their redemption. They look with eyes of faith for that resurrection life and the nature of Christ to come forth in them. Many Abelsí have suffered as martyrs in this world; others have surrendered gladly all their wordly goods (and their reputations) to follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. The death of the Lamb that frees them from sin shows them that there is a way out of death through dying to the self-life. That which the Cainís would cultivate, the Abels would bring to death. Spiritual men take up their crosses and die daily until Christ is fully formed in them.
Others may seek to improve self, but spiritual men choose to die to self. They know that their acceptance with God is not in a self that is improved, but in taking self to the cross to be delivered. Not so with Cainís line. They still cultivate the ground (we are the ground!) trying to improve themselves (by commerce, culture, education, politics). They are attracted to what is beautiful in religion. We heard one Christian say, "It is regrettable they homosexuals can now be ordained as ministers in our church - but I just canít leave it. Iíd miss that lovely choir!"
The Cains mock as "a bloody religion" that worship that trusts in the sinless Blood of Christ offered for all mankind. They are like their father who would not offered the blood of the Lamb, but could stain his hands in his own brotherís blood! "The way of Cain" remains, and murderers of the innocent are protected and supported by them. (See the Gospel According to Marx in Feb. /93 Readerís Digest). It is a special report of how the World Council of Churches has strayed so far from Christianity that it promotes animism, spiritism and New Age belief, in addition to supporting revolutionary politics and failing to defend the Abels who were imprisoned for their faith. Such has ever been the way of the carnal mind.
Is it wrong to try improve mankind? Are we not called to good works and to bring forth fruit in the earth? To understand the answer to this we must know something of the burnt offering and the meal offering that Israel offered to God for 1500 years. The difference in the two offerings is that a life was offered in the one, and fruits in the other. LIFE is that which God claimed as his portion in creation, as it represents what man owes to God. The fruit and herb was manís portion, what we owe to man. God accepts good fruits where the life has been first given to God. To offer good works alone it to offer Cainís offering, which must be refused. Attempting to meet God with fruits from the cursed earth removes us from our true place and God cannot meet us there.