Jan 31, 2007

How can God command Cain to rule over his sin?

God told Cain that, "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 for you, but you must rule over it."

If the Reformed doctrine is true, then Cain cannot please God without a mighty work OF GOD in his heart. So how can God command Cain to rule over his sin, and yet, know that he indeed cannot?


Stan said...

This is, for some people, a real dilemma. Not for me.

Let me try a parallel example. "If you want to fly like a bird, you have to learn to grow feathers." Someone might say, "But ... it's impossible for a person to grow feathers." Yeah, that's true. I didn't say it was possible. I said that it must be done to accomplish what is intended.

Cain could not rule over sin, but if he wanted to have a right relationship with God, it was necessary that he do it. That doesn't mean it was possible. It was simply a statement of necessary conditions.

Samantha said...

So does this go side by side with the idea that God has two wills?

Stan said...

No, I don't think so. (I think He has more than two.)

It's similar to the "whosoever will" statements. When Jesus said in John 3:16 that "whosoever believes in Him shall not perish", many people read that to mean "anybody can" simply because He said "whosoever". Nothing in the statement requires that anybody can. It simply says, "Anybody who does A will receive B." If no one ever did A, the statement wouldn't be false.

Cain must rule over his sin. He is obligated to do so. Just because he lacks the capacity doesn't mean he is free of the obligation.

Julianne said...

Stan, I must be misunderstanding you, because I have never known you to be like the Radar Institute. But I tell you, if Cain does not have the capacity to overcome murdering his brother, then it sounds just like Dr. Radar telling drug addicts, alcoholics, and anybody struggling with issues, "It's not your fault! Call Radar Institute today!"

Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? "If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it."

First, what I know of the Lord...when He asks questions about what we have done or why we feel a certain way, it is not because He does not know why, but it is simply meant to lead us to self-examination, so we can repent. I have a difficult time imagining the Lord questioning Cain in a way that makes it sound like Cain has a choice to do well or to sin...and yet the Lord knows it is not possible for Cain to do well??? I see that passage as God warning and encouraging Cain to do what is right and explaining to him the results of the choices. He is not speaking to just anybody, but is giving direction to Cain specifically the he must master sin.

The Lord says with temptation there is a way of escape. This is what this was...the Lord gave Cain a way of escape, but it was for Cain to make this choice. To allow God to be his master or to be a slave to sin.

Samantha said...

Well, I was sorta trying to get at this with the whole "God has 2 wills thing" or however many wills He has. I was wondering if it made sense that since God has a "moral will" which is, the will that commands us to be obedient, the will He desired for Cain...would it make sense to say that God's sovereign will would not allow Cain to repent because God had not predestined him to be saved in the first place?

I am not I know what I'm talking about....

I agree with your assessment Stan. I'm just trying to understand it in "Samantha" terms :D

Samantha said...

Which, by the way, how many wills does God have? I thought it there was His sovereign will and His moral will. What else?

Stan said...

Samantha, the "number of wills" that God has is a variable, depending on how you express it. In general terms there are two because in general terms they are the two, overarching, significant ones. If you delve a little deeper, you can find three. These three are His sovereign will (sometimes referred to as efficacious or decretive), His preceptive will, and what is sometimes called God's will of disposition. His sovereign will refers to the things that actually come to pass. His preceptive will refers to the things He wants us to do (such as the Law, etc.). His "will of disposition" refers to the things He would "like". He would like it if everyone were to be saved, for instance, but that falls neither under His preceptive will (His precepts) or His sovereign will (that which He ordains that will surely happen). It is, however, a very small point (except in very select conversations).

Samantha and Julianne, I do need to clarify something, and it is a big issue, actually. When we refer to "man's inability" -- when we say things like "Cain lacks the ability to rule over sin", it is a tricky thing. The MOST accurate thing to say would be that natural Man lacks the willingness to obey. It's not so much that he cannot, but that he will not. The reason is found in the sin nature. Since natural Man is hostile to God, he would not be interested in doing what God commands. It's not that he lacks the power, but that he lacks the inclination. He is inclined only to evil. To obey God would go against his nature. So this "cannot" is defined by the sin nature of Man.

You'll find a parallel in talking about God. Can God sin? Well, I suppose, technically, you'd have to say, "Yes." However, to sin would violate the very nature of God. So He may technically be able to sin, but He hasn't the slightest inclination, due to His nature, to do so, so if He were to sin, it would be against His nature. Therefore, since it is against His nature, He "cannot" in the sense that He will not.

Does that make sense? Does that make things any clearer? (It's a common problem when we start talking about the "Reformed doctrine of Man's inability" kinds of things.

Samantha said...

Yes, as a matter of fact it does.

I have a tendency to forget things I've already learned. :D

Thanks for explaining the will thing, I was very confused about it!

Julianne said...

Sorry, but personally I just cannot sign on to that line of thought that man's sin nature will not allow him to choose God, when God says things that are clear it is His will they repent, that He desires them. If He desires them and it is His will that they would repent, how much more do I need written to believe that He is sharing His grace with them but they are rejecting it? Why share my grace with somebody who "cannot" accept it because I will not change their nature? To me that is like saying to my newborn baby, "hey my milk is over here if you can walk to me, otherwise you will die, but I desire for you to walk over here and partake of my milk, even though I know it will never happen!" I am not getting that out of the Word.

I am getting a God who pursues His creation even though we are absolutely unworthy. I am finding a God who is so Sovereign that He does not fear giving man free will. Sure He knows everything we will do, He cannot help it, but it does not mean He made the choice for us.

I see a God who makes the first action toward us and allows us to choose our reactions. I do not believe man in any way can work for grace...it is FULLY a gift from God. Accepting a gift is not work. I have watched my children open gifts...no work involved. They did nothing to earn the gift even by opening it. They simply chose to receive it with great eagerness.

I agree that if God did not initiate grace and pursue us, we would never take notice of Him for long enough to change us, because we are selfish by nature. So He does get our attention, then we choose how to respond. He is ALWAYS the intiator of everything GOOD thing. He is the most awesome God of whom I am not worthy, but ever so grateful.

I think both Samantha and Stan know that I am pretty much a proponent of Lordship salvation, yet I still see this subject differently. I know most Lordship salvation people are reformed in views, but I am not to the degree of you two, yet I love you two dearly as my siblings in Christ.

Samantha said...

Hey Julianne-

I love ya