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 The Way of Cain (Zac Poonen) - Murdering or Loving our brothers?

Bearing the burden of the backslidden churches on his heart, John writes much in 1 John 3 about loving one another. "By this, the children of God, and the children of the devil are obvious." (1 John 3:10). John divides all people in the world into two categories here - "children of God" and "children of the devil". And he says that the way to find out the difference is this: "Anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God. Nor the one who does not love his brother." This is a very clear distinction. One who does not love his brother is not of God. He may perhaps have many reasons why he cannot love his brother, but he is not of God.

In verses 11 and 12, we read, "For this is the message, which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. And not be as Cain, who was of the evil one, and slew his brother Abel."

When Jesus spoke about righteous people, he began with Abel. He said, "From the blood of righteous Abel, to the blood of Zechariah……" (Matt.23:35).

So Abel was righteous. But Cain, as we saw, belonged to the evil one, because he killed his brother. 1 John 3:12 goes on to say, "And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brothers were righteous."

Now I want you to read that verse carefully. It does not say that Cain’s deeds were evil after he slew Abel. No. It says that his deeds were evil even before he slew Abel.

Why did Cain slay his brother? Because he was an evil man. We have often heard it said that God accepted Abel because he offered a blood-sacrifice, and that God rejected Cain because he didn’t offer a blood-sacrifice. But there is more to it than that. See what it says here about Cain. "His deeds were evil; his brother’s deeds were righteous."

And John goes on to say in verse 13, "Don’t marvel brethren if the world hates you." He’s talking about Cain hating Abel. Don’t marvel if the world hates you. Hatred is the mark of the sons of Cain, and all who follow "the way of Cain" (as Jude calls it in verse 11 of his letter).

In verse 14 John says, "We know we have passed out of death into life" - not because we were baptized and not because we partake of the bread and the wine, no, but "because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death." John is still thinking of Cain as he writes this.

We are to love everyone. It doesn’t matter which church those others belong to. "He who hates his brother is a murderer." Everyone who hates someone else is a murderer. "And you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." The way of Cain, is the way of hatred.

In contrast, in verse 16 John says that the proof of love is this that instead of slaying your brother, you slay yourself! You lay down your life. "We know love by this, that He laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."

Notice that in both cases there is a death. In one we kill our brothers and in the other, we die ourselves!!

Cain killed his brother. That’s the way of evil. The children of the devil manifest themselves by slaying their brothers and sisters. The children of God are revealed by their putting their own self-life to death.

Cain smashed Abel’s head in with a rock. But today people are gentler - they don’t use rocks, they use their tongues! When you tear down your brothers and sisters with your tongue, speaking evil of them and making them look bad and small in the eyes of others, you’re actually slaying them.

In this the children of the devil are made manifest - because the devil is a murderer.

Revelation 12, verses 9 and 10 say that the devil accuses the brothers day and night. And just as God looks for co-workers, the devil also looks for co-workers, all over the world. What does the devil do day and night? Revelation 12, "He accuses the brethren, day and night."

And I want to remind you that the devil doesn’t lie to God. He doesn’t tell God false things about the brethren, because he knows that God knows everything! He tells God the truth. And the Devil is looking for co-workers across the world – who will speak the truth in the spirit of the accuser. An accuser need not tell false stories. The devil tells God the absolute truth, but he’s still the accuser.

You too can speak the absolute truth, and still be an accuser of the brethren.

Hereby the children of the devil made manifest. That’s the way of Cain - and no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

He who has ears to hear, let him hear this: "No murderer has eternal life abiding in him." Whatever doctrine you may believe, whichever way you were baptized, whether you speak in tongues or not, whether you break bread or not, however long your skirts may be, "no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."

Do you slay your brother or sister?

When Ham told Shem and Japheth that their father Noah was lying down drunk and naked, he spoke the absolute truth. He never spoke one falsehood. He said "Dad is lying naked, after he got drunk."

And for saying that, God not only cursed Ham, but cursed his children too. For what did God curse Ham? For speaking the truth in the spirit of the accuser. And that curse remains on all who accuse their brethren today.

From Genesis 9 onwards, all the way to Revelation 12, we read about many accusers who spoke only the truth. So remember that we don’t escape by saying that we only spoke the truth about someone. Ham spoke the truth too. The devil also tells God, "I’'m only speaking the truth…" . But he is still the accuser.

But Jesus also does something for us day and night. It says in Hebrews 7:25, "He ever liveth to make intercession for them…."

Consider a brother or a sister here who has some fault. Maybe he’'s drunk, maybe he’'s naked. But he’'s still our brother.

Most Christians begin their accusations long before they see what Ham saw. Drunkenness and nakedness are serious matters. But long before a brother goes that far, we may see some small fault in him - something that irritates us. Jesus sees it. Satan sees it. And we see it. Satan is quick to accuse. Jesus is quick to intercede. What do we do?

Both Satan and Jesus are looking for co-workers. We can take our pick as to which of the two we want to work with. Whenever you see a weakness or a sin in a brother, in that moment, you come to a fork in the road. There are only two ways at that fork - the way of intercession and the way of accusation. Jesus goes one way and Satan takes the other road. Now you have to decide which of these two ways you are going to take.

We all come to this fork often. And we don’t usually stand there. We move forward. Some people think they’re spiritual because they stand there without either accusing or interceding. They don’t take either road. But that’s not spirituality because Jesus has taken one road and He’s not standing still.

When we accuse, we get into fellowship with Satan. But when we intercede, we enter into fellowship with Jesus.

By this the children of God, and the children of the devil are made obvious. The distinction between them is made crystal clear. There is no hiding it.

Why did Cain slay his brother? Let’s turn to Genesis 4. Verse 3 says, "Cain brought an offering to the Lord. Abel also brought an offering to the Lord." Cain was not an atheist. Cain was a deeply religious man. The children of the devil are not all atheists. Most of them, like the Pharisees, are deeply religious. The way of Cain is not the way of atheism; it’s the way of religion. It’s also the way bringing offerings to God. Cain brought an offering. Abel also brought an offering. But notice something here. We may have thought that it was Abel’s offering that the Lord accepted first. But read carefully. It says in the last part of verse 4: "The Lord had regard for Abel, and for his offering." It was Abel whom the Lord accepted first, and that was why He accepted Abel’s offering.

Don’t read it the other way around — that the Lord accepted Abel’s offering first and therefore accepted Abel. That’s how you may have been taught, but that’s not what the Bible says. We can believe many false teachings if we are careless in reading Scripture.

"The Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering. But for Cain and His offering He had no regard."

It was the same with Cain. God didn’t disregard his offering but him. Therefore He rejected Cain’s offering.

We may think, "If I bring the blood of Christ before God, I’ll be all right". No, you won’t, if your heart is not right with your brother. When you come to God’s altar with the blood of Jesus, and there remember that your brother has something against you, your offering will not be accepted. "Leave your offering there," Jesus said, "Go and settle things with your brother first. Then come and bring your offering to God." (Matt.5:23,24).

Don’t live under the deception that because you have trusted in the blood of Christ, you’re all right. If you have slain your brother with your tongue, you must go and settle that matter with him first. Only then will the Lord have regard for you and therefore for your offerings. It is only the prayer of a righteous man that has great effect (James 5:16). If your heart is not right, God will not accept your prayers or your offerings.

[This is an excerpt from a much longer transcript from a sermon by brother Zac Poonen.]

 2016/8/26 8:40

Joined: 2016/6/4
Posts: 949
Johannesburg, South Africa

 Re: The Way of Cain (Zac Poonen) - Murdering or Loving our brothers?

Amen brother.

Let our words and deeds even on this forum also always be unto edification.

God bless,


 2016/8/26 10:04Profile

Joined: 2012/2/8
Posts: 5533


Quote: "You too can speak the absolute truth, and still be an accuser of the brethren."

That is a deceptively deep statement that requires much consideration.


 2016/8/26 10:27Profile

Joined: 2011/10/21
Posts: 1425
Dothan, Alabama


Brother Todd,

Yup, that one got me too!
Still chewing on it and boy is it a meaty word!


 2016/8/26 11:16Profile

Joined: 2002/12/11
Posts: 37453
"Pilgrim and Sojourner." - 1 Peter 2:11


Do you slay your brother or sister?

Don’t live under the deception that because you have trusted in the blood of Christ, you’re all right. If you have slain your brother with your tongue, you must go and settle that matter with him first. Only then will the Lord have regard for you and therefore for your offerings. It is only the prayer of a righteous man that has great effect (James 5:16). If your heart is not right, God will not accept your prayers or your offerings.

A strong word and needed to be heard in our day.

SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2016/8/26 11:28Profile


Part of the context brother Zac spoke of is regarding Noahs son, Ham. Instead of being grieved and weeping over his fathers failing, he was almost gleeful and perhaps coming across with a sense of "haha what a hypocrite". The scriptures are not that detailed about Hams attitude but I think we can see that this lad had heart issues. Perhaps he was the kid who inwardly despised Noahs righteous preaching and was in a sense dragged kicking and screaming onto the ark? And then along comes the failing of his father and all of a sudden Ham feels justified in heaping scorn on his dad.

I may never have gone that far outwardly but inwardly I think I have had that same heart issue, for which I am ashamed and thankful for the Lords mercy and forgiveness towards me.

I think if we were all honest we would admit that we have struggled, maybe just a little bit in this area? Especially with preachers and other believers who do not have much light or are struggling in areas where we have overcome?

Anyway, this was an important word for me to heed. God bless you all!

 2016/8/26 11:50


As long as we are in the flesh, we will struggle with wanting to retaliate.

Jesus was reviled by the religious community of His time. Even when He was on the cross they reviled Him wagging their heads in condescension.

Matt 27:39 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,

This wasn't just anyone that did this.

Mar 15:31 Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save.

How we treat others reveals our heart. Even those we consider enemies we are to love and not ridicule or revile or mock. In fact, we are to do just the opposite and bless.

Peter shows us the heart of Jesus regarding the mocking and reviling of Him.

1Pet 2:23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, HE THREATENED NOT; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:

Often, there is an opportunity to make your enemy your friend and most importantly a friend of God, by extending redemptive grace to them through love, by blessing and forgiving them in return. We see this in one of the biggest persecutors of the Christian Church.

Act 8:3 As for Saul, HE MADE HAVOCK OF THE CHURCH, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.

Act 9:1 And Saul, yet BREATHING OUT THREATENINGS AND SLAUGHTER against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,

What was the Lord's response to Saul? Did He mock him, ridicule him, revile him, destroy him? No, He actually entered into conversation with Paul and communicated to Paul that Paul was persecuting Himself when he persecuted His people. Thus, Christ blessed Paul by not holding anything against him (forgave him). And we must do the same.

Act 9:4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, WHY PERSECUTEST THOU ME?
Act 9:5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

The Lord told Paul that he was "kicking against the pricks". Paul, very astute and learned in the scriptures may have thought of several things at this point.

Perhaps Paul reflected on Psa 2:12.
Psa 2:12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

Undoubtedly, he knew the story of Theudas or Judas of Galilee.

Act 5:36 For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought.

Act 5:37 After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.

Perhaps he had heard about what Gamaliel pronounced.

We can take security in the fact that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church and that Christ is in control. We don't have to revert to weapons of the flesh to defend the kingdom of God. We can maintain our peace in God and not let anything to steal it away from us.

The kingdom of God is defended by walking as Jesus walked, being willing to suffer and be reviled, blessing and forgiving in return. These are the weapons of our warfare.

This way you save your soul, and may even save the souls of others.

Notice that Paul shows us all the things that cannot separate us from the love of God, except he doesn't mention self. Ourselves! Only I can separate myself from the love of God.

Rom 8:33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
Rom 8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Rom 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Rom 8:36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
Rom 8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
Rom 8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Rom 8:39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 2016/8/26 12:34


Thanks Julius, timely message. I also had similar thoughts. Thanks op too.
In our church when I was a baby Christian the pastor used to say: Here is one more reason for you not to hate your brother. He is a Christian, God accepts him, and when he goes to heaven and you hate him you might find yourself in the situation that you don't want to go to heaven because he is there...

 2016/8/26 14:56


Hi Tozsu,

I also think of David and his general, Joab.

Joab was always ready to slay David's enemies, even though David was not. In the end, Joab's passion and hot temper, cost him dearly. David would never raise a finger against God's annointed (Saul), choosing rather to suffer, living in the wilderness with his band of men, always on the run from Saul's men.

One day, Joab kills David's son, Absalom.

Despite Abasalom's sins against David, David loved him and gave strict orders to all, not to harm Absalom.

2Sa_18:12 And the man said unto Joab, Though I should receive a thousand shekels of silver in mine hand, yet would I not put forth mine hand against the king's son: for in our hearing the king charged thee and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Beware that none touch the young man Absalom.

But Joab did not hearken to David who he always appeared to loyally serve.

2Sam 18:14 Then said Joab, I may not tarry thus with thee. And he took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak.

Joab did a lot of dirty work for David such as putting Uriah on the front lines where he would die. Perhaps this is what he remembers when he decided to kill Absalom. He saw Absalom as an enemy of David's kingdom.

2Sam 19:1 And it was told Joab, Behold, the king weepeth and mourneth for Absalom.

It's sad when the Christian sees other Christians as enemies since the only enemies we really have are the powers of darkness. Men, who are our enemies we are to try to win to the Lord. We are to love our enemies and bless them and do good to them. Just as Jesus did.

Rom 5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

 2016/8/27 2:49



Did you notice that when you pray about a situation where someone offended you, you may at the beginning worry about yourself and how to stop the offender, but as you pray, your thoughts are changing, what you ask from God is gradually changing and you end up worrying about yourself not doing the same to others, as well as the spiritual wellbeing of the offender. You end up praying for his salvation! I think that's what prayer is for: to align our thoughts with God's. If you have time listen to this teaching. You probably know all this but still can be an encouragement to you.
mp3 sermon message:

God bless you,

message is found here:
Title : Refuse to be offended

 2016/8/27 22:06

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