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JOHN PEARRELL: God takes sin just as seriously today as He did when Cain and Abel lived

"I'm into spirituality, I'm not into religion."

That is a statement I hear more and more it seems every day. This "spirituality" is an interesting thing -- it seems to be an eclectic mix of various parts of various religious views, taking what one likes from each and leaving the rest. It is a desperate attempt on an individual's part to make God in their own image.

There is an interesting account in the book of Genesis regarding this first "spiritual" approach to God. It is found in Genesis 4. Perhaps you recall the incident. Two brothers, the older named Cain and the younger Abel.

One day they decided to approach God in an act of worship. So Abel came, the prescribed way, offering a lamb as a sacrifice, but Cain thought, "Why should I do that? I'm a farmer and I have a successful fruit and vegetable business, I'll give that to God, after all, it is not what we give that counts, it's the attitude of our heart."

God apparently didn't see it that way, and he accepted Abel's offering but rejected Cain's. Cain doesn't think that's quite fair. He wants God to accept him on his own terms, like so many of our "I'm into spirituality" people today.

Look at the text there in Genesis 4:6-7, "Then the LORD said to Cain, 'Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.'" (Genesis 4:6 7, NIV).

Huh -- it seems that we don't get to design our own way to God.

Take another example, this one found in Leviticus 10:1-3. Aaron's sons, Nadab and Abihu, are priests. One day they get together and decide to do a little experiment. Sure God has given them instructions on how to approach Him, but that was for a previous generation they must have decided. They decide to spice things up a bit.

Look at the account, "Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. Moses then said to Aaron, 'This is what the LORD spoke of when he said: "Among those who approach me I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored."' Aaron remained silent." (Leviticus 10:1 3, NIV84).

"Oh," you say, "God isn't like that anymore." Really? Where are you getting your information? Are you getting your information from your own set of rules like Cain, Nadab and Abihu, or from God's revealed Word?

You need to be careful here. You see the very same God we find in the Old Testament is the very same God we have today. The Bible tells us that He's "the same yesterday, today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).

That is, He does not change. He is eternal, and by the very definition of the word eternal, there has to be a changeless quality about that.

Now granted, God's administration is different today (we are under grace, not the law), but that doesn't mean that God's standards have changed, that suddenly He is lighter on sin, more tolerant today then He was in Adam's or Aaron's day.

Now, right away I know that some of you object. You're saying to yourself, "I wouldn't serve a God like that." Well, don't worry, you're not. Instead you are serving a false god of your own conjecture and some day you are going to discover for yourself that your spirituality may have been just what you wanted, but the real question is, is it what God wanted?

Never forget that the Bible says, "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." (Hebrews 4:13, NIV).

Let's pick this up next week. I've much more to say.

Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington, GA.. For more information visit the Gateway website at www.gatewaycommunity.org