It Begins in the Heart
May 23, 2016

Rediscover the Bible for Life

“It Begins in the Heart”

by Dennis Lee

The idea that our actions being caused by something deeper inside was literally acted out in its entirety back in the beginning of humanity and the story of Cain and Able.

Cain was a farmer while Able was a shepherd. Cain offered God a portion of the harvest while Able offered his very best, the first-born lamb. God preferred Able’s offering and this caused Cain to become very upset, and in his anger he killed his brother.

“So the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.’” (Genesis 4:6-7 NKJV)

Cain didn’t all of a sudden wake up and start singing,


“Oh what a beautiful morning,

Oh what a beautiful day,

I got a wonderful feeling,

I think I’ll kill Able today.”


Rather it began with anger, un-resolved and un-confessed anger. If Cain had confessed his anger and resolved it then murder may not have been the outcome.

This is what Jesus is pointing to. The sin of murder begins with the sin of anger, and so in God’s eyes they are one and the same, and the penalty is the same, Matthew 5:21-22.

This story of anger being the cause of Able’s murder wasn’t lost on one little boy. He wrote to God,

“Dear God, Maybe Cain and Able would not kill each other so much if they had their own rooms. It works for me my brothers.”

Now what Jesus said caused a lot of grief, because the religious leaders of that day, as well as many in our own day base their salvation and relationship with God on comparisons, that is, how they stack up or compare with others.

This sort of comparison is at the heart of Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, Luke 18:9-14.

In this parable the Pharisee was telling God how good he was, and not like extortioners, adulterers, or even the tax collector he came in with. The tax collector on the other hand knew of his sinful condition and hung his head confessing his sinfulness asking for mercy.

In the parable Jesus said that it was the tax collector that left justified, having his sins forgiven, while the Pharisee left with his sins intact.

How often people believe they’re okay with God because they’re not as bad as the next guy. But when confronted with the words of Jesus they realize that no one is ever good enough to stand before a holy and righteous God. And they realize that God’s requirements are beyond our ability or capability to keep.

What’s also important to understand is that Jesus isn’t trying to find more ways to condemn us, because Jesus said that he hadn’t come to condemn, but to save. What Jesus is getting at is the heart of the matter, because our relationship with God is not based on our actions or ability to be good; rather our relationship begins with the heart.




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