April 11, 2021
Sin - ἁμαρτία - hamartia is, literally, “a missing of the mark,” but this etymological
meaning is largely lost sight of in the NT. It is the most comprehensive term for
moral obliquity (noun form of oblique).
circumlocutory using many words where fewer would do, especially in a deliberate attempt to
be vague or evasive; "he has a meandering, circumlocutory speaking style"
Zacchaeus was a sinner and a son of Abraham but only in the sense
of your and I before our conversion, a son of God.
So if you have never been saved or “born again”, to say you are a
son of God is a misnomer.
Forfeiture and Recovery (v. 9)
Our Lord’s words refer in the first instance to:
· THE LOSS AND RECOVERY BY ZACCHAEUS OF HIS PLACE IN
THE COMMOWEALH OF
He had forfeited this. It was by no means inalienable. Only they were the
true children of Abraham who did the deeds, who lived the life, who were
possessed with the spirit, of Abraham. So our Lord taught himself (see
John 8:39). This was Paul’s doctrine also (Romans 2:28, 29; 9:7;
Galatians 3:7). The true child of Abraham was he who walked by faith,
who was the servant and the friend of God (Isaiah 41:8). But
Zacchaeus had lost this true, this real and effectual sonship, For he had
been living the life of sense, and not of faith; he had departed from the
service of God, and engaged in the practice of extortion and corruption.
He had ceased to be the friend of God, and made friendship with an evil
2. But now he was in the path of restoration. He was penitent; he was a
seeker after heavenly wisdom in Jesus Christ; and this meant renewal of
heart and life; it meant rising into a new and elevated region, breathing the
pure air of devotion, of service, of righteousness; it meant the recovery of
the forfeited birthright. Salvation had come to himself and his household;
once more he was “a son of Abraham.” We are thus led to look at —
· THE SAD POSSIBILITIES OF FORFEITURE OPEN TO ALL THE
CHILDREN OF MEN. God made us to be heirs of all that is good and
o of liberty,
o of truth,
o of honor,
o of love,
o of Himself and
o of His kingdom.
But sin comes in and spoils our heritage; under its evil ban we lose our good
estate; our inheritance is forfeited; instead of being the “sons of God” and
the “children of wisdom,” we become rather the “children of wrath.” We
Ø Our liberty. We may become, how many do become, enslaved by some
evil habit which holds them fast in its strong coils — some bodily or
Ø Our hold upon the truth. We may lose our faith in, and our appreciation
of, the leading and vital doctrines which bring us into close and
conscious fellowship with God.
Ø Our very manhood. For there are many who suffer themselves to sink so
low in the moral scale that they forfeit all claim to be accounted men;
their lives are simply brutal.
Ø Our rightful place in the estimate of our fellow-men. We may lose all the
esteem, the confidence, and (consequently) the affection of our neighbors.
Ø The friendship of Jesus Christ. Too often those who once walked with
Him and worked for Him stand aside, and “walk no more” by His side;
they leave His service, they lose His loving favor, they cannot be any
longer counted among His friends. And with all this there must be the
sad and grievous forfeiture of:
Ø The hope of eternal life. For when fidelity is lost, hope is lost also.
· THE BLESSED OPENING FOR RESTORATION PROVIDED BY
THE SAVIOUR OF SOULS! There is no “house,” however fallen, to
which “salvation” may not come; no human being, however sunk in sin
and wrong, who may not be restored in the mercy of God by the power of
Jesus Christ the Saviour. It is when He is admitted to the home and to the heart
that recovery is attained. In Him, for all earnest seekers, is escape from bondage
and from error and unbelief; in His service is found the gradual but effectual
return of the trust and the love of man; He offers the renewal of His
friendship, and opens again the closed door of hope to the penitent and the
Ø The slave of sin becomes the son of God;
Ø the companion of the evil-doer becomes the friend and co-worker of Christ;
Ø the candidate for condemnation becomes the heir of heaven.
Acceptance awaits those who seek Jesus in repentance.
v. 3 - "in the process of time" - it is difficult to know what
caused Cain & Abel to have different attitudes &
characteristics - psychology would probably
attribute it to heredity or environment.
"Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering" -
exhibiting a spirit of careless unconcern for the will of God
A bloodless sacrifice - of the fruit (not fruits) of the ground -
offering with a stingy hand as many of God's worshippers still
do? God deserves the first-fruits of our years, powers and labor.
v. 4 - Abel too brings an offering Abel's worship was offered in
the way prescribed - God does not leave men to invent
forms of religion - Christianity condemns will-worship.
Cain was a formalist - Abel, a worshipper of God in spirit &
truth. Neither Cain nor Abel was in no doubt of his position -
the mind of God had been explicitly revealed!
Cain had pious parents, a good home, an honorable calling,
a religious profession, and yet was lost. Abel had a short life
and a sad death but he was safe! Faith in Christ, the promised
Seed made the difference!
v. 5 - Divine displeasure with Cain and his offering
vs. 6-7 - the first use of the word sin - the entrance of sin into
the world through eating of forbidden fruit had quickly
resulted in much more bitter fruit - namely murder - the
Serpent was quickly striking at the seed of the woman,
corrupting her first son and slaying her second, thus
trying to prevent the promise in ch. 3:15
There is no great sin committed but it has been seen
at the door first. Doing not well precedes the direct
presumptuous sin. Cain was warned by God Himself
before his fallen countenance darkened his heart with
crime and his brother's blood - what a picture of the
gradual degradation of the conscience - disobedience
of God's command in some minor point - a sense of
estrangement from God - sullen brooding and pouting
against God and man - violent self assertion.
# 314a on the website.
TO THOSE WHO ARE ANGRY
WITH THEIR GODLY FRIENDS.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE,
“And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy
countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted;
and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall
be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.” — Genesis 4:6, 7.
SINNERS are not all of the laughing sort: Cain’s mind was angry, and his
heart was heavy. The short life of the vicious is not always a merry one.
See, here you have a man who is utterly without God, but he is not without
sorrow. His countenance has fallen: his looks are sullen: he is a miserable
man. There are many ungodly people still in the world who are not happy
in the condition in which they find themselves. The present does not
content them, and they have no future from which to borrow the light of
hope. The service of sin is hard to them, and yet they do not quit it for the
service of the Lord. They are in danger of having two hells — one in this
life, and another in the world to come.
They have a religion of their own, even as Cain brought an offering of the
fruit of the ground; but it yields them no comfort, for God has no respect
to their offering, and therefore they are displeased about it. The things of
God bring an increase to their inward wretchedness: it was after a sacrifice
that Cain’s countenance fell. Many unrenewed hearts quarrel with God at
his own altar: quarrel by presenting what he never commanded, and then
by growing wroth because he rejects their will-worship. They attend the
means of grace, but they are not saved nor comforted, and they do not like
it. They pray, after a fashion, and they are not heard, and they feel
indignant at the slight. They read the Scriptures, but no cheering promise is
ever applied to their hearts, and they grow fierce at their failure. They see
another accepted, as Abel was, and this excites their jealousy, and envy
gnaws at their heart. They are wroth with God, with their fellow man, and
with everything about them; their countenance falls, and they are in a
morose mood, which fits them for any cruel word or deed. Can you not see
their sullen looks?
They would like to have the enjoyments of religion very much, they would
like to have peace of conscience, they would like to be uplifted beyond all
fear of death, they would like to be as happy as Christian people are; but
they do not want to pay the price, namely, obedience to God by faith in
Jesus Christ. They would willingly bring an offering to God according to
their own choice and taste, but they do not care to come with “the lamb”
as their sacrifice: they cannot accept the atonement made by our Lord’s
laying down his life for us. They wish to have the reward of obedient faith
while yet they have their own way. They would reap the harvest without
sowing the seed. They would gather clusters without planting vines. They
would win the wages without serving, the Master of the vineyard. But as
this cannot be, and never will be, they are full of bitter feeling. Since sin
and sorrow are sure to be, sooner or later, married together, and since only
by walking in the ways of God can we hope to find peace and rest, they
quarrel with the divine arrangement, grow inwardly miserable, and show it
by their sullen looks and growling words.
They are in a bitter state of heart, and it is fair to ask each one of them,
“Why art thou wroth?” Alas! they are not angry with themselves, as they
ought to be, but angry with God; and often they are angry with God’s
chosen, and envious of them, even as Cain was malicious and vindictive
towards Abel. “Why should my neighbor be saved, and not I? Why should
my brother rejoice because he has peace with God, while I cannot get it?
Why should my own sister be converted and sing of heaven, and I, who
have gone to the same place of worship, and have joined in the same
prayers and hymns, seem to be left out in the cold?” Such questions might
be useful to them; but instead of looking into their own hearts to see what
is wrong there, instead of judging themselves and trying to get right with
God, they inwardly blame the Lord, or the persons whom they think to be
more favored than themselves. The blessings of grace are to be had by
them; but they refuse to take them, and yet quarrel with those who accept
them. They play the part of the dog in the manger, who could not eat the
hay himself; and would not let the horses do so. They will not accept
Christ, and yet grumble because others have Him.
It is one of the sure signs of the seed of the serpent — that they will always
be at enmity with the seed of the woman. This is one of the marks of
distinction between those who walk after the flesh and those who walk
after the spirit; for as Ishmael mocked Isaac, so the child of the flesh mocks
the child of promise even to this day. So soon as the two sons born to
Adam were grown up, the great division was seen: he who was of the
wicked one slew the man who by faith offered a more acceptable sacrifice.
This division has never ceased, and never will cease, while the race of man
remains on earth under the reign of God’s long-suffering. By this shall ye
know to which seed ye belong; whether ye are of those who hate the
righteous, or of those who are hated for Christ’s sake.
Now, I want to call attention to a very gracious fact connected with this
text; and that is, that, although Cain was in such a bad temper that he was
very wroth, and his countenance fell, yet God, the infinitely gracious One,
came and spoke with him, and reasoned with him patiently. It is wonderful
that God should speak with man at all, considering man’s insignificance.
Did not the Psalmist say, “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy
fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man,
that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?”
But for the Lord to speak with sinful man is a far greater marvel; and for
him to reason with such a man as Cain, a murderer in heart, and soon to be
a murderer in deed, impenitent, implacable, presumptuous, blasphemous;
this is a miracle of mercy! Shall the pure and holy God speak with such a
wretch as Cain, who was angry with his brother without just cause? Why
does He not at once cut him off while yet his hate has not issued in murder,
and thus at the very beginning show His detestation of envy and malice?
Truly His mercy endureth for ever. Behold, the Lord comes to Cain with a
question, gives him an opportunity of speaking for himself, and defending,
if he can, his state of mind. “Why art thou wroth? and why is thy
countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if
thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.”
Yet this is no solitary instance of the condescension of God: it is the way of
our God to expostulate with sinners, and to let them produce their strong
reasons, and justify themselves it they can. It is His fashion to say, “Turn
turn ye, why will ye die, O house of
of any, but that they should turn unto Him and live. He is greatly patient
and waiteth to be gracious. God gives none up until they fatally resolve to
give themselves up, and even then His good Spirit strives with them as long
as it is possible to do so, consistently with His holiness.
Often to the very gates of death, and up to the very edge of the bottomless
pit, His pity follows obstinate sinners, crying still, “Turn ye! Turn ye! Turn
ye! Why will ye die?” Ay, the angry sinner — the Cain-ite sinner — the
sinner whose face betrays the anger of his soul, whose heart is hot with
enmity against God and against His Christ, even he is not left to die without
divine pleadings which may show him his fault and folly. Still does the
Lord handle conscience with skill, and arouse thought with fit enquiries:
“Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?”
I pray God that he may speak to any among my congregation who may be
in this sad and evil condition. I have felt lately that I may have but few
more opportunities of preaching the gospel, and therefore I would try and
speak more solemnly every time I preach, and endeavor to strike right
home at the heart and conscience, if by any means I may save some. Oh
how I long to bring men to Jesus! I could gladly lay down my life to save
my hearers. May the Holy Spirit make my words to be full of force and
holy fire; and may they meet the case of some here present whom I have
never seen before, but whose thoughts are as well known to God as if they
were printed in a book and laid open before His eyes! Oh that I may be
moved to speak a word which shall fit the case as a glove fits the hand
which wears it! May it not merely be the voice of man that speaks to you;
but may it be clear that God has commissioned his servant to speak to your
hearts, and that by my sermon God himself expostulates with you even as
He expostulated with Cain in those ancient times!
Recollect that the case is that of a man who is angry, angry mainly because
he cannot get the comforts of religion. He sees his brother enjoying them,
and he grows wroth with him for that reason. With him, and all like him, I
would reason with kind words.
I. I shall take the last sentence of the text first: “Unto thee shall be his
desire, and thou shall rule over him.” In these words God argues with Cain,
and answers the charge of favouritism which was lurking in his mind. He
tells him, in effect, that NO DIFFERENCE IS MADE IN THE ARRANGEMENT
OF SOCIAL LIFE, BECAUSE OF THE ARRANGEMENTS OF GRACE. Notice
that he says to him, “Unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over
him” — which I understand to mean just this: “Why are you so angry
against Abel? It is true that I have accepted his offering: it is true that he is
a righteous man, and you are not; but, for all that, you are his elder
brother, and he looks up to you, his desire is toward you, and you shall rule
over him. He has not acted otherwise than as a younger brother should act
towards an elder brother, but he has admitted your seniority and priority.
He has not revolted from you: you rule over him: you are his master. Why,
then, are you so angry?” Observe this, then — that if a man shall be angry
with his wife because she is a Christian, we may well argue with him —
Why are you thus provoked? Is she not a loving and obedient wife to you
in all things, except in this matter touching her God? Is she not all the
better for her religion? I have known a husband meet his wife at the
Tabernacle door and call her foul names all the way home for no other
reason than because she joined in the worship of God. Yet she was all the
more loving, diligent, and patient because of that worship. Here is your
child converted, and you are angry. Are you not unreasonable in this? You
are his father, and he yields obedience to you. God has not caused religion
to alter the natural position of things: your child, your servant, your wife,
all recognize this, and remain in due subservience to you. For what cause
are you thus sullen and wroth? Good sir, this is not like a reasonable man.
Be persuaded to let better feelings sway you.
Now, this is an important thing to note, because first of all it takes away
from governments their excuse for persecution. In the early days of
Christianity, multitudes of Christians were tormented to death because of
their faith in Jesus. There was no excuse for it, for they had done no harm
to the State. Christianity does not come into a nation to break up its
arrangements, or to break down its fabric. All that is good in human
society it preserves and establishes. It snaps no ties of the family; it
dislocates no bonds of the body politic. There are theories of socialism and
the like which lead to anarchy and riot; but it is not so with the mild and
gentle teaching of Jesus Christ, whose every word is love and patience. He
says, “Resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek,
turn to him the other also.” His apostle says — “Wives, submit yourselves
unto your own husbands: husbands, love your wives; children, obey your
parents in all things: servants, obey in all things your masters, not with
eyeservice as menpleasers: masters, give unto your servants that which is
just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.” Such
precepts as these are no injury to government. Paul was no leader of
sedition, no destroyer of the rights of property. Caesar needed not to fear
Christ. Jesus did not covet Caesar’s purple or Caesar’s throne. Even Herod
needed not to tremble for his princedom, for the child that was born at
kingdom is not of this world,” said our Lord Jesus, “else would my
servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews.” Now, inasmuch
as the religion of Jesus Christ does no hurt to social order, teaches no one
to be rebellious, takes away from no man his rights, but guards the rights
of all from the meanest to the greatest, all excuse is taken away from any
government that dares to put out its hand to touch the
to each disciple of Jesus, the government may be satisfied that he is loyal.
“Thou shalt rule over him” is certainly true. Christians will cheerfully
submit to all lawful rule and righteous authority. To them it is a matter of
joy if they are enabled to lead peaceable lives because the magistrate is a
terror to evildoers. They are a non-resistant, peaceable, quiet people, who
have from the beginning of the world until now borne burdens and suffered
and been content to suffer, so that they might but be true to their Master.
They hate tyranny, but they love order: they protest against oppression, but
they uphold law and justice. Why, then, should they be persecuted? They
ask nothing from the State by way of pay or patronage; they only ask to be
let alone, and to be subject to no disability on account of their religion. Let
all who are in authority, whether as kings or petty magistrates, beware of
wantonly molesting a people who cause them no trouble, lest they be found
in this matter to be fighting against God.
Read ch. 18:35-43; ch. 19:1-10
Luke prefaced the story of Zacchaeus with Jesus’ encounter with a
blind man. The blind man and Zacchaeus were very different, just
as you and I are different. (The great glory of God is His ability
to make things so similar, yet very different! Witness the leaves
of trees, snowflakes, humans - looks, fingerprints) However both
men, as we all, have shared similarities.
· The blind man was a beggar, Zacchaeus was rich.
· The blind man helpless, Zacchaeus possessed, in his position
as tax-collector, a degree of power.
Both men had needs that ONLY JESUS could meet.
Their encounters with Jesus were different.
The blind beggar called out to Jesus, begging not for money, as is often
the case, but asking for mercy! (As I typed this, though shedding no
tears, I could feel my eyes well up as I thought of this situation - CY -2021)
People tried to quiet the beggar, but Jesus asked for him.
Zacchaeus did not shout for Jesus’ attention, but he climbed a tree to get
a glimpse of Him. Jesus saw Zacchaeus and asked him to come down.
The immediate results in both cases was a TRANSFORMATION!
Jesus healed the blind man, no longer would he have to sit and beg.
Jesus dramatically changed Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus shared his wealth
with the poor and restored money he had obtained by fraud.
The blind man’s faith had saved him.
Zacchaeus’ repentant obedience demonstrated how salvation had
come to his house.
As we try to apply these lessons, we too, have the opportunity to
experience God’s grace and mercy.
WE TOO CAN BECOME CHANNELS OF GOD’S LOVE TO OTHERS
WHO ALSO NEED HIS MERCY!
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