What sorrow awaits them! For they follow in the footsteps of Cain, who killed his brother. Like Balaam, they deceive people for money. And like Korah, they perish in their rebellion.” Jude 1:11 NLT
Jude follows up his list of qualifiers for the “secret-slipper-inner” (if you missed these posts read “Pastor Wrinkles: Hey Jude 1-13”) among us by making three analogies about them. He begins by making a comparison to the life of Cain.
Now while the NLT says they are like Cain “who killed his brother”. The final addendum to the phrase is not actually in the translation. The Greek says:
“poreuō hodos Kaïn.” Or in English, “they pursue the pathway of Cain.”
It is true that Cain murdered his brother. However this does not mean every “secret-slipper-inner” in the church is a serial killer in the making. Gosh, we’d have a lot more church murders if this was the case. I don’t believe “following the way of Cain” is a reference to the murder of his brother. Cain was guilty before God long before he offed Abel. Let’s go back to Genesis to see where Cain actually fell off the God wagon.
Later she gave birth to his brother and named him Abel. When they grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground. When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the LORD. Abel also brought a gift—the best of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The LORD accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected. “Why are you so angry?” the LORD asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” Gen. 4: 2-7
This is the beginning of the end for Cain. We don’t know why exactly God didn’t like Cain’s offering (though there are lots of good speculations). What we do know is that Cain knew his offering was not the correct one. God pointed out that Cain had no right to feel angry because he knew he was not making a proper offering. Cain was trying to conform God to his plan rather than allowing himself to be conformed to God’s plan.
The way of Cain is the way of rebellion. Rebellion doesn’t always involve sticking a knife in someone else’s back. Sometimes it can be prettied up to look like a sacrifice of praise unto God; But don’t be fooled. Anyone can sing a hallelujah but we are called to see beneath the surface of what is said to what is lived. As Blaise Pascal said “The strength of a man’s virtue should not be measured by his special exertions, but by his habitual acts.”