Consider how the culture of the world encourages people to live by emotion rather than reasoning: Advertising is designed to get specific emotional responses from us whether it be a cute ad, a funny ad, or a sexy ad, they are all designed to stir emotions more than logic. Consider auditorium church culture. The beautiful building, the raucous start to most worship services are with songs designed to get a person up and moving around, pleas for money or to volunteer in an program, or a soul-stirring message designed to motivate the congregation – as I have said, much of auditorium church culture has substituted emotion for the anointing. (Manifest presence of God). The world tries to train people to live by emotion. (And many ‘Christian’ web sites link with a spirit of fear to cause believers to keep turning to their site out of fear, under the guise of ‘I just want to see what is happening in the alternative media’, but it is really masking the spirit of fear)
God created us to live in balance with our reasoning and logic working together to walk with Him through life.
Recent studies show the average attention span of people (Millennial age group) have dropped from 12 seconds at the turn of the century to just 8 seconds today. That’s right, you have 8 seconds to capture that person watching your TV commercial, or reading your print ad or article – that departure from logic explains so much doesn’t it? It explains why politics has become so nasty in the US at least. My generation was trained to attack ideas, not the person. Today it is the opposite.
(Here is a link of just one such report if interested: https://www.prlog.org/12654134-freelance-writer-kimberly-blakers-blog-to-help-businesses-address-declining-attention-spans.html)
So does church culture
I noticed emotions taking over rather than the study of God’s Word and Ways back in the 1980′s, and it became more pronounced in the 1990′s to the point in the late 1990′s many people equated emotion with the Holy Spirit. To stir the emotions was equivalent to feeling the Holy Spirit for many churches. Wrong. Wrong spirit.
I saw Word of Faith teachers taking verses (especially about money) so far out of context and building doctrine I thought no one in their right mind would believe that – yet millions did. When I went to work with another ministry that associated itself and promoted ministers who built intercessory prayer and personal prophecy up to an unhealthy level, and saw many lives ruined by ‘personal prophecy’ without any reasoning or common sense applied, I thought surely we are close to the end of days!
And now with the Internet connecting people who have given themselves over to everything from a commonly held spirit of fear to every stray and weird belief out there, all in the name of God, I wonder where did the ability to reason go? When did we get to the place we sacrificed the brains God gave us in favor of emotion-based beliefs wrapped in spirituality that causes people to completely abandon all logic and common sense? Common sense isn’t too common any longer. Don’t confuse me with facts, my mind is already made up. People want to be right more than they want the truth.
Back to Cain…
After the Lord asked him 3 questions and received no answer: “Why are you angry?” “Why has your face fallen?” “If you do right, won’t it be accepted?” the Lord lays out His plan. His method of dealing with emotions, which in this case as is so often with us if not dealt with properly, can lead to sin and error in decisions: “If you don’t do what is right, sin is crouching at your door and it desires to have you. But you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7)
We’ve lost that backbone today – the concept of ruling over the sin desire. We want counseling, we want an instant deliverance, we want someone to make it all go away, remove that temptation from us once and for all! Wrong! We are on the earth, the devil is lose, your body wants to sin, and you must use discipline (that’s almost a curse word for some people I think – discipline, ooh, I said it again. discipline). “Sin lies at your door and wants to have you. You must rule over it!”
Emotion is the door for blessing or curse
Notice the connection with emotion as the doorway by which Cain would either keep the devil on the outside of his life, or let him in. God said to him, ‘If you don’t do right sin is at your door…’ Grab hold of your hurt Cain. Grab hold of your disappointment and anger Cain. Pull in the emotion and THINK…reason it out, do what is right!
Right there – right at that moment, the decision to do right or do wrong, is the first defense – logic. Reasoning. But it is the combination of turning away from the truth and the giving of himself to wrong emotions that opened the door for murder. James would later write in 3:14 in his passage about being intellectually honest with our own heart, “don’t lie against the truth” (when you see something in your heart that isn’t right, instead of hiding it, admit it to God and deal with it). Don’t lie against the truth.
That is what Cain was doing – lying against the truth. He knew his heart, he knew what was right to do, but he didn’t want to. It is wrong thought that opened the door to wrong emotion that led to sin. He set his will to do things the way he wanted, he insisted.
We aren’t taught that emotions can change direction like a flag on a flag pole blowing with the changing wind, but that is the truth. If you focus on what you don’t like about your spouse, or about your life, then those wrong thoughts will lead to emotions turning away from them and give rise to wrong thoughts (lies) like how much better off you’d be on your own, or how so and so would make a better spouse…and the death spiral begins. Death to relationships, death to what you have that is good and right.
If a person arrests their emotions by stepping back intellectually to look at the larger picture, let us say that spouse in this situation, and intellectually search for why they first fell in love, want what IS right about their life and marriage, then the emotions will start to swing towards the favorable. The instruction of Matthew 7:12 & Luke 6:31 that we call ‘The Golden Rule’ is actually a road map of healthy thought followed by healthy emotion:
“Do to others what you want them to do to you.” Think that through. That is a command to take the initiative, to be on the offensive to actively do as a lifestyle to others what you would want them to do back to you. You don’t wait for them to come around to see things your way – you do to them what you would have them do to you.
You want your husband to take you to a romantic restaurant – you take the initiative to take him out. You want him to stop treating you with disrespect when in public, then you find ways to treat him with honor and respect in your statements to your friends about him. Men – you want her to be more loving at home, then you start treating her with love, finding special ways to do good to her that you would love for her to do to you.
Emotions follow the thought processes and actions. Don’t make your thoughts follow your emotions; that is what Cain did. Your emotions are to follow your healthy thought processes and healthy actions. Build a bridge, or build a wall. Sometimes you have to build that bridge several ways and times before a wall comes down and the other person starts building a bridge from their side of things.
AFTER the murder, second verse same as the first
I’ve only covered Cain to this point, but because this is the first instance of the battle between logic and emotion played out along with how God deals with us in these things, it establishes a pattern we will see repeatedly throughout scripture and to our day. The Lord hasn’t changed and He deals with us and has the same expectations on us today as He did on Cain way back then. He even uses the same methods of trying to reach us before we make a huge mistake.
All I’ve covered thus far with Cain was BEFORE he killed Abel. The Lord was equally gracious to him after the murder. He asked him a question: “Where is your brother?” to which Cain lied in the pattern of those who are emotionally wrong and intellectually wrong ever since. “I don’t know! Am I my brother’s keeper?”
The progression of Cain’s downfall and how God tried to reach him lays out for us a roadmap of the ways of the Lord. He is tender and merciful, and approaches us with questions designed to point out erroneous thoughts and feelings, and laying out for us the right way – and urging us to take that right way.
We will look at other examples next week, until then…food for thought! Blessings