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EAST OF EDEN - HOW LONELINESS
AFFECTS YOUNG PEOPLE TODAY

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord's Day Morning, October 10, 2004
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden" (Genesis 4:16).


John Steinbeck wrote a famous novel called "East of Eden." It's the story of two brothers. One of them was close to his father. The other one felt cut off and alone. Steinbeck's novel was based on the story of Cain and Abel in the Bible. It was made into a classical film starring James Dean - as the figure of Cain.

Steinbeck's novel is still widely read by college students. One of the reasons East of Eden has such appeal, even today, is that so many young people feel the loneliness and alienation that Cain experienced.

Loneliness is often intense among college-age young people. Lonely students often report feeling depressed, angry, afraid, and misunderstood. They often become highly critical of others, overly sensitive and self-pitying, blaming others for their loneliness. When this happens, alienated students often begin doing things that make their loneliness even worse.

Last week I read in the newspaper about two teenage boys who went to a "rave," a wild party, here in the civic center of Los Angeles, about ten blocks from our church. The place was packed with young people. They were engulfed with "techno" music. They were high on a drug called "Ecstasy," that young people call "E." Somebody grabbed a gun and started shooting. The two boys were hit with a spray of bullets. They were both pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.

Just ten blocks away, the young people at our church were attending a Saturday night youth service at the very moment that tragedy occurred. I couldn't help but think how much safer and better it would have been for those young men if they had been in church with us! That's the reason we say repeatedly, "Why be lonely? Come home - to church! Why be lost? Come home - to Jesus Christ, the Son of God!"

But the Bible tells us that Cain made the wrong choice. Instead of coming home to God, he did one thing after the other which deepened his loneliness and alienation. And I believe that we can learn some important lessons from the wrong choices Cain made.

I. First, Cain chose the wrong religion.

"And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden" (Genesis 4:16).

"Cain went out from the presence of the Lord." On the very face of it, that means Cain chose the wrong religion. Instead of seeking salvation, "Cain went out from the presence of the Lord." I have seen many young people do that. One young man said, "Don't preach at me." Soon he left the church meeting and went out "from the presence of the Lord." I never heard of him again. Don't let that happen to you! Choose the right religion. Choose the religion God approves in the Bible.

Make no mistake about this. What you think about religion is fundamental. If you have the wrong view of God, it will color everything else in your life. The Bible says,

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction" (Proverbs 1:7).

Cain was a fool. He despised wisdom and instruction. He knew he should bring a blood sacrifice to God, but instead he brought vegetables. When God did not respect his offering Cain became angry. God was willing to pardon him, but he went on in rebellion.

Dr. M. R. DeHaan pointed out that there are really only two religions in God's sight. Man may think that there are many religions, but,

With God there are only two: (1) a religion of works; and (2) a salvation by grace. Every church or denomination or religious group which teaches that man has anything at all to do with obtaining or earning or meriting his salvation is a false religion…It is the religion of fig leaves and the offering of Cain. On the other hand, those who teach that men are totally lost, completely impotent to save themselves, and therefore must look to the work of God exclusively, are the recipients of true salvation…Satan deceived Adam and Cain, making them feel that they could do something to be saved, or at least help God a little bit in the work. But God refused to recognize it (M. R. DeHaan, M.D., Portraits of Christ in Genesis, Zondervan, 1966, p. 75).

Cain rejected the religion of blood. That means he rejected Christ. You see, Christ died on the Cross and shed His Blood to atone for our sins. But the Bible says,

"Without shedding of blood is no remission" (Hebrews 9:22).

Cain rejected the offering of blood, that pointed to Christ on the Cross. Many people are like that today. And the Bible says,

"Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain"
     (Jude 11).

You cannot save yourself. You can only find true salvation in Jesus Christ, who

"loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood" (Revelation 1:5).

The only way to come home to God is through the shed Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. You must be washed clean from your sins

"with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (I Peter 1:19).

We say, "Why be lonely? Come home - to church." But we also say, "Why be lost? Come home - to Jesus Christ, the Son of God." We say that because Jesus Christ is the only one who has "precious blood" to wash away your sins. The Bible says,

"The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin"
      (I John 1:7).

As the old song put it,

What can wash away my sin?
    Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
    Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh! precious is the flow,
    That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
    Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
("Nothing But the Blood" by Robert Lowry, 1826-1899).

Some so-called "evangelicals" are now telling us there is no Blood. After much deep study, I fail to see how this is any different from the rank liberalism of the earlier modernists like Harry Emerson Fosdick. The Bible says,

"Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain" 
      (Jude 11).

Without the Blood of Jesus Christ, there was no salvation for Cain, and there will be no salvation for you either!

"Without shedding of blood is no remission" (Hebrews 9:22).

I believe that young people need to hear the old-time message of salvation through the Blood of Jesus Christ. I think you need to hear that message. I think you need to get saved by fully trusting Jesus Christ, and being washed clean by His Blood.

II. Second, Cain had the wrong attitude.

When God disapproved of his religion, Cain refused to repent. He stiffened his neck and went on his way. And the Devil got ahold of him, and he murdered his own Christian brother.

The Bible warns us not to be like Cain when it says,

"Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous" (I John 3:12).

The Devil got ahold of Cain and drove him to sin. I believe in the Devil. I believe that he wants to destroy you, the way he destroyed Cain. Cain would not listen to God. Cain had the wrong attitude. He refused to acknowledge his sin and receive forgiveness through the Blood. Look at Genesis 4:16 again.

"And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden" (Genesis 4:16).

Cain went out from God's presence "and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden" (Genesis 4:16). Dr. M. R. DeHaan said,

The land of Nod means literally the land of wandering…It suggests a restlessness, uneasiness…wandering from place to place (M. R. DeHaan, M.D., The Days of Noah, Zondervan, 1971, p. 33).

Restless. Uneasy. Wandering from one place to the other. That isn't just a picture of Cain. It is also a picture of young people today who do not know Jesus Christ. The Bible describes this condition clearly when it tells us,

"There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked" (Isaiah 57:21).

You can try to forget your sins. You can drown yourself in alcohol. You can take Ecstasy, known as "E," until your mind is blown. You can run out and party all night. But you cannot find inner peace, nor can you find peace with God, unless you come to Jesus Christ.

"There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked" (Isaiah 57:21).

"And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden" (Genesis 4:16).

But he had no peace. He was cut off from God, wandering alone through the streets of a city named "Enoch" (Genesis 4:17).

What a terrible thing, to be all alone, out in the dark streets of the city. Even when you're in a crowd you feel alone - restless and wandering, and lonely - like Cain. Augustine said, "Our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee." That's why we urge you to come home to church! That's why we plead with you to come home to Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Christ told the story of the Prodigal Son. He went and spent all the money his father had given him. He lived it up in sin and debauchery. He was ruined and ready to die. But Christ said,

"He came to himself" (Luke 15:17).

He woke up - and came home to his father, who was waiting for him with open arms. And that's the way God is today. God is waiting for you to come home through His Son with open arms.

O come to the Father Through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, Great things He hath done.
    ("To God Be the Glory" by Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915).

There's no need to stay outside in the cold darkness of this world. Come on home! Come home to church. Come home to Christ. Come home and be saved like the Prodigal Son!

I've wandered far away from God, Now I'm coming home;
The paths of sin too long I've trod, Lord, I'm coming home.
Coming home, coming home, Never more to roam,
Open wide Thine arms of love, Lord, I'm coming home.
     ("Lord, I'm Coming Home" by William J. Kirkpatrick, 1838-1921).

Sing the chorus with me.

Coming home, coming home, Never more to roam,
Open wide Thine arms of love, Lord, I'm coming home.

(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Genesis 4:1-16.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"Lord, I'm Coming Home" (by William J. Kirkpatrick, 1838-1921).

THE OUTLINE OF

EAST OF EDEN - HOW LONELINESS
AFFECTS YOUNG PEOPLE TODAY

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden" (Genesis 4:16).

I.   Cain chose the wrong religion, Proverbs 1:7; Hebrews 9:22;
Jude 11; Revelation 1:5; I Peter 1:19; I John 1:7.

II.  Cain had the wrong attitude, I John 3:12; Isaiah 57:21;
Genesis 4:17; Luke 15:17.

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."