The Way of Cain

When Saul was looking for members of the church of Christ to persecute them, the Bible says he was looking for those “who were of the Way” (Acts 9:2). “Way” in the sense Luke uses the term describes all at once the fact that Christianity offers a distinctive path and pattern of life and that true Christians adhere themselves to that path and that pattern. It’s not surprising that he uses this term given that Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

Christianity is a way that makes people better. It teaches one to esteem others better than oneself (Philippians 2:3), to treat others as one would desire to be treated (Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31), and to sacrifice one’s needs, even one’s life, for the needs of others through true love (John 15:12-13). There is nothing more beautiful than brothers and sisters in Christ living together in unity (Psalm 133:1).

The sad reality of the way though is that not all who name it walk upon it. For one reason or another, sometimes people take the name of Jesus but not His path, His pattern of living. Sometimes when they do so, they seek to pull others after them. When they succeed, they pull them away from Jesus. Yes, sometimes good people are tricked and led astray by those who claim to follow Jesus but simply don’t.

This problem isn’t new. Jude once desired to write a personal letter to edify Christians about salvation, but the Holy Spirit stepped in and changed his plans. He was told instead to encourage Christians “to contend earnestly for the faith which once for all delivered to the saints,” and to fight to preserve the way of Jesus against “certain men who [had] crept in unnoticed” (Jude 1:3-4). Most of the epistle Jude writes describes these individuals and their true motives in terms so vivid that they force Christians to see past what these individuals seem to be to what they really are.

One of the powerful descriptions Jude gives to those who would lead people from Jesus’ way is to describe them as walking on “the way of Cain” (Jude 1:11). Cain is really only known for one thing in Scripture: He “was of the wicked one and murdered his brother” (1 John 3:12). This makes a strong point for students of Genesis 4. I may not strike my brother down as Cain did on that fateful day, but if I pervert the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I am a murderer, and anyone who does so is a murderer – not of body, but of something far more important: a murderer of souls.

Let us walk on the way of Jesus and not on the way of Cain!
-Patrick Swayne