The History of the World in a Nutshell – Gospel in Life

The History of the World in a Nutshell

Tim Keller |  January 25, 2009

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  • Creation
  • The Fall
  • Sin
Genesis 4:1-10
RS 310-8


The Bible’s simple answer to the question, What’s wrong with the human race? is sin.

Contemporary people cringe when we use the word sin because we don’t like it. Then what vocabulary will you use to talk about war atrocities, massive corruption, slavery, or violence? Will you use the language of technology or sociology or psychology? The language in those disciplines isn’t profound enough to deal with the realities of what’s really going on in the world.

We learn more about what the Bible means by the term sin by looking at the famous story of Cain and Abel. We see three new things here about sin: 1) the potency of sin, 2) the subtlety of it, and 3) our eventual victory over it.

The Story of Cain and Abel

Sin is a big problem for us humans, even though people nowadays don’t like to talk about it. We need to understand sin because other ways of explaining what’s wrong in the world don’t cover it all. The story of Cain and Abel is a good one to help us understand how powerful and sneaky sin can be, and how we can overcome it.

1. How Powerful Sin Is

Sin isn’t just something we do wrong. It’s like a strong, sneaky animal that hunts us down. It gets into our souls and messes with our relationships and how we see the world. If we try to ignore it or make excuses for it, it just gets stronger. Sin is dangerous and we should stay away from it as much as we can.

2. How Sneaky Sin Is

The story of Cain and Abel shows us that sin can be hard to spot. Abel trusted God and his sacrifice was accepted. Cain, on the other hand, didn’t trust God and his sacrifice wasn’t accepted, which made him jealous of Abel. This story teaches us that trust in God is important for salvation and that we all need hope and redemption in the face of sin.

3. How We Can Overcome Sin

This story also helps us understand God’s grace and justice. When God asks questions, it’s not to catch us out, but to help us understand ourselves better. The story shows that God loves us and wants to help us, even when we sin. It also shows how Jesus’s sacrifice helps us change. This helps us understand that God’s mercy and justice go together. Knowing this can make us feel safe and free from the need to compare ourselves with others or try to prove how good we are. It invites us on a lifelong journey of understanding God’s grace.



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