So Cain went out from the LORD’s presence and lived in the land of Nod’ (Genesis 4:16)
Therefore, to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin (James 4:17)
In our last lesson we learned about the first two sons of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel. We saw how each of them wanted to worship God and present to Him a sacrifice. Cain took some crops that he had cultivated and offered them to God. But Abel offered God a lamb without blemish and slaughtered it as a sacrifice that covers sin. The Scripture says: “The LORD accepted Abel but He did not accept Cain.”
Why did God accept Abel but not Cain?
Because God’s way of righteousness demanded that sin be paid for. God judged Abel as righteous because
he believed the Word of God
and brought a sacrifice of blood to pay for his sins. As for Cain, he attempted to come to God through his own efforts, which is why God did not accept him.
In this lesson we plan to conclude our study about Cain and Abel. Do you know what happened after God refused Cain’s sacrifice? In Genesis 4:5, the Scripture says:
“And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.”
That is not difficult to understand. To illustrate, if I do something bad and someone says to me, “You have done wrong! Change your ways, and do what is right!” how might I respond to the one who rebuked me? Either I will humbly receive his words and change my ways or I will get angry with him and continue as before.
God rebuked Cain so that he might realise that the works of his hands, which he had presented as a sacrifice, were worthless before God.
God wanted Cain to repent
and to bring the sacrifice of a lamb without blemish, as Abel had done.
God wanted to lead Cain in the right way, the way of forgiveness. However Cain, in his pride, refused to admit his sin before God. Instead, he became angry and unhappy.
Thus, “And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou angry? And why is thy countenance fallen?
If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?
And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him” (Gen. 4:6,7)
Why did God question Cain in this way? He questioned him because
He did not want Cain to perish.
God wanted Cain to repent of his sins, and follow the right way. God was warning Cain about a terrible enemy, which threatened to destroy him and his descendants. That enemy is called Sin!
Sin is the problem of the world. It is our worst enemy. Sin is like a snake, full of deadly poison. It is like a little spark that can burn up a great forest.
Sin is like fire with which Satan is burning up the world!
The Word of God says, “Therefore, to him that knoweth how to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17). Perhaps someone is asking:
What is sin?
The Scriptures say:
“Sin is lawlessness.” (1 John 3:4) “All wrongdoing is sin.” (1 John 5:17)
Sin is going your “own way.” (Isa. 53:6)
Sin is anything that does not agree with God.
What will be the end of those who go their own way and refuse to believe God and obey Him? The Scriptures say, “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” (2 Thes. 1:9)
Those who come by the way of salvation that God has intended will be granted eternal life.
But those who harden their hearts against the truth will face God’s wrath and judgement. However, the Scriptures say that God does not want “anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance!” (2 Pet. 3:9)
God did not want Cain to perish in his sin.
What He wanted was for Cain to repent, forsake the way of unrighteousness that he had chosen, and choose the way of righteousness.
As we saw in the last lesson, the LORD God had revealed a plan by which sinners could be made righteous before Him.
Abel believed in God’s plan,
and slaughtered a spotless lamb as a sacrifice that covers sin. Abel believed what God said, “The [penalty for] sin is death,” and “without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin!” (Rom. 6:23; Heb. 9:22) Because of the shed blood of the lamb, Abel had a clear conscience before God.
Abel knew that he was a guilty sinner deserving God’s punishment,
but he knew also that the innocent lamb had given its life as a payment for his sin. The lamb which Abel sacrificed, was an illustration of the Saviour who was to come into the world to give His life as a sacrifice that would cancel man’s debt of sin forever. As for Cain, he pretended to believe God, but his deeds denied it.
Cain honoured God with his mouth, but his heart was far from Him.
The blood of a lamb is what God demanded, but Cain offered Him the works of his hands. Cain’s worship was absolutely worthless before God, because he did not accept God’s way.
Let us now read the next verse to see what Cain did after God rebuked him for his worthless sacrifice. The Scripture says, “And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel, his brother, and slew him.” (Gen. 4:8) What did Cain do?
Did he believe God and bring to Him the blood of a lamb as a sacrifice for sin? No! Cain added sin to sin by attacking his brother Abel and killing him.
Cain, who refused to shed the blood of a lamb so that God could forgive him his sins, now shed the blood of his righteous brother! What do you think about this? Who placed within the mind of Cain that he should kill his brother?
To whom was Cain listening?
Cain was listening to Satan. The Scriptures say that he killed his brother because Cain “belonged to the evil one.” (1 John 3:12). We have already seen how God announced that there would be two groups of people in the world, the people of God and the people of Satan. Abel belonged to God because
he believed the Word of God enough to obey it.
Cain belonged to Satan because
he did not believe the Word of God.
Let us now see what God said to Cain after he killed his younger brother. “And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel, thy brother? And he said, I know not: am I my brother’s keeper? And he said,
What hast thou done?
The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground. And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand; when thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee its strength; a fugitive and a wanderer shalt thou be in the earth.” (Gen. 4:9-12)
Thus, God punished Cain, saying, “when thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee its strength.” It is said, “The cow kicks its calf but does not hate it.” Similarly,
but to lead him to repent of his sin, believe the truth, and be saved.
Yet what did Cain do?
Did he repent?
No, he did not. The Scriptures say,
“So Cain went out from the LORD’s presence and lived in the land of Nod.” (Gen. 4:16)
Cain, who ignored the word of God, turned his back on God, shutting Him out of his life.
It was not God who distanced Himself from Cain, but Cain who distanced himself from God.
Today, most of Adam’s descendants resemble Cain, continuing in their own way and closing their hearts to God’s voice.
With their lips they say, “God is great!” but in their hearts they think, “God is far away! No one can know Him!” However, the Word of God shows us that
because He is the One who gives to everyone life and breath and everything else. He is closer to us than our own heartbeat. God knows you personally, and wants you to know Him personally too! (See Acts 17:24-31)
Why is it that most people do not come to know God (personally)? The Word of God answers this question. God says, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and
men loved darkness rather than light,
because their deeds were evil. For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be approved (exposed).” (John 3:19,20) People do not know God, because like Cain,
they have turned their backs on His Word.
God’s prophet David wrote: “[God’s] word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” (Psa. 119:105) If you turn your back on the light of the Word of God, you will remain in the darkness of sin and you will never come to know God. God will seem far from you. Yet, God wants you to know that
He is not far away.
He is behind you. He is at your side. He is right in front of you.
God loves you
and wants to have a close relationship with you. But you must not be like Cain, who hardened his heart and refused to accept God’s way of righteous-ness.
God wanted Cain to repent.
To this very day, God is commanding every person to repent, to turn to Him, and believe His Word.
Do you know what it means to repent? It means
to change your thoughts and your actions.
To repent is to confess before God, “I have been wrong in my thinking concerning the way of salvation that you have established!”
To repent is to agree with God
that you have no possible way of saving yourself from His righteous judgement, and then to turn to Him and accept to His way of salvation.
A person who truly repents is like a traveller who wants to take the train from one place to another. He buys a ticket and gets in. Later, as he is travelling along, he discovers that he is on the train going in the opposite direction! What must he do if he is ever to get to the place that he intends? He must “repent”—that is, he must admit that he is heading in the wrong direction, get off the train at the next stop, and get on the train that goes to where he wants to go. Thus, we see that genuine repentance has two sides: rejecting the wrong and accepting the right.
True repentance involves two actions.
First, you must turn from yourself, your sins, your idols and your self-efforts to gain God’s favour. Then you must turn to God and His Word which tells you how to be saved. That is true repentance.
As for Cain,
he never repented.
Cain chose to continue in his own way. He refused to submit to the way of salvation established by God. That is why the Scriptures tell us that Cain perished in the way of unrighteousness, which caused God to reserve for him the blackest darkness forever! (Jude 11, 13)
Oh dear friends, may we not be like Cain! Let us pay attention to the solemn warning from God which says,
“Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish!” (Luke 13:3)
God’s judgement is sure
and will fall upon all those who have never been cleansed from their sins.
Let there be no mistake about this: you will never become righteous before God
based on your own good works.
Like Cain, many people believe that they will escape God’s judgement by attempting to follow the rules and regulations of their religion. But being religious does not
make one righteous.
God’s Word says:
“By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight. . . . All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags. . . . For by grace are ye saved,
and not of yourselves, it is the gift of God,
not by works,
lest any man should boast!” (Rom. 3:20; Isa. 64:6; Eph. 2:8,9).
God willing, in the next lesson, we will study about some of Adam’s descendants, including the Prophet of God,
May God bless you as you thoughtfully consider what you have studied in this lesson,
“God is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance … [But if you do not] repent, you will perish” (2 Peter 3:9; Luke 13:3)
We would invite you to answer the questions attached and send them together with any other questions that you might have