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Lessons Learned From Cain

Lessons Learned From Cain
Written for our learning…

            Shortly after Adam and Eve were evicted from the garden of Eden, Eve conceived and bore two sons: Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:1-2). Little is known of these two brothers other than what is written in this chapter and a few other New Testament books (Matt. 23:35; Lk. 11:51; Heb. 11:4 & 12:24; 1 Jn. 3:12; Jude 11).We know nothing of their skin color, their likes and dislikes, or even which one was taller; But these things are unnecessary for us to know—for if they were necessary, then God would have told us about them.

            What God has informed us of is far more valuable than mere human characteristics and desires. He has allowed us to see the starting point of what truly divides men, and a whole host of other instructions from these lesson-packed verses.

Enjoy these lessons—savor and meditate upon them—because we increase our faith as we become more acquainted with The Word (Psa. 119:11; Rom. 10:17). From Genesis 4:1-15, we should learn that:

  1. Our worship to God must be by faith. The Bible teaches that “faith comes by hearing God’s Word” (Rom. 10:17). Since faith comes by hearing God’s Word, and since Abel offered his sacrifice by faith (Heb. 11:4), then it logically follows that Abel had been given instructions from God as to what constituted a proper sacrifice. In other words, Cain and Abel were not left without instructions—to bring whatever they thought was proper—but they were instructed to bring what God deemed proper. Likewise, humans today aren’t authorized to worship God in a way that He has not authorized (1 Cor. 4:6; Deut. 4:2). When we worship God, it must be in spirit (sincerely and from the heart) and in truth (according to what He has authorized) (John 4:23-24). All other worship is regarded as “will worship” (Col. 2:23 KJV), and is vain (Matt. 15:8f).
  2. We need to keep our tempers in check. It is possible for us to be angry at someone or some situation without sinning (Mk. 3:5; 1 Pet. 2:22). It’s very easy for us to see from this account that the reason Cain slew his brother was because he was angry and jealous of him. Jesus warns us against being angry with others (Mt. 5:21-26)—because usually the act of murder begins with anger in the heart toward someone. We must work diligently to get rid of our anger as quick as possible.
  3. We can resist sin. God told Cain (vs. 7) that sin lurked at the door of his heart (metaphorically speaking), but that he should “rule over it.” God is telling Cain that he has the power to overcome the sin that so anxiously wants to gobble him up. Really, choosing not to sin is just as easy as saying “no.” It’s a comforting thought to know that when we resist Satan, he will leave us alone (James 4:7)—at least for a little while (Lk. 4:13).
  4. Sin is a vicious cycle. It is rare, if not impossible to commit just one sin. What I mean is this: There are sins of commission and omission. We can sin by committing a foul deed; and we can sin by omitting some good deed (James 4:17). So when Cain failed to bring the necessary offering, God approached him about it. How did he react? Did he apologize and repent? NO! He pouted and went and killed his brother. Instead of fixing the problem, which was his improper sacrifice, he went and killed his brother! How much sense does that make?? But such are the ways of the jealous and impenitent.
  5. Jealousy is very powerful. Human emotions are very strong; and jealousy can be used for good (Rom. 11:14); but it may also be used for evil. In this case, Cain was jealous of Abel because he was worshipping correctly and Cain wasn’t (1 Jn. 3:12). This jealousy, then, caused Cain to, instead of repent like he should have done, go out and kill his brother. This is very similar to a denominational preacher who, in debate with a gospel preacher (and being obviously “beaten” on the issue), instead of repenting of the error he teaches, will continue to preach the same false doctrine—spiritually murdering those who hear and obey his diabolic message.
  6. Incorrect worship is the great divider of mankind. The very first sin (in Genesis 3) shows us that sin separates man from his God. But the second sin (in Genesis 4) shows us that incorrect worship separates not only mankind, but family as well. I have had men tell me before that one should never argue “religion or politics.” Supposedly these are the two great dividers of mankind; but I just say that when men have their religion right, then the politics will fall right in line. Being right with God is THE most important thing in the world. Those who fail to worship God correctly and live faithful Christian lives only foster disunity among mankind. 
  7. The lives of the faithful are precious in God’s sight (Maclaren, p. 9). Abel was a righteous man (Matt. 23:35); and God is certainly aware when one of His saints dies (Psa. 116:15). God speaks to Cain as if He is hearing the blood of his brother cry out to him—a touching picture indeed!
  8. All sin makes us homeless wanderers (Maclaren, p. 20). Cain’s punishment for killing his brother was that the earth wouldn’t produce heartily for him and he would be a homeless wanderer (vs. 12). Likewise, when we sin, it separates us from God (Isa. 59:1f)—thus making us wanderers from the One whom our soul belongs to (Ezek. 18:4). Rebellion and rejection of God’s will for our lives only complicate our condition. If we wish to return home, to the Father of spirits, then we must bring our lives into harmony with His will.
  9. God’s mercy is infinite. When Cain was confronted for the act of murder, God could have destroyed him immediately—but He didn’t. God was merciful to him—as He is with all of us. Just because God’s mercy is infinite, that doesn’t mean He can forgive all sin. God cannot forgive unrepented sin. God can (and often does) give us more time on earth in which to repent (Rom. 2:4), but this is because He wants us to live with him in eternity. We all should be more thankful for God’s infinite mercy (1 Pet. 1:3)!
Works Consulted

Clarke, Adam. Clarke’s Commentary: Vol. 1. New York: Abingdon Press, No date given.
Maclaren, Alexander. Expositions of Holy Scripture: Genesis. New York: George H.
                Doran Company, No date given.
Woods, Clyde M. People’s Old Testament Notes: Vol. 1. Henderson, Tennessee: Woods
                Publications, 1972.