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Now Adam knew Eve his
wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, ‘I have acquired a man
from the LORD.’ Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now
Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in
the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of
the fruit of the ground to the LORD. Abel also brought of the firstborn
of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his
offering, but he did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was
very angry, and his countenance fell.
The name, Cain, means to get. We can only imagine how delighted Adam
and Eve were when they got a man-child from the Lord. Unfortunately,
however, their firstborn son was destined to bring them a great deal of
heartache. In this chapter, we will see the awful consequences of Adam’s sin
as it worked itself out in the lives of his children.
It is commonly said that the reason the Lord rejected Cain’s offering
was because he did not bring an animal sacrifice. That is not true. The
reason Cain’s offering was rejected was because his heart was not
right. His wicked heart was filled with unbelief. The defining passage
on God’s rejection of Cain’s offering is Hebrews 11:4. There, we read,
By faith Abel offered to
God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained
witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through
it he being dead still speaks.
The Scripture says that the just live and walk by faith (Hab. 2:4; II
Cor. 5:7). Cain's problem lay in this essential area. To put it
plainly, he simply did not believe God nor live his life trusting God.
As you have it in Hebrews 11:6,
But without faith it is
impossible to please him, for he who comes to God must believe that he
is, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.
Proverbs 21:27, says,
The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination; how much more when he brings it with wicked intent!
Cain tried to approach God apart from faith. Perhaps he tried to
copycat the offerings he had seen Able make. And, like many churchgoers
today, the end result was that he simply carried out a religious ritual
... completely apart from real faith. There are many motives for being
religious and doing religious things but the only essential for
connecting with the true and living God is real faith. Hence, Cain’s
mere religious exercise was rejected and it really angered him. The
smoke of Abel’s offering ascended upward, a clear sign of acceptance by
God … but Cain’s did not. He was probably standing off to the side of
his fire choking on the smoke! The meaning was not lost on Cain and our
text says his face fell.
So the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry?
And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be
accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its
desire is for you, but you should rule over it.’ (KJV reads, And unto thee shall be his desire [Able’s desire], and thou shalt rule over him.) Now
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 killed him.
God is a very merciful and good God. He desires that all men be saved
and come into right relationship with him (II Pet. 3:9). And, what we
have here is God’s attempt to make it so for Cain. It was God who took
the initiative with Cain. He came to Cain and counseled him to change his ways
and thinking. Further, he assured Cain that, if he would change, being
the eldest in the family, he could still be in charge. As the firstborn, he could still take the lead and be the head over Able. God warned him,
however, that if he was not careful, sin would be his ruin. He told
Cain that sin was like a lion crouching outside his door ... just
waiting to pounce and drag him away.
May we step aside here for a minute? It is an axiomatic truth that all
human beings are sinners (Rom. 3:23). It is also true that all believers
struggle with sin. Not all believers have problems with the same sins, but all wrestle with one sin or another. Sometimes believers harbor “pet
sins” that they treasure and invite into
their lives … things like a bad temper or an unforgiving spirit, pride and envy, filthy language and lying, immorality, gluttony and materialism. There is a list in Romans 1, that one of my professors called the ugly brood (Rom. 1:29-31). God’s desire is that his children be free from these destructive, ravaging lions and the 64,000
dollar question becomes … How and when will God accomplish this? The answer is, When he takes us home to be with himself! Meanwhile, victory over sin in one's daily walk with God comes about when at least three basic principles are in place.
First, there must be an open and honest dependence on God. King David cried out to the Lord in Psalm 19:13-14,
Keep back your servant
also from presumptuous sins;let them not have dominion over me. Then I
shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgression. Let
the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in
your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.
So, the first key to victory over sin is to make it a habit to call a spade a spade and seek God’s forgiveness. The key scripture here is I John 1:9,
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
We’re talking about our fellowship with God here … our walk with God. When we sin, we come immediately to him and ask for his forgiveness. So, keep short accounts with God. Take care of sin right away. Confess, be cleansed, move on. God’s job is to do the sanctifying of his children. If you wish to pursue this further, carefully read the first chapter of First John and ask yourself what a “light walker“ looks like … as defined in that chapter. He/she certainly is not sinless. Rather, they are confessors. The chapter ends by warning that if anyone says they have no sin they make God a liar and the truth is not in them.
Second, there must be an understanding that a child of God’s deliverance from the domination of sin is already a done deal. As you have it in Romans 6:6-14,
...knowing this, that our
old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away
with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died
has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we
shall also live with him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from
the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over him. For the
death that he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life that he
lives, he lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead
indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do
not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its
lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of
unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive
from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but
Absolutely, the greatest barrier to knowing freedom from besetting sins
is UNBELIEF. May I ask a question? Are you dead to sin? The only
scripturally correct answer a believer can give is, YES, PRAISE GOD, I
AM! I HAVE THE WORD OF GOD ON IT! Only when we believers believe and
act on God's truth can we experience real victory over sin. By faith,
when we count ourselves to be dead indeed to sin … then, and only then,
can the victory come. Why? Because you and I have already been set free
... glory to God! Say it with me ... I am not a slave to sin! In Christ, I
am dead to sin. Sin no longer has dominion over me! I have been made
alive unto righteousness in Christ Jesus. Did you say that? It’s true,
you know. We have God’s Word on it. You and I can take it to the bank!
Third, the child of God must get into the Word of God often enough to be delivered by its transforming power.
Have you experienced the amazing, raw power of the Word of God in your life, dear saint? Have you read your Bible today? Someone has said about the Bible … Sin will either keep you from this book or this book will keep you from sin. Well said. So, which will it be? The believer will either keep right on sinning or he will be kept from sinning through the raw power of the Word of God. When Jesus prayed for you and me in John 17:17, he said to his Father,
Sanctify them by your truth. Your word is truth.
The believer who spends time in the Word of God is being sanctified moment by moment by its cleansing, freeing and transforming power. The word, sanctification, means to be set apart unto God Romans 12:1-2, says,
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, (Note: this is the "want to" part) holy,
acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be
conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your
mind, (Note: this is the reading of the Word of God part) that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Well, those are the principles. Do we want to have consistent victory over sin? If so, the path is clearly marked out for us in the Word of God. To truly know freedom from sin then, first and foremost, we must go to God. As you have it in First John 1:9,
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Second, we must believe what the Word of God says about our relationship to sin. In Christ, we are dead to sin and have been made alive unto God. As you have it in Romans 6:14,
For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
And finally, we must regularly submit our hearts and minds to the cleansing power of the Word of God (sitting at Jesus’ feet). Therein lies the real victory. As you have it in Psalm 119:9, 11,
How can a young man
cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word ... Your word I
have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.
These things are what the Scripture is talking about when it says,
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Galatians 5:16
If we don't choose to walk according to these basic principles … like Cain, we're dead meat. Our sins, like lions, will eat us alive. They are like doorways to our hearts that we have thrown open so that Satan can enter to kill and sack and destroy. I Peter 5:8, says,
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
God warned Cain that sin would devour him. But, Cain decided to hold on
to his sins of jealousy, resentment and anger. And later, when he
caught his brother alone in the field, he murdered him. It was a great
transgression ... like the one David speaks of in Psalm 19, above.
Cain turned a deaf ear to God's warning about sin. And, like a lion, it
took him down. As a result, his life was ruined. He ended up estranged
from God … a murderer and a vagabond.
Then the LORD said to
Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother’ He said, ‘I do not know. Am I my
brother's keeper?’ And He said, ‘What have you done? The voice of your
brother's blood cries out to me from the ground. So now you are cursed
from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's
blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer
yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on
Cain’s true nature is seen in his response to God’s question about the
whereabouts of his brother. Was he repentant? No. Rather, he was surly.
There is another murderer found in Scripture who is a good contrast to
Cain. I’m speaking of King David who murdered Uriah in order to get
Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, for himself (II Sam.11). David, however, was a
man cut from a different cloth than Cain. When the enormity of what he
had done was pointed out to him, he didn’t say, So what? I’m the King.
I can do as I please. On the contrary, listen to his words from Psalm 51:1-11,
Have mercy upon me, O
God, according to your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of
your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly
from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my
transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only,
have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight; That you may be found
just when you speak, and blameless when you judge. Behold, I was
brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. Behold,
you desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part you will
make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and
gladness, that the bones you have broken may rejoice. Hide your face
from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean
heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me
away from your presence, and do not take your Holy Spirit from me.
These words of sorrow and repentance brought forgiveness and
restoration to David. But Cain’s surly words … Am I my brother’s
keeper? ... only made matters worse.
And Cain said to the
LORD, ‘My punishment is greater than I can bear! Surely you have driven
me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from
your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it
will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.’ And the LORD said
to him, ‘Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him
sevenfold.’ And the LORD set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him
should kill him.
Now, why do you think God didn’t execute Cain on the spot for murdering
his brother, Abel? The answer lies in the fact that capital punishment
was not instituted by God until after the Flood in Noah’s day. There
was no such law in the pre-Flood world in which Cain lived. Also, in
spite of the enormity of Cain’s sin, the Lord wanted to extend mercy to
him. Truly, his mercy endures forever. Keep in mind that, at that point
in time, all who were living on the earth were closely related. And,
doubtless, they were all greatly incensed by what Cain had done.
Revenge was the order of the day. But God forbade it, concerning Cain.
And, with great mercy, he placed a mark on Cain to protect him. We
don’t know what that mark was, but God saw to it that it was sufficient
to deter anyone from laying hands on Cain.
Also, God punished Cain by cutting him completely off from his chosen
occupation of farming by placing an additional curse on the ground when
it came to Cain. This was a curse on top of the curse that was already
in place. As a result, Cain was forced to change his occupation
completely. From that day forward, the ground did not yield anything to
Cain. This was appropriate, by the way, because Cain had defiled the
ground with his own brother’s blood.
Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden.
This statement, Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, is a very
sad one. There is no record that Cain ever spoke to the living God
again. He turned away from God, unrepentant and bitter. He just walked
away. Tragic. Don't you just hate it when someone turns their back on
the forgiveness and mercy of God and just walks away? It is especially
hard in the case of a loved one. Our text says Cain went to the land of
Nod. Often the question is asked, Where did Cain get his wife? The
answer, of course, is he married one of his sisters or nieces. For
obvious reasons, the restriction on marrying close family members was
not yet in place. Also, by this time there were many more people on the
earth than one might suspect. You will remember that Adam and Eve were
told to be fruitful and multiply and that was the rule of the day with
them as well as their offspring. Seth didn’t come along for an hundred and
thirty years, but many others, no doubt, already had.
And Cain knew his wife,
and she conceived and bore Enoch. And he built a city, and called the
name of the city after the name of his son; Enoch. To Enoch was born
Irad; and Irad begot Mehujael, and Mehujael begot Methushael, and
Methushael begot Lamech. Then Lamech took for himself two wives: the
name of one was Adah, and the name of the second was Zillah. And Adah
bore Jabal. He was the father of those who dwell in tents and have
livestock. His brother's name was Jubal. He was the father of all those
who play the harp and flute. And as for Zillah, she also bore
Tubal-Cain, an instructor of every craftsman in bronze and iron. And
the sister of Tubal-Cain was Naamah.
Moses, the writer of this book of Genesis, now gives us the genealogy
and culture of Cain so that he can dispense with this branch of mankind
and get back to the branch of the promised Seed ... namely, the line of
Seth. Immediately, Cain proceeded to build himself a city. There are
several interesting aspects of Cain’s culture that are mentioned here.
We are told that Cain's people became:
1. City dwellers (Enoch)
2. Polygamous (Lamech)
3. Nomadic keepers of animals (Jabal)
4. Cultured (Jubal)
Workers at Industry
Then Lamech said to his
wives: 'Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; Wives of Lamech, listen to my
speech! For I have killed a man for wounding me, Even a young man for
hurting me. If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, Then Lamech
Here, we come to the second recorded murder in human history. Lamech,
in the line of Cain, murdered a young man because the young man had hit
him. He justified his action by proclaiming that if Cain can be avenged
seven-fold on anyone who might try to take revenge ... surely he,
Lamech, should be avenged seventy-fold … since the murder he committed
was completely justified. What a heartless and vicious line Cain was
planting on the earth. Truly, Cain was beginning to reap what he had
sown. With this sad story, the Bible leaves the line of Cain. It will
not be heard from again and would eventually be wiped out completely by
the coming Flood.
And Adam knew his wife
again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, 'For God has appointed
another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed.' And as for
Seth, to him also a son was born; and he named him Enosh. Then men
began to call on the name of the LORD.
With the birth of Seth, we pick here the line through which the
promised Seed would come. This phrase, then men began to call on the
name of the LORD, is better translated … then men began to call
themselves by the name of the Lord. When the godly line of Seth began
naming their children, they started incorporating the Lord’s name in
their children’s names. This speaks loudly of where their hearts were,
does it not? It is equivalent to many today who, out of love for the
Lord and his Word, take biblical names for their children. There are
many names in the Old Testament that follow this custom of inserting a
name of God within a name. For example, take the name, Ezekiel. The el
ending of his name is one of the Old Testament names of God. Ezekiel
then, means God is strong. When we get to chapter 6, we find a
reference there to the sons of God. It is referring to Seth’s line
... the line who had been incorporating one of God’s names into that of
their children. This was characteristic of the line of men who were
following after the living God at that time.
taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas
Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.