Genesis chapter four begins a whole new set of topics describing many first mentioned issues in the Bible. We begin this chapter with the euphemistic description of Adam and Eve’s sexual relationship and the children they bring forth. This chapter also reveals the first results of Adam and Eve’s sin and disobedience to God, and the first death in this new creation of God. These two parents begin with two children that turn out completely opposite to one another. The text begins with, “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” (Gen. 4:1-2). In these first two verses we have a time span of probably two decades, because both children are adults at work fulfilling their tasks.
The first mention of sex in the Bible. Vs. 1
The first mention of specific activities found in the Bible is always an interesting study. The first mention of sex found in the Bible is significant, because you must note that God’s reference to sex is in the context of a marital relationship. God declared that Adam “Knew Eve his wife, and she conceived.” Why is it important that sex is first referenced between a man and his wife? Because God has ordained sex only for the marital relationship. Throughout the Scripture, God is the one who consistently restricts sexual relations to the husband-wife relationship (Lev. 18:20; 1 Cor. 7:1-2; 1 Thess. 4:1-8). Why does He do this? Why didn’t God just encourage everyone to have, “Free love, free sex, wherever you can find it?” This is what people advocate today. All Marxist movements today clearly advocate for the abolition of marriage, and encourage the destruction of the family. If you read the works of Friedrick Engels and Carl Marx, they directly teach that marriage and the family must be eliminated, and the state should oversee the education of all children. Even today in the sex education classes within our public schools there is little to nothing taught about sexual abstinence. All the education is about preventing pregnancy through different forms of birth control.
There are good reasons why God would restrict sexual relations only for marriage. What are these reasons? Notice the euphemism God used for sexual relations. God said Adam, “knew” his wife. There are two things you should learn from God reverencing sex this way. First, the Lord is not crude when He speaks about the sexual relationship. God is very tasteful when speaking about the most intimate way that a man and a woman might know each other. Second, the depth of knowledge that the sexual relationship brings to a husband and wife is most revealing. The word knew in this verse means to reveal or perceive in the most intimate way. Sexual relations in marriage is one of the most intimate ways a husband and wife are bound together and become one flesh, or literally one person. Paul noted in his epistle to the Corinthians that this oneness should never be granted to anyone else (1 Cor. 6:15-18). God does not want you to know anyone, or them to know you in this manner, unless you are married to that person. For those who reject God’s counsel on this topic, they will ultimately suffer the real consequences that God wants to protect them from.
What are some of these consequences?
1. Physical consequences.
One of the consequences of sexual relations outside of marriage is contracting a sexually transmitted disease. According to the National Institute of Health’s Library of Medicine, over 12 million sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are reported annually, and the number is growing every year. Of those 12 million cases, over 3 million of these cases are reported from teenagers. Today there are over 25 known STDs. The National Institute of Health revealed the severe consequences of these diseases when they stated, “The spectrum of health consequences ranges from mild acute illness to serious long-term complications such as cervical, liver, and other cancers and reproductive health problems. Women and infants bear a disproportionate burden of STD-associated complications, a variety of women’s health problems, including infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and chronic pelvic pain, all resulting from unrecognized or untreated STDs. From 1973 through 1992, more than 150,000 U.S. women died of causes associated with STDs (including HIV infection) and their complications.” These are real physical consequences that God wants to spare people from experiencing.
2. Emotional consequence.
Another consequence of sexual relations outside of marriage is the emotional hurt of giving yourself to someone, who then moves on to their next sexual conquest. You would have been very sad, if you could have sat in my office and listened to the countless people who asked me with tears flowing from their eyes, “Why did I ever get involved in a sexual relationship with that person before I married them? What is wrong with me?” They feel used and defrauded by this person who spoke of their love for them, but then disappeared when the first conflict arose. This is why Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:6, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.” For those of you who are single reading this, all I can say to you is this, God knows what He is talking about; don’t allow yourself to be defrauded in this area of your life. But you may be thinking right now, “Does anyone really abstain from sexual relations before marriage?” I would say absolutely yes! I have married countless couples who have never engaged in pre-marital sex, and they are doing great in their marriages. These couples were not prudish or weird people; these were just very godly people.
The whole point of sexual relations is to experience oneness with the person you are to marry, and it is a gift you give to them alone. God does not want you to give this special gift away to just anyone! God doesn’t want you to be sexually active before marriage, because it will hurt you, and do emotional damage to you. For those of you reading this that have violated God’s law in this area, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Therefore, ask God’s forgiveness, allow Him to heal your broken heart, and don’t do it again!
3. Relationship consequences.
Another consequence of premarital sex is the effect that it has on your present and future relationships. According to the most recent United States Census Bureau statistics, over 60% of those entering into their first marriage are already living together. The Institute of Family Studies also found that those who live together before marriage are twice as likely to divorce as those who don’t live together. This fact is found in countless studies in the last 50 years of research on this subject. Why is this true? Because when a couple lives together it devalues the marriage itself. Over 80% of couples cohabitating will see the relationship end. 40 % will breakup before they marry, and the other 40% will divorce within 10 years. Do you want to be a part of this statistic? In addition, the Justice Department found that women are 62 times more likely to be assaulted by a live-in boyfriend than by a husband. These are not good statistics, especially if you are thinking of first living with your future spouse. Please listen and obey God’s Word concerning your relationships with the opposite sex! You will only be benefited by doing so!
The first children born to Adam and Eve. Vs. 1-2
It is very interesting that as you read Genesis 4, you see two children that come from the same two parents ending up behaving completely different from each other. One has a heart for God and walks by faith, and the other does not, and ultimately ends up killing his brother. How can children turn out so differently? Many times, people will come up to me when they see someone’s children get into trouble, and they say to me, “Oh, the parents must not have done a very good job of parenting.” I usually tell them, “Don’t be too quick to judge! Sometimes a child’s behavior has nothing to do with the parents parenting skills.” I believe parenting is a twofold responsibility. One side of the equation are the parents, but the other side is the willingness of the children to be respectful and responsive to the direction given by their parents. This is how Scripture sees this issue. Notice that Solomon first commands parents to instruct their children in the ways of God when he wrote, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). But then he also encourages children to not depart from the instruction of their parents when he wrote, “My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother” (Prov. 1:8). This is also why Solomon declared that a son can end up becoming a fool if he chooses to reject his father’s guidance when he wrote, “A fool despises his father's instruction, but he who receives correction is prudent” (Prov. 15:5). These verses of Scripture make it clear that sometimes children are simply rebellious, and choose to go their own way. It is important to remember that Ishmael is described as a wild man before he was ever born. The Angel of the Lord said to Hagar, “Behold, you are with child, and you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has heard your affliction. He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren” (Gen. 16:11-12). The Hebrew word wild, referring to Ishmael, is the same word used for a stubborn wild donkey. Have you ever met someone that has this kind of disposition? Remember, all parties in the parent/child relationship have a responsibility to fulfill.
The two offerings. Vs. 3-8
So, Cain and Abel grew and matured and the Scripture declared, “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. 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.’ 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” (Gen. 4:3-8).
The first question you must answer is, why did God accept Abel’s offering and not Cain’s? Many Bible commentators believe and teach that it was because Abel brought a blood sacrifice, and Cain brought an offering from his field or the fruit of the ground. But I believe this is not an important distinction. Why? Because there is nothing wrong with a grain offering made to God. Under the Old Covenant God told the people to bring an offering from the fruit of the ground (Ex. 29:41; Ex. 40:29; Lev. 2:1). It is clear that God accepted both kinds of offerings. Therefore, the difference in the kind of offering made, cannot be the problem for the rejection of Cain’s.
What then could be the difference? In the epistle to the Hebrews the answer is given. There the apostle declared, “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” (Heb. 11:4). Note the words, “By faith Abel offered to God.” Faith was the difference in the two offerings. Do you hear the message that Abel is still speaking today? I hope so, because this message is for you and me. It is a message that God only accepts the offerings of a heart of faith. Faith comes from the heart as Paul declared, “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame’” (Rom. 10:10-11). Faith proves that God has your heart! God had Abel’s heart, but Cain’s heart was far from Him. God accepts an offering from faith, but He will reject any offering made in unbelief. James declared concerning prayer that, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:5-8).
Faith is the key that unlocks all of God’s grace in your life and gives you access into all His gifts. Why is this the case? Because grace cannot be given except through faith. If God gave His gifts and blessings as a result of your works, then God would owe these blessing to you as a debt. Paul declared in Romans 4:2-5, “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.” Therefore, if you want to receive God’s gift of righteousness, then you must receive it by faith alone. Abel’s faith is what gave him access into the grace and blessings of God. Remember that faith is your only way to experience God’s grace. Paul repeated this premise again in Romans 4 when he wrote, “Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace” (Rom. 4:16). This is why God accepted Abel’s offering and rejected Cain’s.
The difference between Cain and Abel is the same difference between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the true followers of Jesus. The Pharisees and Sadducees had a form of godliness, but they denied Jesus because they followed the doctrines and commandments of men, because their hearts were far from Him. Jesus made this point clear when He described their problem when He taught, “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Mark 7:6-7). The Pharisees were men who externally kept the traditions that they had set up, but their hearts were far from God, because they lacked a true love and faith in Him. Their relationship with God was based on works, not on faith. They said the right things, they did the right things, externally, but God said their heart was far from Him, because they did not have a heart of faith nor a love for Him.
Similar to the Pharisees, the Apostle Jude warned of false teachers in his day that followed in “The way of Cain” (Jude 1:11). What was the way of Cain? It is the way of unbelief, the way of jealousy, the way of corrupting God’s truth. They too were following the doctrines and commandments of men which was a religion of self-effort, and not one of faith. This is why we must come to God by faith, because we believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6).
How did Abel know that his sacrifice was accepted?
There had to have been some visible way that one sacrifice was acceptable and another was not. God could have spoken out of heaven as He did with Jesus, proclaiming, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17). But more likely, God probably consumed the sacrifice right in front of them. Why do I say this? Because in the Old Testament this is what God did many times to reveal His acceptance of a sacrifice. Let me give you some examples. In Leviticus 9:24, at the dedication of the tabernacle, and the consecration of Aaron as the high priest it declares, “And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.” This was a powerful display of God’s authority, and His acceptance of the sacrifice. On another occasion when Manoah and his wife are told of the birth of Samson, they were commanded to offer a sacrifice before God, and the Scripture records, “So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering, and offered it upon the rock to the LORD. And He did a wondrous thing while Manoah and his wife looked on--it happened as the flame went up toward heaven from the altar--the Angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar! When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell on their faces to the ground” (Judges 13:19-20). Another great example is when Elijah had his encounter with the prophets of Baal on Mount Caramel. God sent fire from heaven and consumed Elijah’s sacrifice right in front of everyone (1 Kings 18:38). This was a clear indication of whose sacrifice was acceptable. This is why I personally believe that Cain and Abel knew instantly whose sacrifice was acceptable to God.
How can you be accepted by God today?
The simple answer to this question is that you must simply put your faith in the sacrifice made by the Son of God for you. John tells us that we must receive Jesus by faith. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). When you receive Jesus by faith, He comes to live inside you, and you are in Him. This is why Jesus prayed, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:20-21). If He lives in you, and you are in Him, then you are accepted by God, because you are in Him. Paul rejoiced in this fact when He wrote to the Ephesian church. He declared that believers were, “To the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.” How does being in Him give you this position of accepted? When you receive Christ by faith, He not only comes to live in you, but He imparts His own righteousness to your account. This is what it means to be justified from all your sins. A simple way to remember the definition of justification is to think, just as if you never sinned. God’s forgiveness is so complete, and Christ’s righteousness is so real, that you stand before God righteous today in Him. Paul preached this message when he said, “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:38-39). Today, if you believe in Jesus, and you have received Him by faith, you are justified from all the things you did to break God’s moral law. Rejoice in this position today!
What was God’s desire for Cain?
Was God rejecting Cain forever just because he didn’t bring his offering in faith? No! God’s correction toward Cain was to change him, not reject him. How can I be so sure? Because God’s intention for every person is that they might be saved. God is not willing that any person should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). In addition, God declared in Proverbs 3:11-12, “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction. For whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.” God’s correction of Cain was based in His love. When you are corrected by the Lord, you have two options. You can either detest His correction and despise it, or you can humble yourself and ask, “Lord teach me what You want me to learn, because obviously I've messed up and missed what you have desired.” If you respond with humility and repentance, you will grow and mature. If you despise God’s correction, you will get angry at God and others just like Cain. In Proverbs 10:17 it declares, “He who keeps instruction is in the way of life, but he who refuses correction goes astray.” A person who hears and keeps God’s instruction is going to continue moving in the right path. A person who rejects His instruction and refuses to heed it will surely go astray.
How did Cain respond to God’s correction?
Cain refused God’s correction and went astray. How do we know this? Because Scripture tells us that Cain was “very angry,” and then God asked Cain directly, “Why are you so angry?” (Gen. 4:5-6). He also got angry with his brother Abel, and then murdered him. How did this happen? Scripture declares that Cain was talking to his brother Abel, and this is what sparked the conflict (Gen. 4:8). Probably something in this conversation ignited rage and wrath in the heart of Cain, and he rose up and killed his brother. Anger and rage brought about a murder. This is why Jesus warned in the Sermon on the Mount, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.' But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire” (Matt. 5:21-22). Anger, hatred, and jealousy is at the root of every murder. This is why you must obey what Jesus said to do when you are angry with your brother. He commanded, “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison” (Matt. 5:23-25). In other words, first get your heart right by reconciling the conflict with your brother, then come and worship the Lord. If you refuse to follow this command, then you will also go astray just as Cain. You may not go and kill your brother, but you will be murdering him in your heart, and you will surely not be right before God. So, if you know that you have something against a brother, or you remember that your brother has something against you, go today and get this right with him or her (Matt. 18:15).
Do you have an anger problem that is stumbling you?
If you struggle with anger and resentment towards others, then please take heed to what I’m about to say. This is an issue that can destroy your relationship with others, and hinder your relationship with God. Anger issues at a minimum make you a very difficult person to be around. Your relationship with your spouse and your children will be severely affected. In addition, your friends will be few. You must get control of your anger issues. How can you do that?
1. First, be honest about your anger before God. Don’t be like Cain who was warned by God about his anger and refused to do anything about it. Solomon also gave the same warning and a promise when he wrote, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Prov. 28:13). Simply confess your anger issues and choose to forsake them, and God’s mercy will help you do it.
2. Next, you must make a choice to control your anger. Is this possible? Have you ever been arguing with someone at home and the phone rings? What did you do? Didn’t you choose to control your anger and simply answer the phone and speak calmly to the caller? Paul says, “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts” (Rom. 6:12). Therefore, the control of your flesh is primarily a choice. You can also make the same choice not to allow your anger to reign in your heart. How many times, before you were a Christian, did a conflict occur at work with your boss? He or she said or did something to make you angry, but you chose to control your anger and say nothing simply because you wanted to keep your job. This proves that even as a non-Christian you could choose to control your anger. How much more today should you as a Christian be able to restrain it? Today you have the restraining power of the Holy Spirit to help you.
3. Choose to surrender to the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is self-control. He will enable you to do all that I am explaining to you now. You need the “living water” of His Spirit to quench the fire of your anger (John 7:37-39). God’s Holy Spirit is stronger than your anger. This is why Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). He will strengthen you to control your anger, if you will simply ask the Spirit of God to come and reign inside you.
4. Choose to deal with the small issues before they build into resentment. Many times, the failure to resolve small offenses with a person will ultimately lead you to volcanic eruptions of anger and rage. Moses is one of the best examples of allowing multiple issues to frustrate and anger him to the point of this type of explosion. Scripture reveals that he suffered the people and their contradictions year after year until finally he lost his temper. Moses became angry and “spoke rashly with his lips” (Ps. 106:32-33). The simple solution to this problem of building resentment was given by Jesus when He taught us to deal quickly with a conflict (Matt. 5:25). Paul also taught that we should not allow the sun to go down on our wrath (Eph. 4:26).
5. Choose to control and restrain your words. Solomon says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1). Harsh words stir up whomever you are speaking to, but it also stirs up your own anger as you keep talking. Therefore, if you want to control your anger, “be swift to hear, slow to speak,” and you will be “slow to wrath” (James 1:19). In other words, stop talking and listen more, this helps you to calm down and reason more clearly.
6. Choose to control and restrain your thoughts. When you allow angry and resentful thoughts and accusations to rule and control your mind, you will continue to boil inside. You need the peace of God to rule your heart and mind, which enables you to think clearly and constructively as to a biblical course of action and solution to the problem. To accomplish this, you must first understand why you are angry. God asked Cain, “Why are you angry?” (Gen. 4:6). He asked this question before Cain killed his brother Abel in the attempt to help him resolve his rage. Therefore determine, are you angry at God, at people, or at yourself? Then you must re-think the issue biblically from God’s perspective, which will naturally enable you to control your anger. Solomon explained that “the discretion (wisdom or understanding) of a man makes him slow to anger, and it is to his glory to overlook a transgression” (Prov. 19:11). God’s wisdom and discretion will help you to think and act in an appropriate manner to resolve why you are angry, before you take an inappropriate action as Cain did. In addition, God’s wisdom will bring His peace as you choose to refuse to entertain your hateful and vengeful thoughts. You must acknowledge these thoughts as sinful before God, and ask His forgiveness. Paul promised that if you will meditate on “things that are true, things that are just... The God of peace will be with you” (Phil. 4:8-9).
7. Choose to control and restrain your actions. Take a short time out when you realize that you, or the other party in the conversation are beginning to get out of control. Solomon said, “It is honorable to a man to stop striving, since any fool can start a quarrel” (Prov. 20:3). He also commanded in Proverbs 17:14, “Stop contention before a quarrel starts.” Taking a time out will allow you and others to pray and get under control before an explosion occurs. This will entail walking away from the confrontation, before you explode. Even Jesus walked away from the emotionally charged confrontation when the Jews wanted to throw Him off a cliff (Luke 4:28-30). In addition, don’t grab, push, or have any physical contact with a person you are angry with, or you know is angry with you. If you try to force someone physically to do what you want, this will only increase their anger and resistance.
These are some simple steps to controlling your anger issues. If Cain would have listened to God’s counsel, he would not have taken the steps that he did. You cannot control other people and their actions, but you can control your own heart and behavior. If you would like to study more on this issue, please click on this link. https://youtu.be/bPgszWDu7D8
Is it really possible to control your anger?
The answer to this question is absolutely! How can I be so sure? Paul the Apostle is the best example of a changed man in this area of anger. Paul described himself as a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man (1 Tim. 1:13). The word insolent means someone who violently insults and mistreats other people. Therefore, Paul was an aggressive and violent person. But what happened to change him? He got saved, and the Lord transformed his life to the point he later said of his life and his fellow servants that, “The love of Christ compels us” (2 Cor. 5:14). The word compels means to constrain or urge him to a certain action. What constrained and urged Paul to treat others differently? It was the power of God’s love. The love of God within us is what reveals the depth of our relationship with Him, and that love relationship will bring your anger under His control. Controlling anger was a big deal to Paul. In Colossians 3:8, Paul said, “Now you yourselves must put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language.” Note that the first three issues listed in this verse all have to do with anger and resentment, which are what cause you to blaspheme and use filthy language. If you are commanded in Scripture to put these sinful behaviors off, that means that you can do it, and win the victory over these behaviors in your personal life. If Paul did it, so can you!
God’s why questions.
Consider now God’s questioning of Cain, and His very direct warning to him in Genesis 4:6-8 where God asked, “‘Why are you angry? And why is 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.’ 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.”
First, what is the meaning of the word countenance? This word means the look on a person’s face or the appearance of their face. When somebody is depressed or angry, they of course, don’t look very happy. Cain’s appearance revealed that he was very unhappy. The Lord was simply saying, “You don’t look very happy Cain, and what has gotten you so angry?”
Second, note both of these “Why” questions. A why question from God will always demand an answer. God doesn’t ask the question “Why,” unless there is a specific answer. When this question is asked of most people, many will say, “I don’t know,” when in reality they do know exactly why they are angry or depressed. God asked this question of Cain so that he would be honest with himself that he was jealous, angry, and harboring thoughts of murder in his heart. God knew exactly what he was thinking, and obviously wanted to stop what was about to take place. I bring this fact up because many have said to me when a tragedy or a senseless act of violence takes place, “Why didn’t God try to stop this from happening.” However, in this case, God did try and stop Cain from the evil that he intended toward his brother. Because of this example given to us in Scripture, I believe God does speak to every person’s heart just before they carry out some act of violence against another. But this doesn’t mean that God can stop all evil people in this world, because He has created them with a free will, and they can choose to reject God’s promptings just as Cain did.
When God attempts to get you to realize why you are angry towards someone, He is doing so to show you your selfish motivation and thinking. Cain could have come to his senses and acknowledged that he was just jealous of Abel, and sought God for understanding concerning why his sacrifice was not accepted, and how he could offer one in faith that would have been accepted. But Cain did not do any of these things. He nursed his resentment toward God, and toward his brother Abel until he was so worked up that he rose up and killed his brother.
Therefore, the next time you see someone’s countenance fallen, asked them, “Why are you depressed? Why are you angry?” Ask the “why” question, because the why question requires an answer. If you truly want to help your family members or friends who are caught by their own sinful thoughts, you will ask the question. If they say, “I don’t know.” Tell them to just listen to the thoughts that are going through their mind, and they will be able to determine exactly what is bothering them. What you think and dwell upon in your mind will definitely affect you emotionally. Remember in the garden of Gethsemane after Peter had denied Christ the third time, he remembered that Jesus had predicted he would deny Him, and it declares, that “when he thought about it,” he began to weep bitterly (Mark 14:72). It is essential to understand that what you think about and dwell on in your mind will always affect you emotionally.
God’s promise and warning to Cain.
God declared to Cain, “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” (Gen. 4:7). God first gives Cain a promise, that if he does well with regards to his sacrificing, then he will be accepted. What would it mean to do well in regards to his sacrificing? The words do well in Hebrew mean to do what is pleasing. To do what is pleasing to God would be to come and sacrifice with a heart of faith (Heb. 11:4). Scripture confirms to us that, “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” (Heb. 11:6). In essence, God was instructing Cain how He wished to be worshipped, but Cain rejected this offer from God.
The warning to Cain is very important, because it is the first mention in the Bible of the power of sin exercised over men, but also explains that men can have victory over this powerful entity of sin. Note the descriptive terminology concerning the power of sin. God refers to sin as a crouching animal waiting to pounce on you from within. The Hebrew word for lies means to lie in wait as in an ambush. I like that description, because that is exactly the way sin is, and how sin seeks an opportunity to take you down. This means you need help against the crouching beast within you, that is ready to pounce and overpower you.
How can you, as God says, rule over the power of sin within you? There are several keys to ruling over the power of your own sin nature. Let me give you several keys given by the Apostle Paul.
1. You must first know that your old man (your sin nature) has already been conquered in Christ. Paul wrote to the Roman church and said, “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.” (Rom. 6:6-7). If you died with Christ, then you are freed from sin’s power. You are not free from the presence of sin within you, but freed from its power to control you any longer. As long as you are in this fleshly body you are subject to sin’s temptation, but you do not have to allow it to control you anymore. But I know what you are thinking, Why then am I struggling so much with my pride, anger, and lust? One reason is because you really don’t know and are not convinced that your old man (sin nature) died with Jesus Christ. If you did know this truth then you would take the second step.
2. The second reason you are struggling so much with the sin within you, is because you are not reckoning yourself dead to sin. Paul also wrote, “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” (Rom. 6:11-12). The word reckon means to count, consider, or credit by faith that you are indeed dead to sin’s power. When you believe what God has said, that your old man was crucified with Christ, and that you are united with Him in His death and resurrection, you will not allow sin to reign in your body and obey its lusts.
3. Third, once you have reckoned and accounted by faith that you are indeed dead to sin’s power over you, then you must present yourself to God that His Holy Spirit might rule inside you. Paul explained this truth when he wrote, “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 under grace” (Rom. 6:13-14). When you present your body to God and allow His control, you are refusing to allow sin to have dominion or control over you. Freedom is then yours. It’s not your self-effort that frees you, but the power of the Spirit of God. Paul explained this truth to the Galatian church when he said, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish” (Gal. 5:16-17). As you walk each day under the control of the Spirit of God, you will experience freedom from the tyranny of your fleshly sinful nature. This is the power of grace at work inside of you. Paul declared the simplicity of this truth when he wrote, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2). Therefore, ask God for that spiritual revelation to your heart that your sin nature died with Jesus on the cross, right along with your sins. Reckon and account that this is true by faith, and present yourself to God that the Spirit might rule inside of you. Freedom from sin’s power is now yours!
If you fail to follow Paul’s instruction in Romans 6, remember that when you yield to a small sin, it will never remain small. Sin is always progressive and possessive of your life, and will always take you to places you never intended to go. This is exactly what happened with Cain. I don’t think Cain thought instantly about killing his brother. He just nursed the hatred and he fed the beast inside of him. He allowed sin to control him, and then it captivated and destroyed him. Hatred graduated to murder in a very short amount of time. This is why you must deal with sin quickly. As people commonly say today, “Nip it in the bud.” In others words, stop it before it takes control of you. If Cain had a choice to yield to God and His Word, so do you! Surrender yourself to the power of the Holy Spirit, and allow Him to rule inside you today!