Gracefully Truthful

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Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Genesis 4:2-24

…Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. 3 In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground,4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. 6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”

8 Cain spoke to Abel his brother.  And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. 9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” 13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14 Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”15 Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him. 16 Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

The Original Intent

1) Why did God have regard for Abel’s offering, but not for Cain’s?

Let’s be honest, there are instances when Scripture doesn’t provide clear answers to our questions.  At times, we need to be satisfied and have faith in the mystery, knowing that some questions are not ours to understand.  On other occasions, we can look at the rest of Scripture to learn what God has to share and reveal. As Moses relays God’s revelation of this part of human history, we aren’t given clear answers to the why of God’s response to Cain.

Fortunately, there are two other passages that speak directly to Cain’s sacrifice.  1 John 3:12 says Cain’s actions were “evil” before he murdered his brother.  Hebrews 11:4 adds that Abel’s sacrifice was given “by faith”, in contrast to Cain.

We can conclude from these two passages that Cain’s intentions were not pure, that he was not giving his sacrifice from a heart of worship and that he gave from a place of personal comfort and security. There was nothing about the material of the sacrifice that was given, or the occupation of either brother, that made one offering more acceptable than the other. The greatest distinction was a matter of the heart behind the sacrifice.

The Everyday Application

1) Why did God have regard for Abel’s offering, but not for Cain’s?

I’m not a huge fan of this topic, but it’s hard to avoid. We are a selfish, self-centered, self-serving people.  We look out for ourselves.  We love our own comfort.  We protect what is ours.  We hold onto things that we believe we deserve.  Our hearts are “desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9).  

Just like Cain, we have impure intentions lurking in our hearts, trying to convince us that we are on our own and need to take care of ourselves because no one else will.  When we try to approach God from that perspective, we do not offer Him what He desires. 

He wants pure hearts that give to Him out of faith and love.  He desires hearts willing to sacrifice (2 Corinthians 9:6-12).  Yet, we try to offer Him much less, and then wonder why He doesn’t have regard for our pitiful, meager attempts that are much more about ourselves than our worship of Him.  

Do you find yourself approaching God in any part of your life from a place of selfishness, where you are clinging tight to what is “mine”, only offering God as little as possible?

 

The Original Intent

2) What did God mean when He said that sin’s “…desire is contrary…” (verse 7) to Cain?

Satan, as the father of lies (John 8:44), wanted nothing more than to make Cain believe that God had turned His back on him because he wasn’t good enough. 

God warns Cain that if he allows His correction to give way to anger, and anger to lead Cain to refuse to follow God’s instruction in the future, sin would be the result. Cain’s Enemy is a great aggressor and opportunist; Satan took advantage of the chance to distract Cain from the truth. 

If Cain would not hold the desire for sin in check, it would control him. God warned Cain that he would instead experience what it meant to be controlled by sin.  Sin would work against him – contrary to his best interests and God’s encouragement.

The Everyday Application

2) What did God mean when He said that sin’s “…desire is contrary…” (verse 7) to Cain?

This is where things get tricky…  When we allow our hearts to dwell in selfish places, God’s admonition for Cain applies to us as well. We must be aware and attentive to the schemes of our enemy. Satan wants us to believe we are on our own and that God doesn’t see us as good enough, enticing us to move and make decisions driven by our own selfish desires.  He wants that sin to entangle us and pull us into a cycle that is difficult to stop. 

But here is what we must remember Satan takes truth and twists it into a lie.  The truth is we are NOT good enoughNot one of us. We never have been and never will be on our own (Romans 3:9-20).  So God never turns his back on us for that reason.  Instead, He gave us the solution to our problem through the free and perfect gift of Jesus Christ.  

Is there any part of your life where you are tempted to believe that God has left you on your own to fend for yourself?

The Original Intent

3) Why did God tell Cain he must rule over sin?

God understood the consequences that sin would bring into Cain’s life:  greater distance from His presence. 

But what God reveals in His instructions to Cain is that he does have an option.  There is a way through the temptation that would allow Cain to rule over sin, rather than allowing sin to control his life. 

God gave Cain a choice and made it clear that He would provide him with a way through the temptation to prevent his anger from taking root in his heart and creating a bitterness in him that would lead to his destruction.

The Everyday Application

3) Why did God tell Cain he must rule over sin?

When we are faced with the reality that “good enough” isn’t an option, and that nothing we do can fully make up for our shortcomings, we are faced with 2 options:  continue functioning in desperate attempts to do life on our own, or allow Him to save us from ourselves through the power of Christ.  When we choose to reject the truth of the gospel – as a whole or in any specific area of our lives – we end up making choices that create greater distance from God, relegating ourselves even further “east of Eden”.  

Have you fully embraced the truth of the gospel – that Jesus alone can save you from your sin?  If not, take a risk to ask someone you know more about what that means.  If you have already surrendered to the truth that Christ alone can save you, are there any parts of your life where you sense distance from God?  Take time to evaluate those areas – are you still clinging to something, trying to do life on your own?

The Original Intent

4) How does Cain’s story mirror that of Adam and Eve?

God’s telling of Cain’s story reflects much of what He also shares through Moses in Genesis 3 about the sins of Adam and Eve. 

God highlights the similar pattern of hiding from reality (verse 9), His exposure of the truth (verse 10), a resulting curse (verse 11), punishment (verses 12-14), and ultimately distance (verse 16), as Cain moves even further away from Eden.

The Everyday Application

4) How does Cain’s story mirror that of Adam and Eve?

Romans 3:23 clearly states that we all have the same bent toward sin as Adam, Eve, Cain, and everyone who followed after them.  The same patterns mark our lives; we sin, we hide, we face the truth of our decisions, we suffer the consequences, and we experience further distance from God.  

Sin is “crouching at the door” (verse 7) and we are always at the “eve of the next time” we will go our own selfish way.  But through Christ, we have hope of the way back to the Father – a way that keeps us pure through Christ’s innocent blood.  

Where do you see these same patterns in your own life?  In what areas of your life are you learning to trust Christ to be good enough on your behalf?

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