Summary: We see Cain yielding to sin and falling bait to it just because of his heart condition. He did not take any stand to rule over it or run from it. He just yielded. For Cain (and for us) there is an exit on every level of temptation, and we need to see the
Opening illustration: When we sin we often do so with the futile hope that we shall obtain the maximum amount of pleasure at the minimum penalty. It seldom works that way, however.
I once heard the story of a man and his wife who decided to go to a drive-in movie. They thought the price was too high and plotted to put one over on the management of the theater. When they were within a short distance of the drive-in, the husband climbed into the trunk of the car. The arrangement was that his wife would let him out after she was inside the theater.
All went off as planned, at least as far as getting past the ticket seller was concerned. But when the wife got to the back of the car to let her husband out of the trunk, she discovered that he had the trunk keys in his pocket. In desperation she had to call the manager, the police, and the rescue squad. Neither saw the movie and the trunk had to be cut open. Such is the path of sin. The ride is short and the price is high.
At first glance, the taking of the forbidden fruit and eating of it seemed like a trivial matter, a mere misdemeanor. But Genesis chapter three makes it clear that it was a matter of gravity. Man had chosen to believe Satan rather than God. Adam and Eve had concluded that God was unduly harsh and severe. They decided to seek the path of self-fulfillment as opposed to servant hood.
The serpent had suggested, indeed, he had boldly asserted, that no harmful effects would be experienced in disobedience to God, only a higher level of existence. But in this fourth chapter of Genesis we quickly see that Satan’s promises were blatant lies. Here the real wages of sin begin to appear.
Let us turn to Genesis 4: 1 – 10 to catch up with the story and see how one has the option to escape from temptations.
Introduction: There is also an interesting clue in the Genesis account that tells us about Cain and Abel and their offerings. In 4:4, Moses records that Abel offers “the firstlings of his flock” (cf. Exodus 34:19; Deut 12:6; 14:23) and the “fat portions” (cf. Numbers 18:17) for his offering. The word that is translated “fat portions” means “choicest, best part, or abundance.” Abel gave what cost him most—the firstborn! On the other hand, Cain merely offers “the fruit,” not the first fruit, of the ground (4:3). Abel brought the best parts of his flocks and Cain was not so particular. Abel went out of his way to worship God by giving his best. Cain merely discharged a duty. One of the key themes throughout Scripture is God seeks worship that is perfect and costly (Leviticus 22:20-22; 2 Samuel 24:24). He will not be satisfied with second best (Malachi 1:6-14; Romans 12:1).
In this passage we see Cain yielding to sin and falling bait to it just because of his heart condition. He did not take any stand to rule over it or run from it. He just succumbed. For Cain (and for us) there is an exit on every level of temptation, and we need to see the exit and take it.
How can we overcome temptations?
1. Setting our priorities right [vs. 3 – 5]:
Cain ("acquisition") is a type of the mere man of the earth. His religion was destitute of any adequate sense of sin, or need of atonement. This religious type is described in 2 Peter 2. Seven things are said of him:
(1) He worships in self-will
(2) Is angry with God
(3) Refuses to bring a sin offering
(4) Murders his brother
(5) Lies to God
(6) Becomes a vagabond
(7) Is, nevertheless, the object of the divine solicitude
The New Testament authors inform us that God regarded Abel because he had faith (Hebrews 11:4) while Cain did not (Jude 11-13 and 1 John 3:11-12). Therefore, it seems clear that Abel was in relationship with God and Cain was separated from God. A very important principle is this: “God always inspects the giver and the worshiper before He inspects the gift, service, or worship.” This means it is critical that you are in relationship with God before you seek to worship or serve Him. Otherwise, your worship is unacceptable.
The reason for the different reception of the two offerings was the state of mind towards God with which they were brought, and which manifested itself in the selection of the gifts. Not, indeed, in the fact that Abel brought a bleeding sacrifice and Cain a bloodless one; for this difference arose from the difference in their callings, and each necessarily took his gift from the produce of his own occupation. It was rather in the fact that Abel offered the fattest firstlings of his flock, the best that he could bring; while Cain only brought a portion of the fruit of the ground, but not the first-fruits.