Read Genesis 4:3-8. What is the process that led Cain to kill his brother? See also 1 John 3:12.
Cain’s reaction is twofold: “Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell” (Genesis 4:5, NKJV). Cain’s anger was directed, it appears, at God and at Abel. Cain was angry with God because he thought that he was the victim of an injustice and angry with Abel because he was jealous of his brother. Jealous of what? Just the offering? Certainly, more was going on behind the scenes than what is revealed in these few texts. Whatever the issues, Cain was depressed because his offering had not been accepted.
God’s two questions in Genesis 4:6 are related to Cain’s two conditions. Note that God does not accuse Cain. As with Adam, God asks questions, not because He doesn’t know the answers, but because He wants Cain to look at himself and then understand the reason for his own condition. As always, the Lord seeks to redeem His fallen people, even when they openly fail Him. Then, after asking these questions, God counsels Cain.
First, God urges Cain to “do well,” to behave the right way. It is a call for repentance and to change his attitude. God promises Cain that he will be “accepted” and forgiven. In a sense He is saying that Cain can have acceptance with God, but it must be done on God’s terms, not Cain’s.
On the other hand, “if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it” (Genesis 4:7, NKJV). God’s counsel has revealed the root of sin, and it is found in Cain himself. Here, again, God is counseling Cain, seeking to guide him in the way he should go.
God’s second word of counsel concerns the attitude to take toward this sin, which lies at the door and whose “desire is for you.” God recommends self-control: “You should rule over it.” The same principle resonates in James, when he explains that “each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed” (James 1:14, NKJV). The gospel offers us the promise of not only the forgiveness of sin but victory over it as well. (See 1 Corinthians 10:13.) In the end, Cain had no one to blame for his sin but himself. Isn’t it generally that way with all of us as well?
|What does this unfortunate story teach us about free will and about how God will not force us to obey?|