Cain, the “worker of the ground,” is angry. His offering to God has brought him “no regard.” (Genesis 4:2,4) His face falls. God asks, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted?” Then God warns, “And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7)
Sin desires to rule over Cain, and succeeds. Cain’s anger against God turns to envy of and jealousy against his brother. He rises up against Abel and kills him “when they are in the field.” (Genesis 4:8)
Anger against God results in failing to be our “brother’s keeper.” (Genesis 4:9) Since we are unable to strike out at God in any direct manner, we turn against our brothers. In our anger is the seed of murder.
Sin has a consequence for Cain, one which “is greater than [he] can bear.” (Genesis 4:13) He “goes away from the presence of the Lord.” (Genesis 4:16) “Sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7) The consequence – separation from God – “is greater than [we] can bear.” (Genesis 4:13)
Jesus says, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide, and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
The second great commandment and the one Jesus gives us is “that we should love one another.” (1 John 3:11) “Whoever does not love abides in death” rather than in life. (1 John 3:14) And if we hate one another, then we are become as murderers, “and you know no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” (1 John 3:15) Simply, the author is telling us that hatred leads to eternal death while love leads to eternal life.
The first murderer, Cain, murders his own brother in a fit of jealous rage. “And why did he murder [Abel]? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.” (1 John 3:12) And this is the judgment: the Light has come into the world, and people love the darkness rather than the Light because their works are evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the Light and does not come to the Light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the Light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works are carried out in God.” (John 3:19-21)
The author of 1 John actually warns us that “we should not be like Cain.” (1 John 3:12) If we become like Cain, then we are “not of God” for the “one who does not love his brother” can not be “born of God” (1 John 3:10,9)
Yet, “whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything.” (1 John 3:20) “Little children, let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18) Let us come to the Light so that our “works are carried out in God.” (John 3:21)
Moses, Abraham, Sarah, Noah, Abel, Enoch, Isaac, Jacob — “these witnesses in faith” “did not enter upon the promised inheritance, because, with us in mind, God had made a better plan, that only in company with us should they reach their perfection.” (Hebrews 12: 1; 11: 39 – 40)
We are surrounded by men and women of great faith in God yet these ancient “witnesses in faith” required the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ just as we do.
Since we have such colleagues, we must “run with resolution the race for which we are entered, our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom faith depends from start to finish.” (Hebrews 12: 2) We must “throw off every encumbrance, every sin to which we cling.” (Hebrews 12: 1)
Throwing off encumbrances is as important as resisting sin. Encumbrances are weights on our souls, keeping our focus off Christ and on ourselves. Encumbrances are essentially distractions. Martha working to set a table for her Lord Jesus is an encumbrance to the more important task — listening to Him.
Let’s be “too good for a world like this.” Let’s keep our focus on our ultimate goal — the prize who is Christ, our Lord.
“What use is it for a man to say he has faith when he does nothing to show it?” ask James. (James 2: 14) “With faith; if it does not lead to action, it is in itself a lifeless thing.”
The author of Hebrews asks, “And what is faith?” And offers this answer: “Faith gives substance to our hopes, and makes us certain of realities we do not see.” (Hebrews 11: 1)
Abel offers a better sacrifice than Cain by believing God is good. “Without faith it is impossible to please [God]; for anyone who comes to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who search for Him.” (Hebrews 11: 6)
Jesus says that faith as tiny as a mustard-seed is able to “give substance to our hopes.” Our faith is not in our good deeds, but in Christ, “for it is in Christ that the complete being of the Godhead dwells embodied, and in Him [we] are brought to completion.” (Colossians 2: 9)
Our faith is not lifeless, but alive. Though we do not see the realities of which we are certain, our faith does indeed “give substance to our hopes.” And this living faith allows us to act.