TEXT: GENESIS 4:5-16
INTRO: Last week we began a short study of the way of sin. We noted that, because of the cursed world, sin is built into our lives. We considered that because we have human differences, we develop prejudices that, in turn, lead us to struggle with one another. We concluded that, along with these issues, we also have a tendency, over time, to take God for granted, which results in acts of disobedience which is always sin. This morning we are going to continue looking into Genesis 4:1-16 to learn how sin grabs our souls and the typical results of sin in our lives. Before we do, let me PRAY for wisdom to understand and courage to commit to allowing God to help us overcome the process sin takes in our lives.
I. TRYING TO PLEASE GOD WITHOUT FAITH CREATES AN OPENING FOR SIN.
A. READ vss. 3-5. We mentioned last week that there was an observable difference between Cain and Able in how each approached God with their offerings. For Cain it was merely a ritual, a thing he was taught to do and he took no effort to give the Lord the best of his produce. On the other hand, Able took great care to give God the “firstborn of his flock and their fat portions.” He was obviously more aware and devoted to please God with his offering. His offering gave God the credit for all he had received and showed that, if he gave God his best, God would bless him.
ILLUS: Imagine two children remembering their mother on Mother’s Day. One, in the business of his day, happens to think to run by and get a card fro Mom. He spends 5 minutes and only checks to see if it includes “Happy Mother’s Day” in its inscription. He lays it on the table for Mom to find and feels good that he didn’t forget. On the other hand, his sister, searches for days to find the perfect card that expresses her love and respect for her mother, then she joyfully presents the card to her mother to read. Clearly the daughter exhibits more interest in blessing her mother than the brother does.
That’s analogous to what has happened here. Cain remembered God, but Able not only remembered God, but he also demonstrated his desire to please and honor the Lord.
B.In Heb. 11:4, we are told “By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was approved as a righteous man, because God approved his gifts.” By faith it means that Able believed in God, not just as a concept, but as a living Being in which he had a personal relationship. He believed it mattered how he approached the Almighty and he dedicated himself to please the Lord. He was counted as “righteous” because he did the right thing in pleasing God. God “had regard for Abel and his offering,” which means He held it as an act of true devotion. “But He did not have regard for Cain and his offering.” Notice God’s response in both concerned both the giver and the gift. God judged the heart behind the gift – and He liked Able’s better than He did Cain’s.
C.Back in Hebrews 11, vs. 6, the author writes, “Now without faith it is impossible to please God, but the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him.” To approach God with a presumptive casualness as though He was merely another person in your life, rather than as the Creator who holds your life in his hand, is not faith. It is like tipping your hat to Him, rather than bowing before Him. It fails to realize and accept the holiness and power of God. Failure to measure our every thought and action without considering if it will please God always leads to sin.
II. REFUSAL TO BE RECONCILED GIVES AN OPPORTUNITY TO PREPARE FOR SIN.
A.READ vss. 5-7. Cain gets angry about God’s rejection and allows himself to languish in self-pity. Even the look on his face showed his anger toward God and his brother. God speaks to Cain and explains his sin and tells him that repentance and doing the right thing will bring him full acceptance by God. He also warns him that having a downcast, angry attitude is an invitation to temptation. He describes sin as a “crouching beast trying to get in the door.” It is something ready to leap upon him and control his heart and actions. And there is only one thing Cain can do to overcome it – take control of it! Cain must tell sin , by the authority of God, he will not listen to its calling! James 4:7-8, 10 tells us, ‘Therefore, submit to God, But resist the Devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Humble yourselves before God and He will exalt you.”
ILLUS: Cain is so angry, he outwardly lets his anger and confusion be shown on his face. He is entertaining his anger, “looking for a fight.” His outward attitude shows his openness to move into sin. God tells him not to be so despondent. A similar warning is given to believers in 1 Peter 5:8 which says, “Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.” The rebellion in a person’s heart attracts the “lion,” who is waiting for the door to be opened just enough to let it rush in and grab the person inside by the throat. It is a dangerous situation!
B.There is an important process we need to notice here. Disappointment (why did this happen to me) leads to guilt (I guess I did something wrong)which leads to anger (I tried to do the right thing and what do I get – rejection!) which leads to rebellion (if God doesn’t appreciate me, I don’t need Him) which leads to sinful action (I’ll get even). For Christians there is a clear response: Confess God is loving and only wants the best for us (Rom. 8:28-39), repent for doing anything that doesn’t recognize God’s goodness, seek God’s wisdom in His word, and do something positive for the person that is causing your anger. Jesus warned us in Matt. 5:23-24 that, even before we go to worship God, we should be sure we are “reconcile[d] to your brother,” if we are at odds. Don’t wait, do it quickly!
III. THE COMMON RESULTS OF SIN.
A. We will notice here that there are very common results when we sin.
1.) You will hurt someone. READ vss. 8. Cain’s attitude finally controls his hearts and he calls Able into the field and kills him. Remember Able has done no wrong to Cain, he had simply pleased God. But sin, when it occurs, will wound someone, even the innocent. Before you sin, know there will be casualties, often to those you do not really want to hurt.
2.) Your sin will be found out. READ vss. 9-10. a.) First, God will certainly know what you have done and hold you accountable. There will be judgment which you cannot escape. It will be built into your life someway and in eternity. b.) READ vss. 11-12. You will alienate yourself from the rest of creation. The general curse of the fallen world will become specific to you. You will lose your innocence and live with guilt, always afraid you will be found out. You will not be able to fully open your heart to others, so you will live in a deep loneliness. Everything you try to do will be hindered by the memories of your sin, stealing your satisfaction.
c.) READ vss. 12. You will be separated from God. A holy God cannot tolerate sin without destroying it. In order to exist, light and drak must separate. d.) READ vss. 13 You will be a wanderer on earth, living in insecurity. This means the one who sins will try to find a place of restoration, but you will not find it. The “wandering” is about searching for something that will be a foundation to build a new life on. But, except for God, all other foundations are weak and unstable. It’s a little like being a drunk, trying to figure out how to stop drinking without giving up liquor. You know people like that, people trying to forget sin without God. It can’t be done. The land of “Nod” again means “wandering,” not a place but a lifestyle.
e.) Cain’s mark. It is a sign that God loves Cain and hates sin. He hates what has happened and he warns that vengeance multiplies sin seven-fold. Justice handed out by God through His earthly representatives is one thing, but vengeance is just another sin and to be avoided.
B. If we will look closely at our own sin, I believe we will see these same results, at
least to some degree. We will cause others to suffer, we will suffer ourselves, we will live under the weight of shame and guilt, separated from God, trying to leave it behind us, but it will keep showing up again. We will carry it like a hidden illness, secretly without help. Our lives will be wasted in wandering in search of our lost innocence, which we cannot recover. God paints a bleak picture because it is bleak. BUT GOD ALSO MAKES A WAY!
For the lost who sin, they must not live in self-pity and self-righteousness, but they must humble themselves before God, repenting of their sin and seeking restoration which God will provide only through the cleansing of the blood of Christ. When sinners are washed clean, they are set aside with the seal of the Holy Spirit, once more at peace with God. Rather than wander, they will, as it says in Hebrews 4:3,11 “for we who believe have entered into the rest . . . . Let us then make every effort to enter into that rest so that no one will fall into the same pattern of disobedience.” We will find forgiveness and a rebirth of life.
Sin is a horrible thing, it clings to us like clay-filled mud, leaving all which we walk over filthy. Yet, it is a fact of life and we must know that and realize it will impact our world at every turn. We cannot stop it by philosophies, or personal power. We are powerless before sin and it will destroy us unless. . . . . Unless we accept our need, confess our sin, call upon the Lord for help and let Him repair our lives.