“Lessons from Genesis 4”
Lessons from Genesis 4
by Jeff Curtis
Sin is a violation of God’s law (1John 3:4), whether it is oral law, written law, or the law that is written on man’s heart (Romans 2:12-15). Having been made in God’s image, each person had a built-in moral consciousness. From the earliest times, before writing was invented, God communicated His will to mankind, as He did to Adam and Eve, Cain, Noah and others.
God’s commandments were not unreasonable rules and prohibitions intended to deny people happiness in life. To the contrary, God provided His laws as guidelines to an abundant, fulfilling life. Sin has never been a matter of breaking impersonal laws; sinners ultimately break themselves by disobeying divine commands.
Alienation Within: Sin has destructive consequences in the human soul. It causes alienation at the deepest level of man’s personality. The sinner finds himself experiencing a civil war in his innermost being. Paul describes this conflict in Romans 7: 19, 23, 24; “19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.” “23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
This type of struggle takes place in all human beings, to a lesser or greater degree, depending on how the person deals with sin. The individual who tries to cover up sin, pretending to be righteous while persisting in a sinful and destructive lifestyle, becomes a kind of spiritual schizophrenic. This appears to be what happened to Cain: By working hard as a farmer and bringing some of his crop as an offering to God, he pretended to be a good son, both responsible and religious.
However, lurking beneath the surface were all kinds of resentful, hateful, and jealous feelings that he nurtured against his brother Abel. He was angry with God, possibly for driving his parents out of the garden of Eden and making life difficult for all of them. Certainly, he was angry with God for accepting his brother’s sacrifice and rejecting his. Instead of confessing his sins to God and seeking forgiveness that could have brought about healing to his soul, Cain allowed his personality to disintegrate in an explosion of rage. When he could no longer control the stress and alienation of his hypocrisy, Cain murdered his brother. He tried to cover up his wicked deed and then lied to God, denying any knowledge of what he had done.
Alienation from God: When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, spiritual alienation occurred; they were separated from God. They were afraid of His presence and tried hide from Him. So, it was with Cain: When the Lord confronted him with his crime and punishment that he would receive, he complained the he would be hidden from God’s “face,” as a fugitive and wanderer in the world (4:14).
The language of 4:14, 16 implies a physical distance, as Cain moved farther away from the garden of Eden. This physical distance symbolized the spiritual separation of one who had fallen out of God’s favor because of rebellion against Him (Job 13:24; Psalm 13:1; 44:24; 88:14; 132:10). Because of Cain’s sin, he had turned away from God’s “face” or “presence.”
When a sinner repents, seeks God’s grace and forgiveness, and is restored, God’s face is said to “shine” upon him again (Psalm 80:19). In other words, the alienation (separation) ends, and the individual once again experiences God’s favor and blessings (Numbers 6:24-27; Psalm 4:6; 44:3; 80:3,7,19; 89:15).
The alienation (separation) that Cain experienced was due to his stubborn, unrepentant attitude. God is always ready to receive and forgive sinners who turn back to Him in obedience. If Cain had spent the rest of his life away from God’s presence and His “face” was never to shine on him again, it was because of his stubborn pride. His hardened heart prevented him from availing himself of the salvation and blessings that longed to give him.