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CAIN AND ABEL - THE INSIDE STORY!

(SERMON #37 ON THE BOOK OF GENESIS)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Saturday Evening, March 1, 2008

“And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper? And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground. And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand; When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth. And Cain said unto the Lord, My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. And the Lord said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him. And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden” (Genesis 4:3-16).


A great deal has been written on this passage of Scripture.  Some of it is helpful and some is not.  I think we need to look more closely at the Scriptures and, if we do, I believe they reveal the inside story, the true motives behind the tragic struggle of two brothers caught up in the conflict of the ages – and what it means for us today!  I think that the best way to explain this conflict is to view it as a picture, typifying two kinds of people – those who are converted and those who are not converted.  With that Scriptural insight, I will contrast Cain and Abel.  Here are three ways they were different.

I. First, Abel had faith and Cain did not.

Verses four and five say that

“The Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect” (Genesis 4:4-5).

Why did God look with respect on Abel, but not on Cain? The answer is given in Hebrews 11:4,

“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh” (Hebrews 11:4).

We must be careful here. This does not mean that Cain was an atheist, nor does it even mean that he was an agnostic. The Bible makes it clear that Cain believed in God. God spoke to Cain in verses six and seven. Cain even had a conversation with God in verses nine through fifteen. These verses make it very plain that Cain believed in God, and spoke to God in prayer, and received knowledge about spiritual things from God. And yet we are told,

“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh” (Hebrews 11:4).

The Greek word translated “faith” here is “pistis.” It means “credence, reliance on” God (Strong). It is one thing to believe in God, but it is another thing to rely on God.

“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble” (James 2:19).

And they believe a great deal more than that. In the four Gospels, we read again that they believe Jesus is the Son of God. But here is the difference: reliance on Christ is not the same as believing things about Him. You say, “But I believe that Christ died for my sin.” Very well, the demons believe that also. But have you come to Christ? Have you relied on Him? Have you trusted Him?

Yes, Cain believed in God. But he did not trust Him. He did not rely on Him. In fact, he had an argument with God! So there you have the first contrast – Abel relied on God, but Cain did not. He relied on himself. As long as a person relies on himself he will never be converted. An old song says it well:


I give up myself, and whatever I know,

Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.

   (“Whiter Than Snow” by James Nicholson, 1828-1896).


A person has to give up his own thoughts and reasons, and rest on God in Christ alone. That is the great watchword of the Reformation: justification by faith alone. Abel was justified by faith. Cain was not.

II. Second, Abel brought a blood sacrifice and Cain did not.

I find it difficult to understand why this seems unclear today. Even Dr. Ryrie says,

A bloodless offering was perfectly appropriate, Lev. 2:1, 4, 15, 16 (Charles C. Ryrie, Ph.D., The Ryrie Study Bible, note on Genesis 4:3).

It seems to me that an old-fashioned dispensationalist like Dr. Ryrie should understand that the “meal offerings” of the Jews in Leviticus have nothing to do with the sacrifices in Genesis! All you have to do is turn a few pages of the Bible, and you will see that.

“And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar” (Genesis 8:20).

Are we to suppose that Noah invented blood sacrifice? Of course not. Abel

“brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering [but not to] Cain and to his offering” (Genesis 4:4-5).

What could be plainer than that? God looked with favor on Abel’s blood offering, but not on Cain’s vegetable offering. Although I do not agree with every note in The Scofield Study Bible, what it says regarding Abel’s blood sacrifice seems both Scriptural and reasonable to me,

This type is brought into prominence by contrast with Cain’s bloodless offering of the fruit of his own works, and proclaims, in the very infancy of the race, the primal truth that “without shedding of blood is no remission,” Hebrews 9:22; 11:4 (The Scofield Study Bible, note on Genesis 4:4).

All of this was discussed and agreed on during the Modernist/Fundamentalist conflict a hundred years ago! Why do we need to go over this ground again? I don’t see any other possible reason to do so, unless it is a revelation of the apostasy of our day. Dr. W. A. Criswell said that there was

a proscribed means of worship, i.e., by sacrifice, and Abel gave evidence of his faith by obedience to God’s revealed will. In this first recorded act of formal worship, Abel’s offering was one of “the firstlings of his flock.” “The fat thereof” may suggest a choice offering. Abel’s offering was acceptable, and the offering of Cain was not acceptable (v. 5). Focus in this chapter is not only upon the men themselves but also upon the differences in their offerings. Cain’s offering was (1) bloodless (cf. Hebrews 9:22), (2) the work of his own hands (cf. Titus 3:5), and (3) a product of the cursed ground (cf. 3:17). Abel, on the other hand, presented “a more excellent sacrifice”…, cf. Hebrews 11:4 (W. A. Criswell, Ph.D., The Criswell Study Bible, note on Genesis 4:4).

I repeat, Abel had a blood sacrifice and Cain did not! This type points to Christ Jesus,

“Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood” (Romans 3:25).

Abel had his sins washed clean in the Blood,

“of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world”
      (Revelation 13:8)

in the plan and purpose of Almighty God.

“Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Romans 5:9).

Abel’s sin was washed clean by Christ’s precious Blood, of which his “more excellent sacrifice” (Hebrews 11:4) was but a shadow and a type. So, my question to you tonight is this:


Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?
   Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
   Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you washed in the blood,
   In the soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless?
   Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
   (“Are You Washed in the Blood?” by Elisha A. Hoffman, 1839-1929).


But there is one more point that I want to bring from the fourth chapter of Genesis.

III. Third, Cain resisted the conviction of the Spirit of God,
while Abel did not.

It is implied that Abel did not resist when God convicted him of sin. It is a mistake to think that Abel was saved because he was good. No one is saved by being good. The curse of God had fallen on Adam and Eve when they rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden. The Apostle Paul made that clear when he said,

“By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned”
      (Romans 5:12).

The poison of Adam’s sin was inherited by both his sons, according to that verse. And so it had to be that Abel acknowledged his sin, when he brought that bloody sacrifice to God. It was then, and only then, that Christ could call him “righteous Abel” (Matthew 23:35). Convinced of sin, Abel threw himself on the preincarnate Christ, and his sins were forever washed from God’s ledger Books in Heaven (Revelation 20:12-13).

But it was not so with Cain. The Spirit of God rebuked his heart.

“But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect”
      (Genesis 4:5).

Yet when the Spirit of God flashed deep conviction in his heart, Cain rebelled in anger.

“And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell”
      (Genesis 4:5).

His eyes were filled with anger and his face took on a downcast look.

“And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?” (Genesis 4:6-7).

Oh, God gave him a chance to repent and come, and be cleansed by the Blood! I believe that God gave him a number of chances to turn from sin and be cleansed by Jesus’ eternal Blood. Yet time and again, as though in an inquiry room after a service, Cain resisted the convicting words God spoke to his heart. Time and again, he quenched the Spirit. Time and again, he resisted the conviction of God.

“When he is come, he will reprove the world of sin” (John 16:8).

But when God’s Spirit came to Cain, he put himself on the defensive. He refused to hear the words of warning,

“If thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door” (Genesis 4:7).

Like a crouching lion, sin is waiting to master you, Cain! But to no avail. All of these pricking and convicting words were shrugged off. Cain inwardly argued his way out, maintained his own righteousness, rejected the convincing thoughts and words God spoke to him.

Why did Cain resist salvation? It seemed so easy.

"If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?" (Genesis 4:7).

All Cain had to do was come by faith in the Blood.  Why didn't he do it?  I will give you the testimony of our deacon, Dr. Christopher Cagan.  I think Dr. Cagan's testimony illuminates what was wrong with Cain. Like Cain, Dr. Cagan believed in God, but he said, "I was not ready to believe in Jesus Christ...I didn't want Him to interfere with my future...I was not willing to submit to Him.  I wrestled inwardly with thoughts about Christ for two more years" (C. L. Cagan, Ph.D., From Darwin to Design, Whitaker House, 2006, p. 17).  Finally, Dr. Cagan gave up, came to Christ, and was cleansed by His Blood.  Sadly, Cain resisted salvation until it was too late. 

Alas! Upon a day and upon an hour God left him to his own devices. And in that day, when God gave up on him, the powers of Hell rushed in and utterly controlled his mind and heart.

Judas toyed with sin that way. He stole money from the bag. He rejected the preaching of Christ, his captain. He went out from that last Passover meal, “and it was night” (John 13:30). After all the preaching that he heard, and all the fellowship he had with Christ and the Disciples, after all the words of warning he heard, and all the convictions of heart he must have felt, Judas went out into the night and betrayed the Son of God!

Is not Cain’s experience a type of what Judas would later do? Does not his action betray the fact that he, like Judas, was now literally controlled by Satan?

“Then entered Satan into Judas…And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them”
      (Luke 22:3-4).

And what Cain did to Abel was very close to what Judas did to Christ, indeed a parallel, and I think, a type of it. Dr. Merrill F. Unger said of Cain,

Jealousy, rage, and hate [now] rankled in his breast and grew to such proportions that demonic powers took over and drove him to the first murder (Merrill F. Unger, Ph.D., Th.D., Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament, Moody Press, 1981, volume I, p. 25).

“And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him” (Genesis 4:8).

And, in one way or another, at some time or other, every one who rejects salvation through the Blood will, in an hour when he knows not, fall under demonic control and break fellowship with the people of God. Then it will be said,

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us” (I John 2:19).

Oh, I caution you who have taken the Gospel lightly, you who have rejected the conviction of God’s Spirit, you who have refused to come to Jesus, that day is coming and it is coming soon. Then it will be said of you, that you were like Cain,

“Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you” (I John 3:12).

And Cain was now so hardened in sin that he was “driven…out this day from the face of the earth” (Genesis 4:14), and he became “a fugitive and a vagabond…in the earth” (Genesis 4:12). And now Cain wanted nothing to do at all with the things of God.

“And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden” (Genesis 4:16).

The land of “Nod” means the land of “wandering.” If God gives up on you, you will wander through the world without Him. Forever doomed, you will wander the streets, live broken lives, and die a Christless death. And then it will be said,

“Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain”
      (Jude 11).

Hark! While there is still time! While God is still speaking to your heart and mind.

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:10).

Humble yourself and come to Jesus. Come to Him and be washed clean by His Blood while there is yet time, before the howling winds of judgment blow you down the darkened streets of doom, to a Christless eternity in Hell. Humble yourself in the sight of God. Come to Christ before it is eternally too late, and you have gone in the way of Cain. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

THE OUTLINE OF

CAIN AND ABEL - THE INSIDE STORY!

(SERMON #37 ON THE BOOK OF GENESIS)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

(Genesis 4:3-16)

I.   First, Abel had faith and Cain did not, Genesis 4:4-5; Hebrews 11:4;
James 2:19.

II.  Second, Abel brought a blood sacrifice and Cain did not, Genesis 8:20;
Genesis 4:4-5; Romans 3:25; Revelation 13:8; Romans 5:9;
Hebrews 11:4.

III. Third, Cain resisted the conviction of the Spirit of God, while
Abel did not, Romans 5:12; Matthew 23:35; Revelation 20:12-13;
Genesis 4:5, 6-7; John 16:8; Genesis 4:7; John 13:30; Luke 22:3-4;
Genesis 4:8; I John 2:19; 3:12; Genesis 4:14, 12, 16; Jude 11;
James 4:10.