The Way Of Cain Is The Way Of Rebellion And Self-will.

(All Bible quotations, unless otherwise stated, are from the English Standard Version).

Jude 1:11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion.

The apostle Jude talked about the way of Cain, along with the error of Balaam and the rebellion or gainsaying of Korah, as features of false ministers. We’ve identified the error of Balaam as covetousness and greed for filthy lucre that subvert the soul and shipwreck the faith and ministry. In this article, we shall examine the way of Cain as another feature of false ministers of the gospel.

So, what exactly is the way of Cain? And why must every sincere worshiper of God avoid such ways? We must go back to the beginning, in the book of Genesis, to identify Cain’s forbidden way. The first appearance of Cain in Genesis is in the fourth chapter, where his birth and his attempt to worship God, alongside his brother, are recorded. Both siblings publicly approached God in worship by offering sacrifices. Whereas Abel and his sacrifice were accepted and blessed by God, both Cain and his sacrifice were rejected, which provoked an envious wrath in Cain, leading to the murder of his brother. Why was Cain rejected by God, along with his sacrifice? If we can answer this question, we’ll gain an insight into the way of Cain.

Genesis 4:1-12
Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD. And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The LORD said to Cain, Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it. Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, Where is Abel your brother? He said, I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper? And the LORD said, What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.

Several reasons have been postulated by Bible scholars as to why God rejected Cain and his sacrifice. For me, the most plausible explanation centres around the issue of faith and obedience. From the evidence of Scripture, Cain wilfully offered the wrong sacrifice to God, preferring to present what he delighted in, rather than what God required. We’re told in the book of Hebrews that Abel offered the right sacrifice by faith. Now, faith is an affirmative response to the revelation of the divine will, and comes by hearing the word of God. One can only be said to display faith after hearing, believing and obeying the word of God. This means that Abel heard the word of God concerning what to offer and how to approach God, and he believed and obeyed it. He offered the sacrifice God desired. Abel did what was right in the sight of God, and he was approved and blessed thereby. Surely, God doesn’t leave people in doubt as to what’s required of them in salvation? For sure, God doesn’t expect us to fathom out, on our own, how to approach him rightly in order to be saved. He shows man the way of salvation and then requires us to follow that way to be saved. To Adam and Eve, God showed that without the shedding of blood, there couldn’t be any remission of sin. He thus slaughtered a lamb to atone for their sins after the fall. And from their children, God expected the same sacrifice of blood to be offered, to atone for their own sins. Abel obeyed and followed God’s way of salvation, offering the right sacrificial animal for his sin, as ordered by God, displaying his faith in God’s word, for which he was approved and commended.

Hebrews 11:1-4
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.

Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Hebrews 9:22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Cain, on the other hand, refused to do the right thing, even after being told what to do. He knew what God wanted as an offering. He knew the divine will, but chose instead to do his own will, expecting God to accept whatever worship he brought to God. Even after wilfully presenting the wrong sacrifice the first time and after being rejected, God was still patient enough to admonish Cain to do the right thing, if he wanted divine acceptance. Even when the right sin-offering was pointed out to be right by his door, he still refused to take and offer it! Cain didn’t want a bloody religion. He wanted to be saved, but not by the shedding of blood. He wanted a religion of his own making. He was going to worship God his way, or not at all! That’s the way of Cain—the way of obstinate self-will in worship, irrespective of what God desires and reveals!

Genesis 4:5-7
and unto Cain and unto his present He hath not looked; and it is very displeasing to Cain, and his countenance is fallen. And Jehovah saith unto Cain, `Why hast thou displeasure? and why hath thy countenance fallen? Is there not, if thou dost well, acceptance? and if thou dost not well, at the opening a sin-offering is crouching, and unto thee its desire, and thou rulest over it.’ (Young’s Literal Translation).

The other thing that defined Cain’s way was his envy and murderous rage towards his brother who did the right thing and was accepted by God. Not only did Cain refuse to offer the right sacrifice after it was revealed to him, he also chose to envy his brother who did the right thing, and plotted to kill him instead! Rather than learn from his brother who did the right thing and was accepted and blessed by God, he decided to add iniquity to iniquity, heaping envy, rage and murder on top of his rebellion and self-will! This was the final nail in his coffin that led to his eternal separation from God. Not only did he spurn God’s word concerning the right sacrifice to present, he ended up murdering God’s image and a true worshiper of God, filling his cup of wickedness thereby and becoming the firstborn of Satan among men. No wonder the apostle John described him as being of the Wicked One, Satan. He really was!

1 John 3:11-12
For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous (NKJV).

In conclusion, the way of Cain is the way of rebellion and self-will, which rejects the word of God and sets up its own religion, while persecuting those who choose to believe and obey God. Cain rejected God’s provided way of salvation, and chose his own way instead, expecting God to approve and bless his rebellion and disobedience. Even when God in his mercy still gave him space to repent and do the right thing, he refused to budge. Instead, he chose to destroy his brother who did the right thing and was approved of God. That’s the way of Cain—rebellion and self-will in worship, and total opposition and persecution of all who faithfully serve God in spirit and in truth.

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Published by Biblical Christianity

Biblical Christianity is a Christian ministry which believes firmly in the original apostolic faith as the only authentic version of Christianity, and the only legitimate basis for Christian conduct, order and doctrine.

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