Today our text is Genesis chapter 4. Our focus is the first man who was ever born on this planet. His name was Cain. His tragic choices led him out of the shadow of Paradise, away from the place of God's presence and into an eternity of restlessness.
Imagine again what it was like for Cain, growing up in a world fresh from the hands of God. With parents who never stopped talking of the wonders they had seen and heard as they walked each day with God Himself. As we saw last time, imagine the memories deeply etched on his heart of dreadful wonders of the place of blood and the ashes of 130 years of sacrifices there by the gate to the Garden of Eden. All this was Cain's legacy. Cain was the son of Adam the son of God as the genealogy of the last verse of Luke 3 states it.
Cain rebelled against God's way of salvation (Gen. 4; 1 John 3:11-12). By clothing Adam and Eve with the skins of slain animals (Gen 3:21), God made it clear that the only way of forgiveness is through the shedding of blood. This is the way of faith, not the way of good works (Eph. 2:8-10). But Cain rejected this divinely authorized way and came to the altar with the fruits of his own labor. God rejected Cain's offering because God rejected Cain: his heart was not right before God. It was by faith that Abel's sacrifice was offered, and that was why God accepted it (Heb. 11:4).
The "way of Cain" is the way of religion without faith, righteousness based on character and good works. The "way of Cain" is the way of pride, a man establishing his own righteousness and rejecting the righteousness of God that comes through faith in Christ (Rom. 10:1-4; Phil 3:3-12). Cain became a fugitive and tried to overcome his wretchedness by building a city and developing a civilization (Gen 4:9). He ended up with everything a man could desire everything except God, that is.
If we were to outline Genesis 4 it would follow these divisions:
- V. 1-5 The Worship God Expects
- V. 6-7 The Warning God Gives
- V. 8 The Wrath Guilt Produces
- V. 9-15 The Wandering Sin Brings
- V. 16-24 The World Man Builds
- V. 25-26 The Way God Seeks
God is very specific about worship. The problem is that doing all the right things is not enough if they do not flow from a heart of love for the God who orders them. Unless the obedience is prompted by faith, the work is worthless.