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Where did Cain go wrong?

The Old Testament is full of foreshadows and object lessons.  Take for example Cain and Abel.  The standing question is why did God reject Cainís offering and receive Abelís?
Hebrews 11:4 says...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.

Clearly, faith was the differential.  So they were offering to God and God rejected Cainís offering because of faith.  This is where it gets interesting because Cain clearly offered to God the fruit of the ground by faith.  We know this because Cain gave with expectation (hope).  Cain expected and hoped that God would receive his offering.  So the question remains, how was faith violated?

We know the answer as a result of Cainís reaction to Godís rejection.  Cain was hurt and became angry when God rejected his offering. Cain felt that God was rejecting him.  Cain's transgression of faith was not in the giving (by faith) but rather in the lack of receiving by faith.  We receive grace by faith unto salvation (not works).  

In the book of Jude, we hear about those that have gone the "way of Cain", the self-justified.  We are not to go the way of Cain but rather follow the way to life, Jesus Christ.

We must settle in our hearts, are we saved by God or by our works?  I say by God!
Russell Hoerman

In my mind I know it is thru my faith and often in my heart I feel it.   Where the straight line loops back is within the weakness of my humanity and desire for control and evidence or works.  You said it "self justified".  
Then I read something like this and ponder, re-intellectualize faith through hope, start to feel it in my heart and we go again.


"The way of Cain" is hoping God will receive us based on our own merit rather than based upon the merit of His provision.  You are right, we all circle down Cain's path.  

We confuse God's unconditional love with His endorsement.  We think if He loves me then He must approve of what I'm doing in my life.  

God's love is not extended to us as a reward for our "good deeds" or even our devotion to God Himself.  God's love is ever extended to all of mankind for ever and ever.  The only condition to apprehending God's love is that we do so by faith, we must trust His love in our life.

God loves us because it is His nature to love, not because we are lovable.

It's 6:30am and just got done reading "My Utmost for His Highest" Devotional for March 30th.  It discusses reasons why many of us stop praying and become "hard or angry" toward God.  It says that "worship and intercession must go together; one is impossible without the other.  Intercession means raising ourselves up to the point of getting the mind of Christ regarding the person for whom we are praying.  Instead of worshipping God, we recite speeches to God about how prayer is supposed to work...we want to throw our petitions at His throne and dictate to Him what we want Him to do."

Maybe Cain had his thoughts on how things should work.  Maybe Cain wanted God to prefer his sacrifice, instead of seeking God's will and responding with action.  Either way, I think prayer is always relevant in any spiritual conversation.  The more we are able to focus in prayer and try to "conform out minds to the mind of Christ" the more we're able to get to the heart of God's will.

Steve, interesting, would like to hear more of your thoughts on "worship and intercession must go together; one is impossible without the other".

Consider 1st Thessalonians 5:16-18 "Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."

Wow, pray without ceasing!

I just read A. B. Simpson's commentary on Jude 1:11 "Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Korah."

A.B. said the "way of Cain" is self righteousness.  The "error of Balaam" is worldly compromise. The "gainsaying of Korah" is vain glory.

Jude 1:4 says "For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old" These "men of old"  were clearly not Cain, Balaam or Korah themselves, but rather the spirit that motivated these men.  Are these spirits creeping in today?

When we are prideful and condemning of others have we gone the way of Cain? Have we denied our need for the righteousness of Christ?  

Have we compromised our relationship with God for the sake of worldly favor?  Are we forfeiting Eternal treasure when we foolishly pursue the best this world can offer?  Is this Balaam's error?

Have we become "respecters of persons"?  Do we value the opinion of scholars and they that are famous more than those that have the anointing of God?  Isn't that Korah's rebellion?
Allen Hoerman

Seems like it always comes back to self righteousness.  I personally struggle with this everyday. But, I am learning...slowly, that I have to give up everything to God.

Rick, when you said "We confuse God's unconditional love with His endorsement", is this part of the way that we justify our sins to ourself?


I think you're right on when you say we justify sinning to ourselves by confusing God's unconditional love with his endorsement.  

I struggle constantly with achieving some success (or at least small victories along the way in life) and forgetting to give the glory to God.  I think success is a topic that needs to be discussed further on here.  

Plenty of times in my life I've been in failure situations.  When I achieve what I consider a small victory, I want to be the first to pat myself on the back.  If God is in control of our lives, all glory should go to God in times of victory, and thanks should go to God for teaching us something in defeat.  

Conclusion:  God's unconditional love is a guarantee in this life.  You, me and everyone else are guaranteed to sin in this life.  The more we focus on God and His love for us, His forgiveness, and His will for us....the less time we'll have to think about sinning.  But we always fall short of the glory of God, so lease we can do is keep working towards a life where serving God is our first priority.

Talk to you soon, Allen.


Your question "is this part of the way that we justify our sins to ourself?" is interesting, initially I was thinking "self justified" before God, but probably we first mistakenly become self justified unto our self through a sense of personal entitlement.      

When we value self outside of God, we reduce God to a peer status and elevate ourselves to divine status.

Allen, good point thanks for joining us!

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If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair. --C. S. Lewis