Cain and Abel: The Birth of Religion. Part I

Genesis 4:1-16 (NLT)

4 Now Adam[a] had sexual relations with his wife, Eve, and she became pregnant. When she gave birth to Cain, she said, “With the Lord’s help, I have produced[b] a man!” 2 Later she gave birth to his brother and named him Abel.

When they grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground. 3 When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. 4 Abel also brought a gift—the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, 5 but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected.

6 “Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? 7 You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”

8 One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.”[c] And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him.

9 Afterward the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?”

“I don’t know,” Cain responded. “Am I my brother’s guardian?”

10 But the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground! 11 Now you are cursed and banished from the ground, which has swallowed your brother’s blood. 12 No longer will the ground yield good crops for you, no matter how hard you work! From now on you will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.”

13 Cain replied to the Lord, “My punishment[d] is too great for me to bear! 14 You have banished me from the land and from your presence; you have made me a homeless wanderer. Anyone who finds me will kill me!”

15 The Lord replied, “No, for I will give a sevenfold punishment to anyone who kills you.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain to warn anyone who might try to kill him. 16 So Cain left the Lord’s presence and settled in the land of Nod,[e] east of Eden.

The Background

Let’s begin our study with a little background of Cain and Abel.  Cain and Abel are the sons of Adam and Eve, Cain being the oldest, was a farmer.  Abel was the second son, he was a sheep herder.  The Bible tells us in this passage that Cain and Abel, have now grown up.  It was now time for them to offer sacrifices for their own sins.  Like most of us who have grown up in some sort of religious training, we know there will come a time when it will no longer be our parents who are to be responsible for our relationship with God.  The training that we have received in the Lord is now our own privilege and responsibility.  This was no different for Cain and Abel.  After the fall in the garden, Adam and Eve were shown by the Lord how to cover their own sins, but now it is time for Cain and Abel to make a sin offering to cover their own sins.  If you understand this, most of the confusion resulting from your previous teaching, wherever or whenever it may have occurred, will go away.  I hope through this teaching I can clear away a lot of the confusion that has resulted from past erroneous teaching regarding this passage of scripture.  Now let us get into the heart of this teaching.

The murder of righteous Abel

The story of Cain and Abel as written in the Bible, is the first ever recorded murder of another man.  It tells the story of two brothers who wanted to win approval from God.  One was Abel, who knew how to win favor with God.  The other was his brother Cain who wanted to win the approval of God by doing things his own way.  Cain became very angry when God rejected his offering by his own methods.  

This is where a lot of bad teaching comes in.  Some have speculated that Abel’s offering was accepted because it was of a better quality whereas Cane’s offering was simply left-overs from his crops and not of the first fruits.

Hebrews 9:18-22; Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry.  And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. (of sins)

So let’s clear this up from the beginning, the reason Cain’s offering was not accepted, was because it did not contain  blood, and what Scripture tells us is that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.  Where did Cain and Abel learn this?  They learned this from their parents and from God.  When Adam and Eve fell in the Garden of Eden, God made them garments from animal skins.  This meant God had to kill an animal and shed the blood to get the garments to cover Adam and Eve.  This is a universal principle.  As you study the entire Bible, you will find the principle of shed blood covered sins from the beginning to the end of the Bible.  In the Old Testament, the blood of lambs, goats and heifers were offered as a symbolic offering until the time of Christ.  The Book of Hebrews says this could never take away the sins of man.  So in the New Testament, God became man and his name was Jesus.  Jesus became the lamb of God, who took away the sins of the world.  How did He do this?  By shedding his own blood on Calvary.  Not just as an atonement for man sins, but a permanent covering that would forgive man’s sins forever.   This means Jesus paid for our sins so we would never have to pay for our own.  This my friends, is why God rejected Cain’s offerings.

The second reason is found in Hebrews 11: 4;

By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.

Like I said earlier, There is only one way to obtain righteous with God in the bible. It though the blood!  Do not get this confused with the different offerings establish with Isreal in the Old testament books of Leviticus.  Those offering were not established yet!  But like I said earlier, the “blood offering is a principle established from the beginning to the end of the Bible. The same principle of  “seed, time and harvest,” established in the book of Genesis. It is though the bible and is in action today.  Everything created today comes through a seed, then there is incubation period and then delivery or harvest.  I hope this clears up the confusion so many preached about this in the past.  If not the next point is clear without debate.  Cain knew how to fix his error…..

God told Cain what to do!

7 You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”

Cain knew what to do, he knew how to make it right! he was aware of the correct offering, but he refused, he wanted to do things his own way, but when God rejected his offering this made him angry, angry enough to kill his only brother.

Do you remember, when I said that God did not abandon Adam and Eve?  Here’s my point on this, in verse six the Lord asked Cain, why are you so angry? 

Did you take notice that God asked a question?  Cain was very familiar with God, familiar enough that Cain was not taken back by God speaking to him.  He was not even surprised.  Did you take notice of that?  In a later verse, God will speak again to Cain, this time Cain will not only respond, but he will respond with a lie in a very sarcastic way.  Cain responds with one of the most famous verses in the Bible;   V9:  “I do not know,” Cain responded. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

What is my point?  Cain was very familiar with God.  Can you imagine God showing up today in your house, can you imagine your reaction if you had never spoken to God before in person?  Especially if you are about to do something very wrong?  For most of us, we would need a roll of toilet paper! (a little humor here).  But not Cain, he was not even caught off guard, he was not shocked, in fact, he was quite disrespectful to a Holy God, who was there to help him.  My point is that Cain was very comfortable around God, so comfortable in fact that he showed no respect toward God.

The birth of religion

At this point, I want to take a break from the Bible passage and get to the point of this message. the birth of religion.

Here I want to give you, the definition of religion according to Dennis Stauffer.

Religion is a set of rules, regulations, creeds, and sacraments for one to get to heaven and have acceptance from their god.

Right now,  you might be saying what’s wrong with this?  Is this not what God wants and expects from us?  The answer is NO!  In this world there are so many religions.  There is Islam, Hindu, Buddhist, Catholics, Mormons and the list is inexhaustible.  Some are even sects within Christianity.

But pure Christianity, true Christianity is not a religion, let me repeat this, Christianity is not a religion!   What Christianity is, is a one on one, personal, intimate relationship with Jehovah God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit.  This is not achieved by what you do or by following rules, regulations, sacraments and creeds.  Rather the complete opposite is true.  It was achieved by God becoming man (Jesus Christ) and paying for all our sins on the cross.

God knew that we could never, ever be good enough, or be able to obey the law, His commandments, or any other form of traditions to become holy enough for us to make it to heaven, let alone begin to have a relationship with Him.  All we have to do is admit and accept that we are sinners and are helpless to save ourselves.  Then we need to put our faith and our trust in what Jesus did on Calvary.  It is a completely free gift from God, to his rebellious kids here on planet Earth.

Ephesians 2;8-9 says;  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.  We are saved not by our good works or anything we can do but by the free gift from God.

Can you see the difference?  Religion is completely different, it is based on you and what you can do and how you live your life.  It is performance driven, and based on you, your holiness and your righteousness.  Where did we get all this?  It is all written in the Word of God, the Bible.  The Bible is God’s Word, written to mankind.  God makes it clear we can never be saved by the law or anything we do.  Our eternal life and our salvation was completely on the shoulders of God.  All we have to do is respond.  We have a choice; we can respond like Abel and accept G0d’s salvation for us or we can respond like Cain by offering our own sacrifice, and doing it our own way, even though God has told us our own efforts will not be accepted.

In verse seven, God told Cain “if you do what is right you will be accepted.”  But Cain refused.  Now remember Cain is living in the Old Testament, and during these Old Testament times, Jesus had not yet come and paid for the sins of mankind.  So people living in the Old Testament offered sacrifices in faith, that one day God will offer a perfect sacrifice for their sins.  The Old Testament saints had only a promise that God would deliver them, but in the New Testament, Jesus already paid for our sins and our debt.  Therefore we can put our faith in the completed work done at Calvary….

continue Part II, NEXT MONDAY

How can I have a real relationship with Jesus Christ?

Personally I know I’m a sinner, I know I can never keep the law, I know I’ve never lived a perfect day.  So knowing this, I never put my trust in myself or in anything that I do.  Why?  Because I know Jesus came and paid my entire debt that I owe to God.  He paid it in full. There’s nothing I can do to add to it or make it better.  Jesus did it perfectly.  I am accepted by God with all my sins paid for.  My past sins, my present sins, and my future sins – all that I will ever fail at is covered under the blood of Jesus Christ.  So instead of focusing on performance like I was working on a job and trying to get promotions, my focus has been on what Jesus came for, a personal relationship between Jesus and myself.  Christianity is based on intimacy, fellowship and family.  Being a Christian is having a personal relationship with God.

Written by Dennis Stauffer

Edited by Gary Green (Omega House)


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