- Sermon Notes
The Countenance of Cain
At this point in the book of Genesis, Adam and Eve have sinned and have been sent from the garden with no way to return. They must build a life very different
from the one they had when they walked with God every day in the cool of the evening.
In Genesis 4 Adam and Eve have two sons, Cain and Abel. They had many more sons and daughters of course, Adam lived 930 years; you can imagine how many
children they might have had!
But our story is about their first sons – Cain and Abel. The focus of the story is when they are grown men. Cain was a tiller of the ground. Abel was a
keeper of the flocks. Each of them brought an offering to the Lord. Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground, the fruit of his labors, and
Abel brought a lamb from the flock.
I. The Way of Cain is the Way of Pain
- Eve conceives and bears her first son and names him Cain, which means “possession” or “virtue.”
- This is her first birth experience and you can imagine the joy and pride in him as her firstborn. Could this be the fulfillment of the promise that
one of her seed would crush the head of Satan? “I have gotten a man-child with the help of the Lord.”
- But what we see instead is that he becomes a man who won’t live as God wants him to live. Why? He wasn’t hanging out with the wrong crowd, there was
no crowd. He wasn’t influenced from the world, there was no one in the world. He wasn’t watching wrong movies or playing violent video games or
connected to the Internet. They are seeing the result of the fall.
- From this point forward, all children will be born with a sin nature. You don’t have to teach children to be selfish, they’re born that way.You have
to teach them to share.In fact, if you don’t teach them to share, they’ll be selfish all their lives.
- But Cain, as the firstborn after the fall seems to have a strong spirit of rebellion.
Jude 1:11, Woe to them!For they have gone the way of Cain, they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.
- Here is a great lesson we learn from Cain…
A. Self-reliance separates you from God
- He is a tiller of the ground, thus is strong and ruddy, working the ground by his sweat.
Genesis 3:19, By the sweat of your face you will eat bread until you return to the ground.
- But instead of seeing this condition as a reason for humility (because of sin I must sweat), he apparently sees it as a point of pride (look what I’ve
done by the sweat of my brow).
- Cain brings an offering to God, which at first might sound good, but God does not regard his offering. The fruit of his labor is not what God wanted,
He wanted a lamb to be offered.
- If Cain raised crops for everyone, then Abel would have tended flocks for everyone and Cain could have brought a lamb, but he didn’t.
App – the problem of self-reliance is that when things go well, it’s easy to be filled with pride, but when things go badly, many get angry or become depressed.
Habakkuk 2:4, As for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; but the righteous will live by faith.
Illus – One thing I noticed in raising five kids is that when they got in trouble, they would often get angry.You would think they would be humble since they just got in trouble, but no, anger often comes first.
Illus – I remember as a teenager being more than an hour late for work at the restaurant and I became angry.Finally, the manager said, “Why are you angry?”It made me think.“I’m angry with myself,” I finally said.She responded, “Don’t take it out on us, you ought to be humble and just say you’re sorry.”
B. God sees the heart behind the offering
- The name Abel means vapor or breath. There could be several reasons Eve chose this name, but it probably wasn’t because he was the stronger of the
Illus – David was also smaller than his brothers and was asked to watch the flocks while the others did the important work.
1 Samuel 16:12, But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature… for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
- In verse 4, Abel brings the “firstlings and of their fat portions,” but the Lord had regard for Abel…and for his offering.
- There is a great difference in being seen by men and being seen by God…
Illus – One day Jesus was teaching and said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and respectful greetings, and places of honor at banquets and for appearance sake offer long prayers, but they devour the houses of widows.Then He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury.And He saw a certain poor widow putting in two small copper coins.“She has put in more than all of them,” Jesus said, “they gave out of their surplus, but she gave out of her poverty.”
Illus – In Malachi 1, God challenges
What if a man brought wilted flowers to his wife? It’s a question of having a heart that is in relationship to God and is growing in deeper faith.
- Faith comes by hearing and by faith Abel offered what God had prescribed; he brought a lamb.
Hebrews 11:4, By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.
- Why did God want them to bring a lamb? It pointed to the work of Christ on the cross.
Hebrews 9:22, And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin.
- God has been pointing to the cross by the sacrifice of an innocent lamb throughout the Old Testament…until He came. John the Baptist saw Jesus
walking along the Jordan and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
- And ever since then, God has us looking back at that offering…until He comes…
1 Corinthians 11:26, In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant initiated in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
II. The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength
- When God did not regard Cain or his offering, Cain became angry and his countenance fell.
- The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry?Why has your countenance fallen?If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?”
- In other words, as the scripture says, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” In other words…
A. Keep yourself in the love of God
- Two men have especially stood out so far in our Wednesday studies through Genesis; Enoch and Noah.They both stood out in their generation because they
both walked with God.
Jude 1:20-21, But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God.
- What happens if you don’t put wood on the fire?What happens if you don’t water your lawn?What happens if you neglect your marriage relationship?
- The answer to all those questions is the same; keep adding wood to the fire, if you don’t water your lawn, it will die; if you forget your anniversary,
well… Enough said.
Psalm 73:28, As for me, the nearness of God is my good.
- Keep yourself in the love of God and build yourself up on your most holy faith. How? God sends His Word with power to transform our lives.
Illus – I was in the lobby some time ago and some kids were playing so I stopped to talk with them. One of the girls, Mia, who is seven, said, “I listen to you every night before I go to sleep.” I said, “Really? Every night? Why do you do that?…”
Romans 10:17, Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
- At the same time, be careful because…
B. Sin is crouching at the door
- He then gives a warning that is for us as well…
- “If you do not do well,” God said, “sin is crouching at the door, and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”
- I was thinking about giving this message the title, “Crouching Sin; Hidden Master!”
Illus – Sin is like having a pet tiger; You think you have it under control until the day that it becomes the master. Roy Horn of Siegfried and Roy used to tame tigers and treat them as pets, until in October of 2003 when a 380 pound tiger nearly killed him.
- In other words, you must master it… Or it will master you.
1 Corinthians 6:12, All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable.All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.
Illus – A pastor moved into a small town to pastor a church and soon noticed a woman in town that was bitter and cantankerous. “What happened to her?” he asked someone. She was engaged to be married, but her fiancé broke up with her for her best friend. She has never been able to let it go.
App – the sin of unforgiveness was something she chose over and over until she didn’t have to choose it anymore, it mastered her, and she simply became angry.
C. Be your brother’s keeper
- We know the rest of the story; Cain plotted to kill his brother. Then the Lord came and asked, “Where is Abel your brother?”
- He gave an insolent and disrespectful answer, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
- Cain’s heart was wrong on every level, in truth; we are our brother’s keeper and should be concerned with how our brother is doing.
Illus – There is actually an answer that should be in our heart… “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.”
That line actually comes from Roe Fulkerson who wrote in 1924 that he met a “spindly and physically weak lad” carrying a baby and staggering towards a neighborhood park. “Pretty big load for such a small kid,” he said to the boy. “Why mister, he ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.”
- Is this not because we had someone help us when we could not help ourselves? Is not Christ the One who’s blood speaks a better word?
Hebrews 12:24, You have come to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.
- The blood of Abel cried out for vengeance, but the blood of Christ speaks a better word; mercy, grace and forgiveness.
- The blood of Jesus is the only sacrifice that God recognizes…
Acts 4:12, And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.
Genesis 4:1-13 NASB
1 Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, “I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord.” 2 Again, she gave birth to his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 So it came about in
the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. 4 Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings
of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; 5 but for Cain and for his offering He
had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell.
you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” 8 Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about
when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.
voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground. 11 Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s
blood from your hand. 12 When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth.”
13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is too great to bear!