The Very First Murderer
“My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth… whoever finds me will kill me.” Genesis 4:13-14
It would not have been surprising if God had ended Cain’s life right there. But in God’s mercy, the world’s first murderer is given another chance.
Cain, even after this terrible crime, God is speaking to you. He has not cut you off. There’s still an opportunity for reconciliation. Accept your punishment, confess your sin and turn to Him in repentance. The darkest moment of your life could become your turning point.
Instead of taking ownership for what he’d done, Cain begins to wallow in self-pity. God was gracious and protected Cain, but he made a wretched choice, going out from the presence of the Lord. The last thing we hear is that Cain built a city known for music and industry, culture and commerce—but no mention of God.
How can we avoid Cain’s plunge to disaster?
Never Underestimate the Power of Sin
“If you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you…” Genesis 4:7
The quickest way to disaster is to allow sin in your life and then say, “I can handle it.” Sin is like a wild animal. When you get angry, when you don’t get your way, when your pride is hurt—it is crouching at the door.
When Cain refused to do what is right, he set himself up for failure. God spoke to Him, but he turned away and opened up the floodgates to a power that was far greater than he could control.
You may say, “I get pretty angry, but I would never murder anybody.” When you allow sin to take root in your life, you never know where it will lead you. Sin is a power. You must master it or it will master you. The only way to master sin is in the name and the power of Jesus Christ.
Don’t Pretend to Love God If You Hate Your Brother
“Anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Therefore if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you… First, go and be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:21-24
I have no doubt that Jesus was thinking about Cain when he said this. There are times when anger is appropriate, but this was not one of them. Cain’s anger came from jealousy, selfishness and his own stubborn pride, and he refused to do anything about it.
Don’t pretend to love God if you hate your brother, “Anyone who says ‘I love God’ and hates his brother is a liar” (1 John 4:20), and when John looks for an example of this, he chooses Cain, “Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother” (1 John 3:12).
Then John draws a contrast between Cain and Christ, “This is how we know what love is… Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” (1 John 3:16). Cain took his brother’s life. Christ laid down His life for His brothers.
Come to God in God’s Appointed Way
“If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?” Genesis 4:7
All the Old Testament sacrifices point us to the one sacrifice—where Jesus Christ laid down His life on the cross for our sins. That’s how we’re to come to God. You cannot come in any other name, including your own, offering God your achievements. But if you come to God confessing your sin and trusting in Christ’s sacrifice for you, you will receive mercy.
Make a Different Choice
“Cain went out from the Lord’s presence.” Genesis 4:16
Suppose when God invited Cain to do what’s right, he’d said, “Lord, I’m struggling with anger towards my brother. It’s so powerful, like a fire inside me. I need your power. I have this hatred inside of me, I need your love. I have this pride within me. I want to make a big impression and what I want drives me all the time. I need your peace.” Suppose he’d put his faith and trust in God to do for him what he could not do for himself.
Even after killing his brother, Cain could have taken a different course. He could have turned away from self-pity, taken ownership of the deed he had done, faced the consequences and then thrown himself on the mercy of God saying, “I have sinned, and I stand before you without excuse. Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.” He didn’t do that. But you can today.
This LifeKey is based on the message “Deal With Your Anger,” by Pastor Colin S. Smith, on January 12, 2003, from the series “Deckchairs on the Titanic.”
Colin currently serves as Senior Pastor of the The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He is committed to preaching the Bible in a way that nourishes the soul by directing attention to Jesus Christ.
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