“You will be accepted if you respond in the right way. But if you refuse to respond correctly, then watch out! Sin is waiting to attack and destroy you, and you must subdue it.” - Genesis 4:7
Man would like very much to be free to make his own choices and to be exempt from the consequences of his decisions. For instance, he likes sexual freedom but dislikes sexually transmitted diseases. So he seeks ways to engineer “safe sex.” Man wants freedom without consequences.
Adam, the first man, was free to obey or disobey God, but he was not free from the consequences of his decision. God had given him a lot of freedom in the garden—Adam could eat from any tree at all except for one. And he had been told that if he disobeyed, he would surely die (2:17). Instead of listening to God and staying within the limits of his God-given freedom, Adam listened to the voice of evil, embraced sin, and went ahead in disobeying God. Perhaps he assumed that God would not do what he said he would do. Or, maybe he thought that enjoying his “freedom” would be worth whatever sanctions came. He was wrong, though, because the consequence of his decision was death—spiritual death in his relationship with God and the death of his body. But the consequences did not end there.
In the next generation Adam’s son Cain also became alienated from God. He, too, ignored God’s warning, listened to the voice of evil, and embraced sin. Then he complained, “You have banished me from my land and from your presence; you have made me a wandering fugitive” (4:14). But why was he in this state and why was he complaining? Simply because he, too, had rebelled against God’s command and had chosen the pathway of “freedom.” Cain had been informed by God, “You will be accepted if you respond in the right way. But if you refuse to respond correctly, then watch out! Sin is waiting to attack and destroy you, and you must subdue it” (4:7). He chose not to “watch out” but rather to plunge ahead. Committed as he was to his freedom of choice, Cain still had difficulty accepting that his sin had consequences. His complaint shows that he wanted not only the right to sin freely, but also the right to be free from responsibility and exempt from the fallout.
Man’s freedom to choose his actions is one side of the equation, and God’s freedom to choose the consequences is the other. We may be free to choose, but we are not free from the consequences. The sin may be over in a moment, but the consequences may last a lifetime—or even forever.
For Further Study: Genesis 4:1-16
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