by C. Parker Thomas

(Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the January- February 1983 issue of the Midnight Cry Messenger.)

Text: Gen. 4:1-16
Cain and Abel, though brothers in the flesh, are two distinct types of humanity. In fact they represent the two distinct types of all humanity. Their sense of values is different. Their attitudes toward God, man, life and eternity are different. And their eternal destinies are different.

Although begotten by the same father, born of the same mother and reared in the same family and religious environment, they were different. Ishmael and Isaac, Jacob and Esau are similar types.

Jacob and Esau were twins and while still in the womb the Lord revealed to their mother that two nations and two manner of people were in her womb. Gen. 25:19-26. Common flesh and blood ties do not make us the same.

It is the spirit that makes men alike whether of God or Satan. Whatever spirit possesses a man’s life seeks to influence and completely control that life.

In addition to being flesh and blood brothers, Cain and Abel both received the same religious training by their parents. Both responded to the light they had by bringing an offering to the Lord. At this point we begin to see the differences in these flesh and blood brothers. Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering to the Lord, and Abel brought a firstling of the flock.

Cain’s offering was bloodless and represents the work of man’s hands. This typifies the natural, religious man rejecting the sacrifice of Christ and substituting his own works. It is a case of self-righteousness rather than the imputed righteousness of Christ. It is works and not faith. This is exactly what happened to the Jews. Rom. 10:14, 31:33.

Abel brought a firstling of the flock. This is a type of the firstborn Son of God who became flesh that he might die for our sins. The firstling had to shed its blood and give its life for Abel to have a viable offering. This was an expression of faith that looked forward to Christ and the cross.

These two religious forms represent the true and the false of religion. Matt. 7:13-14. Cain’s offering was rejected and Abel’s offering was accepted. While Abel entered a state of justification, Cain became a transgressor and a rebel against God. Until this point in time there was very little outward difference in these two brothers.

Like all men, Cain and Abel were, by nature, the children of wrath even as others. Eph. 2:1-3. It took this time of decision and subsequent experience to make manifest their true condition. It was the time when each one had to face the issue of what he wanted to do about God.

This was the time appointed of God for them to hear his voice and respond to divine wisdom. It was their choice to accept the way of life and live, or reject it and face the consequences. Both of them expected to be received on the basis of the offerings they brought.

Abel’s offering was accepted and he entered into life. Cain’s offering was rejected and he was angry. However, at this point there was still time to repent and bring the proper offering. This is why the Lord patiently and kindly entreated Cain.

Cain was not justified in being angry. His own sin and rebellion possessed him and he refused the Lord’s entreaty. The natural, religious man is proud and insists on his own religious way. He highly resents the suggestion that his religion isn’t as good or better than others. Anything contrary to his own concept is considered narrow and dogmatic.

Seething with anger and resentment because the Lord would not accept him as he was, Cain vented his wrath on his brother Abel and killed him. This was the climax of Cain’s rebellion against God. God was the one he was actually mad with.

Instead of repenting and bringing the acceptable offering, he took the final step into perdition when he killed his brother. Upon being asked by the Lord where his brother Abel was he lied by saying, “…I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?” Gen. 4:9.

This is the key to Cain’s true condition. He was a liar and a murderer. Killing Abel did not make him a murderer. He killed his brother because he was a murderer. It was hate in the heart that caused the act. In reference to Cain and all who hate their brother, John said, “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” I John 3:15.

Enlightenment and conviction is the means that God uses to bring men to Christ and eternal life. Rebellion against God and resistance to the work of the Holy Spirit is the process in reverse that leads men into a final state of perdition. Heb. 10:39.

Even as man is sealed by the Holy Spirit unto life eternal when he embraces Christ, wicked men are sealed by the spirit of Lucifer unto damnation when they despise and reject God’s mercy. There is no neutral ground after enlightenment. Man must say “yes” or “no.” Heb. 6:4-6.

Up until this point man conceivably could go either way. Obedience to God and he is born of God’s Spirit and becomes part of the family of God. Obedience to Satan and he becomes part of Satan’s family. Note what Jesus said to the Jews who despised and rejected him. “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” John 8:44. There are two things that the children of the devil have in common — they will not abide in the truth and they hate the righteous. This was typical of the Jews who hated Jesus and his word. This was also true of Cain who rejected God’s word and killed his brother. Gal. 4:28.

The one thing that infuriates the natural, religious man is the word given out in the power of the Holy Ghost. The reason such a ministry is so disturbing is because it is a powerful, non-compromising expression of authority. Satan hates authority, especially Holy Ghost authority. The natural, religious man hates it because it exposes his rebellious condition.

He knows that if it is true then he is wrong and he must repent and change his way. He is too proud to do this. His concept of doctrines and cherished religious traditions has blinded his eyes and he will not give them up. Like Cain, he is angry with and wants to destroy those who show him up. Since he knows he can’t kill God and pretends to be serving him, he turns on his brother.

In reference to Cain who is a type of the natural, religious man, John said, “For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

“Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.

“Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.

“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

“Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” I John 3:11-15.

This lack of love by the natural religious man is reflected in Cain’s question “ I my brother’s keeper?” Gen. 4:9. Cain felt no obligation toward his brother. His concern was self. This is why he was so highly offended when his offering was refused. He took this rejection of his bloodless offering as a personal affront rather than being thankful to God for being true to his soul. The attitude of Cain shows his condition as Paul describes it in Rom. 1:21, “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” His wrath, which he vented against Abel, shows us the direction he took after being patiently counseled by the Lord. Gen. 4:6-7. Two things happened as Cain observed his brother Abel in the field before he killed him.

He was jealous of Abel because his offering was received and his was rejected. The devil, which controlled Cain in his wrath, made him believe that Abel was the source of his trouble. But the truth is, all rebellion, anger and hatred is against God.

Most religious people are never discovered to be in Cain’s condition because they are never provoked like Cain was. And the reason they are never provoked is because their wills are never crossed as Cain’s was.

Wherever anointed truth is coming forth, the coiled serpent in man is striking back and trying to destroy the source of light that is exposing him. Since darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the people, there is very little light in the church world to disturb the serpent.

However, all men must make up their mind one way or the other, sooner or later. Cain reached this time of decision and became Satan’s vessel in killing his own brother. This was also the point of no return where he rejected God’s word and entered the state of perdition. Heb. 10:39.

It was at this point that the Lord decreed that Cain would be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth. This meant that he would always be running from justice. Like a vagabond he would wander from place to place and never find that place of rest.

This is the picture of man turned over to his own human resources who must live out his earthly existence without ever finding the rest that comes from union with his maker. Isaiah said, “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” Isa. 57:20-21.

Cain was not only walking in darkness but he was consigned to that darkness by divine decree. Jude calls Cain and all other apostates “wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.” Jude 8-19 is a picture of the Cains of this world.

However, there is a difference in unbelieving sinners as a whole and the condition Cain was in. He was consigned to the life of a fugitive and a vagabond forever. The Lord had pronounced this judgment upon him for the rest of his natural life.

It was the realization of this terrible judgment that caused Cain to say, “...My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that everyone that findeth me shall slay me.” Gen. 4:13-14.

It is significant that Cain himself said, “everyone that findeth me shall slay me.”

Cain is the first case of paranoia we have in the Bible. The Lord did not pronounce this judgment upon Cain. This was a guilt complex that would follow Cain and haunt him all the days of his life. He was actually judging other men and what they would do to him by his own murderous spirit that killed his brother Abel.

He was always suspicious, always looking for someone to come against him, interpreting men’s actions, words and deeds negatively, thinking they were against him. What a terrible life — never finding spiritual rest!

Gen. 4:16 says, “And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.”

Once again let’s note the significance of the scripture. Cain went out from the presence of the Lord. He left the place of truth where God’s everlasting covenant by blood was being honored. He left God’s people. Cain went to the land of Nod, which means “wandering.”

The Cains of this world will never find rest in Christ. They will always be wandering and looking, seeking but not finding. That city is hid from their eyes. That city is his church, the body of Christ. Matt. 16:13-19. Eph. 2:19- 22. Heb. 12:22-24.

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