“Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, ‘I have acquired a man from the LORD.’ Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. So the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.’”
Adam and Eve, the first ancestors of humankind, shared bed and bore a child of the flesh, and the name of their first son was Cain. After the birth of the first son, Adam showed his faith by saying, “I have acquired a man from the Lord,” and naming that son, Cain. We are able to see that Adam acknowledged God and believed in the fact that God had given him the child.
Then, they had another child, and the child’s name was Abel. And so, after a long period of time, each of them came to hold jobs: Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain was a tiller of the ground. And as it came to pass, they came to offer sacrifice to God. Cain gathered and offered the fruit of the ground to the Lord, but Abel offered the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. These two people had offered sacrifice to God, and we shall look and see which of these two sacrificial offerings was proper to God.
The difference between the offerings of two people shows the difference between the faiths of these two. Abel’s faith was the same as that of his parents, but Cain’s faith was different from his parents’ faith. As they grew up, their parents, Adam and Eve, did tell them about who God is, why they were cast out from the Garden of Eden, and consequently, why and how they should offer sacrifices. And so, Abel offered sacrifice to God by having inherited his parents’ faith. But, the eldest son, Cain, had rejected his parents’ faith.
It means that Cain did not follow the examples of his parents’ faith and heart. However, Abel did follow the examples of his parents’ faith. As a result, while the keeper of sheep, Abel, killed a sacrificial lamb and brought it to God, the tiller of the ground, Cain, offered farm produces. But God did not accept Cain and his offerings. Because of this event, Cain showed anger toward God. Just then, God said to Cain, “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door” (Genesis 4:7).
Here, the words, ‘do well’ appear. If it really was the way of pursuing true good, he ought to have offered sacrifice that God had wanted. But, because Cain did not do so, God rebuked him. God was saying, “If you had offered Me a sacrifice that I had wanted, wouldn’t I have accepted it? Yet, you had offered sacrifice as you pleased, so why should you be angry at My not accepting such sacrifice? Wouldn’t I have accepted it if you had found out what sort of sacrifice I had wanted by uniting your heart with My heart and your parents’ heart and then offered it to Me? Also, even though I did not accept your sacrifice because it was not proper, is it right for you to show anger toward Me who is the Almighty? If you do well, will you not be accepted?”
As you can see, Cain was a man who hadn’t united with the heart of God fundamentally. If the center of his heart had been upright, he would not have been so angry, even though he had received reproach by not having offered sacrifice that God had wanted. What I am saying is that if Cain had thought, “I must have done something wrong. Then, there must be some hidden intension of God,” anger in his heart would not have risen like that. Though there might have been a little regret, he would have tried to fathom the will of God by thinking, “There must be some hidden meaning of God regarding this event.”
But, God indicated that his anger was wrongful. “If you do well, will you not be accepted? Did you carry out true good? Did you offer proper sacrifice? Did you offer sacrifice that I had wanted or did you offer sacrifice according to your own wish?” God knows the center of people’s hearts very well, and thus, He pointed out the blunder within Cain’s heart: “Cain, your heart is not right. Though you say you are offering Me a sacrifice, why do you offer Me the fruit of the ground? Did I not also save your parents from sin? Though your parents were destined to die, I had them live by taking the life of an animal, taking off its skin, and then clothing your parents with the tunics of skin. Yet, did you not hear about this story from your parents?” As Cain and Abel were growing up, Adam and Eve told them sufficiently about the righteousness of God. Nonetheless, Cain wasn’t able to unite his heart with God’s righteousness of salvation. It means that the heart of Cain itself did not unite with God.
We Humans Deserve and Need the Reproach from God
God rebukes people not uniting their hearts with that of God. The lacking of human flesh does not matter if one were to rely on the righteousness of God. But for a person to not unite with the heart of God is the most serious sin. Satan the devil fears lest people should have the heart to unite with the righteousness of God. If one does not unite with the heart of God, the person is nothing. Therefore, Satan the devil does not fear such a person. Satan the Devil is a companion of those who do not believe in the righteousness of God. Thus, if we do not unite with the righteous heart of God, we could become servants of the Devil.
The fact that Cain did not unite his heart with his parents is a great sin. Cain did not unite with his parents’ faith by heart. God said to Cain, “If you do well, will you not be accepted?” Even if he did so because he did not know, he could have openly said, “Wait, isn’t this the gift that You had wanted? If not, I’ll just have to offer You a gift that You want, right?” And then, he could have just changed the sacrifice and offered it. But, Cain did not do so.
When the heart of a person goes wrong, his or her countenance is bound to fall. Even if one’s behaviors were lacking, he or she could receive the remission of sins; but it is difficult for those whose hearts are arrogant and twisted before God to receive the remission of sins. You must remember the fact that if people want to receive the remission of sins, they must have sincere faith that has truly united with the righteousness of God. Whoever does not have the heart that unites with the righteousness of God can never receive the remission of sins.
Those Who Have United with the Righteousness of God Offer Sacrifice of Faith According to His Will
There are two types of sacrifice: One is the firstborn of the flock and its fat, and the other is the fruit of the ground. Abel offered a sacrifice to God by killing the firstborn of his flock, taking out and throwing away unclean things in its belly, detaching the fat stuck to intestines, kidneys, and liver and placing it on top of the meat of the lamb, and then, burning them. The proper sacrifice to God is the sacrifice of Abel; he had offered the sacrificial lamb and its fat. Such sacrifice shows the acknowledgment of one’s sins and the faith of recognizing God’s law of death and the law of life. “I am a person who has sinned before God. Thus, it is only fitting for me to suffer death if God were to pass a righteous judgment on me according to the Law.” It is only fitting that people should kill the firstborn of the flock and offer it along with its fat to God, if they have acknowledged before God that they are destined for destruction and accepted God’s salvation of righteousness.
The fact that Abel sacrificed a lamb to God is a confession of faith that says, “I am disobedient to God, and thus, I cannot but die due to such sin. I believe that God has saved me by taking on my sins and dying instead of me, just as this sacrificial lamb had died in my place.” Thus, in the sacrificial offering carried out with the firstborn of the flock and their fat, there is the following confession of faith: “All people have inherited sins from their ancestors, and I acknowledge before God that I am also a human being destined to die due to my sins. There are many things that are not perfect in my heart, and also, many of my actions are not perfect. Thus, I am a person who is supposed to receive the judgment and go to hell. Yet, because the Lord loved me, I know that You had opened up a path for receiving the remission of sins. Please accept this offering, and as You have saved my parents from sin, please save me, also.” If Cain had his heart in union with God, he ought to have offered a lamb. If he had turned back and offered before God the firstborn of his flock and their fat, he would also have received the remission of sins, like Adam and Eve had received the remission of sins from God.
Looking at today’s Scripture passage, some people might think, “If so, wouldn’t a person be able to receive salvation from sin by believing in just the blood of the Cross for Jesus had died for my sins?” However, God has made it so that one can never say such a thing by telling us, “Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering” (Genesis 4:4). What does the fat mentioned here refer to? It refers to the Holy Spirit. God who is the Spirit went into Mary’s body and impregnated her. Thus, He was born as Jesus Christ. God who is holy had to come in human flesh in order to take on all the sins of humankind for He was without blemish.
Furthermore, in order for the Savior, Jesus Christ, to take on the sins of the world, He had to appoint a representative of all humankind, and He had received baptism from him in the form of the laying on of hands. Jesus had to take on the sins of all humankind by receiving baptism from John the Baptist, and then had to properly die in order to be offered to God as the perfect sacrifice. Just by doing so, the sins of the world could be eradicated. The words, “Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat,” mean just that.
One has to offer sacrifice in accordance with the sacrificial system that God had set for His pleasure. And only then, does it become a sacrifice that God accepts with pleasure. One has to offer like this, and only then does the person receive the remission of sins from God by faith. However, there are so many people who say blindly, “I believe that Jesus is my Savior,” without even knowing about the work that God has done for us humankind. Many people profess to believe in Jesus blindly; they insist on their salvation even though they do not have faith that is united with the righteousness of God. Truly, there are only a few people who believe in Jesus Christ by uniting their hearts with the gospel of the water and the Spirit spoken by God.
Truly, we must faithfully rely on the righteousness of God. To us human beings, God said, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). It is said that the wages of sin is death. The passage is telling us that if a person has sin before God, he or she would go to hell. An honest person, who has accepted this Word of God as the truth, will admit, “I have sin in my heart, so I am a person destined for hell! I am a person who hasn’t met the Lord!” And then, having said, “Dear God, I am a sinner. Please, have mercy on me,” he or she will offer a sacrifice like that of Abel seeking God’s compassion.
Abel, in union with the righteousness of God, had offered a sacrifice. And this is why God was pleased to receive it. However, because Cain did not unite with the righteousness of God and thus wasn’t able to offer the sort of faith wanted by God, he wasn’t able to receive salvation from sins. People who do not go before God with a faith in union with God will all suffer destruction, like Cain, due to their sins. Although he may have been just a tiller of the ground, if he had known that God wanted a sacrifice that had blood to shed, Cain should have also offered such a sacrificial offering by faith and the following confession of faith: “Dear God, I should die because of my sins before You. But, because You wanted a sacrifice for atonement instead of me, please accept this sacrifice and then cleanse me of my sins and save me. Please grant me a new life.” Such faith is the faith that is united with God’s righteousness. An offering of sacrifice seeking mercy from God, a heart wanting compassion from God, is what the faith of relying on the righteousness of God is, as well as the faith wanting His love.
However, Cain didn’t do like that. He brought offerings to God arbitrarily in his own way. It means that he had bowed down to God and said, “Please, accept these,” by having piled up the fruit of the ground, such as potatoes, yams, corns, rice, apples, peaches, watermelons, and so on. This is exactly the same as bringing offerings and bowing down to ghosts.
The offering that God wants is a sacrifice that has blood. One has to offer sacrifice before God with the faith that professes, “Even though I must be put to death because You are just, I am offering You a sacrifice to atone for my sins according to the sacrificial system set by You. By passing over my sins to this sacrificial offering by placing both my hands on its head and then by killing this sacrificial offering instead, I have no sin in my heart. So please accept this sacrifice from me.” But Cain did not offer such a sacrificial offering. How evil is that before God? Even though God had fulfilled all righteousness in order to save us, it is only fitting for those who resist it and offer worship in their own way to be put to death spiritually.
Dear fellow believers, you must examine on your own whether or not you are following the Lord by uniting your hearts with the righteousness of God. If you haven’t yet united with Him, please learn to unite. But, I never mean to say that you must serve the predecessors of faith unconditionally. I don’t mean that you must follow someone just because he or she is a servant who is ahead. The predecessors of faith are precious because they are following the will of God and His Word of righteousness by uniting their hearts with Him. As it is said, “You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:32), for those who have served the gospel for a long time, there is wisdom and experience. It means that the predecessors of faith followed the Lord for a long time without departing from the Lord by uniting their hearts with Him in the Church. The Scripture is telling us to respect and follow them because of their faith.
What is the heart and faith that God wants us to have? God wants us to have a faith that is united with the righteousness of God. God is pleased that we know properly and believe in the righteousness of God; He isn’t pleased that we are doing well in His work or that we are showing lots of merits before Him. Therefore, prior to doing the work of God, we must first see if our hearts are in union with the righteousness of God, and if it is not the case, we should then unite with the righteousness of God with our hearts. I hope for you to have a faith that is in union with the righteousness of God. I want you to pray for such faith, and also I wish for you to cherish such heart. Even though you and I may have lacking in our conduct, I believe that if we were to have such heart and such faith, God will accept such heart and faith, and He will have us live the rest of our lives in union with Him. Please, have such faith. I believe that the Lord who sees and knows the center of our hearts very well will give you blessings after having seen such faiths of yours.
However, almost all the Christians are offering Cain’s way of worship to God. People who are offering Abel’s way of worship, though small in number, are those who worship God “in Spirit and truth” (John 4:24) because they have received the remission of sins and the Holy Spirit in them as a gift by believing in Jesus Christ who has come to us by the water and the Spirit. People who have religious faith are those who offer Cain’s way of worship. People who offer worship on their own accord without having united their hearts with God are the wicked who always go against God. This is why God pours down curses upon such people. Still, among them, God saves those who deserve to be pitied.
Ten years after I first believed in Jesus, I came to recognize that I was truly a sinner headed for hell by the Word of God. It is written, “The wages of sin is death.” And although ten years had passed since I started to believe in Jesus, my heart had sins viewed by the Word of God. I admitted that I was a sinner and confessed, “Lord, I am a person bound for hell.” When I did so, the Lord met me with the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
Some people may refute by saying, “I have believed in Jesus for twenty years, and I have offered much service and sacrifice before God. I have spoken in tongues and seen visions. The Lord has appeared many times before me and said so many things to me. Thus, it is so clear that God is helping me. Yet, you say that I will go to hell? I may be lacking, but I am sure I will go to Heaven.” But, that is only their thinking for the Word of God says that the wages of sin is death. The fact is that if people have sins, they will go to hell. Such people must quickly discard Cain’s way of worship, which they have been practicing until now, and by offering the atoning sacrifice like Abel, they must receive the remission of sins.
The offerings of Abel and Cain, as seen in the Book of Genesis chapter 4, show the two types of faith very precisely. If you and I were to realize this, we could know by which faith we should lead our lives. Though we may be lacking like Abel, we will receive the blessings from God when we serve the Lord and wholeheartedly do the work He wants by the faith of uniting with God. However, we must remember the fact that we will be cursed if we have the faith that is not in union with God, like Cain. Spiritually speaking, there are only these two types of people in this world: Cain and Abel. Most people in this world are the descendants of Cain. But, there also are the descendants of Abel, even though they are not many.
Whoever they may be, if people truly want to believe in the Word of God as it is and if people do have sins in their heart, they must receive the remission of sins even now. We must unite with the righteousness of God. Let us follow the Lord by uniting with God, uniting with the Word of God, uniting with the Church, uniting with the work that the Church does, uniting with the leading servants, and uniting with other saints. We must lead a righteous life by having united with the righteousness of God.