When God banished Adam and Eve from the garden—away from constant presence with God—we see a spiral of sin through the line of Cain, their firstborn child. But—we also see redemptive hope through the line of their son, Seth. God is at work in the mess of human history, and in the mess of our lives too.
The Legacy of Sin
We enter the the first delivery room in human history in Genesis 4. I imagine Eve writhing in excruciating labor, under the shade of a tree on a bed of grass, pulling on Adam for support— probably screaming from the curse of her pains in childbirth (Genesis 3:16, been there!).
Cain cried. I imagine she laid him on her chest, placing the palms of her hands on Cain’s bottom and the back of his neck to hold him in place. Maybe she then kissed his head in gratitude. They name him Cain, meaning “to get,” as she got a man child from the Lord (Genesis 4:1).
Later, she gave birth to a son, Abel. She and Adam maybe dreamed about their boys growing up as best friends. Playing on the farm, helping one another provide for the family—Cain a worker of the land and Abel a shepherd for the flocks.
Yet, in the first two children born from the union of the first husband and wife—we see the echo of Genesis 3:15. The seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman, at odds.
The Warning of Sin
Genesis 4:3-8 (NIV)
In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
What did the Holy Spirit highlight for you?
Think about this for a moment.
Cain offered some of the fruits from the soil (not the first, not the best). Abel offered the first and the best of the animals.
It’s no wonder God looked with favor on Abel. Who wants a gift of leftovers?
At first, instead of the Lord pushing Cain away, he warned him:
Do what is right and you will be accepted. But if you do NOT do what is right, sin is crouching at your door. It desires to have you, but you must rule over it (Genesis 3:7).
In other words:
Do what is right and sin will not master you.
And as we see, Cain chose revenge, Cain chose to NOT do what is right.
The first human death we read in Scripture is not a sweet passing of a life well-lived with family gathered round and words of blessing passed down to the next generation—it is a violent, sinful, jealous murder like a gangster cornering an enemy in a blood bath.
Sin brought death.
The Mess of Sin
Genesis 4:9-16 (NIV)
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”
Cain said to the Lord, “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, and whoever finds me will kill me.”
But the Lord said to him, “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
What did the Holy Spirit highlight for you?
Think about this for a moment.
The Lord called out to Cain, similarly to him calling out to Cain’s parents. To Adam it was “Who told you that you are naked?” For Cain it was, “Where is your brother Abel?”
Cain sounded like a rebellious teenager. “I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”
“You are under a curse,” the Lord said. Cain’s sinful rebellion invited Cain’s curse. Not only would the toil of the soil be difficult, but for Cain, it would be impossible. Not only would he not have a land of blessing from God. . .he would be a wanderer.
In the story of Cain and Abel we see the seed of the woman versus the seed of the serpent
The seed of the woman are those who come from her who believe in and honor God. The seed of the serpent are those who also come from her, but live in sinful rebellion against God.
This time, the seed of the serpent, (the man who did not have faith or obey God), killed the seed of the woman—the righteous Abel who offered his sacrifice in faith.
The Lord sent Cain out of the land, further away from God’s presence.
The mess of sin includes the mess of isolation from God.
The Faithful in the Mess of Sin
Cain lived on, married, fathered children, and built a city (Genesis 4:17–24). In his line of descendants we see polygamy (not designed by God, see Genesis 1:27–28) and more murder (Genesis 4:23–24)—sinful choices abound.
Yet—the seed of the woman—the seed of the faithful—was reborn in the name of Seth.
After Eve birthed Seth, people began to call on the name of the Lord (Genesis 4:26). In Seth’s line we find Enoch, who “walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away” (Genesis 5:24).
And in Enoch’s line, we find Noah—the man who believed God when “every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5). Noah found favor with God—because even though Noah was not perfect, he believed. He worshipped. He obeyed.
Just like every human in history, we are not righteous on our own, no not one (Romans 3:10–12). We are all sinful—but in our sin, there is hope.
Jesus was born by virgin brith, through the power of the Holy Spirit and the seed of the woman, to overcome the Serpent forever when he offered himself as the sacrifice for sin, was buried, and rose from the dead to conquer sin and death for us. He then ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
We have hope that one day He is returning and will judge the world of sin and righteousness (John 5:26–29).
Those of us who surrender our lives in faith to Jesus, receive the gift of the Spirit, and now are forgiven of our sin and abide in Christ (Romans 10:9–10, John 15:5).
Our hope in the mess of sin is to turn to God and live in Him.
Do need forgiveness from sin?
To be freed from the curse of sin, you need to accept the payment for sin that Jesus made on humanity’s behalf. To accept His salvation, you can read the prayer below or pray your own prayer confessing your sin, your need for Jesus, and invite His Holy Spirit to live in You. Then share your decision with a trusted Christian that can help you take the next steps in your faith.
Father, God, I believe in Jesus. I believe that He is Your One and Only Son, born of the virgin Mary, was crucified for the forgiveness of sin as my sin offering because the wages of sin is death. I believe He was buried and rose again to conquer sin and death for all who believe. I believe He ascended into Heaven and is seated at Your right hand. I believe He is coming again to judge and renew the world. I confess I am a sinner and I need Your forgiveness. Please forgive me through the sin offering of Jesus. Please fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Please keep me in Your care and help me grow to know You and walk with You. Amen.
Are you living in the mess of sin?
Take a moment to be silent before God and ask Him to reveal any sinful way within you. Anything. As little as a small lie, to as big as murder. Allow His Spirit to highlight anything that might be hindering your relationship with Him. Then take time for confession and recommit to live for Him.
If you would like a guide to renew your relationship with God through confession, see below.