Aug. 9, 2021

Punishment for sin

Punishment for sin

What if they do not want to lift their burden? What are we suppose to do? Cain helps to uncover the answer.

Greensburg Church of the Nazarene
31 Bluebird Lane, Greensburg, KY 42743

Christian Podcaster Association


**not a word for word transcript, but the sermon manuscript**




You and I are in this together. By this, I mean we are in this life together working for the glory of God. The apostle Paul tells us that as the Church, we are to do good for all, demonstrating presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. We do good by helping others lift their burdens, including those who are being crushed by the weight of their own sin.


This might seem like a silly question, but what if a person does not want help? Someone is being crushed by the weight of their sin, like a car under the foot of King Kong, but that is what they want. What if they do not want to lift? What are we to do? That is the question we will try to answer from looking at today’s passage.


Genesis 4:1-16:


1 Now the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have produced a man with the help of the LORD.” 2 Next she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a tiller of the ground. 3 In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel for his part brought of the firstlings of his flock, their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and why has your countenance fell. 6 The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.” 8 Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out to the field.” And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. 9 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” Cain said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the LORD said, “What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground! 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you till the ground, it will no longer yield to you its strength; you will be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” 13 Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is greater than I can bear! 14 Today you have driven me away from the soil, and I shall be hidden from your face; I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and anyone who meets me may kill me.” 15 Then the LORD said to him, “Not so! Whoever kills Cain will suffer a sevenfold vengeance.” And the LORD put a mark on Cain, so that no one who came upon him would kill him. 16 Then Cain went away from the presence of the LORD, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. (NRSV)


This is the Word of God, for the people of God, thanks be to God.

IN THE TEXT: Cain’s sin demands a sacrifice

***[v1-5a] IT IS A BOY***


There are three disclaimers to keep in mind as we study this passage, trying to answer our question, “What if they do not want to lift?” First, we must read this section building off what we have learned up to this point, meaning Genesis chapters 1 through 3. The laws governing God’s people later in the Old Testament have not been written yet, so we cannot read those laws into the story of Cain and Abel.


Second, the writer shares that Abel farmed sheep and Cain farmed the ground. While these jobs are different, the jobs are not the issue. Both jobs are necessary, carrying different responsibilities and outcomes from the labor. The jobs are important details to know, but the jobs are not the issue.


Third, the sacrifices are the issue. Not because Cain brings fruit instead of sheep, that law has not been established. In the New Testament letter written to the Hebrews, that writer reveals why the sacrifices are the issue. “By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain’s.” (Hebrews 11:4) Abel’s faith in God led him to bringing his best sheep as an offering. Cain simply brought fruit because he knew had to bring something. The issue was not based on the content of Cain’s offering, but the intent.


***[v5b-7] IT IS NOT FAIR***


When Cain is rejected and Abel is accepted, it reveals the true nature of Cain’s heart. Abel gave of his best because Abel loved God. Cain wanted to be blessed by God like Abel, but without having to give or believe like Abel. He gets angry when God has no interest in his disinterested offering.


It also reveals the heart of God. God may have rejected Cain and his offering, but God does not leave Cain to be crushed by the burden of his anger. The LORD tells Cain if he would acknowledge the truth and then do right he would be accepted. Not wanting Cain to cave to temptation, God tries to get Cain to see he still has a choice.


***[v8-12] IT IS MURDER***


Cain does not want to admit he was at fault, and convinces himself that Abel was the problem, hogging God’s blessings. The Bible does not tell us what Cain used as a weapon, but then again it is a person who decides to murder; it is never the weapon.


When God confronts Cain, God already knows the answer. He is all-knowing. God is asking because He wants Cain to confess. Even after murdering his brother, God is willing to extend mercy to Cain. 


Cain knows he is guilty, but he has no interest in mercy. His response, “I do not know, am I my brother’s keeper?” is a lie to protect himself. Cain does not want to get caught, so he lies to God, he knew exactly where to find Abel, dead in the field where he had killed him.

***[v13-16] IT IS MORE THAN I CAN BEAR***


God pays no attention to Cain’s lie and cover-up question. Instead, God shares with Cain his punishment. “The ground will no longer yield to you. You will be a fugitive and a wanderer.” Cain is overwhelmed by this, crying, “My punishment Is greater than I can bear!’


Cain may have been overwhelmed by his punishment, but he was underwhelmed about God. God had shown Cain mercy before the murder, tried to get him confess to find mercy, and in the punishment God shows Cain mercy again. The LORD gives Cain a mark to show that this wandering murderer was under divine protection. But Cain shows he does not want God, choosing to leave God’s presence to wander.


FROM THE TEXT: Our sin demands a sacrifice


How does this answer our question: What if someone is being crushed by their burden of sin, but they do not want to lift? They are standing in front of a steam roller, which is twenty-five feet away, but are unwilling to move. What are we supposed to do? The good thing, help them lift their burden. 


That is what God does with Cain. Notice the language God uses to get Cain to question why he is angry, “sin is lurking at your door.” He is telling Cain that sin is a ravenous monster. But this is not a monster prancing outside, but in Cain’s heart. If Cain leaves the moment before dealing with it, that leaves the danger lurking. That goes for you and me, those we are trying to help lift away their burden of sin. However, God gives Cain the space to make the decision for himself.


Make no mistake, the sin inside the heart is a ravenous monster that will shout to be fed. It will demand sacrifices to satisfy its hunger for power, pleasure, prosperity, and popularity. Even if it means harming others. It shouted out to Cain, leading to Abel being sacrificed to his sin. Sin had Cain convinced that is what needed to be done. Rather than accept the consequence for his actions, sin led Cain to believe he was better off being a wanderer. Sin does the same to us, and those we are trying to help free. 


Sin is a ravenous monster, one that can devour us. But it has already been declared defeated thanks to the blood of Jesus Christ. God in His mercy sent Jesus so the burden of sin can be lifted away from us. However, to be rid of the ravenous monster, sin must be confessed. You and I must admit the truth about ourselves. That person we are trying to help, who is being crushed by sin’s weight, they must confess the sin. If we are unwilling, then God gives us the space and grace to wander hoping that with sin’s pressure increased upon us that our eyes will open to the truth. God wanted Cain, but Cain did not want God. It was better to be a wanderer, forcing others to be a sacrifice to him than to offer himself as a sacrifice to God. A life that would end needless crushed by his own sin. What will we choose?


BEYOND THE TEXT: Our God demands a response


God loves you and wants you at His table. Do you want to be there? 

ALT: Have you been lifting with someone who does not want to lift? Ask God for the strength to do the good thing; give them space, not pressure.