Cain Makes a Choice

Genesis 4:1-16



Sometimes when I go to a restaurant the server gives me fair warning as he delivers the food.  “Be careful. This plate is very hot.”  Now, most people would take that to mean you shouldn’t touch the plate or you might get burned.  I am quite the opposite.  I see it as an invitation.  What I really think he means is, “You should touch the plate just to see how hot it really is.  Then you will know for yourself.”  I also believe a sign that says “wet paint” is really just an invitation.  My inner nature wants to verify.  Is it really wet?  Just how wet is it?  Maybe it’s a trick.   If I allowed my curious nature to get carried away, I could really get hurt; “slippery when wet”, “authorized personnel only”, “warning, high voltage”, “wash your hands before returning to work”. 


The story of Cain and Able is much the same.  God gave Cain fair warning about his attitude and actions.  But Cain chose to ignore God and later suffered the consequences.  Let’s take a closer look at the story and learn more about the nature of God, prevenient grace, sin, and consequences.


What does God do? First study and discuss God’s actions in the story.

·         He confronts Cain with a question: (verse 7) Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?  There is only one answer to this question.  If Cain dared to respond he would have to confess his wrongdoing and bad attitude.

·         He gives Cain instruction: (verse 7) “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?  God clearly gave Cain a choice to do the right thing.  He instructs Cain to take responsibility for his own actions and change his behavior. “

·         He gives Cain a warning:  (verse 7) “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.”

·         He holds Cain accountable for his actions: (verse 10) “The LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.”

·         He requires Cain to live with the consequences:  (verse 11) “Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”

·         He protects Cain from further harm: (verse 15) “Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.”

Have your group discuss the following:

1.       What do these verses tell us about God and his attitude towards those who rebel against him?

2.       According to these verses how would you define sin?

3.       Have your group talk about temptation and ways they can overcome it.  What did God mean when he said, “but you must rule over it”?

What did Cain do?

·         (verses 3-7) Cain did not give God a pleasing sacrifice.

·         (verse 6) Cain let jealousy lead to bitterness and disappointment.

·         (verse 8) Cain’s emotions took control and caused him to murder his brother.

·         (verse 9) Cain lied and did not take responsibility for his actions.

·         (verse 16) Cain turned his back on God.

Have your group discuss the following:

1.       Compare the story of Cain to the story of Adam and Eve.  Do you see any parallels?

2.       Compare Cain’s actions and attitude to the words found in James 3:15-18.

3.       Read James 4:1-3.  Do these verses give us any insight into the story of Cain?

4.       God gave Cain a simply remedy.  We find the same remedy in James 7:7.  Is God being unrealistic to require us to resist evil?


Notes for the teacher:

This story of Cain and Able is very rich.  There are so many lessons that can be learned.  You may want to consider incorporating some of these extra thoughts into your discussion.

1.       Have your group read Matthew 5:1-13.  These are the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.  If Cain had chosen to live by these rules, how would his life have been different?

2.       Read Romans 12:1-2.  Have your group discuss the kind of sacrifice that is required of Christians today.  Discuss the difference between making an animal sacrifice and “self” sacrifice.

3.        Article 5 of the Manual of the Church of the Nazarene states that there are two kinds of sin: “We believe that sin is of two kinds: original sin or depravity, and actual or personal sin.”  Article 7 says, “We believe that the human race’s creation in Godlikeness included ability to choose between right and wrong, and that thus human beings were made morally responsible.”  Read articles 5 and 7 in their entirety and compare them to the story of Cain and Able. 

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