Portrait of an Unbeliever

Sin entered the world in Genesis 3. The war between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent began. In Genesis 4, we get our first look at an unbeliever. I find great insight from the law of first mention. Cain is the first unbeliever mentioned in Scripture. We would do well to study the portrait painted of Cain in Genesis 4. Cain is the representative unbeliever, especially of unbelievers who think they are children of God. Unbelievers today mimic the behavior of Cain. We should study this description of Cain to make sure that we ourselves are not unbelievers and also to discern the unbelievers in our midst. A secondary point of Genesis 4 is for us to see is that unbelievers kill believers. It may not be physical death but it may be in the form of driving true believers from the church, killing their spirit. Genesis 4 points out that the unbelievers who are a danger to believers are those unbelievers who are in the church, not out of the church. These unbelievers likely think they are believers. They attend the worship service but their worship is unacceptable.

Verse one tells us that Cain was the first born, the child of promise. He was homeschooled by Adam and Eve. No other parents in history were better equipped to declare the surety of God’s Word. Cain had every opportunity to be a believer, but he refused. Verses three and four show us the point at which true believers are separated from unbelievers. Both Cain and Abel showed up to worship. Man is incurably religious. Man will worship something, often it will be himself. Abel’s offering was acceptable to God. Cain brought an offering but it was unacceptable. Hebrews 11:4 tells us that Abel brought his offering in faith implying that Cain’s offering was not given in faith. Also note that Abel’s offering came from something alive while Cain’s came from the ground which is dead. Verse five has a sobering revelation; Cain’s offering and Cain himself were rejected. As a personal warning, you and I must understand that there is a connection between our worship and our relationship with God.

In the second half of verse five, we see that Cain exhibits no remorse, only anger. Unbelievers in the church will not show remorse for their actions. They will be angry. Angry over having their sin revealed. Verse five also shows that Cain rejected the Word of the Lord. Unbelievers will resent and reject the Word of God. Verse 7 tells us that forgiveness and reconciliation to God remains an option for the unbeliever. Acceptable worship is required, i.e. coming offering the sacrifice that Christ made on our behalf. Verse 8 gives a very sobering warning if we do not come to the Lord. Sin aggressively pursues us, desires us. If sin is not dealt with through the blood of Christ, it will turn us into something much worse than we already are. At first, Cain was simply an unbeliever coming to worship with an unacceptable offering. The sin crouching at his door turned him into a murderer.

Verse nine shows us that unbelievers may run but they cannot hide. Upon being confronted with sin they will lie, avoid the truth, and change the subject as Cain did but they cannot avoid a calling to account by the Lord. Verses ten and eleven show us the thing which Cain loved, the ground, would be his downfall. The ground which was cursed in Genesis 3 would come to curse Cain. This is what lets us know that Cain is the first unbeliever. Adam and Eve were believers who sinned. Cain was an unbeliever. Adam and Eve were not cursed in Genesis 3. Only the serpent and the ground were cursed. Now we see the cursing of the first human being. Unbelievers today must realize that their sin, however temporarily pleasing it might be, will eventually be the instrument of their cursing.

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