I think sometimes we as Christians can be lulled into complacency through the idea of grace. I do not discount grace. It is a beautiful and wonderful gift. But there are some Christians who forgo striving in their relationship with God, who stop seeking Him, and who sit back on their laurels and begin to think of salvation as fire insurance instead of a relationship with The Lord God of the Universe.
That happened back in Genesis as well. Adam and Eve and their offspring had an easy affiliation with God. He talked audibly to them. Some of them slid into a laissez-faire attitude regarding their relationship with God and toward sin. It happened first to brothers Cain and Abel. Cain was a farmer, who loved to work the land. Abel was a shepherd. Verses 1-7 read,
Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” 2 And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker 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 also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of 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 his face fell. 6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
God didn’t consider Cain’s offering worthy. It wasn’t his firstfruits or his best fruits it was just fruit. He felt like any offering should please God but it didn’t. There was no sacrifice in Cain’s offering. He wasn’t striving for the best and he wasn’t giving God his best.
But Abel’s offering was the firstborn of his flock, apparently all of the firstborn, he butchered them and offered the meat and the fat portions. There was a great deal of sacrifice in Abel’s offering, he didn’t know if the sheep would give birth again or when, he offered all he had and the best of it to God.
Cain became angry about it so God talked to him. He said, “Why are you so angry? If you do well won’t you be accepted?” He meant if you do the right thing, not the easy thing, not the thing that will look good but what is good, I’ll accept you and your offering but if you don’t strive for what’s right, sin will overtake you.” Sin exists and Satan wants us to give into it. He knows if we just stop striving to walk in the Spirit that he can get us to stop walking forward and once we are no longer going forward, sin can overtake us. God told Cain he must rule over sin. In Romans 6:12-13 Paul said,
“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.”
Cain didn’t take The Lord’s advice. He let his anger grow. Verse 8 reads,
Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.
How did God respond? Verses 9-16 read,
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?” 10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying 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 work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” 13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14 Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” 15 Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him. 16 Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
Cain didn’t think he would be able to stand his punishment. He would be forced to leave the presence of the Lord. But God gave him protection. He had already punished Cain, it wasn’t up to anyone else to kill him. Anyone who killed Cain would face God’s vengeance.
Now time went on. Generations gave birth to generations; people became peoples. Verses 17-22 read,
Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. When he built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch.18 To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad fathered Mehujael, and Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech. 19 And Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. 20 Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. 21 His brother's name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. 22 Zillah also bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.
As each generation grew farther apart from God they cared less and less about pleasing him. People were living about 800-900 years so it was plausible that Cain knew his great great great grandson Lamech personally and that he had told him the story of what had happened to him. Whatever the case, Lamech didn’t care much about pleasing God. Cain’s complacency had become outright apathy and even rejection by the time of Lamech. Verses 23-24 read,
Lamech said to his wives:
“Adah and Zillah, hear my voice;
you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say:
I have killed a man for wounding me,
a young man for striking me.
24 If Cain's revenge is sevenfold,
then Lamech's is seventy-sevenfold.”
Do you see the pride of this man? He didn’t care about his sin, he boasted about it and he assumed and threatened that anyone trying to punish him would be punished seventy seven times worse than anyone else committing murder. He believed that anyone who wounded him deserved death.
But not everyone was becoming unconcerned with The Lord. Cain and Abel were only the first born of Adam and Eve’s children, they had daughters and they had at least one more son but likely more. Verses 25-26 read,
And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.” 26 To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.
Not all of their children left the presence of the Lord and not all of them wandered from goodness. Some called on the name of the Lord. Seth and one line of his descendants stayed dedicated to God. Though clearly most of the people on earth did not remain devoted to God, since by the time of Noah he was the only righteous man on the face of the populous earth (Genesis 6:9).
It is so easy to slide from commitment to complacency. Are you like Cain who thought that any effort was enough? Or are you like Lamech who was so prideful that he didn’t think he should get punished and that anyone who tried should be struck down by God? Maybe you haven’t reached that extreme but maybe you have started just gliding along in your Spiritual walk or maybe you have started moving backward and haven’t noticed.
God loves you and just the way He did with Cain, He will counsel you before it’s too late. It is up to you heed that advice. Are you doing well? If not, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.