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From Eternity Past

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    The Great Difference Between Cain and Abel

    “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.” Hebrews 11:4. Abel saw himself a sinner, and he saw sin and its penalty, death, standing between his soul and God. He brought the slain victim, thus acknowledging the claims of the law that had been transgressed. Through the shed blood he looked to Christ dying on the cross. Trusting in the atonement there to be made, he had the witness that he was righteous and his offering accepted.EP 38.2

    Cain had the same opportunity of accepting these truths as had Abel. One brother was not elected to be accepted of God and the other rejected. Abel chose faith and obedience; Cain, unbelief and rebellion.EP 38.3

    Cain and Abel represent two classes that will exist till the close of time. One avail themselves of the appointed sacrifice for sin; the other depend upon their own merits. Those who feel no need of the blood of Christ, who feel that they can by their own works secure the approval of God, are making the same mistake as did Cain.EP 38.4

    Nearly every false religion has been based on the same principle—that man can depend upon his own efforts for salvation. It is claimed by some that the human race can refine, elevate, and regenerate itself. As Cain thought to secure divine favor by an offering that lacked the blood of a sacrifice, so do these expect to exalt humanity to the divine standard, independent of the atonement. The history of Cain shows that humanity does not tend upward toward the divine, but downward toward the satanic. Christ is our only hope. See Acts 4:12.EP 38.5

    True faith will be manifested by obedience to all the requirements of God. From Adam's day to the present the great controversy has been concerning obedience to God's law. In all ages there have been those who claimed a right to the favor of God while disregarding some of His commands. But by works is “faith made perfect,” and without the works of obedience, faith “is dead.” James 2:22, 17. He who professes to know God “and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” 1 John 2:4.EP 39.1

    When Cain saw that his offering was rejected, he was angry that God did not accept man's substitute in place of the sacrifice divinely ordained, and angry with his brother for choosing to obey God instead of joining in rebellion against Him.EP 39.2

    God did not leave him to himself, but condescended to reason with the man who had shown himself so unreasonable. “Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.” If he would trust to the merits of the promised Saviour and obey God's requirements, he would enjoy His favor. But should he persist in unbelief and transgression, he would have no ground for complaint because he was rejected by the Lord.EP 39.3

    Instead of acknowledging his sin, Cain continued to complain of the injustice of God and to cherish jealousy and hatred of Abel. In meekness, yet firmly, Abel defended the justice and goodness of God. He pointed out Cain's error and tried to convince him that the wrong was in himself. He pointed to the compassion of God in sparing the life of their parents when He might have punished them with instant death, and urged that God loved them or He would not have given His Son, innocent and holy, to suffer the penalty which they had incurred. All this caused Cain's anger to burn the hotter. Reason and conscience told him that Abel was in the right, but he was enraged that he could gain no sympathy in his rebellion. In fury he slew his brother.EP 39.4

    So in all ages the wicked have hated those who were better than themselves. “Every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” John 3:20.EP 40.1

    The murder of Abel was the first example of the enmity between the serpent and the seed of the woman—between Satan and his subjects and Christ and His followers. Whenever through faith in the Lamb of God a soul renounces the service of sin, Satan's wrath is kindled. The holy life of Abel testified against Satan's claim that it is impossible for man to keep God's law. When Cain saw that he could not control Abel, he was so enraged that he destroyed his life. And wherever any stand in vindication of the law of God, the same spirit will be manifested. But every martyr of Jesus has died a conqueror. See Revelation 12:9, 11.EP 40.2

    Cain the murderer was soon called to answer for his crime. “The Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: am I my brother's keeper?” He resorted to falsehood to conceal his guilt.EP 40.3

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