When Adam and Eve were created, God placed them in a garden called Eden and told them that they could freely eat of all the fruit of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil which grew in the midst of the garden. He said, “The day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” His pronouncement of death meant that they would surely be separated from God. Satan deceived Eve and made her believe that they would not surely die but that they would be wise like God himself; so, she ate of the fruit and gave it to Adam, and he ate it.
They both sinned, but God condemned Eve for being the leader in the transgression. The apostle Paul, writing to Timothy, said,
Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression (1 Tim. 2:11-14).
That does not mean, however, that Adam was innocent. He should not have been led astray by Eve.
For that sin they were driven out of the Garden of Eden’ and death was pronounced upon the human race. But God, in his mercy, was not willing that humanity should be completely lost; so, he gave them a law that would ultimately bring them back to God through Christ.
Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Abel. God told them to offer an animal sacrifice unto him, the blood of which was a type of Christ. Abel was a keeper of sheep and Cain was a tiller of the soil. Cain did not adhere to what God had told them but offered the fruit of the field as a sacrifice instead. Abel showed that he believed God by offering the animal sacrifice as God had commanded. God accepted Abel’s sacrifice but rejected Cain’s. Without any cause whatsoever Cain became exceedingly angry at his brother Abel. “And the Lord said unto Cain, 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.” (Gen. 4:6-7). Cain was jealous of Abel because God had accepted his offering. But God, being no respecter of persons, would have accepted Cain’s offering, as well as that of Abel, if he had done what God had commanded.
The question might be asked: Did God tell them what to offer? or where does the Bible say he told them to offer an animal? The answer is found in Hebrews 11:4, “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh” (Heb. 11:4). A thing cannot be done by faith unless God has said do it. Romans 10:17 says faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God; therefore, Abel had to have heard the word of God in order to have offered the sacrifice by faith. Of course, Cain heard the same command as Abel; but he ignored it.
Cain’s jealousy led him to commit another terrible sin for which he was punished by the Lord. “And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen. 4:9). In his answer to God, Cain lied; and his question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” was disrespectful. He did not humble himself before God; and it was evident that he was unaware of God’s power and knowledge. God then said to Cain, “What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground. And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand” (Gen. 4:10-11).
Cain’s sin of killing Abel led to his lying to try to cover up the sin. Likewise, today, when a person commits one sin, if he is not very careful, he will commit others to cover up the first. We should beware of jealousy, for it will wield a strong influence over a person to do wrong. Cain should have been happy in the fact that God accepted his brother’s sacrifice and should have changed his way and, by Abel’s respect for God’s word, been influenced to do right when he saw that God accepted Abel’s sacrifice because he had done what God commanded.
There are still many religious people today who substitute for God’s word their own opinions and desires, but such is just as much a sin today as it was in the early age of man’s existence. We must hearken unto the word of the Lord.
Jesus said to the people of his day, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30). Christ’s blood will cleanse us from all sin if we will only come unto him and take upon ourselves His yoke; that is, do His commandments.