For the proclamation of the Gospel and the edification of the Body of Christ
Between the Nile and the Euphrates
Whatever the religion man professes, be it new or old, it is fundamentally characterized by the form in which it teaches its followers to approach God. It either teaches them to approach Him by their works, or teaches them to approach by faith.
In the Bible there are two men who represent these two positions. One is Cain and the other is Abel. Both are children of Adam and Eve.
Both Cain and Abel were born outside the garden. Both had inherited the same sinful nature of their parents. Nevertheless, at the time of presenting themselves before God (because there always comes a time when man must present himself before God) they both took diametrically opposite attitudes.
The Bible clearly says that the difference did not rest on the different nature of these men, but in the gifts that they presented. In Hebrews 11:4 it says: "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he had witness borne to him that he was righteous, God bearing witness in respect of his gifts: and through it he being dead yet speaketh". The difference was not in the character of the worshipers, but in their way of worshipping.
Cain offered God the fruit of the earth. This, which could seem praiseworthy, was not, since the earth was cursed. Upon having offered a gift of the earth, he revealed a malicious ignorance about this reality. God had sacrificed an animal to cover his parents. But now Cain was belittling this, presenting a bloodless gift, as though man had never sinned, and as though God had never declared his judgment on them.
The Bible says that "apart from shedding of blood there is no remission". Cain's vegetation gift, like any sacrifice without blood, not was not only useless, but also abominable.
Abel, on the other hand, brought the first-born of his sheep. Abel understood that a way had been opened up to God by means of the sacrifice of Another, through which God's demands of righteousness and holiness were perfectly satisfied. This is the doctrine of the cross; the only one that God has approved, and by means of which the sinner finds forgiveness and peace. This is also the only way in which God is glorified.
Abel understood that none of his good works could allow him access to God. Only Christ - That one about whom he was speaking in his gift - he completely satisfied all the divine demands, and removed sin in doing so.
The way of Cain has had many followers throughout history and continues having them today. Cain is the religious way, full of self righteousness, which persecutes and kills the faithful witness, the man who has been and is known to be justified. He thinks that he can draw near to God in his own way. His religion is a self-invented and obstinate interpretation of how to please God. He has God in his mouth, but really he is not interested in Him. His religion is only a ritual, which serves to silence the conscience, or to be socially accepted. It is a religion without God and without a Savior.
This is the radical difference between Cain and Abel. With which of these worshippers do you identify yourself?