Introduction: I’ve noticed a shift in culture as I’ve grown older.
When I was growing up in rural Christian America, people were either
Christians or rebels, and the rebels generally acknowledged it. The
rebels did not claim to be good, they were what they were. These
days all sorts of people claim to be “spiritual.” People, who in
the old days were simply rebels, now claim that they have a personal
moral code that is superior to that set out in the Bible. Our lesson
this week is about claiming a spirituality outside that sanctioned
by God. Since we find this starting in Genesis, perhaps the “shift
in culture” I previously mentioned, is merely a shift in my
understanding. Let’s jump into our study of the Bible and learn

  1. The Parents’ Regret

    1. Read Genesis 4:1. Imagine the joy and wonder at the first
      birth in the history of humanity! To whom did Eve give
      credit? (God.)

      1. You know the story of the fall of humans into sin
        (Genesis 3), how do you think Adam and Eve explained
        that to Cain?

        1. Do you think they were still blaming someone
          else for the fall? (See Genesis 3:12-13.)

      2. If you were Adam or Eve, what would you emphasize in
        Cain’s religious education? (Obedience to God?)

      3. What do you think Adam and Eve told Cain was the
        worst effect of their sin? (Not living in the
        presence of God?)

  2. Two Sons, Two Sacrifices

    1. Read Genesis 4:2-5. If I am correct that Cain was raised
      with the notion that he should obey, how do you explain
      his sacrifice? If you were Cain, how would you justify
      your choice of offering? (Diversity! Everyone has
      different talents, gifts and abilities. I will give God
      what is meaningful to me – what reflects my talents and
      labors. There are many roads to sacrifice, and I will
      take the road that is consistent with who I am.)

      1. Read Leviticus 17:11. What about the blood sacrifice
        makes it the only adequate sacrifice? (We do not see
        a clear instruction to Adam and Eve and their
        children about how to sacrifice. However, the
        report of being naked as a result of sin (Genesis
        3:6-7) and God’s provision of leather clothes (the
        death of the animal to cover the sin of the humans –
        Genesis 3:21) reveal God’s plan. No doubt God gave
        instructions, it was just not recorded in the

    2. Let’s revisit Genesis 4:5. If Cain is not obeying God,
      why is he upset? (He must have some reason for believing
      he is right. That suggests that he truly believed the
      “diversity of gifts” was an appropriate response to God’s
      specific (and contrary) instructions.)

    3. Read Genesis 4:6-7. What does this tell us about the
      nature of God’s instructions about worship to Cain?
      (God’s statements reveal that Cain knew better. He knew
      what to do. God says the matter is simple: obey! No doubt
      this sounded just like his parents.)

      1. What is the alternative to obedience for Cain? (Cain
        will be mastered by sin.)

      2. Why does God describe sin as if it is a living
        creature? A predator of some type? (The prior
        chapter describes Satan as an animal seeking to
        deceive Eve. Genesis 3:1-5. Sin is not passive, it
        is a predator.)

      3. The provision of leather clothing and the Leviticus
        17:11 explanation of blood atonement show us that
        righteousness by faith, and not personal works, is
        already in place as God’s plan. If that is true, why
        is God so particular about Cain’s sacrifice?
        (Salvation is not a “multiple path” plan. Either
        you offer a blood sacrifice, or you have no
        acceptable sacrifice.)

    4. Look again at Genesis 4:7. How is this consistent with
      grace – righteousness by faith? How can God tell humans
      to “master” sin? (Grace is a choice. We can either live a
      life in which we accept God’s word and attempt to live in
      accord with it, or we can make up our own rules that
      conform to our own sense of right and wrong, and ignore
      God’s rules. Grace involves a choice.)

  3. The Results of The Wrong Sacrifice

    1. Read Genesis 4:8-9. How do you explain this? How did
      Cain logically get from God’s reproof to premeditated
      murder? (This gives us a clear vision of those who accept
      righteousness by faith and those who do not. If Cain had
      simply said, “Okay God, I sinned, I’ll follow your
      direction” he would have been fine. Instead, he not only
      continued to rebel against God, he was angry with his
      brother who did obey. The obedience of Abel was a rebuke
      to Cain. (And you wonder why the national media is
      hostile to those who seek to obey the Bible!) The two
      attitudes represented by the two sons are radically

    2. Read Genesis 4:10-12. What do you think about the
      judgment imposed by God?

      1. Would you have been more severe?

      2. What, exactly, is Cain’s punishment? (He can no
        longer be a farmer. He will be a “hunter-gatherer”
        who roams around.)

        1. Does this accord with any punishment imposed by
          God in these days? (We see humans who, as the
          result of the disgrace of sin, are driven from
          careers that they love.)

    3. Read Genesis 4:13-14. Has Cain repented? (He never says
      that he is sorry for the murder. He argues that his
      punishment is excessive. He worries that someone other
      than God will execute judgment on him.)

      1. Notice his other complaint: that he will be outside
        the presence of God. Does this show he is genuinely
        repentant? (I believe that Adam and Eve’s greatest
        regret was their separation from God. No doubt they
        shared this regret with Cain when he was growing up.
        Suddenly, Cain remembers this, and it dawns on him
        that he has fallen into the same hole – only

    4. Read Genesis 4:15-16. How do you explain God’s justice?
      Should He not have killed Cain right then? (This shows
      God’s love and grace even to someone who does not seem to

    5. Read Genesis 4:14 and Genesis 4:17. Those who resist
      worshiping God as the Creator point to these two verses
      to indicate that the Bible does not contain a literal
      account of creation. Where did we get all of these other
      people? They say, “Adam and Eve are just symbolic of many
      other people God created (or let evolve).” How would you
      explain this? (Read Genesis 4:2-3. Notice “later she gave
      birth” (which allows for the birth of daughters before
      Abel) and “in the course of time,” which informs us that
      an unstated period of time passed with no description of
      the events taking place. There is no reason why this
      period of time could not have been 200 years – enough for
      a population to arise.)

    6. After reading this story, how would you describe God’s
      view on the diverse paths to salvation? (We are shown a
      loving and merciful God, but a God who has rules and who
      enforces them.)

  4. Abraham

    1. Read Genesis 12:1-3. Would you leave if you were Abram?
      (These are some wonderful incentives to move!)

      1. Why do you think God wanted Abram to relocate? (This
        introduces the idea of separation. Those who worship
        God need to have some space from those who are
        hostile to the worship of God.)

      2. Read Matthew 9:10-13. How do we reconcile these two
        pictures? (God calls us to evangelize the world, not
        attack it. But, He desires for us to have some
        separation from the world.)

    2. Read Genesis 22:1-2 and Leviticus 20:1-3. What argument
      would you make against obedience if you were Abraham?
      (God promised me many descendants! God asked me to be
      separate, yet this is exactly the kind of thing done by
      the world.)

    3. Read Genesis 22:3-5. Is Abraham lying to his servants
      about Isaac returning?

    4. Read Genesis 22:6-8. Is Abraham lying to Isaac?

    5. Read Genesis 22:9-14. Did God provide the sacrifice as
      Abraham promised Isaac? (Yes!)

    6. How does this story have any parallel to the Cain story?
      (Both involve obedience. Cain was called to obey over his
      personal preferences. Abraham was called to obey even
      when it made no theological sense.)

      1. What do we learn from Abraham? (Abraham did not
        believe God would have him kill his son. Yet he
        continued to walk in obedience.)

    7. As you consider the gospel story, what other lesson do we
      find in the Abraham and Isaac story? (God gave up His
      Son. Our God has two attributes, incredible love for us,
      and the expectation of our obedience.)

    8. Friend, are you tempted to ignore one of God’s rules
      because it is out of step with the current culture or the
      practical aspects of your life? Will you today ask the
      Holy Spirit to give you the attitude of Abraham, that you
      will obey God regardless of whether it is popular or

  5. Next week: Worship and the Exodus: Understanding Who God Is.