In Genesis 4:3-7, we are told about Cain and Abel’s sacrifice to God, and how Cain’s sacrifice didn’t impress God.
3 So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground. 4 Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering; 5 but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. 6 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 ” If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”
The first man born of woman in all of history was Cain, the son of Adam and Eve. Isn’t it interesting that the first son also turned out to be the first murderer?
Man’s ability to commit sin literally goes back to the time we were created. Of course, that’s because God gave us free will – the ability to make choices for ourselves. Before Cain killed his own brother God offered him a chance to do right – He gave Cain a choice:
God was saying to him, “Next time, Cain, choose to do better. But you also need to watch out because sin is knocking on the door, and it wants to eat you. Don’t let it!”
We can tell that at this point, God hadn’t condemned Cain. He said, “Be careful that you don’t sin.” Despite Cain’s sacrifice being less than impressive, God gave Cain a second chance to get it right.
In Ezekiel 18:21-22, God tells Ezekiel to tell His people
21 “But if the wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed and observes all My statutes and practices justice and righteousness, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 22 ” All his transgressions which he has committed will not be remembered against him; because of his righteousness which he has practiced, he will live.
Now that’s a merciful God! We worship a God that is satisfied with us as long as we’re trying. And that’s where Cain was devoured by his sin. He gave up trying to impress God and instead took out his “competition.” But God is faithful to forgive our sins. He’s a God of mercy and second chances.
But just as God is merciful, He’s also just. He doesn’t permit His children to prance around rebelling against Him and doing whatever they want. He tells Cain what He requires of man regarding sin at the end of verse 7:
“You must master it.”
It’s what He expects of you and me as well.