They Keep Saying, “I Didn’t Know”

Genesis 4:3-7 ESV

“In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.’”

The Acceptable Offering

Who was Cain? He was the firstborn son of Adam and Eve, and they were the first humans God created. Their second born son was Abel. Abel was a keeper of the sheep and Cain was a worker of the ground. In the course of time they each brought an offering to the Lord. The Lord accepted Abel’s offering, but he rejected Cain’s, so Cain was very angry with God.

What we don’t know exactly here is if the Lord instructed both of them ahead of time as to what kind of offering would be acceptable to him or not. We might assume that he did since God rejected Cain’s offering while he accepted Abel’s. And they both seemed to know that they were to bring an offering to God, and so they both brought an offering. So we can probably assume they had both been given instructions in what kind of offering to bring, too, but the passage of Scripture does not say, not that I can see.

But whether or not the Lord instructed them ahead of time as to what kind of offering would be acceptable, now Cain knew. Now he knew that his offering to God was not acceptable to God but that his brother’s was. So, what should then have been his response if his heart was truly in the right place, i.e. if he was truly giving an offering to God out of a pure heart desirous to please the Lord? He should have had sorrow in his heart, not anger, and he should have offered to make that right with God.

Life Application

Now, I am going to apply this to our lives today on a spiritual level. The Lord has given us all instructions on what is acceptable to him and what is not, and these instructions are written down for us in a book called “The Holy Bible” which is a compilation of sixty six books total – thirty nine books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament. These writings (the Scriptures) are believed to be God’s divine words to us, his people, and contained within them are instructions on holy living, among other things.

Now, even if we have never read the Bible, still we are told in Romans 1 that what can be known about God is plain to all of us, because God has shown it to us. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So, we are all without excuse if we humans suppress the truth of God by our unrighteous and ungodly deeds, and if we worship and serve what is created by God rather than worshiping God.

And even if we didn’t know to begin with what pleases and what displeases God, and then God reveals the truth to us through someone who is teaching the Scriptures, or just through the Scriptures themselves, we are then responsible for that truth. We can’t just walk away from it and then later claim that we didn’t know when we did know. Especially if you have known for a very long time you can’t keep saying you don’t know when you do. The matter now is “What are you going to do with the truth that you now know?”

Some people will honestly be just like Cain. In their pride they will not humble themselves before the Lord in sorrow and repentance and choose to now do what they know is the right thing to do, but they will respond with anger and resentment because someone (God) is telling them that what they were willing to offer to him was not acceptable. And they probably knew that it wasn’t but they decided that God should accept it anyway. And when he doesn’t, then they get angry.

But they know right from wrong, and yet they continue to do wrong and not right. And then they come up with all sorts of excuses for why they can’t or for why they haven’t done what was right and stopped doing what they know is wrong, including the continual excuse of “I didn’t know.” And when confronted with their wrong, and then they are reminded of God’s requirement that they do what is right in his sight, instead of humbly and sorrowfully repenting, they get angry, and so they knowingly continue living in their sin.

Yet, this right here tells us what we must do when sin desires to have us. We must conquer it. We must rule over it. We must reject it, put it far away from us, and turn and follow Jesus Christ in obedience to his ways. We can’t play with fire and not expect to get burned, and we can’t play with sin and expect to have victory over it. We have to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts, and live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the power of God. We must walk by the Spirit so we don’t gratify the sinful cravings of the flesh. But first of all we must die to sin and surrender our all to Jesus.

Genesis 4:8-10 ESV

“Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’ He said, ‘I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?’ And the Lord said, ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.’”

Some people, even after they have had the truth revealed to them, will reject the truth and will continue to believe the lies because the lies allow them to keep living in their sin. As long as they can keep claiming ignorance, saying, “I don’t know,” when they do know, then they can keep on in their sin without conscience and without remorse. But that is not acceptable to God, and no matter how much they try to convince themselves that they are acceptable to God, and that their sinful lifestyles will not impact their eternal security, and that they are safe, they aren’t.

And not only that, but they may go on the attack against those who are telling them the truth and who are refuting the lies they try to keep telling themselves. And they may literally put those messengers to death, but if not, they may still “murder” them with their snide and cutting remarks and with their false accusations and their verbal attacks against the righteous who are doing right in the eyes of the Lord. Why? Because their own deeds are evil and the messengers’ deeds are righteous (see 1 John 3:11-12).

So, don’t be like Cain. You know right from wrong. Stop doing wrong and do right. But first make certain you have died with Christ to sin and that you have been reborn of the Spirit to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Then surrender your life over to the Lord and let him be your master and do what he says to do. In his power and strength you can conquer sin. You can rule over it so that it no longer rules over you. You just have to humble yourselves and let go of your pride and your bitterness and let God have his way in your life.

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-32; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; Jn 6:44; 2 Pet 1:1; 1 Co 15:58; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13; Heb 10:26-27; Rom 2:6-8; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 5:3-6; Col 3:5-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

Feelings / Greg X. Volz

Been on this roller coaster too many days
Riding in a circus of emotion
I get up on the high wire and down in the lion’s cage
My feelings have been ruling my devotion

If it feels good, they say it can’t be wrong
But love is more than a Kaliope song
How can I get back to where I belong?
Get off this Farris wheel; you’ve got to trust what is real.

Feelings come and feelings go
But feelings are so deceiving
I place my faith in the word of the Lord
Nothing else is worth believing

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