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MESSAGE: “Healing and Reconciliation”

TEXT: Genesis 4:1-16


“The sting of the great theologian’s response—be ready to meet even those whom you dislike here on earth—is more than just a personal challenge. It contains a serious and, as it turns out, inadequately addressed theological problem. How can those who have disliked or even had good reasons to hate each other here come to inhabit together what is claimed to be, in Jonathan Edwards’s memorable phrase, “a world of love”? The not-loved-ones will have to be transformed into the loved ones and those who do not love will have to begin to do so; enemies will have to become friends…Without such transformation the world to come would not be a world of perfect love but only a repetition of a world in which, at best, the purest of loves falter and, at worst, cold indifference reigns and deadly hatreds easily flare up.” — Miroslav Volf

Romans 12:17-21 says, “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

From today’s text, we see God trying to teach Cain three lessons…(1. Embrace his true identity 2. Own his sin 3. Receive free grace)

  1. Embrace his true identity (v. 1-5)

“Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” 2 And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. 3 In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 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, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell.”

“When God favored Abel, Cain either had to readjust his identity or eliminate Abel. When Cain is confronted with God’s measure of what truly matters and what is truly great, he has to exclude both God and Abel because his premise goes like this: ‘If Abel is who God regards him to be, then I am not who I understand myself to be’…The essence of sin is to build an identity outside of God. The essence of sin is to say, “What makes me cool, what makes me okay, what makes me significant is I’m living up to what my parents say; I am a successful farmer. I am this. I am that. That means I’m a somebody, and he is a nobody.” When God shows he has a completely different value system, Cain goes berserk…This will happen to you. If you build your identity on anything except God, all kinds of things will make you go berserk … people don’t recognize you when you’ve worked so hard, nobody wants to marry you when you have worked so hard, things aren’t going well in life when you think, “I’ve tried so very, very hard,” or you say, “This is who I am. I’m a great writer,” or, “I’m a smart person,” or “I’m a sweetheart,” or “I’m an understanding person,” and you’re rejected. People don’t see it. They don’t acknowledge it, and you go nuts. Why? Because your identity is based on some aspect of your performance; your identity is based on something besides God.” — Timothy Keller

      2. Own his sin (v. 8-10)

“Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. 9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.”

  • Derek Kidner said, “Eve had been talked into her sin, Cain will not have even God talk him out of it; nor will he confess to it…”

James 1:14-16 — “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.”

Cain is deceived and he’s now creating distance. His sin creates distance between…Abel and God. Look at v. 9-10…Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.”

  • “…you may be assured that your sin will find you out.” — Numbers 32:2

      3. Receive free grace (v.11-16)

“And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.12 When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” 13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14 Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” 15 Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him. 16 Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.”

  • “For the wages of sin is death…but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” — Romans 6:23

TAKEAWAYS: Ask God to show you…

*False Identities


“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil.” — Ephesians 4:25-27



“and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” — ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:24‬