ide is sin.
No one will argue about that. But consider also that all sin is an act of pride. It makes no difference what form sin assumes, it makes no difference whether it is a sin against God directly, or indirectly as a sin against God in a sin against the neighbor, sin always is an act of pride. And it is such because it always is an act of elevating one’s will above God’s will. It is pushing God’s will aside to decide for oneself what is good and what is evil. And that certainly is a proud thing to do. To ignore the will of one your equal, and to think that your way is better is not always pride, though it may be foolishness. But to think that one’s way is better and wiser than God’s is conceit, and the work of a proud mind.
Adam’s and Eve’s sin of eating of the forbidden fruit was then an act of pride. Cain’s offering up his fruit of the ground contrary to God’s instructions given to Adam, and heeded by Abel, was an act of pride. His act of taking away from Abel the life that God was pleased to give him again was a deed that revealed a proud heart and mind that would not bow before God and His will. And every time that we commit a sin of any kind, we are proudly elevating our will over God’s and saying by our deed, “I am a god to myself!”
For this reason Scripture says that God sees the proud afar off and is nigh to the humble. The proud are men who are sinful, men full of sin. The humble are men who are sin-haters, men who hate the sin they know is, within them. The proud want no salvation take note of the pride of the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable who wanted no salvation but praise from God—while the humble seek it in the confession of their guilt and in casting themselves upon God’s mercy. The proud dishonor God, the humble always honour Him with being an holy God.
Having shown his pride, when he came with the offering he had invented, and having rejected the good counsel of God when he was told to fight sin that was crouching at his door, to rule it and not to let it rule him, Cain proceeded in pride to take his brother’s life. But he does not stop there. The awful haughtiness of his sinful heart drives him forward to more and more sin. And sneeringly he answers God, when He comes with the question, “Where is Abel thy brother?” That question he answers not only with a bold lie, “I know not!,” but with another question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Who really was he to ask such a question of God? We may ask God questions. How often have the saints not asked God in prayer, “Shall I do this or that?” Jesus Himself on the cross cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” When the Jews asked Him by what authority He performed His miracles, He countered their question with a question as to the baptism of John. To answer a question with a question is not, therefore, of necessity an act of pride. But Cain’s question was one of pride that was sneeringly spoken.
It is an act of pride to lie to God as Cain did when he said, “I do not know.” What pride there is in an act of trying to hide the truth from the all-seeing eye of God! How haughty and conceited we are whenever we lie to each other, for in this we behave as though we have also hidden our evil from God. That proud heart not only says, “I do not need to speak the truth,” but it also says, “I can hide my sin from the eyes of God by my speech.” No, we do not say that audibly, or even perhaps consciously—for God is not in all our thoughts, sad to say—but whenever we lie to each other, we do so because we think that this is the way in which we can cover our sin, or cover someone else’s sin. And then we walk as though there is no God in heaven. And that is a proud way to walk for one whose every breath of life comes from that God in heaven, for in Him we live and move and have all of our being.
To continue and to say, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” was for Cain a stronger manifestation of his haughty attitude before God. Implied in his question is the question, “Do I have to answer to YOU for my brother?” Now these were grown men, and it was not a case of bigger brother watching over—and maybe baby sitting for—little brother. Abel was well able to take care of himself and “shift for himself” the day they came to sacrifice. He took care of a flock of sheep, and that means that he was able also to take care of his physical needs and life as fully as Cain could. It might seem as though Cain had a point here, then, in his question to God.
But be careful not to take such a position. His question must be taken in the light of his lie. His lie, “I do not know,” meant—because he did know—”I am not going to tell you.” (More evidence of his pride.) And his question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” was then a question of defiance. Together they may be paraphrased thus, “I am not going to tell you; and what right do you have to ask me?” The question, “Am I my brother’s keeper” can only mean in the context, “Did YOU make me his keeper?” His question is addressed to God, not to his father and mother. And to God he directs the question, “Am I responsible before YOU for where my brother is?” What pride it is that manifests itself so quickly after the seed of sin had been planted in the soil of this earth. What a vicious plant was already at this stage of history showing its devilish fruit! That little speck of dust called Cain dares to defy the holy and almighty God!
And he rushed headlong in his pride to more words of defiance when God pronounces the punishment that will come upon him. God’s Word does not humble him but hardens him. God tells him that the ground will be cursed for his sake. Wherever he will go, God will send drought and/or insects to devour what he tries to grow. He will not prosper materially no matter where he goes. And he will be a fugitive and a vagabond because men will seek him to slay him for his dastardly deed. Sneeringly and defiantly Cain laughs in God’s face. He ridicules the whole idea of his punishment. His words, “My punishment is greater than I can bear,” are not a confession of guilt, are not a cry of the awfulness of his crime. He is not speaking of a guilt he cannot bear, but of a punishment he cannot bear. And what he means is that if God will so curse the ground for him, he will soon die of hunger, and the punishment is over. And if men seek him to kill him, the day will come when they do take his life, and then it is all over. As the Atheist of today, Cain believes that man dies like the beast of the field. The wages of sin which is death to him means only physical death. He ridicules, as so many do today, in the church world, the idea of an everlasting punishment in the lake of fire. They, too, say that it is more than man can bear. There is no everlasting hell fire. And though they may not teach it as defiantly and sneeringly as Cain, they, nevertheless, speak what they learned from this proud sinner.
Now Cain deserved to die. And God, Who in effect pronounced the death sentence upon him, nevertheless put a mark upon him so that the physical aspect of this punishment, namely, death at the hands of men, did not take place—at least not for many, many years, and we are not told that he ever died at the hands of men. But let us be sure that we understand that this sparing of Cain’s life was no “common grace” of God upon him. All of God’s grace comes from the cross of Christ, that very cross that Cam despised when he refused to come with a bloody sacrifice, and when he slew him who was a type of The Seed of the Woman.
Let us never confuse God’s grace with His providence. Satan’s life has been spared almost six thousand years. He has never had a sick day, in fact, although countless numbers of sinners since Cain’s death for centuries have been in the torment of hell. Does Satan receive some “common grace” from God because he has these goods gifts? Consider, too, that he has not only been spared all these years what Cain, Korah, Dathan and Abiram—to say nothing of the whole world of ungodly destroyed by the flood—are experiencing, but he also retained his keen mind, his gift of leadership and the like.
The psalmist says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous”; but it would seem that the—”common grace” that the devil and the wicked enjoy and which gives them less afflictions than the righteous, is to be desired in this life above God’s saving grace. Perish the thought! For these afflictions work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while the prosperity and health and wealth of the ungodly only increases their punishment in the life (death) to come. For he who has a penny, and does not serve God therewith will be punished. But he who is a millionaire, and does not serve God therewith will be punished that much the more.
God pronounced the death sentence upon Cain, and then He put a mark on him so that it would not be executed. This God did not in His grace, but in His providence. Cain had work to do which God decreed for him; and he may not die till that work decreed in God’s eternal and unchangeable counsel has been finished. He must bring forth the generation of the viper’s brood that will fill the measure of iniquity that will be visited by the flood. He must live to produce a generation that will in time bring forth Judas Iscariot, Caiaphas, and Pilate to shed the blood of our salvation. He must become the father of a multitude that will in proud defiance produce the man of sin, the Antichrist, who will oppose all that which is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God (II Thessalonians 2:4), so that the full measure of iniquity may be realized, and the way may be prepared for Christ to return to bring Abel and the whole seed of the woman to glory with body and soul.
Therefore Satan likewise is still free—while some evil spirits are reserved in chains of darkness. There is no grace of God in this to the devil, although there is grace in this for the elect children of God. This is the work of God’s providence according to which He uses all His creatures, the devil and his host included, for the fulfillment of His good counsel. Satan must live and be free, after he fell into sin, to tempt not only Adam and Eve, but also even to tempt Christ. Did not the Spirit drive Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted? (Matthew 4:1). He must be healthy and alive to enter Judas Iscariot. And in His providence God sees to it that the wicked receive what they need for their works because His grace is upon us. It was and is saving grace that Satan has his freedom today. Only it is not grace upon him, but upon us. Peter explains that so beautifully when he says in II Peter 3:9 that God is longsuffering to us-ward, not to the wicked who abuse us. He not only waits with the return of Christ until all Christ’s sheep have been born and reborn into the kingdom of heaven, but also gives the wicked all the gold and silver, the health and life they need to realize all that which is necessary, first to send Christ in our flesh and to have Him slain for our salvation, and now to prepare the way for His glorious return. It is a work of His providence as far as the wicked are concerned, but always a work of saving grace, the only kind of grace God has, towards His elect, whose cause is served by these wicked with their lives and talents.