A. Working and Living for Himself—
"a Server of the Ground"
In the last message we pointed out that Cain was one who served the ground to make a living. He is called here "a server of the ground" (v. 2, Heb.). This means that he was working and living for himself. He not only worked and lived for himself, but also by himself. Please remember that after the fall of man, man’s self became the incarnation of Satan. Thus, to live by man’s self actually means to live by Satan. Cain lived as such a person.
B. Worshipping God
according to His Own Concept
Which Originated with Satan
What was wrong with Cain? Humanly speaking, he was not wrong originally. When I was a young Christian, I acted as Cain’s attorney, arguing on his behalf in the heavenly law court. I felt that there was nothing wrong with Cain. He was the first to present an offering to God. Abel was second. He might have learned this from Cain. It seemed to me that it was not wrong for Cain to present an offering to God; it was not like gambling, lying, or murdering. Thus, I argued with God, saying, "God, You were not fair with Cain. Your unfairness provoked him to kill his brother. If You had been fair, Cain probably would have loved his brother very much." I spoke as an unlearned attorney, as a country boy in a law court. However, God was kind toward Cain, not executing his judgment upon him. God was also merciful to me, not putting me to death. Eventually, through the passing of years I came to understand the reason that God refused to accept or to look upon Cain and his offering.
Let me tell you the reason. Cain and Abel were born of fallen parents. Adam and Eve were not merely wrong with God, but had been injected with the evil nature of Satan. Satan’s nature had penetrated their nature, mind, and concept. Adam and Eve realized their condition, recognizing that they were wrong in the presence of God. In fact, they were also filled with the evil element of Satan. They realized that God was merciful and gracious to them, promising them salvation and providing them robes made of skins to cover their nakedness, which typified Christ as the genuine righteousness to come. As we pointed out in the last message, Adam and Eve told their children about this, declaring God’s way of salvation. Thus, Cain and Abel were not born of pure parents; they were the descendants of polluted, corrupted, contaminated, and ruined parents.
Suppose we have one glass of pure water and another glass of polluted water. If you offer me the pure water, I would appreciate it very much, drinking it to assuage my thirst. However, if you offer me the glass of polluted water, I would be insulted. Although I may be thirsty, I would refuse the offer of a glass of polluted water. If you understand this example, you will not say that God was unfair in rejecting Cain’s offering. God simply cannot accept polluted water, that is, a polluted offering. Cain was born of polluted parents and, by birth, was unclean and contaminated. God, on the contrary, is holy, righteous, and pure. Not only were Cain and Abel corrupted and sinful, but within them was the enemy of God. Since Satan, God’s enemy, lived and acted in them, and motivated them to do things, everything they did out of themselves would have been an action of God’s enemy. If you were God and realized that within Cain was the Devil, your enemy, would you accept his act of worship? Such worship is an insult to God.
(Life-Study of Genesis, Chapter 23, by Witness Lee)