Part II: Case Study of Cain and Abel
We have already explored the idea that experience, while often true, does not always equal truth in Part 1. We need to test or explore to make sure what we believe we are experiencing is true. The account of Cain and Abel make a great case study to show how experience does not always equal truth.
Most of us know this story because Cain murdered his brother, the first murder listed in the history of the world. We can learn other lessons from this story as well, but we see that Cain believes that he has experienced something, when in reality, he has not.
Cain felt he was worshipping God properly. That is what he felt. But we find out this was not the case. Genesis 4 tells the story.
Cain brings his sacrifice to God. He comes to worship God and God rejects it. In Genesis 4:7 God says to Cain, “If you do well, will you not be accepted?” One might ask why God rejected the sacrifice? There are several options, although we are not perfectly certain.
First, there is the theory that it was being rejected because it was not a blood sacrifice. This theory is most likely not the case. There are non-blood sacrifices throughout the Old Testament. Take the drink offering as an example (see Genesis 35:14).
Second, perhaps Cain’s sacrifice wasn’t accepted because he didn’t bring his best to God. All through Scripture we see that we are called to bring our best to God, or our firstfruits. Potentially, while Abel brought his best, Cain brought his leftovers, or maybe just his seconds.
Third, a stronger case is that, maybe Cain did not bring his sacrifice in faith. Those who believe this was Cain’s sin look at Hebrews 11:4. We see that “By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain.” Therefore, they assume the antithesis is true about Cain: he did not offer his sacrifice in faith.
Last, another leading idea is that Cain brought his sacrifice out of an unrighteous heart. In other words, he did right with his hands, but his heart was not in the right place. This is backed up by a major attitude problem with Cain in the passage. Whether he didn’t love God, was angry that he had to give up part of his produce, or another issue, we are not sure.
Whatever the case, Abel’s sacrifice was accepted, and Cain’s was not. Cain believed that he did what God wanted him to, but God told Cain he would not accept it, but reject it. The reality was that Cain’s experience was not true. Cain believed and felt that he fulfilled his sacrificial duty, but the reality was that according to God the sacrifice was tainted.
Let’s not assume that everything we believe or think that we experience is true. Cain learned this the hard way. What in your life do you think that you experienced, only to find out later that that experience wasn’t true? Why do we struggle with believing that our feelings should dictate our truth? What are some of the ramifications of attempting to live by the idea that every experience we have is truth? We will be exploring this question in our next article.
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