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Read Introduction to 1 John


“…not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.”


And why did he murder him?

Cain did not kill his brother because he was a bad person.  He killed him because of the nature of his sacrifice to God.  Abel’s sacrifice was a sacrifice of grace, while Cain’s sacrifice was a sacrifice of works.  Cain hated the grace concept. 

Cain did more than murder his brother – he slaughtered him.  The Greek often uses the word “murder” for ritual slaying.  Literally, it means to cut the throat.  Sometimes the Greek uses this term for slaughtering a goat.  This is a grisly picture of holding Abel’s head back to cut his throat and jugular vein.  Cain butchered his brother.  It is a violent term for putting to death by violence.  This is a very strong term for fratricide. 

Cain said to God in effect, “You want a blood sacrifice, do you?  I will give you one – I’ll shed the blood of my brother as a ritual sacrifice.  There, how do you like your bloody sacrifice now?”  Cain hated God’s system of blood sacrifice because it rests on salvation by grace.  He wanted to bring the work of his own hands, the fruit of the field.  He believed in salvation by personal merit and good works. 

Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous

The word  “because” means on account of.  This is the reason Cain killed Abel.  A wicked person in nature hates a person who is righteous before God.  Cain hated Abel’s relationship with God.  He hated his method of salvation by blood and, therefore, by grace.  Abel’s sacrifice by grace stood in stark contrast to Cain’s sacrifice by the work of his own hands. 

Cain’s murder of Abel proved the true family to which he belonged.  He was under the control of Satan rather than God.  The motive behind Cain’s murder was astounding.  He hated his brother’s righteous approach to God!  He could not bear the comparison between himself and his brother’s approach to God.  It goaded him into someone unimaginable. 

Cain hated what Abel represented.  Abel’s sacrifice represented grace.  Cain’s sacrifice represented works.  Cain believed that a person could work his way into acceptance with God by merit.  These two brothers came from the same physical family and the same environment but ended in two different outcomes.

Cain is a picture of John’s enemies who seceded from the assembly of believers.  They belonged to the evil one.  They attacked genuine believers because, as members of Satan’s family, they were committed to salvation by works.  This was the same as the crowd that attacked Jesus Himself.  Jesus called those religious leaders children of the Devil (Jn 8:39-44; 13:2,27).   


Christians will pay a price for taking a stand on grace. 


As Cain hated Abel because of his stand on grace, so non-Christians hate Christians because they believe in salvation by grace.  Grace flies in the face of human achievement and self-help.  Man wants to come to God his way, not God’s way, “I’ll find God my way; I don’t need any help.”  The world loves religion but hates grace.  God received Abel’s sacrifice of grace but not Cain’s sacrifice of works. 

He 11:4, “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.”