Let’s look at that event found in Genesis 4:3-5, “And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.”

In their actions, both brothers acknowledged their faith in the existence in God and in His right to be worshipped.  It is entirely probable that these children of Adam and Eve grew up watching their parents offer proper sacrifices to the Lord.  However, when it came time for their individual opportunities to worship the Lord, one determined to do it HIS way, while the other determined to do it GOD’S way. 

First of all, we see that the Lord did accept Abel’s offering.  It was the firstling of his flock and the fat, thereby showing that Abel had killed this beast and offered it to the Lord.  To say the Lord had ‘respect’ unto Abel and his offering means that the Lord looked favorably upon Abel and his offering.  Notice the order here…the Lord looked favorable upon Abel AND his offering.  It was the heart of Abel that caused him to offer the proper sacrifice.  1 Samuel 16:7 tells us that, “the LORD looketh on the heart.”  Abel loved and followed the Lord and that prompted him to sacrifice appropriately to the Lord.  In the instance of the first sin, it took the death of animals to cover Adam and Eve as they stood naked in the garden of Eden.  We read in Genesis 3:21 that, “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.”  These coats of skin necessitated the death of two animals so that Adam and Even might be covered.  This is a type of Christ dying for us so that our sins might be taken away.  We read in Hebrews 11:4, “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.”  Abel’s righteousness was manifested in the sacrifice that he offered the Lord.  He offered to the Lord that which reminded Him of His own Son and the death He would die for sin’s sake. 

In contrast to Abel, Cain brought to the Lord the fruit of his own labor.  He was a gardener and had probably worked hard to grow the plants, fruits, and vegetables that he brought before the Lord.  This is a type of the one who seeks to please the Lord with his own works.  On the occasion of his sin, the Lord said to Adam, “Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: CURSED IS THE GROUND FOR THY SAKE; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.” (Genesis 3:17).  The ground had been cursed because of sin, and Cain sought to bring something from that cursed ground to please the Lord.  One has rightly pointed out that Cain’s sacrifice contained no blood and therefore could not please the Lord.  We read in Leviticus 17:11, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for IT IS THE BLOOD THAT MAKETH AN ATONEMENT for the soul.”  Were Cain and Able aware of this requirement of the Lord?  We can only assume that Adam and Eve raised their sons with the truth of proper worship and sacrifice to the Lord.  Cain’s unrighteousness was manifested in the sacrifice that he offered the Lord.  He offered to the Lord that which reminded Him of the curse that He had put upon the earth because of sin. 

Often, we talk about the true worship of a false god.  In this case, Cain offered false worship to the true God.  Let’s consider the heart wrenching words of the Lord Jesus to His Father as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before going to the cross to die for our sins.  He said in Luke 22:42, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless NOT MY WILL, BUT THINE, BE DONE.”  The Lord Jesus completely stripped Himself of His own will so that He might perfectly do His Father’s will and offer Himself as the one perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. 

Cain refused to empty Himself of his own will that he might do the will of God.  No, he chose to do it HIS WAY.  Proverbs 14:12 warns us that, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”  How about you, my dear friend?  Have you come to the Lord according to His way?  Have you come to Him with a repentant heart, confessing your sin, and put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as we read in Romans 10:9, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”?  It is the sacrifice of Christ on the cross that God looks upon favorably.  Anything else is false and the Lord will not accept.  Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”  Consider these two men, Cain and Abel.  Consider the words of Jude, “Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain…” (Jude 11).  Whose path will you follow?  (422.4)