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Let's look at Genesis, chapter 4:

And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.

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. And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
(Gen. 4:1-8)

Here we see that Cain and Abel worked two different jobs. Abel tended sheep while Cain tilled the ground.

Now remember, when Adam and Eve sinned, they died spiritually. Spiritual death has a twofold definition: first, being separated from God; and secondly, receiving Satan's nature. That satanic nature showed up right away in their children with their oldest son, Cain, killing his brother, Abel.

I want you to notice what happened to start this whole incident. Obviously after a process of time, they came to understand their need to offer a sacrifice unto God. God required it. So Cain brought the fruit of the ground as an offering to the Lord, while Abel brought what he had: the firstborn of the flock and the fat from it.

Abel and Cain
When Adam and his wife discovered they were naked, they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons (Gen. 3:7). This was not accepted by God, Who shed the innocent blood of animals to clothe them. (Gen. 3:21.)

This is the first instance where the shedding of blood was used to cover sin, allowing God to deal with Adam and his wife. Evidently, they taught this principle to their sons. Abel complied with his parents' instructions, but Cain did not. Cain's offering was principally rejected because it was not a blood sacrifice.

The Difference in the Offerings
What was the difference between these two offerings?

Abel brought unto God the first of all that he had received from the flock he was tending. But not only did he bring God the firstfruits, he brought Him the fat thereof. The word translated fat here means "the richest or choice part."(1) So Abel brought as an offering to God the first and the best that he had. It was a blood sacrifice.

The offering Cain brought to God was of the fruit of the ground, but his offering wasn't the first and it wasn't the richest part.

The First Act of Faith
Abel's act was the first act of faith recorded in the Scripture. Abel gave God the first that he had, and on top of that, it was the richest part; and he did it by faith.

In Paul's epistle to the Hebrews, chapter 11, we read about the faith acts by God's people. This chapter of Hebrews is commonly called the "faith hall of fame." That's where we find stories about Abraham and Noah and Moses and many other of the patriarchs.

But note that Abel was the first person referred to in this faith chapter: "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" (Heb. 11:4).

Even though Abel is dead, he is still speaking to us God's will and plan for man. By faith Abel gave to God the first that he had and the richest part of it. He believed that if he gave God the best that he had God would take care of him.

What Cain did was different. Cain had obviously learned that he was to bring God a sacrifice, but he didn't give God the best that he had and he certainly didn't give God the first that he had.

Tithing - An Act of Faith
This principle is still true today. God's people have been instructed to tithe. But tithing is not only a commandment of the Lord; it is an act of faith. It's the same act that placed Abel at the beginning of that "faith hall of fame."

To tithe is to bring God our firstfruits, or the first of what we have. After that comes the giving of offerings.

God's Attitude Toward Tithing
Not only are we to bring God a tenth, or the first of what we have, but there is something besides that. Let's look in Proverbs, chapter 3. Note the word honour in verse 9, and you will see God's attitude towards this. It says: "Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine" (Prov. 3:9,10).

In this Scripture Solomon was instructing his son to honor the Lord. That's what Abel was doing and that's one reason why God received his sacrifice. Abel did it in faith and he did it as an honor to God.

Now people today who don't tithe are like Cain. They aren't operating in any faith and they are dishonoring the Lord. They have been dropping a dollar bill in the offering plate for years instead of honoring God with their firstfruits as God's Word has declared for them to do.

To Avoid Tithing Is To Rob God
God rejected Cain and accepted Abel, because of the attitude God has concerning this subject. In fact, in Malachi, chapter 3, we can see God's attitude toward another group of people who had failed to tithe. In verse 8 we read these words from God through His prophet: "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings."

That means God considered what Cain did to be robbery. Cain was taking from God that which rightly belonged to Him, so God rejected Cain's offering. That offering wasn't acceptable to God because it wasn't the first, it wasn't the best and it wasn't blood.

Cain Got Very Angry at Abel
Let's look again at what was said about this in Genesis, chapter 4: "And in the 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" (Gen. 4:3-5).

As this Scripture says,...Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. Cain became upset and his face took on a frown. Now we know why: because God didn't receive or accept his offering, and he had really wanted God to accept it.

That's the way it is with some folks today. They won't do what God has said for them to do in His Word, but they still want God to bless them.

In effect, Cain was the first stingy man. Instead of trusting and honoring God, he kept holding onto his wallet. He was thinking to himself, I had better keep back some of these crops, so I'll just give God this over here. But God rejected it.

Abel did not have a Scripture that he could stand on. He didn't know how all this was going to work out, but he did it in faith. He gave God the first that he had and the best that he had.

God's Response to Cain
After Cain had gotten angry, note the Lord's response: "And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door..." (Gen. 4:6-7).

After seeing what Cain had done, God was calling it sin. He said to Cain, Sin lieth at the door.

Now let's read verse 7 from The Amplified Bible: "If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you, and you must master it."

In other words, God was saying to Cain, "Since you are not willing to do the right thing, you are inviting sin to come inside you."

Now this Scripture is not referring to man's heart. It says, Sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you, and you must master it.

Satan succeeded in getting Adam and Eve to fail, so next he went after their children. That's the way he operates.

This means you have a responsibility to live right before God. If you don't, then not only will Satan get hold of you, but he will go after your children and your grandchildren.

Sin can be running through generations of families. Somebody has to be living right in God's eyes so that God can use that person to finally stand up and kick the devil off their premises.

Cain Could Have Changed
So as we saw in the beginning, Satan went after the firstborn son. Sin was crouching at the door. The first thing Cain had to do was to realize his error and change his way toward God.

In verse 7 God was saying to Cain: "It was Satan who came and spoke to your heart about operating this way. I could not accept your offering, because it was not blood or in faith; it was not the first or the best that you had. You were listening to the devil, and that will get you into trouble every time. Cain, you must resist the thoughts that you have now and the malice that is in your heart. Satan, the Wicked One, is speaking to you, so resist him!"

Resist Temptation!
Every believer must resist temptation when it comes. Temptation can be more than just sexual impurity. You can be tempted not to give when God says to give. You must resist temptation to disobey God whenever He is directing you to do a certain thing.

Satan will always be there to try to get you to disobey God. Satan knows that, when you obey God, blessings will come your way. He knows too that by getting you to disobey God he has you right where he wants you.

Look again at Genesis 4, verse 8: "And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him."

Unfortunately the King James Version makes it sound a little flat when it says, Cain talked with Abel. The actual Hebrew word translated talked means more than that. In the Hebrew it says, "Cain quarreled with him."(2)

The Problem of Envy
Cain fought with his brother. Why? Because he was envious. Cain was the first envious person. He envied his brother's blessing and relationship with God.

That still hasn't changed to this day. Some people are angry because they see other people being used and blessed by God more than themselves. But it can happen if they haven't been willing to do what those others have done.

Maybe you know someone who has been like Abel and has received the blessings of God, while you have been like Cain; and like Cain, you are upset about it. You need to check your attitude. Remember, sin is crouching at your door. By being envious of another's blessings, you are opening the door to Satan.

In the epistle of James we can see what happens when envy shows up and isn't resisted by the believer. Envy is a spirit from the enemy, Satan, and it must be resisted.

"But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish" (James 3:14-15).

The Greek word for "sensual" is psyche, meaning "mind, soul."(3) This kind of wisdom comes from the emotions, and it is not of God.

Envy Opens the Door to Every Evil Work
Look at the next verse: "For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work" (James 3:16).

Now all of us have to face envy at one time or another. When somebody gets married, we are filled with envy. When somebody is promoted to a better job than ours, we get jealous. When somebody joins a church or ministry staff full time, we become envious. Something good happens to another person and we want it, too.

You cannot allow envy to hang around; you must deal with it. Envy is a spirit and an enemy of the believer. You have to speak to envy, telling it, "In the name of Jesus, I resist you, envy! Get out of here!"

By not resisting envy, you will find that every evil work will be conjured up inside you. You could wind up doing the same thing Cain did and become a murderer because of envy. Now you might not kill another person physically by taking a gun and blowing him away, but you can kill people with the words of your mouth, by talking against them.

Let's say somebody in the church choir leads the worship service, and you complain about it, saying, "That person always gets to lead the singing." Maybe that's because God blessed him (or her) with a good voice and you don't have that same kind of voice. You don't have to get jealous about it.

God gives certain talents to certain people. We should praise God for their talent. God blessed them to be able to do that.

Sometimes I wish I could sing songs of praise during a church service, but it doesn't work that way. I'm not a lead singer, so I don't try to be a soloist. But I'm not envious of people who can. I don't get mad just because I can't do it. God has given me other gifts.

There is also no reason to get envious about somebody else's wife or husband. If you are single, God can give you a mate that He has made especially for you; if you are married, you need to do what God says in His Word and treat your mate accordingly. Then that person will be the best one you could ever have. Your attitude is paramount to whether Satan is able to take hold on you and get his clutches around you.

Even though you are saved, sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost, you can still get off into areas where you don't belong if you don't stop and check for envy.

Sin Brings Death
Looking again in Genesis, chapter 4, we see that Cain was filled with envy because God had rejected his sacrifice and had accepted his brother's. As far as God was concerned, it was as if Cain was stealing, because his heart wasn't right. God wanted Cain to get his heart right, to do the right thing and to obey what he was told by his parents. Cain's brother did, but Cain would not.

In verse 7 God was saying to him, "If you do the right thing, won't I accept you?"

Then in verse 8 we see that Cain quarreled with his brother: "And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him."

Because of sin, the manifestation of death came right away. But as we have read in Hebrews 11:4, Abel is still testifying to people today.

Be Like Abel
God intends for believers to read about this story in Genesis and learn from it. God expects us to be like Abel when we give our tithes and offerings to Him. We are to give the best that we have of all the fruit He has given to us. We are to give not only of our financial resources, but the best of all that we have: our time, our talents, our abilities.

As we do, God's blessings will be manifested in our lives.


Endnotes
1 Strong, "Hebrew," p. 39, #2459.

2 The Holy Bible, King James Version. (Camden, NJ: Thomas Nelson, 1972), p. 4, footnote #8.

3 Strong, "Greek Dictionary of the New Testament," p. 79, #5590.

Source: What On Earth Are We Here For? by Keith Butler
Excerpt permission granted by Harrison House Publishers

Author Biography

Keith Butler
Web site: Word of Faith International Christian Center
 
Bishop Keith A. Butler is the senior pastor of Word of Faith International Christian Center. Keith Butler is the founder and president of Keith Butler Ministries (KBM), an international organization established to take the life-changing message of the Gospel to "the uttermost parts of the earth." Through Live Your Faith Seminars and the establishment of our PISTIS School of Ministry in various locations, Keith Butler provides teaching of the Word of God on a variety of subjects such as how to live the life of faith, how to fulfill the call of God for your life, how to receive your healing, the importance of walking in love and many more topics. PISTIS is specifically designed to train ministers so that they are equipped to go out into their world and teach and preach Jesus effectively.
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