“Some time later, Cain presented an offering to the Lord from the land’s crops while Abel presented his flock’s oldest offspring with their fat. The Lord looked favorably on Abel and his sacrifice but didn’t look favorably on Cain and his sacrifice. Cain became very angry and looked resentful. The Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry, and why do you look so resentful? If you do the right thing, won’t you be accepted? But if you don’t do the right thing, sin will be waiting at the door ready to strike! It will entice you, but you must rule over it’” (Genesis 4:3-7, CEB).
Evil is a corruption of good and seems to be a necessary condition of God’s love and plan for redemption (see Part 1). There can’t be a love relationship with God if there’s not a choice to love Him, or not!
God has given people the choice to do good or not do good.
Then, maybe evil isn’t all bad?
In the Old Testament evil is sometimes directly attributed to God. For example, “Then an evil spirit from the Lord came over Saul” (1 Samuel 19:9, CEB).
From the perspective of the Old Testament writers, all actions and events in heaven and on the earth emanate from God. In other words, God’s “will” rules over His creation.
So, evil manifests itself when people choose their own way instead of God’s way just as Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden.
While evil isn’t personified in the Old Testament as clearly as in the New Testament, evil is certainly resident throughout the Old Testament. And the choice between good and evil is clearly presented not only in the creation story, but soon thereafter in the familiar story of Cain and Abel, the first sons of Adam and Eve.
Cain and Abel both presented an offering to God. Although it’s not stated in these verses why Cain’s plant/grain offering was not acceptable while Abel’s animal offering was, what is evident is that Cain and Abel were aware of God’s presence and knew how to worship Him.
In these verses doing evil is defined as sin. Sin is always a matter of choosing your own way instead of God’s way.
But, these verses also provide us with two important insights into the nature of sin that Jesus and the New Testament writers expound upon. First, evil deeds or behaviors start with bad attitudes (Cain was “angry” and “resentful”). Second, attitudes are a matter of the will and the human will can either resist sin or surrender to sin (“[sin] will entice you but you must rule over it”).
The unfortunate outcome of this story is that in spite of knowing the right thing to do and even with God’s warning, Cain’s bad attitude got the best of him and he murdered his younger brother.
As the first male child born of Adam and Eve, Cain should have been the obvious descendant through whom God’s plan of redemption would unfold. But God exiled Cain from the Garden of Eden, effectively expatriating him from God’s presence. “Cain left the Lords’ presence, and he settled down in the land of Nod, east of Eden” (Genesis 4:16, CEB).
Yet, God’s plan for for His Creation always includes redemption and remnant as described in Part 1. Even in these earliest chapters of Genesis God had already laid out His plan of redemption for the predicament of humanity and determined His chosen ones to carry out His plan.
So, Adam and Eve fortuitously had another son, Seth. And, through the bloodline of Seth comes Noah, who was the next important person chose to carry forward God’s redemption/remnant process that culminated in the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, to redeem all people.
We have been made holy by God’s will through the offering of Jesus Christ’s body once for all. (Hebrews 10:10, CEB)