What does sin do to us? In western culture today, people seem to not worry about the negative effects of sin as an action. We accept our imperfection and we move on without even striving to be better. Instead we embrace that imperfection, making statements like:
“I’m just gonna do me!”
“Don’t judge me!”
“Only God can judge me!”
“I’m only human.”
And “Turn down for what?”
What we fail to realize is that settling for sinfulness is settling for life without God. What if we were designed to pursue godliness? What if God’s ideal for us is perfection? Do we do ourselves an injustice by settling for less?
Adam was intimate with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain. She said, “I have had a male child with the Lord’s help.” Then she also gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel became a shepherd of flocks, but Cain worked the ground. In the course of time Cain presented some of the land’s produce as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also presented an offering — some of the firstborn of his flock and their fat portions. The Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but He did not have regard for Cain and his offering. Cain was furious, and he looked despondent.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you furious? And why do you look despondent? If you do what is right, won’t you be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s guardian?”
Then He said, “What have you done? Your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground! So now you are cursed, alienated, from the ground that opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood you have shed. If you work the ground, it will never again give you its yield. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”
But Cain answered the Lord, “My punishment is too great to bear! Since You are banishing me today from the soil, and I must hide myself from Your presence and become a restless wanderer on the earth, whoever finds me will kill me.”
Then the Lord replied to him, “In that case, whoever kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” And He placed a mark on Cain so that whoever found him would not kill him. Then Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
The beginning of individual sin
We read a story of a man named Cain who killed his brother because he became jealous. God accepted his brother’s sacrifice and had no regard for his. The reason God had no regard for his offering seems to be that he only offered some of what he had, while his brother offered the very best.
The very beginning of Cain’s sinfulness in this story was selfishness. Selfishness can take many forms in today’s culture, but sin remains the same. Sin always begins with selfishness. How can we know if we have any selfishness in us? Here are a few recommendations:
- If you desire to be recognized, you might be selfish.
- Most people do want to be recognized and are jealous when someone else receives that recognition.
- If you constantly point out the selfishness of others, you might be selfish.
- Most people will constantly point out the faults in others while ignoring their own imperfections. When we point out someone else’s selfishness, we insinuate that we deserve more recognition because we are more selfless. This, in effect, only proves our own selfishness.
- If you are angry, worried, guilty, frustrated, depressed, envious, or jealous, you may be focusing on yourself and your own needs and not on the needs of others.
- While these emotions can be experienced without a selfish motive (e.g. we are angry because there is an injustice, depressed because of a medical condition or guilty), we should question whether or not these emotions come as a result of selfishness within us or the Holy Spirit convicting us.
- If you think some people deserve your attention and others do not, you might be selfish.
- Whether it is concern for popularity or a yearning for acceptance, we are selfish when we live to please some people and not others. To be truly selfless is to serve all others equally.
- Everyone is selfish sometimes.
- We live in a fallen world and in a culture that glorifies the fulfillment of selfish desire. We should recognize that, because we are not perfect, we will act in selfish ways. This is why it is important to always listen to the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
The sin binge
Cain began at selfishness because he failed to give God his absolute best (he kept the best for himself). As a result, he became jealous when God looked with favor on Abel’s sacrifice and spiraled downward as he became drunk on sin:
- Cain was selfish (v. 3)
- Selfishness led to un-acceptance (v. 5)
- Un-acceptance led to anger (v. 5)
- Anger led to deception (v. 8)
- Deception led to murder (v. 8)
- Murder led to dishonesty (v. 9)
- Dishonesty led to punishment (v. 11-12)
- Punishment led to discontentment (v. 13)
- Discontentment led to selfishness (v. 14)
One sin (a selfish attitude) led to another, which led to another and they were accumulative. This means that the more Cain sinned, the more he was unable to control himself and the less he was able to rely on God. At the end, Cain was still selfish because he cared more for his own life than honoring the punishment God had given him.
It is interesting to note that God gave Cain ample opportunity to turn from sin. God even spoke plainly, “Why are you furious? And why do you look despondent? If you do what is right, won’t you be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
If we belong to God and we sin, God convicts us early and often and gives each of us a chance to turn from that sin. Even here, at the end, God shows grace toward Cain, placing a seal of protection on him.
Implications for daily life
We can all imagine a scenario in which one person has a best friend, then after being separated for some time are reunited only to find that the two friends no longer have anything in common; even to the point where the reunion is just awkward. The same is true as we live in relationship with God. The more we sin binge, the further away we move ourselves from God relationally and the more susceptible we are to more and more severe sins. Some may be in a place where they have sinned so much that they just do not feel or see God in their lives. We must remember that God still has grace and that He gives us ample opportunity to turn from sin and to Him. It is not too late.
Implications for corporate worship
When we come together for worship, we are hindered in connecting with God when there is any degree of sin in our lives (even if it is just a little bit of selfishness). It may be that because there is just a small amount of sin in us, that God has no regard for our offering in of worship when we come together. Before we even enter a worship service, we should always ask God for forgiveness and for Him to make us pure; because everyone is susceptible to sin. Many times we do not recognize the sin in us. In order to give God my very best, especially in a worship service, I must be clean. God is the only one who can accomplish that in me.
While we are tempted to focus heavily on the negative effects of drugs like alcohol and marijuana, we need to recognize that there is a worse drug out there. It is a drug that cannot be regulated, taxed or prohibited by the state; but is much more harmful than anything else that exists. This drug is sin and it is more addictive and detrimental than any drug on the market. It costs no money, but it takes every life and the only cure is Jesus Christ.
- Sin begins at selfishness; therefore we should strive to be selfless by first loving God and loving people.
- Sin leads to sin leads to sin and the effects are cumulative. We cannot escape on our own; we must follow the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
- Sin pulls us from God and disables our worship to God. We must always ask for God’s forgiveness that He might make us pure.
- God always shows more grace.
 Genesis 4:1-16 (HCSB)
 List adopted from <http://www.projecthappilyeverafter.com/2011/06/9-signs-that-you-might-be-selfish/>
 v. 6-7 (HCSB)