Question: What does it mean when the Lord told Cain, “If thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door” (Genesis 4:7).
Answer: In Genesis chapter 4 we find both Cain and Abel bringing offerings to the Lord. Abel brought a lamb while Cain brought something he had grown in his garden. The lamb really pointed forward to the Lamb of God. We read in Hebrews 11:4 that “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.” The Lord accepted Abel’s offering but did not accept Cain’s offering.
Cain then became angry and it is then that God said to him, “If thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.” The word “sin” can also be translated as “sin offering.” One other translation has “If thou offer correctly.” So what the Lord means when He says that to Cain is that he, like Abel, could also bring an acceptable offering to God. As the Lord God had clothed his parents with the skins of animals after they had sinned, so Cain should have realized that he needed a sacrifice and not the work of his hands.
The great lesson for us is that if we want to approach God it must be through the Door, our Lord Jesus Christ, the true sin offering, the Lamb of God. He is the One who said, “I am the Door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (John 10:9). We can either approach God with good works or we can approach Him through the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. To approach Him with good works or religious activities can never take away the fact that we have sinned and that we need a Saviour who died for us upon the cross. The door is open for those who come to God confessing their sins and realizing that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God who died for our sins upon the cross.
John, the Baptist cried out “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Sad to say, Cain did not take the opportunity to bring a lamb, and after murdering his brother Abel he died without salvation. God says of those who are like Cain “Woe unto them! For they have gone in the way of Cain” (Jude 11).
Remember that: 1. All have sinned. 2. The wages of sin is death. 3. After death the judgment. 4. Christ died for our sins. 5. If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The following verses establish man’s greatest need and the way of salvation. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Also prayerfully consider Hebrews 9:27;
1 Corinthians 15:3; John 3:16; 5:24; 1 John 1:9.
—John D. McNeil