ABC Bible Character Faith Series

Obedience in Faith

If you do well, will you not be accepted?...” – Genesis 4:7

Lessons from Cain.

We often hear the phrase “You only need to believe to be saved” thrown around lightly but, what does it mean? It’s normally used to contradict what our works reflect. The argument is that either our works don’t matter as long as we believe or if we focus on works, we are being legalistic. But, is that the case? Looking at Cain’s story along with a few other passages, we’ll understand the relationship between faith (believing) and obedience (works).

Cain was Abel’s older brother and I believe the two had been instructed in the way of the Lord by their parents, Adam and Eve. Over time, both brothers brought their offerings to the Lord. Whereas God had regard for Abel’s offering, He disregarded Cain’s. Cain was very angry and the Lord sought to reason with him. “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? If you do not do well, sin is crouching at your door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.“– Genesis 4 Vs 6-7.

It had been very clear from the fall that without the shedding of blood, there’s no forgiveness of sin. The offering the two brothers were to bring pointed to the sacrifice of Jesus who was to come. And this, the two had been taught by their parents. Why then, would Cain choose to bring the fruit of the ground and leave out the flock? Yes, he was the worker of the ground and I’d like to believe he brought the best of his fruits but, he only did as he pleased and herein lies the danger of our works. Rather than seeking to please the Lord, Cain sought to do what he wanted God to accept. The produce of his labour!

I’d like to believe that Cain took his offering because he “believed” in God but in him choosing his type of offering, he took the route of partial obedience. “Cain obeyed in building an altar, obeyed in bringing a sacrifice; but he rendered only a partial obedience. The essential part, the recognition of the need of a Redeemer, was left out.” – PP 72.1. God did not forsake Cain just because of his disobedience. The Lord reasoned with him and gave him the promise that he must rule over the sin. But, Cain was unwilling to listen and instead was angered to the point of killing his brother.

Let us not be deceived that works do not matter in the case of our salvation. They do! They are either our works or works of obedience to God. When we believe, we put our trust in God and honour Him with our obedience through Jesus Christ. “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.” – Romans 2:13. Being justified means that when we believe, the merits of Christ are counted upon us and Christ takes our sins. But for that to happen we need to recognise our need for a saviour, Jesus Christ. Otherwise, we risk having the name of our maker blasphemed amongst non-believers because we end up living contrary to the life Christ would have us live.

Through Cain’s story, we are reminded that we cannot obtain salvation through our works, but rather only through obedience to God through Jesus Christ. God is clear with what worship is acceptable in His presence, He is clear on how we should live our lives and He’s guided us through His commandments which He wrote with His fingers that none should alter. Let us not be deceived, as we often hear, that when Christ came, he did away with the law. If so, what then is there to obey? We know that the problem is not the law but sin. The law is Holy, in other words, it is set apart. – Romans 7:12. The Scriptures declare that by works is “faith made perfect;” and that, without the works of obedience, faith “is dead.” James 2:22, 17. He that professes to know God, “and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” 1 John 2:4. PP 73.2

I hope you’ll be blessed as you think about today’s study on your faith journey.

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Joshua Kats

December 9, 2022

Amen. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful lesson Lauretta. And one amazing thing is that it is not our own doing. But the scripture says that “it is God who works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”



December 10, 2022

Amen! Thank you, Joshua, for that reminder!