One of the most important and basic aspects of ascertaining Bible authority is to understand what might be labeled: The Law of Exclusion. If a person understands clearly this important principle, his acceptance of other truths of the Bible is greatly aided. Whenever we have an opportunity to help someone understand this wonderful principle, we OUGHT to avail ourselves of that opportunity.
The fact is that this principle is illustrated in many ways throughout the Bible. We will not be lacking in ways to help other people understand this important principle if we are familiar at all with our Bibles. We certainly should not be surprised at this fact, of the abundance of material on this important subject, because the Bible contains all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Pet 1:3). Let’s notice together how Cain’s Complaint helps us understand this principle.
In the very beginning of God’s dealings with mankind, we find the law of exclusion at work. Consider the account of Cain and Abel. We know that Abel offered his sacrifice by faith (Heb 11:4). We know also that faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom 10:17). Therefore we must conclude that God gave instruction to these brothers about the sacrifice which would be acceptable. However, one of these brothers had respect for the law of exclusion and one of them did not. What was the result of Cain’s disrespect for the law of exclusion? Well let’s read it from God’s word: “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: 5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell” (Gen 4:4-5).
How did Cain disrespect the law of exclusion and thus cause God to have no respect for his offering? It is very easy to see that Cain made a substitute. He did not appreciate, at the time, the fact that when God speaks there can be no substitute. Man’s part is to do what God commands and to refrain from attempts to make substitute. How did Cain feel after God “had not respect for” his offering? The Bible says that “his countenance fell.” One version says: “his face became sad.” Have you ever seen a disobedient little child hang their head in shame? This is similar to what Cain did here.
Cain’s lack of respect for the law of exclusion was the fundamental cause of his sadness and the rejection of what he had to offer to the Lord. God will not allow man to make substitutes for His will. Why cannot men today learn the lesson of the law of exclusion?
Do you know what God called that which Cain did? God referred to Cain’s substitution–his lack of respect for the law of exclusion–as SIN! Let’s listen in on God’s conversation with Cain–“And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7 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” (Gen 4:6-7). There is a way that is right and it leads to acceptance with God. There is a way that is wrong and it involves SUBSTITUTING man’s will for God’s will. This way of substitution, this way of neglecting the law of exclusion, is a way that is called SIN! There were consequences for Cain’s lack of respect for the law of exclusion. There will always be consequences for neglecting the law of exclusion!
Can we be instructed by Cain and his neglect of this law? Cain went his own way. Cain made the substitution. Cain was told by God what he did wrong. Cain would not receive instruction about his own wrongdoing, but set about to “get even” by attacking the one who did show respect for the law of exclusion, his own brother. Cain’s way is much too familiar in the religious world today!
When we cry out today of the need to have Bible authority for all that we do, that cry is met, in far too many instances, by “Cain’s Complaint.” Cain’s Complaint, in effect was: God didn’t say not to offer “the fruit of the ground.” Men today, when confronted with this principle, cry out: “The Bible doesn’t say not to __________.”
How can men expect to be well pleasing to the God of heaven when they are unwilling to be instructed by plain teaching in God’s word? Please don’t ignore it in your life.