Sermon #21                                                    Jude Sermons


     Title:           “The Way of Cain

     Text:           Jude 1:11

     Subject:      Works Religion

     Date:          Tuesday Evening — March 15, 2005

     Tape #        Jude #21

     Readings:   Bob Poncer and Larry Criss



Our text will be Jude 11. But, because it is so very important that we remember and think of these verses in their context, I want us to begin our reading at verse 3.


(Jude 1:3-4)  “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. (4) For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”


(Jude 1:8-10)  “Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. (9) Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. (10) But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.”


Now, let’s read our text — Jude 11. Jude is still describing the false prophets who sneak into the church under the pretence of being gospel preachers, these filthy dreamers who destroy men’s soul’s and speak evil of the glories of God revealed in the gospel of Christ, speaking evil of things they know not.


(Jude 1:11)  “Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.”


Their Damnation


The opening words of verse 4 announce, by divine inspiration, the just and sure damnation of all false prophets and all apostate, freewill, works religion. — “Woe unto them!” This is much the same as what Paul says concerning such work-mongers in Romans 3:8, where he writes “whose damnation is just.” In verse 4 Jude told us that these reprobate men “were before of old ordained to this condemnation.” Here he tells us that their eternal ruin is a matter of certainty. They have trodden under foot the blood of Christ, done despite to the Spirit of grace, and abandoned the grace of God. Therefore, Jude writes, “Woe unto them!”


Three Apostates


Then, Jude refers us to three well-known examples of apostates: Cain, Balaam, and Korah. — “Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.”

·       The way of Cain” represents all who follow the path of freewill/works religion, all who attempt to find acceptance with God upon the basis of something they do.

·       The error of Balaam” is the damning error of covetousness, that always leads to the compromise of that which is vital.

·       The gainsaying of Core” is the strutting pride of ignorant men who love pre-eminence, the craving of ambition, and the love of recognition.


Tonight, I want to talk to you plainly aboutThe Way of Cain.I want us to look into the Word of God to find out exactly what the way of Cain is, how it is followed by multitudes, and what its end must always be.


We find Cain’s name mentioned very rarely in the Scriptures. Cain is mentioned only in Genesis 4, in the genealogy given in Joshua 15:57, and three times in the New Testament.


(Hebrews 11:4)  “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.”


(1 John 3:12)  “Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.”


(Jude 1:11)  “Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.”


What is “the way of Cain?” Let’s go back to Genesis chapter four and see if the Holy Spirit tells us.


(Genesis 4:1-16)  “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. (2) And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. (3) And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. (4) 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. (6) 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. (8) And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. (9) And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? (10) And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground. (11) And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand; (12) When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth. (13) And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear. (14) Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. (15) And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him. (16) And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.”


Jude is warning us about apostates and apostate religion. So he begins with the first apostate. He was the first man after the fall to abandon the true worship  of God. It is written, “Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod” (Gen. 4:16). Cain was the devil’s patriarch, the one from whom sprang the seed of the serpent that ever opposes the seed of the woman. Robert Hawker said, “Cain was the first deist.” A deist is one who says he believes in God, believes that God created the world and then left it in the hands of his creatures. A deist does not believe in the supernatural. He’s too “smart” for that. He believes according to the light of his own, humble brilliance and reason. So Hawker was right. Cain was the first deist.


Open Defiance


That which immediately strikes me about Cain is his open defiance of God and all that he knew to be right. — And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. 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: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell” (Gen. 4:3-5). Cain and Abel were not young boys. They were grown men. Evidently, they were heads of households, with wives and children and occupations. Cain was a farmer. Abel was a shepherd.


In Genesis 3 we saw the entrance of sin into the world. Here we see the progress of sin and the fruit of sin. In Genesis 3 we saw sin against God. Here it is against man — The man who has no fear of God has no regard for his neighbor — In Genesis 3 we read about enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, the sons of God and the children of the devil. Here we see that enmity displayed. Cain, the wicked works-monger, persecuted and murdered Abel, the child of God. However, the central, primary thing revealed in this chapter is that God is to be worshipped, and that he can only be worshipped by faith in Christ, the sin-atoning sacrifice, by faith in his blood atonement.


A Prescribed Place


There was a prescribed place where God was to be worshipped. We are told that both Cain and Abel brought their sacrifices to the Lord, to the place of the Lord’s presence. We are not told where this prescribed place of worship was; but it was somewhere east of the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:24).


(Genesis 3:24)  “So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”


The Jamieson, .Fausset, and Brown Commentary translates Genesis 3:24, “So he drove out the man; and he dwelt at the east of the Garden of Eden between the Cherubims, as a Shekinah (a fire-tongue, or fire-sword) to keep open the way to the tree of life.”[1]


When the Lord God expelled Adam from the Garden, he appears to have established an altar, a mercy-seat, protected by the Cherubims. The flaming sword, or, as it might be rendered, the flaming tongue, represented God’s presence, the Shekinah glory. This was the place of God’s presence. Anyone who approached God must worship him at this place by means of a blood sacrifice. There was a prescribed place of worship.


I know that there are no holy places upon this earth. We are not idolaters. “God is Spirit. And they that worship him must worship him in Spirit and in truth.” True worship is spiritual. It is a matter of the heart (Phil. 3:3). We have no material altar. Christ is our Altar (Heb. 13:10). We have no literal mercy-seat. Christ is our Mercy-Seat (1 John 4:10). Yet, God has always had a prescribed place of worship. — A place where men and women gather in his name. — A place where he gives out his Word. — A place where he meets sinners upon the grounds of mercy through blood atonement. — A place where he dispenses his grace.


During the forty years Israel spent in the wilderness, the prescribed place of divine worship was the tabernacle. Later, the temple of God was established at Jerusalem. In this gospel age, the place appointed for divine worship is the local church, the public assembly of his saints (Matt. 18:20; 1 Cor. 3:16-17). This is the prescribed place of the divine presence, divine instruction, and divine blessing (Psa. 122:1-9; 133:1-3; Heb. 10:23-26). — “Cain went out from the presence of the Lord” (Gen. 4:16). He wilfully, defiantly turned away from the worship of God.


A Prescribed Time


It also appears that there was a prescribed time for the worship of God. Look at the marginal translation of Genesis 4:3. The words, “in the process of time,” are translated, “at the end of days.” Though there was no appointed sabbath, it appears that at the end of every week men and women came to the altar at the east of Eden to worship God.


In this gospel age we do not keep a literal sabbath day. The Holy Spirit expressly forbids any form of legal sabbath keeping (Col. 2:8-19). Believers are not under the law, in any sense whatsoever. Sunday is not the “Christian Sabbath.” Our Sabbath is Christ. We rest in him. Yet, Sunday is “the Lord’s day.” God the Holy Spirit says so (Rev. 1:10). This is the day of Christ’s resurrection (Matt. 28:1). This is our appointed day of divine worship (Acts 20:7; Psa. 118:21-24). I do not suggest that the Scriptures require a specific day or time when we must gather in the house of God. However, it is obvious from the universal testimony of Scripture that it is always both proper and needful for us to have specified, appointed times set aside for the worship of God. God will not be worshipped haphazardly.


A Prescribed Means


God’s ordained means of worship was and is blood atonement. The holy Lord God cannot be approached and will not accept the worship of fallen sinful man, but means of a blood sacrifice. The sons of Adam and Eve had been clearly instructed in the worship of God.


Adam showed his sons what he had done, how he had sinned against the Lord. He told them plainly what God had done for him and Eve, sacrificing the innocent victim for them, stripping away their fig leaves, and clothing them with the garments of salvation he had made specifically for them. He spoke plainly to them about God’s promise of redemption through the woman’s seed. Adam understood and taught his family the necessity of blood atonement. Believing God, our father Adam, in his fallen state, taught his children that the only way a sinner could ever worship God is by faith in that One whom the Father would send to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. Abel believed the gospel his father preached to him. Cain, in open defiance, refused to believe.


Cain’s Sacrifice


What was wrong with Cain’s sacrifice? No doubt, this proud man brought the very best thing he could to God. Yet, God despised his sacrifice. Why? Because It was a bloodless sacrifice (Heb. 9:22). Cain’s sacrifice, his religion, was a denial of his need of Christ, the Redeemer. Cain thought he could approach God on his own merit, be his own priest, his own mediator and his own intercessor. His sacrifice was a denial of sin. Cain denied his guilt and sin before God. He denied that he deserved condemnation and death under the wrath of God. He approached God on the ground of his own merit and works. Cain’s sacrifice, indeed, his entire religious system, was a refusal of God’s revelation. The whole of his religion was an open defiance of God. God had revealed the way of worship and acceptance and life (Lk. 24:44-47; Eph. 1:6-7); but Cain did not believe God. This man was not an infidel. He was a proud religionist, a self-righteous Pharisee, an unbeliever. His offering to God was the fruit of his own labor. He really thought, just as most religious people think today, that he was really good enough for God.


Abel’s Offering


Why did the Lord God have respect unto Abel and his offering? God accepted Abel’s sacrifice, because it looked to Christ. It was an offering of faith (Heb. 11:4). Abel believed God. He came to God through faith in Christ, the sinner’s only and all-sufficient Substitute. His offering was a confession of sin, guilt, and just condemnation.


·       Because of sin, we fully deserve the wrath of God.

·       The only way for a holy God to justify guilty sinners is by the satisfaction of divine justice through blood atonement.

·       That blood atonement which magnifies God’s law and makes it honorable is found only in the substitutionary death of God’s own dear Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.


Abel’s offering was a type of Christ, the Lamb of God (Ex. 12:5-6). It was a lamb, the innocent, dying for the guilty. It was a male of the first year, in the prime of life. It was a lamb without spot or blemish, as Christ was without sin. It was a slain lamb. Its blood was shed in a violent death. Abel’s slain lamb was consumed by fire of God (Lev. 9:24), because God accepted it as a type of Christ, whose blood of atonement is a sweet smelling savor to the holy, Lord God, our heavenly Father.


Two Differences


There were only two differences between Cain and Abel: — blood and faith. These are the only differences between God’s elect and the lost world around us. The only distinction between God’s elect and the reprobate is the distinction of grace (1 Cor. 4:7).


The way of Cain is the way of natural religion (Jude 10-11). It is the religion of works. It gives no comfort, but only misery (Gen. 4:6-8). It is the way of all men and women by nature.

·       The way of Cain is the way of ceremonialism and ritualism.

·       The way of Cain is the way of every persecutor. The first human blood to be shed upon the earth was shed by a religious legalist; and the blood he shed was the blood of a sovereign gracer, a worshipper of God. The battle still rages. The issue is still the same. The way of Cain persecutes the way of faith.

·       The way of Cain is the way of God’s curse (vv. 10-12). The way of Cain is the way of endless wandering (vv. 12, 16). “Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the Land of Nod.”


Woe unto Cain! We read in verse 15 of Genesis 4 that the Lord God put a mark on Cain. We are not told what the mark was. But there is an indication of what it was in the words used by the Holy Spirit to describe the fact. God made him “a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth” (v. 12), a groaning and trembling man, ever fleeing from justice. Then we are told that having fled from the presence of the Lord, Cain “dwelt in the land of Nod.” Nod means “place of quaking, trembling, and wandering.” There is no rest for the wicked; neither in this world, nor in the world to come. Those who follow the way of Cain live as fugitives from the law, ever roaming, ever trembling, ever quaking before him, because there is no rest to be found except in Christ.


The way of Abel is the way of life everlasting. It is the way of grace. It is the way of blood redemption. It is the way of faith. It is the way opposed and persecuted by the world. It is the way of life. It is the way of acceptance with God. Here two ways are set before us. The way of Cain (Prov. 14:12; 16:25) is the way of freewill/works religion and everlasting destruction. The way of Abel (John 14:6; 10:9) is the way of free and sovereign grace in Christ, the way of everlasting salvation. Which way will you go?


All who follow the way of Cain are openly defiant rebels.

·       Cain was the child of believing parents.

·       He had a godly brother.

·       He was raised within sight of Paradise.

·       From childhood he was taught the knowledge of the one true God and Christ, the woman’s Seed.

·       He was warned, no doubt, against the serpent and his seed. He had every possible advantage. Much might have been expected from him.

·       Yet he turns his back on God, on Paradise, on the altar, on the sacrifice, on all that is good and blessed.


The way of Cain is the way of unbelief. Cain was the first example of an unbelieving man. His parents were sinners, but they believed. His brother was a sinner, but he believed. Cain was not an atheist, or an irreligious man. He acknowledged God’s being and came to worship at his altar. But he brought no lamb, no blood, no atonement. He came with no confession, no cry for mercy. He saw no need of the woman’s Seed, no danger from the serpent; no preciousness in the blood, no need of Christ. He did not discern the Lord’s body. His religion was self-made, a human religion, something of his own; without Christ, or blood, or pardon. This is “the way of Cain.”


The way of Cain is the way of apostasy. He turned his back on God and all that God had plainly revealed of himself, his Son, and his salvation.


The way of Cain is the way of worldliness, the love of the world. Having forsaken his father’s God, he made the world his god. He left Eden and God’s altar, built a city for himself, became a thorough man of the world, the father of the inventors of all curious instruments, and the head of that ever-swelling crowd that loves and pursues vanity, living only to eat and drink, marry and get gain.


The way of Cain is the way of envy. John Gill in his commentary on Jude 11, wrote, “Cain envied the acceptance of his brother’s gift, and that notice which the Lord took of him.” So these men (spoken of by Jude) envied the gifts bestowed on Christ’s faithful ministers, and the success that attended their labors, and the honor that was put upon them by Christ, and that was given them by the churches; which shows, that they were destitute of grace, and particularly of the grace of charity, or love, which envies not, and that they were in an unregenerate estate, and upon the brink of ruin and destruction.”


The way of Cain is the way hatred and persecution. He was jealous of his brother having favor with God and being accepted of him by the blood and righteousness of Christ. He hated his brother for having peace with God without works. Though he would not have God’s grace and righteousness in Christ for himself, he hated his brother for having it. As Horatius Bonar put it, “He hates God, and all the more for loving his brother. He hates Abel, and all the more for being loved of God.” The way of Cain is the way of envy, jealousy, hatred, murder!


Cain’s Doom


When we read what became of Cain, in what utter doom he lived until God cast him into hell, Jude’s words ring loudly concerning all who walk in the way of Cain. — “Woe unto them!


Cain lived in death, in utter despair. He made no cry for mercy, but merely, “My punishment is greater than I can bear.” What a heavy weight of doom! Why should a sinner despair on this side of hell? There is forgiveness to the uttermost. Where sin abounds, grace is super-abounding. — For sinners, there is a “sin-offering” at the door — Christ!


(Genesis 4:7)  “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.”


Cain lived in continual, utter banishment from God, banishment of his own doing! He goes out from the presence of God, as if he could no longer bear that. He must away from Paradise, the birthplace of the race, the old seat of worship. But what is this to the eternal banishment? Cain has no rest, moving to and fro without hope or aim, a fugitive and vagabond, seeking rest, finding none. Sad curse! yet nothing to the eternal wandering!


Cain lived all his days upon earth in frustration emptiness and disappointment. He himself was his mother’s disappointment, for she thought she had gotten the man-child. So is he a disappointment to himself. From first to last we see in him a disappointed man, trying everything, succeeding in nothing; building cities, roaming from place to place, to soothe his conscience, and fill up his heart’s void. But all was in vain!


He is the heir of a barren world; for the whole world is his. He is possessor of a soil made unfruitful by a brother’s blood; tilling and sowing, yet not reaping. A weary man, toiling for that which is not bread; trying to wring water out of the world’s dry sands and broken cisterns. Such is the life of untold multitudes — fruitless worldliness, emptiness, disappointment, and vanity!


Hear me now. Follow the way of Cain no more. Come to God, like his brother Abel, with a better Sacrifice, and find in Christ all-fullness, sufficiency and satisfaction!


(Isaiah 1:18)  “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”


(Matthew 11:28-30)  “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (30) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”



[1] That translation is, in my opinion, very accurate. My reasons for saying so are…

1.      The word “placed” in this verse is never translated “placed” anywhere else in the Old Testament. It means “to tabernacle,” or “to dwell.” Eighty-three times in the Old Testament it is translated “dwell.”

2.      The Lord God is always portrayed as the One who dwells upon the mercy-seat, between the cherubims (Ex. 25:17-18, 22; 1 Sam. 4:4; 2 Sam. 6:2; 2 Kings 19:15; 1 Chron. 13:6; Psa. 80:1; 99:1; Isa. 6:1-6; 37:16; Ezek. 10:2, 6, 7).

3.      Our great God, the God of all grace, “who delighteth in mercy,” has kept open for sinners the way to the tree of life (Rev. 22:2). He kept the way open from eternity by our covenant Surety, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). He kept the way open under the types and ceremonies of the law, all of which pointed to him by whom the way of access to God would be opened and maintained (Heb. 10:1-22).