All People Are Sinful by Nature
Open Your Bible
Genesis 4:1-16, Genesis 6:5-6, Jeremiah 17:9-10, Romans 6:20-23
Scripture Reading: Genesis 4:1-16, Genesis 6:5-6, Jeremiah 17:9-10, Romans 6:20-23
The progression of Cain and Abel’s story in Genesis 4 can be summed up in three words: offering, sacrifice, curse.
Offering: Cain and Abel both make offerings. Cain’s is rejected by God, not because the offering in and of itself is bad or wrong but because Cain’s heart behind it is. Abel’s is accepted, not because his offering is better but because “the Lord had regard for Abel” (Genesis 4:4).
Sacrifice: God warns Cain not to let his sin get the best of him, but Cain succumbs to it and kills his innocent brother. And his blood cries out to God from the ground (v. 10).
Curse: Cain is cursed with fruitless labor and a restless, wandering spirit—a punishment that is too great for him to bear (v. 13).
It is not a hopeful ending, and humanity continues to suffer the consequences of this curse for generations to come. It’s a curse I feel even today.
This spring I spoke at women’s conference at a church. I prepared for months, reading Scripture, commentaries, looking up Greek and Hebrew verbs. A couple of weeks before the event, I found myself in the depth of shame over an old sin pattern I had fallen into yet again—the one I say I’ll never do again and then inevitably always do.
Head in my hands, I asked God, How can I speak on a stage, proclaiming your Word while knowing the sinner I am? In that moment, I could not see beyond the curse. I felt the weight of Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable—who can understand it?”
The progression of Christ’s story in the Gospels is similar to Cain and Abel’s, with a much different ending: offering, sacrifice, resurrection.
The imperfection and curse in Cain and Abel’s story was ultimately corrected and perfected through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He lifted the curse. We are no longer wanderers laboring for fruitless gain. As Paul says, “Since you have been set free from sin and have become enslaved to God, you have your fruit, which results in sanctification—and the outcome is eternal life!” (Romans 6:22).
Our sin nature, like our shadows, is the dark side of us, one that we can ignore until the light hits us at the right moment and exposes it. Of every critical aspect of the gospel, sin is perhaps our least favorite to talk about, but it is also the most necessary in order to fully understand the salvation and hope offered in Jesus.
That day of the conference, as I was sitting in shame over my sin with only the curse as my truth, I felt the Holy Spirit point out the choice I was making. I was choosing the enslavement of the curse over the freedom of Christ. I realized then that it is not because of how good I am that I am able to speak about the Word of God. It is only because of how good He is. I could choose the curse and refuse to speak, or I could choose Christ and let His power be made perfect in my weakness.
We are offered this choice every day. My prayer is that even on those days when we feel the depths of our sin the most, we will choose freedom in Christ Jesus. It is for this freedom from sin and shame that He has come to set us free (Galatians 5:1). This is the full and complete gospel. May we choose to walk in it and thank God daily for Jesus’s sacrifice that has made this freedom possible for all who believe in Him.
Andrea Lucado is a freelance writer, Texas native, and the author of the memoir English Lessons: The Crooked Path of Growing Toward Faith. When she is not conducting interviews or writing stories, you can find Andrea laughing with friends at a coffee shop or creating yet another nearly edible baking creation in her kitchen. One of these days she’ll get the recipe right.