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Cain

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Cain is the classic scriptural example of how free agency can be misused even under the best possible conditions. First of all, he was born in the best possible family because both of his parents actually saw and conversed with the Lord face to face when they had lived in the garden of Eden. It was God who had given them “dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:26). In fact, God was the one who married Adam and Eve as husband and wife.

Secondly, Cain was their firstborn child. From this we can infer that he was told about God by his parents before any of the other children. This would include being taught the principles of salvation. We know this because he offered up sacrifices to God in the same manner that God later instructed the children of Israel to do under the law of Moses. (see Moses 5:5). However, Cain didn’t follow the commandments of God. In Genesis 4:4,5 we read, “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.”

This scripture clearly tells us that Cain's offering to the Lord was not done according to the commandments which God had given. Rather than acting obediently to God, Cain acted independently of his Maker. Even so, God in his love and mercy gave him the opportunity to correct his behavior. “And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 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” (Genesis 4:6,7).

Yet despite this second chance, Cain wouldn’t repent and humble himself. And the reason why is because “Cain loved Satan more than God” (Moses 5:18). When Cain refused to submit to God’s will, he was told, “For from this time forth thou shalt be the father of his lies; thou shalt be called Perdition; for thou wast also before the world. And it shall be said in time to come--That these abominations were had from Cain; for he rejected the greater counsel which was had from God; and this is a cursing which I will put upon thee, except thou repent. And Cain was wroth, and listened not any more to the voice of the Lord, neither to Abel, his brother, who walked in holiness before the Lord. (Moses 5:24-27).

At this point we can clearly see that each of us, like Cain, has been given the opportunity to listen to God or listen to Satan. Furthermore, like Cain, we have the same opportunity to use the principle of repentance. Unfortunately, Cain rejected this principle as well as the other commandments of God.

I’d like to suggest that this story has particular significance to the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Like Cain, we too have been given the testimony of the true knowledge of God. Like Cain, we too have been given the gift of Holy Ghost. Cain is an example of what can happen to us when we fail to obey God, especially those of us who have made sacred and solemn promises at the time of our baptism to take upon ourselves the name of Christ and to keep His commandments always. And Cain is an example of what can happen to us when we violate that promise because of our stubbornness and unrepentant attitude.

It’s also instructive for us to look at what happened to Cain after God had cursed him. We read in Genesis 4:13,14, “And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment [is] greater than I can bear.Genesis 4:14 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.”

But the Lord showed mercy upon him when “God 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.”

Cain was influenced by Lucifer who had the same attitude when he lived in our pre-mortal state. He was proud and had no faith in God. Like Can, Lucifer was born into the best family in heaven, but he misused his free agency and lost all the advantages that a good family can bring. If this could happen to Cain, and if it could happen to Lucifer, it can happen to anyone, even those who have been born into the Church. It is not what we are given by the Lord that matters so much as the proper use of our free agency that determines our future. The safest course to follow is having faith in Jesus Christ and being obedient to the gospel principles. To do otherwise is to inherit the same fate which Cain obtained.

 

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