This is the audio and approximate transcript (based on my speaking notes) from a sermon I preached yesterday evening from the Genesis 4:1–16 account of Cain and Abel. The highlight is towards the end, when we see how Abel points us to Christ and His work for us.
(My apologies for the occasionally variable audio quality – there were some drop-outs with the radio mic and I had to splice from my own iPad recording at a few points.)
When I last spoke earlier in the year, we looked at Genesis chapters 2 and 3. We saw the deception of Eve by the Serpent in the Garden, and the deliberate and wilful disobedience of Adam. Sin entered the world through Adam, and death through sin. We noted how in the first recorded Gospel, God promised a Seed. We saw that this seed was the Lord Jesus Christ, who would destroy all the works of the evil one, wash away the sins of his people with His blood, and clothe them with the royal robes of His perfect righteousness.
This evening, we shall see the corruption of sin and death being outworked in the lives of Cain and Abel, Adam’s sons. And we shall see again how the Old Testament scriptures testify of Jesus and His work.
1 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “I have acquired a man from the Lord.” 2 Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. 4 Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, 5 but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.
6 So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”
8 Now 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 killed him.
9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?”
He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”
10 And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground. 11 So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth.”
13 And Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear! 14 Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.”
15 And the Lord said to him, “Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him.
16 Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden.
Our text presents two distinct religions, two utterly different ways of approaching God and living before Him. One is a religion of works; the other of faith.
Before we examine the passage in detail, let’s briefly consider what type of material we have before us.
The early chapters of Genesis are an exquisitely crafted work of literature. In this account of Cain and Abel, for example, we see several parallels with the narrative of the Fall. Each has two human characters who interact with God. In each, a sin is committed. In each, God questions the guilty. In each, God pronounces judgement. In each, that judgement involves a curse relating to the land. And, in each, the transgressors are driven eastwards, away from Eden.
Notice too how, throughout verses 1–5, the order in which Cain and Abel are mentioned keeps reversing. Cain is born, then Abel. Abel’s occupation is given, then Cain’s. Cain brings his offering, then Abel. The Lord accepts Abel’s offering, but rejects Cain’s.
Cain–Abel, Abel–Cain, Cain–Abel, Abel–Cain.
The text is painstakingly constructed. The details matter. There is significance in even the ordering of narrative details. We have before us nothing other than holy words breathed out by the Holy Spirit. And He has included nothing in the text by accident. We shall even see that what the text chooses not to say is important.
As we work through this passage, remember that it forms part of the five books of Moses. Thus, although it recounts events that occurred long before the giving of the Law to Israel through Moses, it was written for an initial audience who would be familiar with the vocabulary and rituals of that Law.
Adam is intimate with Eve, his wife. She becomes pregnant. She bears a son and says ‘I have acquired a man from the LORD’. She names him ‘Cain’, a play on words, for ‘Cain’ in Hebrew sounds like the word for ‘acquire’ or ‘gotten’.
The Hebrew text here is somewhat unclear, and some commentators understand Eve as saying that she has ‘gotten a man with the help of the LORD’, rather than ‘from the Lord’.
A third possibility – and Martin Luther read it this way – is that Eve believes she has, ‘acquired a man, the LORD’. If Luther is right, Eve mistakenly thinks she has given birth to the promised Seed, and refers to him by God’s covenant name, Yahweh, indicated in our English translations by the word ‘LORD’ written with capital letters.
What is clear is that Eve recognizes this child to be a gift from God. In the opening chapters of Genesis, then, we have seen that God created Eve to be a companion and helper suited to Adam. We learn that it is God who joins a husband and a wife in marriage, and that the two become one flesh. And we see that children are the result of God’s blessing to be fruitful and multiply, and thus to be received from Him as a precious gift.
Our society increasingly spurns God’s institution of marriage as being between one man and one woman. It facilitates the breaking apart in divorce of what God has joined together. And it approves the murder of unborn children in their mothers’ wombs. Eight million abortions have been performed in the UK since 1967, 56 million in the US since 1973, and 1.3 billion worldwide since 1980. That’s the same as the entire population of North America and continental Europe combined.
Though these facts should drive us to our knees in anguished prayer, they do not surprise us. Jeremiah (Jer. 17:9) tells us that ‘the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked’. What we see around us – and, too often, even within the visible church – is the outpouring of the true nature of the human heart, dead in its sins. Without Christ, the world is enslaved to evil. It hates the One True God and instead worships false gods of Self, Lust, Convenience and Choice. We are not a civilized people. Our culture is no more moral, no more enlightened, than that of the Old Testament pagans who offered their children to Molech.
And yet, through Christ there is repentance and forgiveness even for sins as grievous as these – for rebellion against God, for despising one’s spouse, for the shedding of innocent blood. Yes, and even for your sin.
Which is Good News.
For who among us can stand blameless before God in our own right? Jesus tells us that evil thoughts proceed out of the heart (Matt. 15:19) and, in the Sermon on the Mount, he shows that these thoughts themselves make us guilty before God, whether or not we go on to commit the act. In Galatians 5 (vv. 19–21), Paul tells us that the works of the flesh are ‘adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery’. Perhaps some of you might have been able to feel secure if Paul had stopped there. But he goes on: ‘hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions’ – are you uncomfortable yet? – ‘heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like’. Paul tells us that ‘those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.’
You are guilty.
When you begin to see the sinful fallen human heart from God’s perspective, you also begin to understand why Paul reminds the Romans that ‘There is none righteous’, ‘There is none who does good, no, not one’.
And when you believe that these words are true of you, the perfect Law of God has performed its necessary work of convicting you of your sin and showing you that there is nothing within you, no work that you can do, that can blot out your sin or earn merit before God. Since even your best works are stained through with sin, if you are to gain and maintain God’s favour, you need someone to pay the just penalty for your sin in your place, and you need a righteousness from outside of yourself.
And so the Law drives us to the Gospel of Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. It forces us to give up all pretence of our own intrinsic goodness and throw ourselves upon the mercy of a loving God who gave His own Son to live, die and rise again for us. And, through the hearing of this Good News, the Holy Spirit makes us alive, granting us repentance and faith in Christ. The Father declares us righteous through that gift of faith, and the Holy Spirit works within to produce the good works that are the fruit of faith which, though imperfect and stained with sin in this life, our merciful and gracious heavenly Father is pleased to accept for the sake of His Son.
Eve gives birth again. She calls this son, ‘Abel’, which means ‘breath’, ‘vapour’, or ‘vanity’. Her joy seems markedly less than for her firstborn. Perhaps Cain has disappointed her, or perhaps she is weary of the travails of childbirth that she suffers as a consequence for her sin. In any case, the name she gives to Abel is an ominous foreshadowing of his short life.
We’re told that Abel is a guardian of sheep, a shepherd – an honourable profession, in keeping with the blessing that God had pronounced that mankind should have dominion over every living thing that moves on the earth.
And Cain is a tiller of the ground, a profession no less honourable than Abel’s, for his father had been tasked by the Lord to toil on the land.
Thus far, then, there seems little to distinguish Cain and Abel. If anything, we might expect to honour firstborn Cain over Abel, according to ancient custom.
Verses 3 and 4
3 And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. 4 Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat.
The phrase translated here as ‘in the process of time’ literally means ‘at the end of the days’. Most likely it refers to the end of the agricultural year. Thus, the harvest is over, and Cain and Abel bring their offerings to the Lord.
In Hebrew, there are several different words for ‘offering’, and the same word minḥā (מִנְחָה) is used here for both Cain and Abel’s gifts. It is the word that is used for the grain offerings described in Leviticus and Numbers. Elsewhere in Scripture, minḥā has a broader meaning that can include animals, and is variously translated as ‘present’, ‘tribute’, ‘gift’ or, as here, ‘offering’. In the Mosaic Law regulating offerings, however, minḥā exclusively refers to the grain offering.
The grain offering was a sacrifice of worship, not atonement. Thus, the choice of Hebrew word here steers us away from thinking that either Cain or Abel intended their gifts to atone for sin. The text also gives no indication that these offerings had been commanded or required by God.
Rather, Cain and Abel have both been blessed by the Lord – Cain with a fruitful harvest, and Abel with an increased flock. And they each bring some that increase to God as a gift.
Continuing in verses 4 and 5
And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, 5 but He did not respect Cain and his offering.
Much ink has been spilled speculating why Cain’s offering was inferior to Abel’s.
Was it because only Abel brought a sacrifice of blood? There is not one single hint in our text – or anywhere else in Scripture – that this is so. If anything, the use of the Hebrew word minḥā to describe the offerings leads us to be somewhat surprised that Abel did not also bring a grain offering. Even under the Mosaic Law, which had not yet been given, the worship of God through the offering of grain was both acceptable and commanded. Scripture therefore gives us no grounds to think that a grain offering would have been intrinsically unacceptable.
Was it because Abel brought of the firstborn of his flock, whereas Cain is not described as offering the firstfruits? Remember, though, that Cain brings his offering ‘at the end of the days’, at the end of the harvest. So even though we are not expressly told that he brought of the firstfruits of the grain, his offering seems to be a prompt one, made as soon has he has gathered in the material of the offering. Indeed, Cain brings his offering first, before Abel. Furthermore, even under the Mosaic Law, grain offerings did not have to be of the firstfruits. Consequently, there is no reason to believe that Cain’s offering was rejected because it was not of the firstfruits.
Was Abel’s offering accepted because he gave of the ‘fat’ of the flock, of their best parts? Well, this description certainly speaks to the attitude of Abel’s heart – Abel gives the very best of what he had received from the Lord. Yet the text makes no criticism of the quality of Cain’s grain.
Numerous other theories have been advanced as to what was wrong with Cain’s gift. But all are mere speculation. The text simply chooses not to ascribe any fault to the grain of Cain’s offering.
And perhaps that very silence is the key to understanding the passage. We are naturally inclined to look at the materials of the offerings themselves, at the quality of the gift. Yet the text itself points us in another direction: not towards the gift, but towards the giver.
Recall that we are dealing with carefully crafted literature. Remember too that the continued reversal of the mentions of Cain and Abel until this point has heightened our awareness of the importance of ordering within the passage. If the reversals are a literary device to draw attention to an important aspect of the account, we should expect to make particular note of where they end. Look, then, at the final reversal, here in verses 4 and 5.
the Lord respected Abel and his offering, 5 but He did not respect Cain and his offering.
Notice that the text carefully states first that God had regard for Abel. Only then are we told that the Lord also had regard for Abel’s offering.
Observe too that the text is careful first to state that the Lord had no regard for Cain himself, and only after that neither did God regard Cain’s offering.
We might naturally expect God to accept or reject Abel and Cain on the basis of the offerings that they bring. But the order in which the facts are presented confounds that expectation, and seems to indicate that each offering is accepted or rejected based upon the person bringing the gift. The Lord accepts Abel’s offering because he has already accepted Abel. He rejects Cain’s offering because he has already rejected Cain.
Man focuses upon the outward act, and accepts it if it is outwardly performed well. God looks upon the inward heart of the person performing the act, and accepts that which is performed from faith.
The Holy Spirit has provided us with an inspired New Testament commentary to confirm this understanding. Turn to Hebrews chapter 11. We’ll read from verse 1.
1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.
Here, we have a definition of faith. It is ‘the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.’
What is it that we are hoping for? What is it that we do not see?
The preceding chapters of Hebrews give the answer. They speak of Christ the Prophet, Priest and King. They reveal that Christ our High Priest intercedes for us with the Father as one who is able to ‘sympathize with our weaknesses’ and was ‘in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin’ (Heb. 4:14–16). They tell of this sinless Man’s perfect once-for-all-time sacrifice of Himself, which achieved what the blood of bulls and goats could not (Heb. 10:4) – the cleansing of the saints from their sins, and their eternal perfection.
Faith, then, is a confidence in Christ to salvation and eternal life. Such faith receives and lays hold of all that God has promised in Christ, though the fulfilment of the promise is as yet unseen. Those who possess this confident trust are justified – declared righteous by God – not because of what they do, but because the One who has promised is faithful.
With this understanding of faith, let’s read Hebrews 11 verse 4:
By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.
And verse 6:
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
What is the reward of those who diligently seek God through faith? Not the riches of this world, but Christ Himself – and, in Him, eternal life. For, in Genesis 15, the Lord says to Abraham, ‘I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward’. Jesus tells those who are persecuted for His sake to ‘Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward’, not here on earth, but ‘in heaven.’
Paul the apostle writes to the Philippians (Phil. 3:8–9):
8 I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;
Realizing that faith is nothing other than a confidence in the promise of God, we see that it is not at all that Abel’s works were the grounds for his righteousness. Rather, he was accounted righteous because he believed the promise of God and looked forward to the coming Seed.
Abel’s offering did not make him righteous, but being already accounted righteous through faith, his offering was pleasing and acceptable to God for the sake of Christ. The offering was not the cause, but the evidence of Abel’s righteousness, ‘God testifying of his gifts’.
Cain’s offering was rejected because Cain himself had already been rejected. The fault was not in the materials of Cain’s offering, but in his person. We infer from Hebrews 11:4, and our observation of Cain’s subsequent behaviour, that Cain lacked faith and had not therefore been accounted righteous by God. And, as Proverbs 15:8 tells us:
The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,
But the prayer of the upright is His delight.
Let’s return to our Genesis 4 text.
[The LORD] did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.
Cain is angry and downcast. Why?
Cain’s reaction suggests that, although he willingly gave his offering, he did so with the expectation of God’s favour in return. He thought that favour and right-standing before God could be purchased with his works, and was angry and downcast when the Lord did not deliver what Cain thought he was owed.
To give motivated by the expectation of selfish reward in this life is therefore to follow the religion of Cain, not Abel. Such giving does not please God. Beware those Word-Faith teachers who blasphemously promise health and wealth in return for a ‘seed offering’ to their ministry. They are heretics, and their damnable doctrine is of the devil.
If we come to God in humility by faith, acknowledging that we have no merit of our own before Him, we expect nothing from Him on our own account and are subsequently astonished by the grace and mercy shown to us on account of Christ. However, the one who comes with pride in his own person or works, thinking that he thereby deserves God’s favour, is angry when he does not receive it.
And so we have two religions, two distinct approaches to God. The religion of Cain, who in his self-righteous arrogance and pride believes in a god from whom he can merit favour by his works. And the religion of Abel, who recognizes His own sin, acknowledges that there is nothing he can offer to earn merit before a holy and righteous God, and who simply trusts in the promises of One who is merciful and gracious.
Jesus illustrates these two religions in Luke chapter 18, beginning at verse 9:
Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’
And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’
I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Turn back to our Genesis 4 text.
Verses 6 and 7
6 So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted?
Notice particularly that the Lord speaks to the acceptance of Cain himself, not his offering. And, though God has thus far rejected Cain, He is nevertheless merciful and gracious. The Lord’s questioning shows Cain that the fault lies within. Cain’s lack of faith means that he has not done well, for without faith it is impossible to please God.
Yet here the Lord pronounces no punishment, but rather entreats Cain to repent. Even now, if Cain will but humble himself and trust in the merciful God, the Lord is willing to forgive him, to accept him, to lift up his fallen countenance.
The Lord also graciously warns Cain of the consequences of his continuing to persist in unbelief. Verse 7:
“And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”
Sin is likened to a malevolent animal lurking at the door, ready to pounce as soon as opportunity avails. But there is yet time for Cain to repent, to avert the wage of death that sin always pays.
Now 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 killed him.
The unjustified anger within Cain’s heart hardens to murderous intent. As the self-righteous Pharisee of Jesus’ parable despised the poor-in-spirit tax collector, prideful Cain hates his humble brother.
The sin and death that came into the world through Adam, through the son of Adam bear their rotten fruit. Cain commits the first murder. The first precious human life is claimed.
The Lord asks Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’
Even now, Cain – the rebel against God’s Law, the hater of his brother, the shedder of innocent blood – even now, Cain is given the opportunity to confess his sin and seek forgiveness from the merciful judge.
Yet, unlike Adam and Eve who did not deny their guilt, Cain, in an astonishing display of foolish hubris, perjures himself before the court of the omniscient Almighty God.
‘I do not know.’, answers Cain.
The attitude of Cain’s faithless heart is laid bare. He has neither respect nor regard for the Lord, only contempt for the One who had given him his life and blessed his harvest.
‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’
Cain’s brother is a shepherd, a keeper of sheep. We hear then in Cain’s question a disdainful and inappropriately clever sneer – ‘Am I the keeper’s keeper?’
The answer to Cain’s question is, ‘Yes’. For, what older brother ought not to love his younger sibling neighbour as himself?
The Lord enters into evidence the damning proof of Cain’s guilt:
“What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.”
There can be no rebuttal. The judge proceeds immediately to sentence.
Verses 11 and 12
11 “So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth.”
The judgement is fitting. Cain is now cursed from the earth that he defiled with his brother’s blood. This tiller of soil will till no more, for the ground will no more yield an abundance of grain for Cain to scorn. And having lifted up his unjust hand against his just brother, Cain will wander as a fugitive from the vengeance of his relatives.
As testimony to the continuing mercy of God in this life towards sinners, Cain is not sentenced to immediate death. Rather, every day of fearful wandering will be a reminder to Cain of his sin – a spur to repent and trust in the merciful God who has spared his wretched life.
Verses 13 and 14
13 And Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear! 14 Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.”
Cain protests the punishment, but his is not a godly sorrow. Cain’s distress arises not from remorse for his crime, but from the severity of the sentence.
And the Lord said to him, “Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him.
Again, with abounding mercy and grace, the Lord heeds the voice of even this impenitent sinner. He imposes a sanction on anyone who would kill Cain, and puts upon him a mark of protection. ‘Vengeance is mine’, says the Lord, ‘and I will repay’. The Lord has pronounced judgement, and human revenge will not add justice to this case.
In this life, saint and sinner alike experience the underserved blessings of God. He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
And yet, the Lord Jesus Christ shall soon come from the right hand of His Father in heaven to render final judgement upon the living and the dead. That shall be a day of terrible vengeance upon those who follow in the religion of Cain, trusting in themselves, and spurning the Gospel of a righteous and holy God who renders to the faithless what is their just due.
Yet it shall be a glorious and blessèd day for the meek saints who, like Abel, are poor in spirit – those who have cast themselves upon the mercy of a loving God who spared not even His only begotten Son so that these would not perish but have everlasting life.
Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden.
The word here translated as ‘Nod’ means ‘wandering’. As Adam and Eve were driven from Eden, an unrepentant, forlorn and hopeless Cain now departs from the presence of the Lord to be a wanderer in the bleak land of wandering.
Despite the mercy shown to Him by God, Cain will never repent. For as John the apostle tells us in his first epistle (1 John 3:12), Cain ‘was of the wicked one’. He ‘murdered his brother. … Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.’
We have reached the end of our text. But before we close, consider the person of Abel.
He is a shepherd. He presents to God an excellent offering. He is declared righteous, and his offering is accepted. He is hated without cause by his brother according to the flesh. His blood is unjustly shed by envious violent hands. His blood spills on the ground and there cries out to God.
When we view Abel through the eyes of faith, we cannot help but see a foreshadowing of the Lord Jesus Christ, who suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; and who on the third day, rose again and ascended into heaven and is even now seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
And yet, while there are many correspondences between a type and the thing typified, there must also of necessity be difference.
Abel was not without sin. The sinless Christ was perfect in obedience and holiness.
Abel’s life was taken. Christ’s life was willingly given.
Abel’s blood stained Cain indelibly with the guilty mark of sin. Christ’s blood cleanses from all sin and unrighteousness.
Abel offered of the firstborn of his flock. Christ offered Himself, the only begotten Lamb of God.
Abel was accounted righteous and his sacrifice accepted because he trusted in the righteousness of the Seed who was to come. That Seed was in His resurrection declared righteous and his sacrifice accepted because He was Himself perfectly righteous.
And, as Hebrews 12:24 says, the shed blood of Jesus speaks better things than that of Abel. Abel’s blood cried to God for justice, for the penalty of sin to be paid. Christ’s blood proclaims justice done, the penalty of sin paid in full.
The Father harbours no anger towards those sprinkled with this precious blood, those who have been baptized into the death of Christ and, like Him, raised from the dead to walk in the newness of life.
Believe this Good News. Give up the religion of Cain, the futile effort of trying to earn God’s favour by your works. Trust instead in the blood of Christ shed for you. Believe in God’s perfect favour towards you through Christ’s own righteousness put to your account. Repent daily of your sins; receive the forgiveness now freely offered in the risen Christ. Produce the good works that are the fruit of saving faith. And delight that, like Abel’s gift, these works are acceptable and pleasing to your heavenly Father for the sake of His Son, because He has already loved and accepted you who trust in Christ.