Why was Cain’s offering unaccepted by God?

In Genesis chapter 4 the story is told of two brothers, Cain and Abel.  Both made sacrifices to God.  Abel sacrificed the best of his lambs, while Cain brought a gift of his farm produce.  It is recorded that the Lord accepted Abel’s offering, but not Cain’s.  I have heard different commentary on this.  One theory is that lambs were more acceptable than farm produce.  I don’t think so, because God had not yet revealed what He wanted as an offering.  Another theory is that Abel brought the best of what he had while Cain brought “a gift of his farm produce”, not necessarily the best of what he had.  Thats a theory, but nowhere is that stated.  I think the answer is in the next paragraph.  The Lord asks Cain why he is so angry.  He could be full of joy if he would do what he should.  “But if you refuse to obey, watch out.  Sin is waiting to attack you, longing to destroy you.  But you can conquer it!”   I believe this is key.  It is showing that Cain was in some way disobedient to God, and it may have been in his attitude.  God never accepts our gifts in lieu of our obedience, or gifts given from a wrong motive.  Jesus taught much about motives and also about getting our relationships right before offering gifts at the altar.

I am further intrigued by the statement:  “Sin in waiting to attack you, longing to destroy you.  But you can conquer it!”  This would seem to say we have no excuse no matter how strong the temptations we face, nor the particular weaknesses we deal with.  We can conquer our sinful habits if we come before God in prayer with repentance and ask His help.  Cain was refusing to obey God.

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