What Have You Done?

Cain and Abel

What have you done?” Children often hear this question from their parents. They quickly learn that this question means three things: (1) they did something wrong, (2) they were caught, and (3) there are consequences to follow.

Our heavenly Father asked this question twice in the early chapters of the Bible with the same kind of meaning. The first came after Adam and Eve sinned by eating of the forbidden fruit. He asked Eve, “What is this you have done?” (Genesis 3:13). Following that, Cain sinned when he murdered his brother Abel. When God confronted Cain, He asked, “What have you done?” (Genesis 4:10).

There are lessons for us today from this question.

No Sin is Hidden from God – God knew what they had done. Even when Adam and Eve tried to hide from Him (Genesis 3:8) and Cain tried to deny his sin (Genesis 4:9), God knew. We cannot hide anything from God. “There is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:13). Paul said a day would come when “God will judge the secrets of men” (Romans 2:16). We may hide our sin from others, but we will not hide it from God.

We Are Responsible for Our Actions – We live in a society where people do not want to take responsibility for their actions. They blame others, blame their circumstances or upbringing, and even blame God for making them the way they are. Adam tried to shift the blame for his sin to Eve, and indirectly to God (Genesis 3:11-12). Eve tried to pass the blame to the serpent (Genesis 3:13). Even though the serpent lied and was punished, Eve was still responsible for her sin (Genesis 3:14-16). And even though Eve was punished, Adam was still accountable as well (Genesis 3:17-19). It does not matter what others say or do. It also does not matter what our circumstances are. We must obey God’s instructions.

Sin Has Consequences – Adam, Eve, and Cain all faced consequences for their sins. There was the spiritual consequence of being separated from God (Genesis 3:23-24; 4:16), but they had to face physical consequences as well. Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden and would have to endure physical death (Genesis 3:23-24). Adam’s work became difficult (Genesis 3:17-19). Eve’s childbearing became painful (Genesis 3:16). Cain would suffer hardship and mistreatment (Genesis 4:13-14). Others would also be affected. The physical consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin extended to their descendants – hard work, pain in childbirth, and physical death.

Our sins have consequences as well. The most notable is the spiritual consequence. Sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2). If we do not rectify that situation, the result will be eternal punishment (Romans 6:23). However, there are also physical consequences in the hardships that arise as the result of our sins. The proverb writer noted, “The way of the treacherous [transgressor – ASV] is hard” (Proverbs 13:15). Consequences extend to others as our sins often affect more than just ourselves. Repentance does not take these physical consequences away – either for ourselves or others. Even though we might still be able to repent, we may do irreparable harm in our lives.

God Will Judge Us – God passed judgment on all parties involved – the serpent, Eve, Adam, and Cain (Genesis 3:14-19; 4:10-12). God will also judge us one day (Romans 2:16). Paul wrote, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Knowing these things, do not fool yourself into thinking that you can hide anything from God. Do not blame anyone or anything else for your sins. Do not think that you can sin without paying a price for it. Instead, prepare to stand before the Lord in judgment. Take responsibility for your actions. Strive to keep all aspects of your life acceptable to Him.

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