The Sin of Withholding Started in the Garden
Before there was killing, stealing, adultery, and many other sins, scripture records a sin rarely preached about, understood, or repented from. This sin started shortly after mankind left the garden, and it’s what I have termed the sin of withholding.
Genesis 4:3-5 says, “In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor.”
In this story we see Abel’s offering was acceptable, but Cain withheld the best from God and it was a clear reflection of what was in his heart. As we look at Cain’s actions, we can clearly see the steps that occurred with Cain as he withheld, and this is a key example of the sin of withholding. Cain knew he had displeased the Father.
When we withhold from God or others it displeases God. God’s will is for us to love Him and love each other. Luke 10:27 says, “And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’”
Genesis 4:5-7 states, “…So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.’” Cain had an internal struggle and he became angry. Withholding causes self-anger and oftentimes, anger at others as well and this affects our very soul.
In Genesis 4:8 we read, “Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.” Cain no longer saw his brother as a soul, but rather as an object.
Withholding affects and impacts how we treat others. This devaluing of souls is a part of the sin of withholding. It allows a person to somehow justify what they are thinking or planning to do. Often, the next step in the sin of withholding is to have a desire to harm someone else.
We can clearly see that Cain created strategies to do harm to Abel. Cain invited Abel to a field and then actually killed him. Abel ended up paying for his brother’s sin, the sin of withholding. Cain was not repentant and didn’t even have a thought that there would be a consequence.
In Genesis 4:10-16 we read, “The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”
Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”
But the Lord said to him, “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.”
In the end, Cain was banished. This is the process of the sin of withholding. It can happen in our relationship with God, our marriages, families, and other relationships. When we engage in the sin of withholding, we activate a process that hardens our hearts and justifies ungodly behaviors that will ultimately have consequences for ourselves, others, and our future.