He just did not recognize the fact that the door was closed. In other words, he did not recognize the fact of death, for it is written that God had said before they were born to their parents concerning the truth of the knowledge of good and evil "in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Gen. 2:17).
And I believe that that means what it says, that in the day that they did eat, they did most surely die.
It was not something potential and prospective.
They died. Death took place.
On what do we base that? Listen! This is from the New Testament: "Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin..." (Rom. 5:12) - by one man.
That man was Adam. Sin entered, and death through sin, "so death passed unto all men."
Now that is a long section in Romans 5 - read it. It runs from verse 12 to verse 19, a long section, and it is all focused upon this: that death passed upon all men - all are dead.
Through one man death entered. Or again in that wonderful letter to the Corinthians, first letter, chapter 15, verses 21 and 22 "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die...".
Death was a fact; it had taken place and Cain did not recognize the fact, he did not accept the fact, he ignored the fact.
And this whole matter of whether the way is closed or open depends upon our recognition and acceptance of that fact, and there is no way through for us in our natural state.
And it is a matter also of putting our approach to God upon that basis. That is what arose here.
Let us look at the features, then, in Cain's case. It was not that Cain was a godless, irreligious man. He was not atheistic, ignoring or disputing or doubting or denying the existence of God. He came to the place of worship!
There was evidently a place of worship where there was an altar. God had not been ruled out of his universe, He was still allowed a place in their thought and in their attention. Cain was not, in that sense, a godless man, irreligious. Cain had worked hard and worked well.
This fruit of the ground which he brought represented skill, energy, interest, and if the Lord's words still obtained "in the sweat of thy face" the Lord had said (Gen. 3:19) - this fruit was that, it represented all that where Cain was concerned.
It was the embodiment of his mind, the embodiment of his heart, the embodiment of his will.
He had put himself into that fruit.
We are going to give him as large a place as we can. We are not despising Cain in a certain realm. He had put himself into his fruit. That fruit was the expression of himself. It was all out from himself, and that was the deadlock and the impasse.
This is tremendously searching. A man's best and fullest consecration to his life's work, putting himself - mind, heart and will; intelligence, skill, devotion and labour - into producing something fine and good and bringing it to God and finding the door closed. That is searching.
That was the beginning of a long history, that long history of self-sufficiency and its brood, for the brood of Self is a very, very large one self-sufficiency, self-righteousness, and so on and on a long history.
It is the history of that which in a very large development focused upon Jesus, and murdered Him.
This was the beginning of murder.
You see, God knew Cain's heart even when he was at the altar with his fruit.
He knew what was in that man's heart which only needed certain conditions and circumstances and provocations to divulge it.
You do not have to divulge a thing for God to know.
It is there, and He knows all about it. He may draw it out, but He knows all about it beforehand.
This is the beginning of a history of what, in our time, has come to be called humanism: that man has it within himself, his own intelligence, his own power, his own will, his own resource, to find his way through, to get through, to save himself. It began here.
And do you not see that this was the beginning of that final development which is so far on the way to consummation now - Antichrist, the super-glory of man in his achievements, inventions, discoveries, and what not, by which he is going to save himself and his world - and it is nonsense!
The Cross makes nonsense of it all, and says: There is no way through! And if men are not capable of seeing that there is no way through to heaven by the hydrogen bomb or any other weapon, they are fools indeed.
The god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving" (2 Cor. 4:4). It began here.
See what it amounts to. You and I, by the best that we can do and produce, never can get through with God.
All such ideas and thoughts are the ignoring or rejecting of this fact: that the door was shut long, long ago, and death took place, and we are born dead every one of us - a mighty active death.
~T. Austin Sparks~