The central theme of Hebrews 11 is that God is to be worshiped. And He must be worshiped in spirit and in truth. (See John 4:24.)
“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” (Hebrews 11:4). In Abel we see a shadow of the crucifixion of Christ.
Consider the worship that Cain and Abel offered.
The Contrast in Their Worship
“And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD” (Genesis 4:3). Cain’s way was salvation by good works, rather than by grace. His offering was fragrant fruit, beautiful flowers, succulent vegetation—but God says, “without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22b).
“Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat” (Genesis 4:4a). Abel’s offering was based on blood atonement, and it was a prophecy of Jesus. (See Luke 11:49-51, Acts 10:43.)
Redemption by blood was in God’s heart before He ever made the world. (See Revelation 13:8.) Why all of those sacrifices in the Jewish temple? God was creating a conditioned response so that when His people see blood, they know that sin means death. He was pointing toward Calvary.
The Consequences of Their Worship
The LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. So the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 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” (Genesis 4:4b-7).
God does not give an “A” for effort. God is too holy to not punish sin.
The definition of sin is coming short of the glory of God.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed. (Romans 3:23-25)
Your sin will be pardoned in Christ or punished in Hell. The consequences of worship last through eternity.
The Conflict of Their Worship
“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” (Genesis 4:8).
Why did Cain kill Abel? Because his heart was not right with God. False religion is characterized by force. Think of the people who are being murdered today in the name of religion. Jesus said, “They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service” (John 16:2).
There are only two religions in the world: the true, and the false. The difference between them is Heaven and Hell. If there is another way to Heaven other than by the blood of Christ, why did Jesus die? “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain” (Galatians 2:21). Why did God allow His darling Son to die in agony if there is another way? “Without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22b).