– by Nico Bougas
Six weeks before he died, Elvis Presley was asked by a reporter, “Elvis, when you started your career you said that you wanted three things in life: You wanted to be rich, you wanted to be famous, and you wanted to be happy. Are you happy Elvis?” “No,” replied Elvis, ” I am as lonely as hell!”
Hell is a lonely place
Rich and famous, but lonely. At first Elvis’ remark seemed offensive. But when you come to think of it, it’s actually well put. Hell is a lonely place. Maybe you too are that lonely. For some very lonely people, hell begins here on earth. Loneliness is a spiritual problem. It is caused by our separation from God. Our attempts to hide our lonely feelings are useless because the emptiness always returns. Rejecting God causes isolation and loneliness – forever. A good example is the life of Cain.
The loneliness of sin
We all know that Cain killed Abel, but did you know that Cain also killed Cain? Cain committed spiritual suicide and brought upon himself a life of wandering, aimlessness, and loneliness.
Life is made up of open doors. Most important is the open door to God that comes through faith. When you put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, it opens a door to a marvellous life for you. There is an open door to other people, those around you. There must be an open door to yourself, accept yourself as you are and use what God has given you to His glory. Finally, there must be an open door to the world around you, to enjoy the beauties of nature and the blessings that God has put into this wonderful world.
The wrong attitude
The tragedy of Cain’s life was that he closed all the doors. Cain and his brother, Abel came to the altar. Each offered a sacrifice. The problem is that Cain offered the wrong sacrifice with the wrong attitude. He did not bring a sacrifice of faith.
The problem that Cain had, of course, was the problem of closing the doors. He was a lonely man. He was a fugitive and a wanderer, not a pilgrim and a stranger.
Heaven is our home
Those of us who have trusted Christ as our Saviour are pilgrims and strangers in this world. This world is not our home; Heaven is our home. But there is a vast difference between being a pilgrim and a stranger and being a fugitive and a wanderer. The pilgrim knows where he is going and how he is going to get there. The fugitive is desperately looking for some safe haven where he can be satisfied.
If you look at the life of Cain, you will find that he closed doors in his life and because he closed them he ended up a lonely man.
He closed the door on God through his unbelief
God’s way is always the way of faith. God taught Adam and Eve, and they had taught their sons, that God’s way is the way of faith. (Rom 10:17). Cain knew this, and Abel knew it. When Abel came to the altar he brought the very best he had, and he brought it as an act of faith. Cain came in unbelief. The Bible calls this ‘the way of Cain’. In Jude 11, Cain was religious, but he was rejected. Cain wanted his own way – the way of human effort, the way of human merit – not the way of faith. And Cain closed the door on God by his unbelief.
Faith opens doors
The only thing that opens the door to God is faith. (Rev 3:20; John 10:9). He was talking about salvation, freedom, and satisfaction. If you enter in by faith in Christ, you will be saved. You will go in and out – that’s freedom. You will find pasture – that’s satisfaction. But Cain closed the door on God because of his unbelief. But he closed a second door, and this made his loneliness even worse.
He closed the door on his brother through hatred
Consider I John 2:9-11, “He that says he that is in the light and hates his brother is in the darkness even until now. He that loves his brother remains in the light and there is no occasion for stumbling in him. But he that hates his brother is in darkness, and walks in darkness, and knows not where he is going, because darkness has blinded his eyes.”
You can understand then how Cain became a fugitive and a wanderer – because he hated his brother. Hatred creates darkness in the soul.
The imperative of love
“In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.” – 1 John 3:10-12.
Hatred in the heart is the equivalent of murder
Notice the stages in Cain’s decision to close the door on his brother. First, he envied his brother. God showed respect to Abel and to his offering, but He did not show respect to Cain and to his offering. Cain was envious because his brother was accepted. That envy began to grow into anger and hatred. Jesus said that hatred in the heart is the moral equivalent of murder. (Matt 5:22).
Hypocrisy and lies
The next step was hypocrisy. Cain lied about his attitude. He went out into the field to talk to his brother, but Cain was really hiding his true intentions. Then He murdered his brother, and that closed the door.
Love always keeps the doors open. When you have a right relationship to God by faith it will result in love for your brother. That means you will forgive your brother and be kind to him. “Be ye kind to one another, even as God, for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.” – Eph 4:32.
Cain closed the door on God because of his unbelief, and he closed the door on his brother by his hatred.
He closed the door on himself through his dishonesty
You have to live with yourself. Wherever you go, you are there. In Genesis 4:9, God said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know.” Cain was a liar. Am I my brother’s keeper? The answer is yes. We are to love our neighbour – our brother even as we love the Lord. Cain lied to God, and he lied to himself. He was a child of the Devil.
Are you dishonest with yourself?
In 1 John 3:12 we are told that Cain was of that wicked one, John 8:44 informs us that satan is a liar and a murderer. This is why Cain was of that wicked one. He was a liar and a murderer. He lied to God, and he lied to himself. He was a murderer – he killed his own brother. He closed the door on himself by his dishonesty. I wonder if you are being dishonest with yourself? Perhaps you blame other people for what happened to you. Maybe you blame God for what has happened to you. Have you ever thought of blaming yourself? Have you ever thought of looking into the mirror and saying, “Here is the problem”? Cain closed the door on himself by his dishonesty.
Repentance involves dishonesty
Repentance involves honesty. When a person repents, he is being honest with himself and honest with God. He is saying, “I am the culprit! I am the one who is to blame!” Are you blaming your sister or your brother for that family problem? Are you blaming the boss or your fellow workers for that difficulty in the office or in the shop? If you look in the mirror, you will find out who the real culprit may be.
He closed the door on life itself through despair and loneliness
He said, “My punishment is greater than I can bear.” – Genesis 4:13. Why didn’t he confess his sin? Why didn’t he trust the grace of God? He simply wouldn’t do that. “Behold you have driven me out this day from the face of the earth.” (v14).
If you are not in a right relationship with the Creator, you won’t be in a right relationship with any of the creation. We sing in one of our songs, “This is my Father’s world.” When you know God as your Father, then His world becomes a place where you can enjoy Him and serve Him. But if you don’t know Him, if you’ve closed the door on Him, then this world becomes a prison. It becomes a concentration camp. No matter where you turn, there is no satisfaction. You have closed the door on life itself by your despair.
Lonely, but not alone
I think it was Thoreau who said that a city is a place where hundreds of people are lonely together. Dave Wilkerson once asked a young man what the greatest problem was confronting a teenager growing up in New York city. Without any hesitation he replied, “Loneliness!” In a city teeming with 10 million people. He was never alone, always in the gang, even at home there were probably several families sharing the same apartment, but his biggest problem was loneliness.
Loneliness is like hell on earth
If you walk the streets of any city you will see lonely faces there. It all started with Cain. He built himself a city which he thought would be Heaven on earth, but it turned out to be hell on earth. His city has things, and activities, but no satisfaction, no salvation. He lived in the midst of a prison, and he thought he was having a great time.
Sin is at the root of much loneliness. I’m not saying the everybody who is lonely is like Cain – an awful sinner. Sometimes loneliness stems from other experiences. But many people need to admit they have closed the door on God by their unbelief. They have closed the door on themselves by their dishonesty. And as a consequence, they have closed the door on the world and on life around them because of their despair and lack of sincere repentance. They are living on substitutes.
Open your heart to Jesus!
Cain had a great civilisation! In his city there were many people with much opportunity and all kinds of culture and activity, science and development, even technology, but Cain was still a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.
The Lord Jesus Christ invites you to come and receive salvation. “I am come that they might have life,” He said, “and that they might have it more abundantly.” – John 10:10. Open your heart to Him!