Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” Genesis 4:9 ESV
When asked a question that hits too close to home, skirting the issue is always a temptation. “Where were you last night?” The answer can be short and evasive. “Out!” The one who asked gets the message that the subject is closed. But when God is the One asking the question, the truth should come spilling out. Most often, it does not. Defensiveness runs deep in our carnal nature.
Cain knew God. God was intimate with his family. Cain knew God’s nature. He was love but He was also holy. He was powerful but He was also approachable. Did Cain tremble when God came to ask him Abel’s whereabouts? Not at all. The first words of sarcasm in scripture are found in Cain’s retort. “What? Am I my brother’s keeper?”
When I’ve sinned and the Spirit of God inquires, “What have you done?” The only option available to a child of God who is honest and humble is this, “Oh God, I have sinned. Forgive me!” True repentance is specific. In the story of Hosea, God said . . . Take words with you and return to the LORD. Say to him: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously.” Hosea 14:2
When I receive an apology from someone, it is most effective when the other person is specific as to their offense. It’s not helpful at all to hear generalities. “Guess I was a bad friend.” That does nothing to heal the fracture. It is the same with God. Offering a defense, the likes of ~ “I am human and a failure” ~ brings no freedom and little restoration of the fellowship. The sin was specific; should be the confession.
You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Psalm 139:1-3