Back to the Basics: The Fall Part 2 (Gen. 3:7-13)
Welcome to Living Hope! We are working our way through the statement of faith. Today the third point says:
That the first man, Adam, was created by God in His image, but fell from his original state by sinning against God, and hence incurred upon himself and all his posterity the guilt of sin, condemnation, and death; therefore, all humans are in need of salvation, but are totally incapable of saving themselves.
Last time we left our first couple in the Garden of Eden with Satan. We saw that until Gen. 3, God was the only One who ultimately knows what is good for us. But Satan comes to disrupt God’s created order (the man follows the woman who follows the animal). Our first point was:
I. The sequence of sin (Gen. 3:1-6)
We saw that the sequence of sin begins with doubting God’s Word and then doubting who He is, which leads to denying and disobeying God. Satan’s strategy was deception. He insinuated that God was too strict, too narrow and dishonest. He caused her to magnify the prohibition and minimize the provisions. He suggested that there would be no consequences and they would be able to master their own existence. And as soon as Eve believed that God was not good, she fell into sin. We saw that all sin is choosing what we think is right apart from God. She ate the fruit and then gave it to Adam and he ate. And they made a huge mess for themselves.
By the way, was Adam with her or not? On the one side, Gen. 3:6 seems to indicate that he was “with her.” Secondly, when Satan talks to Eve, there is use of the plural for “you.” Proponents who say yes would say that Adam was passive and not protecting his bride. On the other side, Paul says Eve was deceived not Adam (2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:14). And when the text says he was “with her,” this meant he was only with her when she ate. The plural only indicates that Satan is speaking in general terms. Later, God says Adam’s sin was listening to the voice of his wife rather than God’s, not listening to the voice of the serpent (Gen. 3:17). Also, Adam does not blame the serpent, but Eve (and God) for why he ate (Gen. 3:12).
I am not sure where I stand on this. Personally, I lean toward the latter (he was not with her), but in the end it does not matter, because whether he was with her or not, the Scriptures tell us that sin came into the world because of one man (Rom. 5:12). We will look at this in a little bit more detail next time. So God saw Adam as the head of his family (and of the human race) and whether he was passively watching everything that happened and then willfully made the choice to eat after listening to Eve or whether he ate after Eve came to him later and convinced him, in the end he was responsible because he was the head of the family. More on this next time!
Let’s now look at:
II. The consequences of sin (Gen. 3:7-24)
There are several consequences of sin here. First of all:
a) Guilt and shame (v.7)
The first consequence is that of guilt and shame. I lumped them together, though shame is definitely in this text more. Guilt, closely related, is implied and more clearly communicated when God addresses them about violating the law (Gen. 3:17). Sin always carries with it shame and guilt. Go back to the sequence again: she saw, she took, she ate, she gave and now the results: their eyes were opened, they knew, they covered and they hid. Eve sought to find good apart from God and when she disobeyed, did she get satisfaction and happiness? Perhaps the fruit tasted good for a second, but then like a ton of bricks, they felt guilt and shame.
Satan had promised them to be like God, knowing good and evil. This was partially true. Late author and Pastor James Boice says, “Up to this moment Adam and Eve did not know good and evil. They knew the good but not the evil. (God knows both, of course. He knows good because it is an expression of his own nature. He knows evil because it is all that is opposed to his nature). By sinning, our first parents came to know evil as well as good, which is what Satan had said. But they came to know it, not from the standpoint of God, who loves good and hates the evil, but as fallen creatures, who love evil and hate the good.”
Were they made into gods? Not at all, they are closer to the gates of hell than becoming a god. Did they die? Well, not initially, but they would eventually die physically. They did die spiritually, losing their intimacy with God and there was eternal death introduced, as sin must be paid for. So Adam and Eve quickly realized that sin never delivers what it promises. In sin you might get what you want, but be careful because you might not want what you get! They certainly did not expect to experience all of this.
And they knew they were naked. Their innocence was gone. A whole new way of thinking entered their minds. They felt completely exposed. They did not feel completely pure. Impurity has set in and immediately they try to cover their differences. Notice they covered their “loins,” so “what was formerly understood to be a sign of a healthy relationship between the man and the woman (2:25) has now become something unpleasant and filled with shame.”
So they desperately try to hide their guilt and shame by wrapping themselves in fig leaves. Why fig leaves? Perhaps because “The fig tree produces the largest leaves of any tree that grows in Palestine, and if such large-leafed trees were in the garden, then the couple would choose those that provide most coverage.” Here is the first ever attempt of man by self-effort and self-works to cover guilt and shame. Ever since the Fall, we try very hard to look honorable and sinless. The gap between who we are and who we present ourselves to be can be wide as we try to cover up our flaws.
Our hearts do not know what to do with guilt. A few years ago Jesse Jacobs came up with a hotline where guilty people can leave apologies on an answering machine without actually talking to the person they have wronged. So people were confessing things from adultery to embezzlement.
The hot line offered participants a chance to alleviate their guilt and, to some degree, to own up to their misdeeds," said Jacobs. "I'm just hoping that these people will feel better themselves, just by getting whatever's been bothering them off their chest." One caller to the hot line remarked, "I hope this apology will cleanse me and basically purify my soul…God knows, I need it."
In the West, we are more about guilt than we are about shame. We are innocent until proven guilty. So a father can turn in a son if he sees him break the law, because that is of ultimate value. If you are sitting in a classroom and the principal calls you over the intercom to come to the office, what is the immediate reaction? “What did you do?!” He could have been handing out rewards, but we automatically assume guilt and breaking the law.
Honor and shame, however, is a strong value ingrained in the East. Your value is what others perceive of you. Blogger Mark Naylor writes that with cultures that function as an honor-shame have “their interpersonal relationships provide the motivation for their actions. The issue of brokenness is not guilt – whether or not they have transgressed a law – but shame – how a particular action is perceived by themselves and others within the context of a community that determines their identity.” So everything is done to protect the honor of the family or people group. So if the principal calls your home in this paradigm, your mom might initially say, “What have you done to this family?!” So when we do not marry the right person or go to the right school or get the right job, great shame weighs on our soul, that we have disappointed our family.
So what happens when the honor/shame taught second-generation of an ethnic group from the East is born and raised in the innocent/guilty culture of the West? We get really confused and broken over sin. We feel guilty and shameful at the same time, all the time. Confessing sin is not easy for us. Guilt and shame tear at us from different directions. So Paul Eckman observes,
Shame is closely related to guilt, but there is a key qualitative difference. No audience is needed for feelings of guilt, no one else need know, for the guilty person is his own judge. Not so for shame. The humiliation of shame requires disapproval or ridicule by others. If no one ever learns of a misdeed there will be no shame, but there still might be guilt. Of course, there may be both. The distinction between shame and guilt is very important, since these two emotions may tear a person in opposite directions. The wish to relieve guilt may motivate a confession, but the wish to avoid the humiliation of shame may prevent it.
But we see that guilt and shame come as a result of the Fall, but what a joy to know that we have a God who not only bears the penalty of our sin and forgives the debt and declares us not guilty, but we have, but also took our shame and raised us to honor! Christ became a shameful laughingstock to the world as all of our sins, past, present and future was exposed and judged. So I can be free to confess sin to the Lord and to you, because my primary concern is not to bring you honor, but Him honor, who has forgiven me of my sin and guilt. Are you hiding behind guilt and shame today? Confess it to the Lord! Be free in Him. And confess it to a brother or sister. And when Satan comes with a long list of sins you are guilty of, you can tell him, “PAID IN FULL”! Jesus paid it all!
Guilt and shame have a couple of brothers:
b) Hiding, fear and isolation (vv.8-10)
Sin always produces a fear that causes us to hide from the One who loves us the most. Sin and hiding are Siamese twins of the soul! We hide as in Francis Thompson’s poem, Hound of Heaven, “down the labyrinth ways of my own mind.” In other words, we hide from God through denials and rationalizations. We also hide to avoid pain and embarrassment. We may hide behind our laughter, our career or our looks. And look at our first parents. They are so broken that despite the shame, the guilt, the wicked feelings they were experiencing, despite not knowing when they will die, they would rather hide in fear than repent. Here is the first hide-and-seek game ever played. Ever played that game? What is the seeker called? “It” (never understood that—at least call it Captain IT!) Adam and Eve hid and God was “IT.” But God is the best seeker there is and ready or not, here He comes!
The idea of God “walking” here in Gen. 3:8 indicates the close intimacy and fellowship they enjoyed with God before. It’s not like God wasn’t already there. He is omnipresent. The author is highlighting the fellowship that man enjoyed with his creator, which is now lost. Just as they tried to hide themselves from each other, they now try to hide from God. I picture these guys in their fig leaf outfit trying to camouflage themselves like a chameleon or a stick insect blending into its environment. As we learned in Psalm 139, God can see you anywhere! Also, I wonder if this could this be a pre-incarnate Christ who used to meet with them? Possibly, since throughout Genesis, God seems to appear to humans, which we know is Christ.
Notice “the presence of the Lord.” Like we saw in Jonah, the presence of God is where you had your identity and sense of self-worth. It’s gone now. Look at verse 9. And now we have the first words of God in the Bible and it’s a question: “Where are you?” Did God not know? Of course not! God is omniscient. This was not for God to know, but for Adam and Eve to realize and come out of hiding. It is a question of helping Adam and Eve to realize where they were in their relationship with God, not where they were literally in the garden. This is not the cry of a policeman looking for a criminal, but a father searching for lost children. As one commentator notes, “God did not run after them in the heat of the day to apprehend and annihilate them.” Again, Adam, being the head of the family, is questioned first.
Commentator Derek Kidner adds, “God’s first word to fallen man has all the marks of grace. It is a question, since to help him he must draw rather than drive him out of hiding.” God could have asked, “Why are you hiding?” or “How could you?!” But instead we see a question that best reflects God’s gracious heart. Do you think Adam would have come out of hiding if God hadn’t called him out? I don’t know, but I would not be surprised if he died there hiding for the rest of his life if God had not intervened!
Notice that God allows Adam to hide. Before they ran into the trees, He could have stopped them and been like, “No you don’t! Where do you think you are going?” God allows them to hide. It’s like playing hide and seek with Abbie. She always hides in the same place and she laughs the entire time! God will let you hide, but God will always come for you and when you are ready with a willing heart to allow Him to find you and see you in all of your brokenness, you will be healed. God will always initiate closeness with us, even when we are withholding ourselves from him.
Notice Adam’s answer in Gen. 3:10. I like how one commentator put it: “So Adam, realizing that God had found him, rose from his hiding-place, shamefaced, wearing his ridiculous fig leaves, mumbling his reply. And his wife crept out slowly after him.” What does he confess? He confesses his fear, but not his sin. He says nothing about offending God who gave him life, a helper and paradise. This is kind of humorous. I was naked? Really Adam? Didn’t you just cover yourself Adam? How naked are you now? “God, I was embarrassed that you would see me with limited clothing and being afraid, I..um…” See the depths of depravity. We cannot own up to our true condition. We do not want to repent. Fear has replaced the joy. Intimacy was replaced by isolation. Freedom was replaced by slavery. They were duped.
This is not how it was meant to be. We are not meant to hide. We were created to be fully exposed. Fully known. Fully loved. But now with sin in the picture, we want to hide so badly. I don’t want to be exposed in my fallenness and darkness. And we believe that if people really knew the truth about me, if I truly allow God to shine the light on my heart with all of my fears and brokenness, with my guilt and my shame, I will not be loved. And this fear of being known and not loved, keeps us from God and from each other.
John Ortberg, in his excellent book, Love Beyond Reason, says, “The irony] is that I hide because I’m afraid if the full truth about me is known I won’t be loved. But whatever is hidden cannot be loved. I can only be loved by the extent that I am known. I can only be fully loved if I am fully known.” Here Adam in fear, runs from the fellowship of God, who already fully knows him and apparently still loves him, since He is seeking him.
Notice that God presses Adam further. Loved ones, God will never settle with just our half-truth, symptom focused, surface-level confession. He wants full confession, so He asks another question. By the way, sometimes we think when we get to Heaven we are going to ask God lots of questions. It’s like we are going to put God on trial. But like Job says, men will prepare their case, but when God finally arrives, He’ll be the only one asking the questions! (Job 13:18; 38:1ff). By the way, the Bible says nothing will be hidden from God on judgment day (2 Cor. 4:5) and those who hid from God all of their lives on earth will have to give an account.
Author Robert Fulghum writes of a time when he was sitting in his office looking outside his window. He saw a bunch of kids playing hide and seek. He watched one boy find a bunch of leaves and grinning about finding such a great location, he hid. Soon “IT” ran around and found everyone, except this boy. The kids eventually forgot about him! Fulghum says, “I considered going out…telling them where he is hiding. And I thought about setting the leaves on fire. Finally I yelled, ‘Get found, kid!”
That is our depravity. We are good at hiding. We desperately need to be sought. Yet we are confused about being found. Fulghum shared about a man who found out he had cancer. He didn’t want to burden his family, so he never told anyone. Eventually he died. While everyone said how brave he was to suffer in silence, his family and friends in private were angry that he didn’t trust their strength and sad that they weren’t there as he needed them. He hid “too good.”
And there are no better hiders than those who come to church. And here the Lord comes to our worship service and says, “Get found kid!” He’s still the best seeker out there. Does anyone need to come out of their trees today? Jesus told Zacchaeus, who was also good at hiding in a tree, “The Son of man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). God is drawing you to come out. He will not coerce your confession. He wants a full confession for you to experience His full love. When was the last time you confessed your sin to the Lord and to a brother or sister here? Many of you are in discipleship relationships. Do you honestly and authentically confess? Or do you hide?
Lastly, we not only have guilt and shame, hiding in fear and isolation as consequences of our sin, we also have:
c) Denial and Blame Shifting (vv.11-13)
God is trying to draw Adam to repentance by asking Adam questions. God is urging confession here rather than enforcing condemnation. He’s trying to get to the root of his heart (just like Jonah!). God essentially asks, “Who told you that you were naked? You were naked since I made you. Did you see yourself in the pool or in the river? Where is this shame coming from? How did you all of a sudden decide you were naked and this was inappropriate?” Adam, own up brother. You felt shame because of your sin. You disobeyed me. Just confess it! Why is confession so important? Pastor Jon Courson says, “God wants to get me to a place where I confess to Him—not because He wants to embarrass me or needs information about my sin, but because when I confess sin, it loses its grip on me. That’s why confession is so important.”
Notice God then gets to the issue: “Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” God is almost putting the words in Adam’s mouth. And Adam could have said, “Yes, God, I ate of the fruit and since I ate I have felt the corruption and the evil and the shame and the nakedness and the fear that You would judge me and that's why I'm hiding." Does he say this?
Unfortunately, no, look at Gen. 3:12. Adam says, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” How horrible when even we are caught red-handed, we still refuse to repent. Adam, with nowhere to go and nowhere to hide, says he’s a victim and shifts the blame. Notice he not only blames Eve, but “the woman whom you gave to be with me.” One pastor translated Adam as saying, “I was doing fine, minding my own business, but you gave me that wicked woman.” Another author says, “God, you put this dangerous creature at my side. I’m not guilty, God. You’re guilty!” God it’s your fault. God, you sinned! Who is Adam sounding like now? Satan! In essence, he’s saying, God, you are not good. A better God would not have given me this woman. Adam thinks God has withheld some blessing from him. Look at the consequence of sin. Satan promised they would be like God, but in the end, they became more like Satan!
Isn’t it interesting that rather than becoming omnipotent (all-powerful) gods, Adam says he is now a helpless victim of circumstance? And what does Eve say when God asks her? She shifts the blame to the serpent. The first “devil made me do it” excuse. Here are the poster children for denial and blame shifting. I must admit, for her credit, Eve does not blame God like Adam says and does admit she was deceived. Nevertheless, there is no hint of contrite and broken hearts here.
Look at what has happened here. Adam, when God had brought Eve to him initially, enthusiastically started singing, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man” (Gen. 2:23). He busted out with a poem! It was God’s gracious provision for Adam. Now look. Man see’s God’s provisions as the source of his trouble. The problem is in man’s heart, but instead he blames the gift and the giver. One commentator adds, “Here [are] the divisive effects of sin, setting man against his dearest companion (cf. 2:23) and alienating him from his all-caring creator.”
There is always somebody to blame. Today people sue for everything. If you lose your job, just sue your company for mental distress. You drink and drive and kill somebody, sue your friends for not warning you when you were drinking. I exaggerate, but that’s how fallen we are. We blame everybody and everything, even God, when we do not want to be accountable for our actions. Author and Pastor Kent Hughes observes, “Some students cheat, rationalizing that God is to blame for giving them a difficult professor and a busy schedule. Some thieves steal, blaming life and God for their stealing, “God, you know my weaknesses, but there it was. Why did you allow it?” Consider the adulterous man who blames God for the ingredients that led to his sin—his depression, his poor self-image, that woman, the faraway place, his loneliness.”
Do you blame God today for your circumstances, your parents, your background, etc. when there is sin in your life? Do you play victim? Do you blame your hormones, essentially blaming God for how He has made you? Have you minimized His provisions and magnified His prohibitions? Be careful loved ones, as “anytime I blame someone else—be it a spouse, a parent, a boss, an employee, a neighbor—I am ultimately blaming the One who put that person in my life.”
Next time we will look at further consequences of our Fall and what God did to save us.
I don’t know if you noticed that the trees play a prominent role here in the story. Author John Sailhamer says, “The trees play a central role in depicting humanity’s changing relationship with God. First, in chapters 1 and 2, the fruit trees were the sign of God’s beautiful provision. Then, at the beginning of chapter 3, the trees became the ground for inciting the man and the woman to rebellion and the place where the rebellious man and woman sought to hide from God. Finally, when the man and the woman are cast out of the Garden, their way is barred from the Tree of life (Gen. 3:24).” Now look at Deut. 21:22-23. The tree was the place of punishment of death. Paul would say later that the very symbol of where we rebelled against God and the curse was placed on us, the tree, God would Himself one day die, taking our curse. The tree of death became the tree of life!
Look at all the consequences. Christ has taken them all. He took our guilt and our shame. He became sin and our sins were fully known by God. He was judged for it and found guilty. God’s wrath was poured out on Him. He took our place. He took our sin and carried it on the cross for the whole world to see. And He didn’t say a word when he was blamed. He accepted it, like a lamb led to the slaughter, though He was blameless. He took our blame and imputed to us his blameless righteousness. We no longer have to hide in our sin. He saw it already, judged it and extends His love and forgiveness. Get found kid!
In the story Phantom of the Opera, the phantom, Erik, has a horribly disfigured face, so he wears this mask. He hides in this opera house, not wanting to be seen by others and also because he has done some things he should not have done. But then he meets a woman named Christine. She touches his heart. At the climax of the story, the mask is removed. He knows his face is hideous and waits for Christine to scream in horror. She doesn’t. Her heart would become moved by compassion and pity, and she even kisses his scarred face. Her love changes him. When he allowed her to fully see him, with all of his disfigurement and he stopped hiding, he was fully known and fully loved. First the mask must come off. Then love can penetrate the heart.
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