************ Sermon on Genesis 3:7-13 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on Nov 7, 2010
"Shame Without Repentance"
Genesis 3 relates what has to be the saddest chapter of human history. Mankind eats the forbidden fruit. The first man and first woman break the only command given to them. Adam and Eve fail to keep the Covenant of Works.
What is the humans' response to what they have done? We see shame in verse 7. But do you know what we don't see? We don't see two repentant sinners who voluntarily confess their guilt and seek forgiveness. God must pry the truth out of them, and even then they give it most reluctantly.
Shame without repentance. That is what we see on this Preparatory Sunday. You are being asked to examine yourself this coming week, congregation. You are being asked to examine yourself before you come to the Lord's Table. Will you be like Adam and Eve? Will you have shame without repentance? Does the truth have to be pried out of you or do you voluntarily confess your guilt and seek God's forgiveness?
I Hide from Each Other (verse 7)
A What is the first thing that happens when Adam and Eve fall into sin? Scripture says,
(Gen 3:7) Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Remember what Satan said to Eve? Which is now confirmed as nothing but a lie? Don't ever forget that Satan never holds to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies (cf Jn 8:44). Well, here is his second lie:
(Gen 3:5) "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
Satan was partly right. Their eyes were opened all right. And what did they come to know? "They realized they were naked." This is hardly the knowledge for which they bargained. So, from the beginning Satan shows himself to be a liar, a twister of the truth, a master at deception.
B "Then the eyes of both of them were opened ... and they realized they were naked." How are we to understand the nakedness? Were Adam and Eve oblivious to their lack of clothing? Did it never occur to them they had no covering?
"Then the eyes of both of them were opened ... and they realized they were naked." What do they do? "They sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves."
What is the purpose of clothing here? Clothing hides.
Let's go back to Genesis 2. Do you remember how that chapter ends?
(Gen 2:25) The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.Before the fall into sin, Adam and Eve had nothing to hide, nothing embarrassing to cover up, nothing shameful to conceal. After the fall, they suddenly felt the need to hide, to cover up, to conceal. Why this difference? The difference is shame.
What is shame? Shame is something we experience at the horizontal level. Shame is something we experience before our fellow man. Because of a social mistake or a serious sin we bring disgrace, frustration, and loss of face upon ourselves and those closest to us. According to the commander of the king's army, King David brought shame upon himself when he mourned about the death of Absalom (2 Sam 19:6). According to Proverbs, an ill-mannered child brings shame and disgrace upon his mother (Ps 29:15).
Before the fall, Adam and Eve felt no shame. After the fall, Adam and Eve did feel shame. Suddenly they were embarrassed. And ashamed. And felt the need to cover up, to hide, to conceal. From each other. Here is a foretaste of all human relations. Because of the fall, we need to hide our true selves from one another. There is a new show on TV called "Lie to Me." The star of the show specializes in reading expressions, twitches, body language, nervous gestures, dilated pupils, frowns, wrinkling of the forehead or nose, and so on. The premise is that you cannot hide the truth from him. We know better than that. All of us would be horrified if our innermost thoughts would be revealed for all to see. In most homes, husbands and wives have absolutely silly arguments that are embarrassing for others to witness. So, as fallen creatures, we hide, we cover up, we conceal. That is what Adam and Eve began to do when they made pathetic covers for themselves out of fig leaves. Fig leaves were probably chosen because the fig tree produces the largest leaves of any tree that grows in Palestine.
Shame is a powerful emotion. Used the right way, it can bring healing and cleansing and forgiveness. Here is an article I clipped from Newsweek years ago:
A 16-year-old Maryland boy who is serving time in a juvenile-detention center for sexually molesting his 9-year-old sister wants to go home. But before officials will release him, the boy must convince his family that he feels a sense of shame.
In this case, showing that he is ashamed means not just admitting his crime and apologizing to his sister, but literally getting down on his knees before her and begging for her forgiveness.
When the therapist tells the boy this, he looks stunned. When he realizes that his freedom depends on an apology, he cocks his head in his sister's direction and says, "Sorry." Everyone in the room rejects the apology as insincere. Despite the pleas and threats of his family, the boy holds firm. "I won't do that," he says over and over again. "Tell the court, forget it." Even after other family members get down on their knees to apologize to the sister for not seeing the signs of abuse, the boy refuses and is returned to detention.
After another week away from his family, he changes his mind. The room is still. He drops to his knees and, saying his sister's name, he says: "I'm sorry for taking advantage of you. I'm sorry for sexually molesting you. I'm sorry for getting on top of you. I'm sorry for blaming you. And I'm sorry for not apologizing the last time." Tears all around. The boy has finally expressed a sense of shame about what he has done.
(Newsweek, February 6, 1995, p.21)
II Hide from God (verse 8)
A So, the first man and the first woman feel shame. What was the result? Did they repent like the boy in the Newsweek article? Did they come before the Almighty to confess their guilt and their shame? Hardly!
"Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden" (Gen 3:8).
Again, remember Satan's lie? "You will be like God." So, after they attempted to be like God what do the first man and first woman do? They not only hide from each other; now we see that they also hide from God. Concealment is the order of the day.
They conceal themselves from the Lord. Instead of casting themselves on the mercy of their Creator, they try to flee from the only One Who can overcome their shame. They do not hope in His mercy but rather look to the shadows for salvation. They do not humble themselves before God. They do not fear His judgments. Instead, they hide.
On this Preparatory Sunday, aren't Adam and Eve a picture of you and me? Don't we attempt to bury the disgrace of our vices and sins under flimsy leaves and in the shadows of trees and bushes? Aren't we like King David who tried to hide his sin with Bathsheba (2 Sam 11-12)? We hide from the Lord's holiness instead of fleeing to the cross for mercy (1 Jn 2:1-2).
On this Preparatory Sunday, this passage is a lesson on how lost man really is. There are those who think fallen man can repent and believe on his own. That fallen man can make a decision for Christ. That fallen man is capable of coming to God. This passage reminds us that no sinners will in any way flee from sin, repent of evil, and turn to Jesus apart from the call and regeneration of the Spirit.
B Notice, Adam and Eve hear the sound of the LORD God. They don't hear His voice. They hear the sound of God walking. How did they know this was the sound of God walking and not the sound of a lion or a bear or a moose? Obviously, they recognized this sound. Obviously, they must have heard this sound before the fall into sin. Before the fall, man must have walked with God and talked with God and enjoyed the closest possible fellowship with God.
They hear the sound of God walking in the Garden and this time, instead of eagerly going to Him, they hide among the trees of the Garden. Throughout Scripture, this is the impulse of fallen humanity: to hide from the presence or the face of God. Remember the cry of Isaiah after he saw the glory of the Lord?
(Is 6:5) "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."Remember how God had to shelter Moses in a cleft in a rock as the Almighty passed by Moses with His glory – for no sinner may see the face of God and live (Ex 33:18ff)? Remember how Jonah tried to flee from the presence of the Lord (Jon 1:3)? Remember the cry of the earth-dwellers facing God's judgment in Revelation 6?
(Rev 6:16) They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!"Compare that to the experience of the Redeemed in the new heaven and new earth who live with God (Rev 21:3) and see God's face (Rev 22:4).
C Adam and Eve hide from God. In the trees of the Garden. Really?! What were they thinking? Can anyone hide from God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth? Remember the words of David in Psalm 139:
(Ps 139:7) Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?The answer is "nowhere"! Nowhere, for there is no place in all of creation from which the Lord is absent (cf Ps 139:8-12).
Vainly we assume or hope God is blind to our wickedness. That flimsy leaves and shadows will hide us from the all-seeing and all-knowing and everywhere-present God. How often do we forget God is watching us as we fall into temptation? How often don't we try to hide our guilt, minimize our transgression, and avoid confession? Remember this as you prepare for the Lord's Supper.
Adam and Eve foolishly imagined their Creator would not find them out.
How do you respond when you sin? Do you cling to the promises of Jesus for forgiveness or do you vainly seek to hide from Him?
III God's Pursuit of Adam and Eve (verse 9-13)
A Adam and Eve hide from God. They duck for cover. They hope to make themselves invisible and escape from their deeds.
Does God leave them alone? Does He leave them in their shame and fear? Does He permit them their delusions – God doesn't see us! Of course not!
What does God do? God pursues the first couple. Over the next few verses, we see that God conducts an inquest, extracts a confession, and pronounces sentence. Immediately, then, we see that the Almighty Creator is gracious and kind and loving. Because He doesn't leave man in his sin. Nor does He do what He threatened to do if man ate from the forbidden Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil: He doesn't kill man on the spot (cf Gen 2:17).
Notice how God pursues the first couple. He asks four questions. Four simple questions:
1. "Where are you?" Gen 3:9)
2. "Who told you that you were naked?" (Gen 3:11)
3. "Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?" (Gen 3:11)
4. "What is this you have done?" (Gen 3:13)
B "Where are you?" (Gen 3:9). The first word of the all-knowing, all-seeing, and everywhere-present God to fallen man has all the marks of grace. It is a question, not a command, not an accusation. It is intended to draw man out rather than drive man out. God Almighty was giving Adam an opportunity to confess his sin. The Lord God knew Adam and Eve had violated His command. The Lord God knew Adam and Eve were hiding in the bushes.
"Where are you?" (Gen 3:9). Out of guilty fear, Adam explains where he is. He blames the sound of God walking in the Garden as his reason to go into hiding. This from the man who used to walk with God and talk with God. He admits his nakedness and his shame. But does not confess his guilt (Gen 3:10).
"Who told you that you were naked?" (Gen 3:11). Was it the serpent who told you? Was it the woman who told you? Was it your own eyes that told you? In other words, what is the source of your shame, your cover up, your attempt to hide?
What was Adam's response to this question? Nada. Nothing. He doesn't want to talk about his shame. He doesn't want to be further embarrassed and humiliated.
"Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?" (Gen 3:11). Before admitting to anything, notice what Adam does: he blames the woman and he blames God. "The woman you put here with me" (Gen 3:12). You. You gave me the woman. You put her in my life. "She gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it" (Gen 3:12). Adam admits to eating the forbidden fruit but he minimizes his blame.
"What is this you have done?" (Gen 3:13). The woman, like the man, knows how to pass the buck and evade responsibility. But she too confesses. "The serpent deceived me, and I ate" (Gen 3:13).
Isn't this just like sinful man? We try to avoid responsibility. We try to shift blame. We blame our boss, our spouse, our parents, our situation, our environment, our loss. We blame everything and everyone but ourselves. We don't want to take personal responsibility for our sins.
The message on this Preparatory Sunday is that we must accept the blame. When we sin, there is no one to blame but ourselves. When we sin, we need to accept personal responsibility for our sins. So, if you have blamed someone else for a sin in your life, repent.
Look at the first man and first woman on this Preparatory Sunday. We see shame without repentance. We see shame with someone else taking the blame. We don't see a broken and a contrite spirit. We see how far and how quickly man has fallen.
Yet, we also see a gracious, kind, and compassionate God Who loves us and forgives us in Christ!
In conclusion, do you know what we see in Scripture today? We see the fulfilment of something later promised by God: namely, that the Word of the Lord always achieves its goal. But this should not surprise us, for His Word never returns without accomplishing its purposes (Is 55:10-11). We see today that God's Word brought Adam and Eve to confess their sin and cover up their shame.
So tell me, on this Preparatory Sunday, do you harden yourself against the Word of God or do you respond in repentance and faith?
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