Genesis 3:1-7, 21 (ESV)
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.
Everyone believes there’s something wrong with the world. No matter his or her ideology, every neighbor, coworker, classmate, and friend of ours inherently views the world as being problematic. Everyone also has some idea (whether vague or specific) of who is at fault and what should be done to fix things. Some blame the government, others blame the rich, the poor, men, women, certain ethnic groups, nations, political parties, etc. Even though there’s vehement disagreement over what the main issue is, we all know that the world is messed up.
This passage in Genesis introduces to us God’s view of what’s wrong with the world and who exactly is at fault. In almost every other viewpoint in our society, the problem is with someone else or some group–external to us. Only the people like us or like those whom we deem capable are the ones deputized to fix it. It’s an “us” and “them” mentality. When reading this passage in context, we see in Genesis 1 and 2 that God created an exceedingly good world, where all relationships, all people, and all of life worked as it should. Then Genesis 3 happens. After this, for the rest of Genesis everything is broken. Even the “good guys” like Noah and Abraham are messed up in one way or another.
This plague has been passed on to us as well. Our relationships with God, one another, and creation are disrupted, and our view of ourselves is destroyed. The last sentence of Genesis 2 is:
“And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” In contrast, by Genesis 3:7, Adam and Eve are covered and ashamed. Covered and ashamed of themselves. Covered and ashamed before one another. Covered and ashamed before God. We know this to be true for us as well. Whether by the evidence of the prevalence of the ‘imposter syndrome’ or by the popularity of Brené Brown’s TED Talks on shame, it’s clear that we all are encumbered with the ‘covered and ashamed’ issue on a deep psychological level. What’s wrong with the world is what is wrong with all of us.
How did this happen? Our first parents substituted something else for God. Though they were amply provided for and had everything they needed to be satisfied, they considered the one thing they were commanded not to have to be the gateway to everything they thought they were missing. Adam and Eve bought into the lie of Satan, and “saw” something about the forbidden fruit that God did not show them. Eve (and subsequently Adam) saw that the forbidden fruit was three things: “good for food”, “a delight to the eyes”, and “was to be desired to make one wise.” In correlation to these three things, the Apostle John writes in 1 John 2:16,
“For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life–is not from the Father but is from the world.” Adam and Eve chose what was from the “world” rather than what was from God. We all choose these same things. This is what sin is—displacing God for what our flesh or eyes desire, or what we want our life to boast of. But those things never produce what we hope they will. This is why we have ended up “covered and are ashamed”–before God, others, and ourselves.
The good news is that like what God did for Adam and Eve, God has done even better for us. God covered Adam and Eve with skins from animals—a foreshadowing. Now God covers us with the blood of His Son. Like us, Jesus was tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4, Luke 4) with the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life. But Jesus did what no one had ever done before or since. He resisted. He resisted his whole life on Earth. Therefore, He became the perfect sacrifice and substitute for us on the cross, and in His resurrection conquered sin, death, and shame. So rather than living our life to cover our own shame, we can live in His covering and be free.
Spend some time with God asking Him and yourself these questions. As you spend time reflecting you may want to write down your answers and anything God gives you.
- In what areas of your life has God already given you freedom from shame?
- In what areas in your life are you currently covering yourself in shame through performance, interaction with others, or self-medication?
- Ask for His grace to know and receive His identity for you in Christ. What is your true identity in Christ?
This week, spend some time worshipping God through prayer, journaling, music, or however you connect with God. Thank Him for how He’s delivered you from areas where you used to “cover” yourself in various ways but now walk in freedom.