If you were in the Garden of Eden, and if you were tempted like Eve was, would you have responded any differently? When taking up the rectorship in my second Church since ordination, I was still pretty naïve! My head was still too heavenly minded to be much earthly good. There I was, leading a Ladies’ Bible Study one Wednesday morning when the conversation moved towards street prostitutes, soliciting in the morning. Some of the ladies saw these women on their way to the Church and commented about them advertising their trade so early in the day. As one put it … “In broad daylight.”
After more than five minutes of exchanging view and opinions, one lady … very prim and proper, whose father-in-law was one of the founders of our Church and who came from a rather wealthy family entered the discussion saying … “But for the grace of God, there go I.” That pulled the rug from under our feet, for she made such a statement that could not be replied to, other than agreement. I shall never forget the silence and looks on the ladies’ faces. Everyone so innocent, as they debated prostitution, when this lady from an upper crust society declared that without God’s grace, she too could have been a prostitute. Everyone was spellbound, unable to comment.
For me it was a great lesson. As a believer it is easy to feel we are holier than the next person … certainly more holy than the prostitute or white collar criminal or drunkard … yet as the lady said … “But for the grace of God, there go I.” So … If you were in the Garden of Eden, and if you were tempted like Eve was, would you have responded any differently? The most obvious answer now will be … “No! But for the grace of God, there go I.” Meaning that if I was Eve I would not have done anything different, and if I was Adam I would not have done anything differently. Please read:
Ge 3:6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 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.
1) An awareness of sin. Suddenly the eyes of their hearts were opened. They were no longer in the temptation mode. They progressed to full blown sin! You have to grasp what has happened here. Eve was promised she would be like God. She would know (experience by knowledge) what it is to understand the realm of good (holiness, separateness, godly morality) and the realm of evil (evil, wicked, rebellion). She was not expecting to become evil and wicked and sinful and rebellious towards God. Her expectation was that she would grasp the two levels of behavior as God did. What happened however, was that her expectations were short lived. The wonderful incite and marvel explosion of her mind’s development never reached the desire goal of expectation. She was … and so was her husband Adam, bitterly disappointed. In place of glorious delight they were plunged into utter shame! Where they thought they would grow rapidly in knowledge, remaining good … they fell to a dismal low … sin! Their experience was innocence lost!
2) Processing from innocence to guilt. There was temptation … subtle, pleasing to the eye, intoxicating, attractive … yet misleading, confusing good mixed with evil. Temptation then moved towards desire. If I eat I will be like God. Perhaps unknown to Eve in her confusion was pride … yes, the first sin … pride. Be like God. Know what God knows. Maybe then I can do what God does! Desire moved to that palpitating passion where the heart beat completely clouded the moral compass leading to the act … eating … sinning … rebellion against God! Is this not the exact process we find, be it stretched out or immediate, leading to sin? When the mind is filled with satanic words and not God’s Words from the Bible, we are vulnerable and exposed to sinful rebellion.
3) Realization of sin. The situation is dire, yet within the darkness if sin we find the tiniest glimmer of hope … they realized they were naked. Before we even get to shame they realized they were naked. There are those today who are oblivious to their sin. It is like second nature. Immediately Adam and Eve sinned they realized they had sinned and this was manifest by being aware of their nakedness. They knew it. That is the glimmer of hope. If you sin and are unaware of your sin, your conscience is dead to the Holy Spirit and His convicting power and this could be a sign of hopelessness.
4) Attempting to stop embarrassment. Realization of sin led to action … seeking to cover up that part of the body which would be used to procreate. One commentator put it like this … “the very fountain and source of human life is contaminated by sin.” It is said that in India there are fig trees that has leaves a few feet longer that the tree. Such leaves could be used to wrap around the body. It was not these leaves. The fig tree’s leave were of such a size that it requires sewing … that is, that in some way, they were able to weave leaves together to form a covering of their private parts. Have you noticed this continues, even to today in the most primitive tribes scattered across the planet?
5) Where does this embarrassment arise from? We have already implied that the Holy Spirit is the source of convicting one of sin. Although Adam and Eve sinned, they were not that far from God not to realize what they did. As soon as they sinned, they were aware they sinned and immediately sort to protect their eyes from each other’s bodies at the point of “generation” (reproduction – procreation). The very Spirit of God who hovered over the unformed earth in Genesis chapter one verse 2 was still present bringing them to grasp their sin. What was there sin? Adam had been given the Probationary Commandment in chapter two verses 16-17 and broke it when he sinned in chapter 3 verse 6. The woman sinned before this but she did not break the command because it was given to Adan not Eve. Yet, both were convicted of their sin and both were embarrassed by their deed and covered themselves up. Their sin was pride, to be like God. The result was shame.
Yet in the face of this horrendous moment, there was hope … they knew they had done wrong. They were aware they rebelled against God. They Holy Spirit made certain they knew they sinned. Their consciences were struck like a bolt of lightning. It has been suggested that the forbidden fruit was some sort of sexual sin. Nowhere is this implied in the Bible. Yet in some way, their sin associates shame with reference to the organs of procreation, which they cover up. We still need to get to the imputation of Adam’s sin … how through Adam all humans are born with an inherent sinful nature. But here is the thought … why do we humans wear clothing? Is it because of hot, cold, wet or dry weather or is it because we are embarrassed and shame by displaying our reproductive organs? Where both are true, I will suggest that largely it is the latter, due to what Adam and Eve passed onto us.
Lord, the process of us sinning is no different to Eve, followed by Adam’s rebellion against You. Graciously keep Your Holy Spirit active in our lives and consciences so that we will know we are about to sin, and to prevent it and should we venture into sin, to feel the heaviness of guilt and rebellion against You, our good God, leading us to repentance. Amen.