Last time we looked at how Adam and Eve’s sin dramatically changed their response to God in Genesis 3. But these verses also begin to show us God’s gracious response to sin. We don’t find a bolt of lightning coming out of heaven and incinerating Adam and Eve. Instead, we see God coming to seek the hiding sinners:
Then they heard the sound of Yahweh God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of Yahweh God in the midst of the trees of the garden.
Yahweh God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:8-9)
God takes a rather gentle approach here, don’t you think? This is not the response you might have expected. You might assume that some instant act of divine judgment would fall on their heads. But instead, you find God initiating the confrontation very gently, with a question.
Here is the seeking God. And even today, God still seeks sinners. Frankly, had God just killed Adam and Eve, it would have been a righteous execution. There’s nothing in them that deserved kindness. This is grace. This is the first time we see grace in Scripture: grace that withholds deserved destruction.
And the fact of the matter is, He’s not asking for information. He’s not wandering around saying, “Where are you, Adam?” He knew where Adam was. What He was really wanting was for Adam to step forward on his own and confess his sin.
This is the approach of a compassionate, loving, gracious, merciful God who is by nature a Savior seeking a sinner.
With His question, He’s not so much asking where Adam is located, but where he is in terms of condition. He says, “Where are you?” in the manner of saying, “So where are you now, Adam? Now that you have sinned, now that you have disobeyed Me, in what condition do you find yourself? Explain your condition. Where are you, Adam?”
Now, what do you think He’s asking Adam to say? “I’m in sin. I have sinned.” This is an opening for repentance. He’s saying, “Adam, you’re hiding, aren’t you? What condition are you in?” This is God coming to the sinner in a gracious way, giving him the opportunity to acknowledge his condition.
But Adam responds with half-truths, evasion, deception and blame shifting.
Why? First of all, he likes the feelings of sin. Men love darkness. And his pride is too great to acknowledge the reality of what he has done, to the point that he can’t bring himself to tell the truth, even to God Himself, with whom Adam has walked many an evening and conversed in intimate and pure fellowship. He cannot break the pattern of sin, nor can he repent. That’s depravity. He does not have the capacity to stop sinning or to honestly repent. He lost the pure innocence that he possessed.
This is Adam’s reply:
And he said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” (Genesis 3:10)
This is ridiculous. He had just covered himself; how naked was he? That is not the real issue. You see, the man can’t tell the truth now about his own condition. That is the mark of depravity. He will not acknowledge what he is.
That single-minded experience of truth which he had known up to this day, where he spoke only the truth and loved only the truth, is gone. It’s corrupted, and now he evades and deceives and shifts the blame. He doesn’t say anything about offending God who gave him life and paradise.
Adam is fallen, but fallen man is self-protective in his proud wickedness. So Adam doesn’t say, “O God, I did what You told me not to do. I confess I sinned, and I ate, and I am so sorry. What can I do to be restored to You?” That’s not going to happen. Depravity doesn’t work like that. There’s no confession. There’s no repentance. There’s no asking for forgiveness. What he does is say, “I was afraid of You.”
Adam says, “You frighten me. I was afraid because I was naked.” He will not say, “Because I sinned.” This is evasive. He’s fallen and he will not acknowledge his sin.
So God digs a little deeper:
And He said, “Who told you that you were naked?” (Genesis 3:11)
That is a good question. And what’s the answer? Nobody told them. That’s exactly the point.
You see, Adam and Eve experienced that indictment, that consciousness of nakedness, because they had violated their conscience. They had fallen into sin and corruption, and the shame and awareness of being naked rose up from inside of them. The answer to the question, “Who told you you were naked,” is, “Nobody.” Nobody told them they were naked. They felt that nakedness.
Adam should have said, “You know, nobody told us that, but all of a sudden we felt shame. We felt that we were naked, and we felt this pervasive kind of evil, and we wanted to try to find a way to cover it.”
This is an opportunity to confess. This is an opportunity to repent. But that’s not how depravity acts. Well, Adam wouldn’t confess. But you know something? God did it for him. He actually did it for him. God answers the question:
Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat? (Genesis 3:11)
Can’t get any more specific than that. Where is Adam going to go now? He has tried to evade the subject of his sins, but it didn’t work. And now God is putting words in Adam’s mouth. All Adam has to say is, “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.”
He could have said that. He doesn’t say that:
And the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave to me from the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12)
Adam is not going to confess. He has spoken in half-truths and evaded things, and now he is shifting blame. I mean, he has got nowhere else to turn, because now it is clear that God knows he has done what God told him not to do. There’s no way to escape that, so all he has left to say is, “Oh, but I am a victim.”
In response to God’s gracious prompting, Adam deflects to Eve. And we will examine this decision next time.
This post is based on a sermon Dr. MacArthur preached in 2000, titled “Confrontation in Eden.”
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