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?” And he said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” And the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave to me from the tree, and I ate.”
Then Yahweh God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:8-13)
There are lots of theological definitions of depravity, but let me give you my definition of depravity: Depravity is a condition in which one is unwilling to honestly repent.
Not only is it a condition in which one is unwilling to repent, it is a condition in which one is unable to repent. Depravity is not just seen in man’s inability to stop sinning. It is seen in his penchant for avoiding repentance. Even when he can see the sin and feel the shame, and even when confronted by God, he will do anything and everything to shift the blame away from himself. He will do anything to avoid God if he can, but if he’s finally confronted by God, he will not acknowledge his own sin. And that’s really the essence of depravity.
It isn’t that Adam and Eve didn’t know they sinned. They knew they sinned; they knew they disobeyed. They had experienced sin. They had experienced the knowledge of evil. They had experienced shame. They were feeling guilt before God from their consciences, and that’s why they were hiding from God. They knew they were subject to judgment, and the judgment was death. “In the day you eat you will die,” God said. But in spite of the shame, in spite of the corrupt thoughts, in spite of accusing consciences, in spite of judgment from God, in spite of impending death, rather than repent they tried to evade.
Depravity is a condition in which the sinner will not repent and cannot repent of his sin. And that’s exactly what you see here.
And it’s the same thing that has been going on since then, even until now. Depraved sinners may understand that what they have done is sin. They may feel shame about that sin. They may have to face their corruption. They may even make resolutions to change their lives and stop doing the corrupt things they do. They may also recognize, as Romans 1:32 says, that they are worthy of death. But they cannot stop from sinning, nor can they honestly repent. So what they do is hide from God.
That’s the essence of the action of depravity. Since it cannot stop sinning, it cannot stop its passions. And since it will not repent, and since it understands that there is God and there is judgment, the only thing left to do is to hide from God, one way or another.
Atheists hide from God by saying there is no God. Self-righteous people hide from God by saying that God is not as holy as some would think and that they’re good enough to please God on their own. Other people hide from God by redefining Him.
That’s why where the Word of God is preached and God is worshiped and exalted, sinners are not comfortable. They need something to hide behind. They don’t want to walk into a place where they’re going to be exposed to the true and living God who sits in judgment over their condition.
That’s exactly what we see with Adam and Eve. They are now experiencing evil. They’re feeling the corruption. They’re feeling the shame. They’re feeling the guilt. They’re afraid of God, because they’re afraid He will execute them, because that’s what He said He would do. Rather than repent and seek God’s forgiveness, they hide.
Adam, who was to be the keeper of the garden, to protect the garden, now seeks protection from the Creator by means of the garden. So he hides among the trees of the garden. Trees given for his joy now hide his sadness. The trees, a source of life to him, are now hiding him from death. How ironic.
How can fallen man hide from God in God’s own garden? For that matter, how can fallen man hide from God in God’s own universe? Wherever man goes, he is in God’s territory. Whatever he sees points back to God. Whatever he hears points back to God. This is God’s world, and there is no escape from His presence.
There’s only one way to successfully flee from God, and that is to run to God. Adam and Eve didn’t know that. They couldn’t know that. Their minds had been darkened. Adam and Eve immediately wanted to be distant from God. Sinners have always tried to hide from God, which is the most pervasive irrationality in the mind of the sinner.
This post is based on a sermon Dr. MacArthur preached in 2000, titled “Confrontation in Eden.”
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