Thursday, April 5, 2018

Genesis 3:8-13 Sin's Fruits are Shame, Guilt and Fear

KEY TEXT: Genesis 3:7-13 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 they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord 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, and I hid myself." He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" The man said, "The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate." Then the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this that you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."

KEY THOT: Sin has negative consequences: primarily, it leads to a breakdown in relationships. Before Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, they were naked but unashamed: "And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed" (Genesis 2:25). But sin causes their eyes to be opened, knowing good and evil: they suddenly became self-conscious and experienced a new uncomfortable emotion called shame. The effect of shame is a loss of innocence and transparency: "Then the eyes of both were opened, and they  knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths" (Genesis 3:7). They needed to cover up their nakedness because they felt shameful now. That is the first effect of sin: shame.

The next negative emotion they experienced was guilt: before sin came, they welcomed God's presence. But now that they had sinned against God, they experienced guilt. They now had to hide themselves from the Lord God who came into the Garden to fellowship with them: "the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden" (v.8). Guilt causes us to run from anything that is holy: God, church, Bible and prayer meetings. Sin and God's holy presence cannot co-exist. 

The third negative emotion Adam and Eve experienced is fear: the new experience of fear is destructive and damaging because it undermines their love for God and caused them to dread God rather than love God because this kind of fear has to do with divine judgment: "For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love" (1 John 4:18). God had told them that in the day that they ate of the fruit from the forbidden tree, they would die. 

Now, they fear the consequence of their sin, which is death. As Paul says thousands of years later: "For the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). In fact, the fear of death has kept many people in bondage to the devil and Jesus Christ came to break this bondage caused by fear:  "that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery" (Hebrews 2:14-15). 

These three emotions create a new kind of behaviour--blame-shifting. Instead of taking personal responsibility for their actions, Adam blamed Eve for giving him the fruit to eat; indirectly, he also blamed God for giving Eve to him: "The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate" (Genesis 3:12). Well, we have learned in the CWR counselling seminar that everyone has a choice. No one can ever say, "I've no choice but to do it." What God is calling for is admission of guilt by taking personal responsibility, not blame-shifting. 

Eve was not to be outdone by Adam: she shifted the blame down the food-chain and pointed to the serpent: "The serpent deceived me, and I ate" (v.13). But now in our modern and sophisticated age, we can shift the blame to invisible factors: the genes, government or "society". For modern believers, we have a new thing to shift our blame--bad theology. We blame the theology of confession of sins for the reason we are still feeling shame, guilt and fear. Instead of acknowledging our sin through confession (which is just admitting personal responsibility) , we devise new and clever ways to avoid responsibility for our own actions. The result is we continue to allow these damaging emotions of shame, guilt and fear to dominate and dictate our behaviour.

The only cure for these destructive and negative emotions is not shifting the blame to someone or something else: the cure is simply to humble ourselves, admit we have sinned so that God may forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness, including the emotions of shame, guilt and fear: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

So, we have a choice: we can either take personal responsibility for our actions or we can blame someone or something else for making us feel guilty, ashamed and afraid.

Abba-Father, grant us the grace to take responsibility for our actions when we have sinned against You so that we may be cleansed of shame, guilt and fear that our fellowship with You may be restored through confession. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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