Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?The man said,The woman you put here with me — she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.Then the LORD God said to the woman,What is this you have done?Genesis 3:11b-13
There is something very interesting here. God asks essentially the same question to both the man and the woman. He is saying to each,
Tell me, what is it that you did? Specifically, definitely, clearly what is it that you did? But there is an exquisite touch of delicacy and grace here that we ought not to miss. He does not put the question in the same form to Adam and Eve. To the man, He is forthright and blunt:
Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat? But to the woman He puts the question much more softly and gently.
It is comforting to me to realize how fully God understands women, so that He puts the question to her very gently. He says,
Tell me in your own way, now, what is this that you have done? It is significant that in their answers, both Adam and Eve come out at the same place. Each blames someone else (we call this human nature, as it is such a widespread, universal response), but when they come to their final statement, they both use exactly the same words:
and I ate.
That is where God wants to bring them. That is what the Bible calls repentance. It is a candid statement of the facts with no attempt now to evade them, color them, or clothe them in any other form. It is a simple, factual statement to which they are both reduced:
and I ate.
Notice how these questions have followed a designed course. God has made them first admit,
We're not where we ought to be—we know that. We ought not to be hidden in the garden. We ought not to be lost. We ought not to require a question like this: God has made them see that something has happened within them. They have seen that they are where they are because of what they are, and all of this has happened because they disobeyed, because they ate the forbidden food, they sinned. God has led them graciously, and yet unerringly, to the place where each of them, in their own way, has said,
Where are you?
Yes, Lord, I sinned; I ate.
That is as far as people can ever go in correcting evil. They can do no more than that. But that immediately provides the ground for God to act. This is where He constantly seeks to bring us, because it provides Him with the only ground upon which He can act. You can see this throughout the whole Bible, in the Old and New Testament alike. When God is dealing with people, He seeks to bring them to the place where they acknowledge what is wrong.
This is what God wants to do with us. He finds us in our failure, our estrangement, our guilt, our sense of nakedness and loss, and immediately He moves to bring us to repentance. We misunderstand His moving. We think He is dragging us before some tribunal in order to chastise us or punish us, but He is not. He is simply trying to get us to face the facts as they are. That is what He does here with Adam and Eve.
Thank you, Lord, for the way in which You bring me to this place of repentance. Help me not to hide, but to bring my sin to light that I might experience your grace and mercy.
As God moves to bring us to repentance, do we see His actions motivated by His grace and mercy? Do we respond with evasiveness, or with honest confession?