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.Genesis 3:7
This account reveals three things that mark the beginning of death, and the proof that this story really occurred is found therein, because these three things are true for every person. When we yield to temptation we experience the pleasures of sin. But what this account forces us to face is that with the pleasure comes an undesirable accompaniment, a fall-out of sin, which we cannot escape. It is all a package deal. Here is spelled out for us the three things that mark the beginning of death.
The first one is this:
they realized they were naked. They were naked all along, but they did not know they were naked until the fall. Why? Because they had never looked at themselves. Their awareness of their nakedness is a symbolic way of expressing the idea that they experienced the birth of what we call self-consciousness. They saw themselves, and the immediate effect was their feelings of shame and embarrassment.
So, like Adam and Eve, we find ourselves making clothes to cover our self-consciousness. This is true at the psychological level as well. This is what lies behind the universal practice of projecting an image of ourselves. That is a form of psychological clothing. It is a way of trying to get people to think of us differently from how we really are. This is why we all find ourselves struggling with the matter of being honest, of being open. We do not want people to see us or think of us as we are. We do not want to spend much time with any one person because we are afraid he or she will see us as we are.
The second thing this account shows us is found in verse 8. Hiding is an instinctive reaction to guilt. Here is the first description of a conscience beginning to function; that inner torment we are all familiar with that cannot be turned off, no matter how hard we try. In fact, often the harder we try to ignore it, the deeper it pierces and the more obdurate it becomes. Psychologists agree that guilt is a universal reaction to life, from which, without apparent reason or explanation, all of us suffer. This sense of guilt haunts us, follows us, makes us afraid. We are afraid of the unknown, of the future, of the unseen.
But there is still a third aspect of this death revealed here: The Lord said,
What is this that you have done? Adam said,
Well, the woman that you gave to me, she gave me the fruit, and I ate. It's her fault. The woman said,
Well, it's not my fault; it's the serpent's fault. The serpent beguiled me, and I ate. This is the first human attempt to deal with the problem of guilt. This is where blame always comes. Ultimately it points the finger at God and says He is at fault. People are simply helpless victims of circumstance. This is what lies behind our urge to blame each other and pin the blame for our actions or attitudes upon some outward circumstance.
Lord, I confess I have seen the marks of death in my own life: self-consciousness, guilt, and blame. Thank You for Your grace, which seeks me out even as I try to hide.
Why is it so easy to blame leaders, spouses, friends, enemies, and even ultimately God for our troublesome circumstances? What three things mark the birth of death?