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THEOLOGY > Sin > Man's Disobedience > Confrontation with God 


And they heard the sound of Yahweh God
walking in the garden in the cool of the day.
Gen. 3:8

God confronted Adam and Eve because of their disobedience; He knew of their rebellious and self-asserting act—they had violated His command. Not only did they disobey God but their deed was an affront to His Sovereignty; they were asserting themselves at God’s expense. And any assertion of human autonomy cannot be allowed to stand; ultimately it will be confronted.

The confrontation of man by God involves two dimensions: sin and salvation. The first focuses on judgment, and the second centers on grace; initially there is the predicament of sin and subsequently there is the remedy of redemption. God came to Adam and Eve pronouncing a curse (Gen. 3:16-19), and then He provided clothing (v. 21).

Confrontation related to Sin

In confronting Adam and Eve God is establishing the fact that He will deal with sin; there must be an accounting, a judgment. God will not allow sin to continue indefinitely with no righteous judgment of it from His hands. After every sin man must have a confrontation with God, either in this life or in the next.

Man is not alone in the cosmos. He did not arise unsuspectingly from some scum in an ancient miasmic pond that accidently happened to contain essential elements necessary for life, and then through countless eras these elements slowly evolved into the intellectual homo sapiens that man is today. Rather than this evolutionary scenario of development which has no requirement for God, the Biblical Revelation affirms that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). And then after creating the perfect environment for man, God caused man to arise from the dust of the earth, a man made in the image and likeness of God (vs. 26-27; see: Created By God; From the Dust; Creature; and Image of God).

These dissimilar perspectives on origins cannot be reconciled, and should not be compromised; they stand in irreconcilable opposition. Certainly the worldview derived from Scripture, in all of its comprehensiveness, must either be affirmed or rejected. Man is not alone—there is God (see: God's Existence).

Since man is not alone, and since man is a creature of God’s creative work, then the right to govern man belongs to God—it is God’s prerogative to command man (see: God’s Command). Man’s obligation is to obey God and seek to please Him. When the creature turns inward to himself for self-determination, God will confront him. Sin will not be allowed to exist in isolation, for man is not independent. He is answerable to One greater than him.

God came to them “in the garden” (Gen. 3:8), that is, He confronted them where they were. Sin keeps man from God; sin inhibits man from coming to God. So the Great Judge of all the earth confronts man at the point of his sin; he confronts him at the very place that evokes surprise and consternation on the part of man when He appears because man does not anticipate such a confrontation with God in the here and now. God does not leave man alone in his sin and with his sin but confronts him concerning his sin.

In the garden of life, at the very place we are living and at the very time we are attempting to hide, God will call out to man. Shame and guilt on the part of Adam and Eve did not allow the fellowship that had previously existed to continue, but God, who is gracious and forgiving, was coming to judge the brokenness and heal the alienation.

When they heard the sound of God’s approach, Adam and Eve “hid from Yahweh God among the trees of the garden” (Gen. 3:8). What a foolish act by the sinning couple—hiding from God. Their conduct was irrational; did they really think that they could conceal themselves from their Maker? Or was their sense of shame and guilt so great that they could not bear to stand before God? Were they overwhelmed by the prospect of facing God with His penetrating knowledge of their rebellious and self-asserting deed?

Man’s sin may cause man to hide from God, but God will not hide from man because of man’s sin. God will address man. Questions were asked by God, with the most significant question being: “Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” (Gen. 3:11). The question was not so that God would know the answer; He already knew the answer. But the question was for the purpose of provoking Adam to consider his evil deed; it was designed to motivate Adam to do a self-evaluation. Adam was being called upon to confess.

The answers given by Adam and Eve to this question and the other questions were evasive and self-serving; they endeavored to shift the blame for their personal actions away from themselves, to Satan and to each other. At this point they refused to face their sin.

In response to their pitiful statements and because of their sin God announces the curses; he addresses Satan, the woman, and the man, in that order (for discussion of the curses, see: Curses).

Confrontation involving Salvation

“And Yahweh God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them” (Gen. 3:21). God is the Great Shepherd who searches for the wayward sheep, the sheep which cannot find its way home. In this is seen the condescension and goodness of God; God’s grace means that God takes the initiative—he seeks man even while man is turning from Him. Even while he is lost, man is still being sought by the Sovereign.

Their plight was nakedness, a nakedness that was literal and symbolic. Awareness of their nakedness appeared the moment they sinned: “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked” (Gen. 3:7). Adam and Eve were created naked and lived that way for a brief time in the Garden, and, evidently, there was not an awareness on their part of their lack of clothing; the Scripture states: “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Gen. 2:25).

Their physical state illustrates their spiritual state, one of innocence and goodness, with no sense of guilt and remorse. They felt no need for humiliation and repentance. Their minds were unburdened by the weight of sin. To be alive was a delight; their nakedness reflected their freedom, freedom from sin and its damning consequences. There was nothing to hide; they were free to stand before God. Their eyes had not been opened—they did not know sin and, therefore, did not know that they were naked.

But with the entrance of sin into their lives, their eyes were “opened” and they “knew”; a new knowledge accrued to them, a knowledge of evil, the moral experience of sin. Guilt was overwhelming and instantaneous—they knew that they were naked, naked before each other and naked before God. Their spiritual nakedness was greater and more revealing than their physical nakedness.

Their immediate sensation was that they must do something to remedy their predicament, so “they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths” (Gen. 3:7). They did the best that they could; they used what they had to make themselves presentable to God. But man’s best is never sufficient.

In the actions of our parents is seen the message of religion throughout history; with a united voice all religions preach: “Do”; in other words, man must cover his nakedness, man must atone for his sins. The drive to appease the deities is real—man knows that he is naked; he knows that something is wrong. And so he sacrifices and worships, performing endless rituals, always seeking to cloth himself, struggling to save himself.

But there is no peace, no rest, no sense of security and safety; more must always be done to assuage the guilt. The question of the lawyer is the question of everyman in his natural state: “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Lu. 10:25); the emphasis is on “do.” For the popular mind eternal life is dependent on personal initiative.

In contrast to such thinking is the authentic message of the Christian faith: man must “do” nothing because he can “do” nothing to atone for his sins; instead of doing, man must know that atonement has been accomplished—it has been “done.” The message of the Gospel is that  “It is finished” (Jo. 19:30).

After God confronted Adam and Eve regarding their sin, He initiated their salvation: “And Yahweh God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them” (Gen. 3:21). Their self-provided clothing of fig leaves was insufficient; God provided garments of skins, which necessitated the death of an animal or animals. In order for them to be clothed, another must die, anticipating “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jo. 1:29).

They learned that it is not what they “do” that is sufficient
but rather that it is what is “done” for them
that establishes reconciliation and conveys assurance.

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