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THEOLOGY > Sin > Man's Disobedience > Initial Religion  


And they sewed fig leaves together
and made themselves loincloths.
Gen. 3:7

Secular religions—and all religions are secular with the exception of the Christian faith which is revealed—expose man’s futile attempt to account for and also to rectify his sense of personal wrong. Within each individual is an awareness that he is accountable to a higher power, and there is an accompanying urge to make oneself acceptable to that higher power thereby escaping personal retribution. Religion is man’s effort to appease and please the deities, or in some cases to please the god of the individual’s monotheistic belief. But the point is that all religions, excluding Christianity, originate with man. And this phenomenon—man’s attempt to save himself—began in Eden.

Three topics will be considered: Adam and Eve’s Recognition of Their Condition; Adam and Eve’s Attempt to Remedy Their Condition; and God’s Provision for Their Condition.

Adam and Eve’s Recognition of Their Condition

From the Scriptures we learn that “the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew” (Gen. 3:7). Their sin brought to them enlightenment and knowledge, and at this point Satan’s statement to them was true—they did gain knowledge. But the knowledge was not what they were promised nor what they anticipated. Sin always deceives.

What sin brings is neither beneficial nor good; it is always debilitating and damning. What is promised on the front end is never experienced on the back end. That which appears enticing and beautiful is transformed into that which is repulsive and ugly. There is no satisfaction in sin; it merely creates an appetite that cannot be satisfied. As it demands more and then receives that which it demands from the sinner, it slowly destroys the one seeking satisfaction.

With the opening of their eyes, there was a recognition of their condition, a realization of the consequences of their sin. An awareness of their physical nakedness flooded their consciousness, bringing with it an acute realization that they were unfit to appear before God because they were also spiritually naked. They realized that they were exposed, and the physical exposure was indicative of a more profound and critical condition. Their physical nakedness was really a symbol of their unworthiness before the Creator; it spoke to them of their estrangement from God. They now were exposed to Him as sinners, with their physical exposure being a reflection of their spiritual exposure.

Imagine the transformation that Adam and Eve experienced, instantly moving from a condition of righteousness to one of depravity, from a clear conscious to self-condemnation, from innocence to guilt, from a position of acceptance before God to separation and fear of His presence, from security to anxiety, from life to death.

Not only did they experience the above, they were vividly aware of what they were and what they had become; they understood the standing they had previously had before the Creator and the fall away from Him they had suffered. Their plight could not be worse and their knowledge of it was vivid. Their sense of disgrace was great as they experienced condemnation and alienation, a state that caused them to attempt to hide from the One who sees all and knows all.

Accompanying their new experience was the appearance of psychological and spiritual sentiments that had not been experienced by them previously. Into the lives of Adam and Eve appeared personal guilt (see: Guilt) and appalling shame (see: Shame). There was guilt before God and each other in addition to the individual shame that enveloped them instantly and crushingly.

Adam and Eve’s Attempt to Remedy Their Condition

With their comprehension of their predicament, there was an attempt to remedy their condition: “they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths” (Gen. 3:7; NKJV: “made themselves coverings”).

Adam and Eve understood that their nakedness should be covered. So they devised a strategy to remedy their shortcoming. They took what they had and created loincloths for themselves; their action was their attempt at self-improvement. Out of a sense of deficiency, shame, and guilt they concocted a solution in order to be presentable to each other and to God. The point is that the devising was their own devising and the loincloths were their own creation.

Here is the initial religion, and it originated with man. It was of man’s devising and of man’s implementation—in this sense the new experiment was humanistic; it was secular. This affirms their endeavor was totally horizontal; there was no vertical perspective, meaning the absence of any revealed guidelines. Their efforts were of themselves, not of God; their enterprise was the result of personal works and creative imagination. It was man-made religion.

All such religions of men are religions of works, salvation by human achievement. The essence of man’s religion is human activity and attainment; man is always seeking to “Do,” thinking that his doings, which are totally sinful activities, are somehow acceptable to Deity. It is foolish to believe that by one’s personal acts one can create an atonement for individual sins—it is impossible for man to please God.

Adam and Eve learned that fig leaves were insufficient to remedy alienation from God; human ingenuity can never atone for sin. There is no substitute for Christ, a lesson that man must always learn. While man is devising and working, struggling to find a sacrifice or deed that will be acceptable to God, God’s declaration is: “It is finished.” There is nothing for man to do; it has been “Done.”

God’s Provision for Their Condition

God’s provision for their nakedness was His own determination: “And YHWH God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them” (Gen. 3:21). Note the two actions by God in this verse: He made the garments, and He clothed the couple. The point is that the acts are His and His alone. God is the One doing this; He is making provision for their condition.

And in these acts is revealed God’s provision for their physical nakedness and for their spiritual alienation. He must provide the clothing for their physical nakedness, and He must supply the couple with righteousness for their spiritual exposure. He supplies (“made”) and applies (“clothed”) what is needed for their physical and spiritual needs; therefore, He clothed the couple’s bodies with garments of skins, and He covered the sinful man and woman with His own righteousness.

Involved in God’s provision was the death of an animal, and in that death is the lesson of sacrifice, not a sacrifice that man makes, but one that God effects. It is God who must make provision for man; only what God does is acceptable to God. It is not within man to atone for his own sin; man is incapable of meeting God’s perfect requirements. Sinful man has no goodness to offer, only depravity and gross corruption. And these cannot appease God nor avert His holy anger and wrath from man. If left alone, man is without hope. Leaves are not a substitute for skins.

The sacrifice for man’s spiritual nakedness is the sacrifice of the Lamb (Jo. 1:29). And the Lamb is not man’s doing; rather, it is Revelation. He is from above and has come down. It is God Himself making the sacrifice; it is God becoming the sacrifice—it is God meeting His own requirement. The lesson is that God’s provision for sin is God!

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