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THEOLOGY > Sin > Man's Disobedience > Shame 


SHAME

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 YHWH God among the trees of the garden. But YHWH 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” (Gen. 3:7-10).

Adam and Eve hid themselves because of the shame they were experiencing, a shame that arose as a result of their act of disobedience against their Creator. They had sinned against God and had disgraced themselves, and they could not face the God whose Word they had violated. On their part there was incalculable humiliation

Their eyes had been opened, and immediately they experienced new knowledge—they realized that they were exposed (“the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked”). But the knowledge did not elevate them and instill within them confidence to face themselves and, most importantly, did not create within them confidence to be confronted by the God who was their Maker. Rather, they were cast down, and their shame was acute and immense. They were driven to introspection; their nakedness became their focus.

Prior to their sin, there was no guilt or self-consciousness before each other or before God. There was nothing to cover up; they were righteous with no outward or inward condemnation. They were physically naked but the nakedness did not create embarrassment; Adam and Eve were not awkward in their original state. There was nothing about their nature that could cause self-condemnation.

But with their sin, they became knowledgeable of their exposure. They realized that they were naked, 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. Their sense of unworthiness was great.

They attempted to cover their physical exposure. They sewed fig leaves together and made for themselves loincloths; their desire for clothing was their attempt to assuage their sense of physical shame. But this feeble attempt at remedying an unacceptable situation could not begin to remedy a greater complication.

Their shame and self-consciousness over their physical nakedness reflected a greater self-condemnation before God; they were aware that they could not appear before Him. For this reason they hid themselves, unable to bring themselves face to face with the One they had disobeyed. Out of their refusal to face God and, therefore, to give an account of themselves, they hid themselves among the trees of the garden. Their desire was to escape the presence of the Lord God—they were afraid.

They knew they had broken God’s Law; they knew they had experienced sin; and they knew they had lost their standing before God. Their conscience condemned them; their guilt (see: Guilt) and shame were debilitating; no wonder they did not want to face God.

Today man still has no desire to face God nor to be confronted by Him. Men hide themselves “from the presence of the Lord God”; there is no capacity nor confidence to face God exposed with a life of sin.

God asks questions: “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten . . .?” God ties their sense of shame over being naked to their eating the forbidden fruit—it is sin that creates shame.

O Lord [Adonai], to us belongs shame of face . . .
because we have sinned against You.
Dan. 9:8


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