And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. Genesis 3:8
Adam and Eve Meet Guilt and Shame
Prior to this portion of scripture, Adam and Eve wouldn’t have dreamed of trying to hide from God. Hearing the voice of God meant an opportunity to visit with the Creator. I’m sure it would seem each encounter with God brought with Him another blessing; a new tree from which to eat, a new flower upon which to gaze, a new creation for which to praise Him. Today was different. God’s presence brought dread!
Why was this day different? Guilt, shame, and fear had reared their ugly heads and now knowing they had disobeyed God, Adam and Eve were going to face punishment. Nothing had ever died before, but they knew death was the punishment for disobedience. Like children, they ran and hid only prolonging the inevitable.
Effects of Guilt and Shame
We learn that the wages of sin are death (Rom. 6:23). Sin destroys and leaves death in its wake. One of the weapons it uses is guilt. Guilt can destroy us from within. It can interfere with our ability to gain closure, healing, and overcoming power over the effects of sin. God knew that sin would cause separation. The moment sin came on the scene, our human instinct was to hide. Hide from what? Or, hide from whom? God himself! The very one that could provide healing, forgiveness, redemption. To God’s dismay, blood had to be shed. Calvary’s price must be paid. The Lamb must be slain.
Deer in the Headlights
For us, we’ve spent the better part of our existence fighting our nature to give in to self, sin, and even Satan. We know down deep these are wedges between ourselves and a benevolent, yet righteous God. Guilt leaves us feeling unworthy of a relationship with our Creator. Guilt, a close cousin to fear, immobilizes us. Like the proverbial deer in the headlights, we tense up and freeze. “What’s my next move?”
“Do I try to cover it up with fig leaves?”
“Or, do I run to the arms of my Heavenly Father and say, I have sinned and perverted that which was right, and it profited me nothing.”
We learn that perfect love casts out fear (I John 4:18). We also know, that once we’ve come to Christ, those immobilizing effects of guilt, shame, and fear should no longer rule our response to sin. Romans 8:1 says, “no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” The caveat here is, we must walk in the Spirit (capital “S”) God’s Spirit, and not after the flesh. I John 1:9 reminds us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
He Called Us Friends
II Corinthians 5:19 states, “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” God is all about reconciling with humanity. He wants to once again have the close companionship and relationship with His creation. Jesus, God in the flesh, said it like this, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” (John 15:13-15). Does that sound like a God who is willing for anyone to perish?
Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son paints a beautiful picture of God’s willingness to restore us back into His good graces. The son could have wallowed in the muck of pig slop, but even he realized, his daddy’s servants lived better than that. We went from hiding among the trees, and wallowing in the slop, to outstretched arms of grace and mercy. Guilt will keep you hiding and wallowing in the mud. Love will get you seated back at the Master’s table.
The remedy that worked at Calvary, still works – the sinless blood of Jesus Christ. It’s by the Lord’s mercies we’re not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is HIS faithfulness. God is all in favor of you returning back into His good graces. Don’t turn a deaf ear to the overtures of Grace. Don’t spurn the love of your Heavenly Father. Don’t cower beneath His outstretch hand. A life time of being callous to God’s tender wooing will lead to the outcome we will dread – eternal separation from the very one who died to save us!