The problem of sin (Genesis 3)
When Adam and Eve first had a revelation of evil, their initial reaction was shame over their nakedness. The truth of their vulnerability being too much to accept, they tried to cover it up with fig leaves. Perhaps they thought that if they did not see their sin problem, it would disappear. But upon hearing God approaching, they lost all confidence in fig leaves and hid behind some trees. God was not fooled. Adam and Eve were called out. When confronted by God for their sins, they again tried to cover up themselves by redirecting the blame for their downfall to others. God was again not fooled. He first removed their manmade coverings and exposed their corruption to the light of truth. God then effectually covered the nakedness of Adam and Eve. He sacrificed an animal, the first death in creation, and clothed them with its hide.
We are no better than our “parents”. We have a natural aversion to the topic of our sin nature or what some call our “total depravity”. People hate to even hear about it, let alone acknowledge it. Our first response is to either deny it by not looking at it, blame others instead of taking responsibility for it (we are victims, not sinners), or deny there is a coming judgment of a holy God who can not abide sin. (God is love. He will overlook my sin, not judge it.)
Many churches, in their eagerness to grow larger, often avoid emphasizing mankind’s sin nature because they know it will repel most people. Instead, they try to lure people by offering them appealing music and entertaining church services. Their programs are designed to deal with “current felt needs” of people (such as substance abuse, finances, relationship counseling, etc.), while almost completely ignoring the root problem of a sin that can only be cured by a Savior. If alcoholism is overcome in this life but the person loses his soul in the next, what real benefit has he gained? We do a great disservice to the world when we fail to tell them about their sin nature. How can they truly understand the Good News if they do not understand the Bad News? The grace of God is not embraced by those who do not see their need of it.
God already sees each one of us in our nakedness. We can not hide it from Him. If He deals with it in this life, we will acknowledge our sins and He will cover us with the righteousness of Christ. If He deals with it in the next life, we will be cast into hell. Our own righteousness is as repulsive to Him as bloody and putrid filthy rags, and He will not allow anyone to dwell with Him covered in that way. The warning to the Laodiceans is a warning to each one of us as well:
“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. ‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.’” Revelation 3:14-20 (NASB)
It is a gift in this life for us to see our true nakedness. This God given revelation is what motivates us to come to Jesus Christ for His effectual covering. If we fail to come, we will one day be spewed out of His eternal paradise.
The calling of the church is to warn people about their nakedness so that God might create in them a desire to be clothed with the righteousness of Christ. Whose covering we wear over our sins is truly a matter of life and death. There is nowhere to run or to hide from a holy and righteous God.