Guiltiness is a shared human experience. What I speak of here isn't so much our common “feelings of guilt” but rather our positional guiltiness before God. Whether one feels guilty or not, we are all born sinners before a holy God. Romans 3:19-20 explains: “Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.” We are innately sinners and inherently guilty before God.
In fact, our first parents, Adam and Eve, are the only sinful human beings to have lived at one point without the reality of this guilt. We understand from Genesis 1:1 that God is the Creator of the heavens and the earth. The crown of His creation was the man and the woman. With them, God didn't simply speak but hand fashioned, breathed life into and placed His very image. The man and woman were made to display God’s nature and character, reflecting the radiance of His holiness to all of creation.
Tragically, the glory of Genesis 1 and 2 is followed by the treachery of Genesis 3. God had provided generously for the first couple. They were free to eat of any tree in their garden home – all, except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:15-17). Yet, soon after the chapter begins, we find Eve in conversation with a talking serpent. The truth of God’s Word is doubted then settled as false. Eve believes herself “liberated” to do as she pleases. Assuming God’s authority, she would differentiate between good and evil (Genesis 3:6-7).
We watch as Eve is dragged away and enticed by her own desire, which conceives and gives birth to sin (James 1:14-15). Created to reflect the holiness of God, our first mother and father treacherously disregard the command of God and rebel in disobedience. The result of their sin is a cosmic fall passed on to us, their children and to all of creation (Romans 5:12). The consequence of our first parents’ sin is our own inability not to sin!
I can only imagine the intense agony Eve must have felt as she wiped the last drop of fruit juice from her lips. We see her and Adam in Genesis 3:7 hastily scurrying about, picking up fig leaves and pinning pieces together – anything to cover their nakedness, anything to ease the shame. We are indeed their offspring for this is often our picture – exposed sinners scurrying about, making coverings for ourselves – insufficient leaves that dry up and are blown away by the wind.
But there is good news in the story. God’s perfect justice and amazing grace shine brilliantly in the shadow of sin. For even in chastisement, God takes away their false garbs and replaces them with His own handmade garment (Genesis 3:20). Let the reader who is wrapped and weighed down by sin and guilt rejoice! The God of Genesis 3 continues to exchange insufficient coverings for a garment of His own making.
Jesus Christ is our all-sufficient covering. His death is the just penalty that satisfies the wrath of God against the sinner (1 John 2:2); He sets the captive free from the prison of sin, exchanging our filthiness for His own righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). John Calvin writes that Christ was much more powerful to save than Adam (and Eve) was to ruin. So let us, like our mother Eve, receive that imperishable Garment of God, for there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:2). The Seed of Eve has suffered our punishment and declares the justified believer irrevocably not guilty!
*Thanks for reading! This post is part of my Mothers in the Bible Series; we are looking for glimpses of the gospel in the lives of biblical women--from Eve to Mary, the mother of Christ. Click here to see other writings. And please let me know your thoughts!