And Adam said, “I heard the sound of Thee in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.
From what we know from scripture about man’s origins and early history, this passage marks the entrance of fear into human affairs. Maybe we can better understand its impact upon us by taking a look at man’s condition before fear took hold.
A few things stand out boldly in our passage. God is revealed for the first time as a being with a personality. He possessed all knowledge and was moving about on earth in a body interacting with man, provoking them to think, explore and discover everything he had created and had placed inside of them. God had intended this to be a grand and enjoyable affair. Since He had created them in His image, there was going to be some very big discoveries!
The most beautiful scene however is created by man’s relationship to God – something, by all accounts, that was taken for granted by Adam and Eve. But prior to their disobedience God and man were on intimate terms. This is where the Bible story begins and it appears that after a season of torment caused by fallen angels, this is where the story will also end up as God puts all things to rights through Jesus Christ.
It appears Satan, a bitter and proud angel was already a resident of earth when Adam and Eve were created. We do not know completely what the consequence of his fall was to his personality and powers other than his involvement in human affairs has proven him to be a liar, a murderer and thief. It is safe to assume He hates God, God’s people and has a singular mission to disrupt and destroy God’s plans through masterfully placed deceptions he can plant into the human heart.
The first lie he sowed was the one He told to Eve that suggested to her, that God was withholding something that would make her wise, like Him. The poison Eve and her husband ingested contained knowledge about both good and evil – knowledge God had warned them would cause their death. As they ate and the toxins were absorbed into their being, their capacity to live comfortably in God’s presence without fear died. The forbidden substance, now operative within them, obscured their awareness of God and left them instead with an acute awareness of themselves. Their new found knowledge informed their consciousness that they were inadequate and inferior in their appearance, and I presume in their being, and that God was one that they must fear and hide from.
Adam and Eve feared the Lord. So, was this the beginning of their wisdom? We are told in Ps 111:10 that fearing God is a prerequisite to having wisdom. I believe it was the beginning of a worldly type of wisdom that equips the sons of Adam with a genius in dealing with their fears; their fear of isolation, failure, intimacy and on and on. Deep down in our hearts, I believe we live out of the root system of one tree or the other; the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil or the Tree of Life.
Fear, born of the knowledge of good and evil, can birth both good deeds and evil deeds. This self-oriented and fearful illumination can produce both the devout and the devious. The motive for both the alms giver or the murderer could have a common denominator in fear – causing them to always be shoring up and compensating for their acute insecurities born in Eden, sometimes in socially approved behavior and sometimes in socially condemned behavior.
Yesterday’s passage was 1 John 4:16-20. There we found that “perfect love casts out fear“. Where the root of fear produces the toxic fruit of religion, the root of love produces relationship. It reestablishes the capacity of the human spirit to commune with God and each other. The fatal wound from Eden was remedied by the wounds absorbed at Calvary by Christ Jesus. From what is rooted in the cross we learn a new definition of fear. The old definition that anticipated punishment from an angry God was cast out by love.
By this, love is perfected with us, that we may have confidence in the day of judgement; because as He is, so also are we in the world.
There is a wisdom available to us that will allow us to once again think, explore and discover in the context of a relationship with God where we do not need to hide ourselves in fear of punishment. There is no condemnation for us who are in Christ because Christ absorbed the punishment due us. God desires that we avail ourselves of this costly gift which has made it once again possible to walk with Him and others in intimacy.
Father, may we see with new eyes that you have laid the axe to the root of our old nature that was rooted in fear. May we absorb into our heart’s deepest understanding, that even now, if we are in Christ, we are deeply rooted into the love of God and legally immune to accusations of inferiority. Thank you that we are completely acceptable and welcomed into Your presence. Let us resume our conversation with you.
“Now to Him, who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy.” Amen.
Note; I have included a beautiful passage from James 3:13-18 regarding the wisdom from above which is born of love. It is contrasted with the worldly wisdom I referenced earlier. From the Message….
Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.
Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.