Sunday, February 20, 2011

Scripture Sunday: The Shame-Blame Game

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  But the Lord God called to the man, "Where are you?"  He answered, "I heard you in the garden, & I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."  And He said, "Who told you that you were naked?  Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?"  The man said, "The woman you put here with me - she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it."  Then the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?"  The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, & I ate."  Gen. 3:8-12 (NIV)

When I read these verses, a couple things came to mind.  First, it's interesting that earlier in scripture (Gen. 2:25), it states that Adam & Eve were both naked, but "felt no shame"However, the very second that they sinned, that they disobeyed God, they suddenly felt shame.  That shame led them to hide (or separate) from God.  Isn't that so true?  When we know something is wrong, we tend to do our best to hide it, which in turn only hinders our relationships with God & others.  Remember last week when I shared about being made in God's image & how our purpose is to be a reflection of God?  Well, at the very instance mankind first sinned, that image was marred.  And remember how God's will was for us to find complete security & acceptance through our relationship with Him?  Well, at that same very instance, we not only became separated from God, but we began looking for our security in all the wrong places!  After all, it's hard to find security in our relationship with God if we're shamefully hiding from Him!

This leads to my second point.  When God questioned Adam, Adam not only blamed Eve, but in a round-about way, he blamed God ("The woman YOU put here....").  God then turned to Eve, who of course, blamed the serpent.  Neither one wanted to take responsibility for their own actions.  Why was that?  Could it be because they wanted to still be accepted by God, and they believed that their failure or sin made them unacceptable or unworthy of God's love?  Perhaps they felt that if someone else could be blamed, they'd be relieved of their guilt, or at least if everyone else was guilty too, then they wouldn't look so bad.  We've all done it before......blamed someone else or pointed out someone else's shortcomings in an effort to make ourselves look better.  When you get to the root of it, it all stems from our desire to be accepted.....a desire placed in each of us by God......a desire that can only be fulfilled by God.   So in the long run, the very thing we do to try to gain acceptance only leaves us feeling more unacceptable & unworthy! 

So then what is the answer?  Well, there's good news!  The Bible clearly states that Jesus bore the punishment we deserve for our sins (Isaiah 53:4-6; I John 4:9-11).  He was our substitute.  While God allows us to feel guilt & convicts us of our sins so that we turn to Him, once we acknowledge that we'ved sinned and confess our sins to Him, accepting Jesus as our substitute, we no longer have to feel shame (Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 John 1:9)!  The sin, along with the guilt, has been removed!  Once again, we can find complete acceptance & security in God!  In addition, when we realize that we're completely loved & accepted by God, we are much more likely to love those around us.....building them up & encouraging them, rather than using their failures to try to meet our own needs.

As the story of Adam & Eve continues on, God allows them to experience the consequences (punishment) of their sin, but it's interesting that He then makes garments for them & clothes them.  In other words, He punished them, forgave them, & continued to take care of them, covering their sin & shame (nakedness). 

I don't know about you, but I am simply amazed by God's love for us!

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