After eating the fruit, Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened and they discovered they were naked, and they were ashamed. Naked compared to what? Everything around them was naked at the time. They never knew what it was like to be clothed. It’s not like their eyes were opened and they saw that they were standing naked in a room full of people who were fully dressed. Why should there be shame about being naked when you have no other condition to compare it to?
I find it fascinating that even though they had no reason for thinking naked was “bad,” shame and embarrassment were the first things they felt. And isn’t this what we all struggle with now? Even if we don’t have any real tangible reason for feeling bad about ourselves, deep down we think “I am just an embarrassment. I am something to be covered up because the true me is shameful.”
The Bible talks about the garments that God wears, and so I have to wonder if the shame that they felt was simply because they saw their nakedness (their sin) compared to God’s “clothing” (His glory). They saw how open and exposed they were to God, and how they were not like God, despite what Satan promised them with his half-truth. Sure, they now knew evil like God did, but they were nothing like God when compared to His glory and holiness. (And I’m sure they now knew that God was trying to spare them from being like Him when it came to knowing evil. It was not an ability and a burden that He wanted them to have. He wasn’t holding out on them; He was protecting them.)
Before this they had a totally close relationship with God. Complete. Nothing hindered it. But now, after realizing their true condition before Him (their nakedness, their sin nature), they see just how far short they fall from His glory. And they are ashamed and try to hide from God, to cover up who they really are so that they can appear more presentable. This is the first spiritual battle that they went through.
And it’s the ultimate one for us, I think. To get rid of all the ways we try to hide, to polish ourselves up, and to make ourselves more presentable to God. To become transparent, open, and humbled before Him. Naked. The greatest, most humbling questions we ultimately face (if we let ourselves get to that point) are: Who is God really and who am I really? And how does God see me?
And as Adam hid from God, we hide from Him a long time before facing and admitting the true nature of ourselves compared to God. We so want to believe that we are better than we are, complete and whole and sufficient on our own. And we try all sorts of things to keep up that image: hiding, blaming others, blaming God, blaming Satan, shifting the focus, covering up, etc. But when our eyes are truly opened and we find ourselves standing naked before Him, this is when true healing and an authentic relationship with Him become possible.
Here’s the thing, it’s no surprise to God who we are and what we’ve done. He knows we’ve always been naked. When God was calling to Adam while he hid, He wasn’t really calling as though He had no idea where Adam was. And when He asked Adam, “Have you eaten from the tree . . .,” He already knew.
The way that I see it, He was giving Adam a chance to come clean first, to admit his wrongs and to ask forgiveness. He wanted Adam to want to draw near to Him again. Can you imagine how it must have hurt God’s heart to hear Adam basically say, “I was afraid of You”? God had provided this garden, given Adam life, given Adam and Eve each other, cared for all their needs, and walked with them in the garden in close fellowship. And now, Adam basically says, “You scare me.” Obviously, it’s God’s holiness and glory that make us afraid, because we are so sinful by comparison. But God still desires that we walk with Him closely, that we open our hearts to Him and draw near to His, and that we trust and know His love enough to not be afraid of Him.
But Adam and Eve didn’t admit their sin or seek to close the gap that sin caused in their relationship with God. They blamed, instead. And don’t we do the same thing? We blame and shift the focus, instead of just saying, “I sinned. Forgive me.” We hide in fear, afraid to admit that we sinned. Afraid of the consequences of our sin, instead of being more upset at the distance between our hearts and God’s.
And all this blaming and hiding comes with consequences. In our lives, in the lives of others, in our work and relationships, in our walk with God, etc. Relationships are not what they are supposed to be. And ultimately, they won’t be right until God comes back to redeem it all. But God is gracious. Despite the fact that there are consequences that we have to face and that things will never be the way they would have been if we had never sinned, God offers forgiveness and salvation, and He gives us what we need to walk through this life. And He walks with us.
Our relationships with Him may be different now than He originally intended and we cannot walk with Him as Adam and Eve did, but He never leaves us. He’s always there waiting for us to recognize our need for Him and to come to Him honestly saying, “I am a sinner. I need you.” He searches and calls for each of us, asking, “Why are you hiding?”
But it’s up to us to respond. Not only for salvation, but in our daily walk with Him. Even as a believer, we need to seek Him daily in thought, in His Word, and in prayer, and we need to remain open and bare before Him, humbling ourselves before a great and mighty God that loves us in a great and mighty way, despite who we are and what we’ve done. The only way to be truly humble before Him is to be naked!