How do you respond when you are caught in sin? Are you able to own up quickly, even before you are caught? Or do you seek to deny the sin and even to blame others?
Read Genesis 3:9-13
God calls out to the man “Where are you?” The man’s response is not exactly straight. In the end he admits that he is hiding, though he doesn’t actually say where! Instead, he gives an explanation or excuse. He is hiding because his nakedness has made him afraid.
Now, this alertness to nakedness is something new to the man and woman. So, God asks him “Has someone told you that you are naked.” What is it that has caused the man to recognise his state. Note, that this isn’t about the bare facts of having no clothes on, it is the sense of being exposed, vulnerable, ashamed. What has caused those sensations? There can only one cause. “Have you disobeyed me? Have you eaten the fruit from the forbidden tree?” asks God.
Then, the blame game begins. The man blames the woman. Note though that by implication, he blames God too. “It’s your fault, you gave me this defective gift.” Contrast the dismissive description of his wife here with the evocative song of praise at the end of chapter 2. The woman in turn blames the serpent.
A magic tree?
There has been much speculation about how eating the fruit caused their eyes to be opened to nakedness. Some people assume that the fruit had a kind of magical property, granting a wish but bringing with it a curse. Indeed, some have suggested that the fruit had hallucinogenic properties. Others, especially those who treat the story as myth believe that the tree is symbolic of something else, perhaps the discovery of sex and a loss of innocence. The problem of course with this is that sex has already been given as a good gift, the blessing of multiplication and indeed part of the command to fill and subdue the earth.
My view is that both the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil act in a kind of sacramental way. Just as when we take communion or are baptised, the eating and washing on the outside represent our inner heart response, so too the trees and fruit represent the heart response of Adam and Eve, do they choose life or death, blessing or curse, trust or doubt, obedience or disobedience.
Who do you blame?
And so, the question comes back to you and me. What do we do about our sin? Are we able to own up to it? Or do we seek to excuse ourselves and blame others. Do we even blame God? It is because sin is an implicit rejection of God’s goodness and provision, because it shows our attempt to rob him of his glory and to take his place -to try to kill God that sin is first and foremost against God.
The good news of the Gospel includes the wonderful truth of justification by faith, that Christ credits his blameless, righteousness to us. This truth should enable us to own up honestly to our sin and failure.