16 March, 2016

Genesis 3:8—“… and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God …”

And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden (Gen. 3:8).

Sometimes this text is quoted to support the idea that there is still some “good” in man after the fall. The idea, here, is that when Adam and his wife “hid themselves” from the presence of the Lord God, it was due to a sense of shame, on their part—and yes you guessed it … surely this sense of shame was a fruit of common grace?! Surely if man is totally depraved he would never display such an attitude to his sin … but would be brazen, and fearless, and without shame or remorse …


Homer C. Hoeksema (1923-1989)

[Source: Unfolding Covenant History: An Exposition of the Old Testament, Volume 1: From Creation to the Flood]

This so-called natural shame is not the expression of any remnant of good that is left in man after the fall. It can hardly be said that in these first reactions of Adam and Eve, in their attempt to cover themselves and to hide from the presence of the Lord, there were signs of the operation of God’s grace. There was fear, not sorrow and repentance, in these actions. It is perfectly true that this fear and this natural shame presuppose a knowledge of the wrongful character and the shamefulness of sin. This is a matter of mere natural light, not a result of the operation of God’s grace. There is no true godly sorrow evident in the actions of our first parents.

The fact is that unless the power of God’s grace takes hold of sin, the natural man subverts even that natural light and holds it under in unrighteousness. When, however, the power of God’s grace takes hold of that same knowledge of the difference between good and evil and changes the spiritual direction of the mind and will, then a man no longer subverts it in unrighteousness, but he is led to true godly sorrow, to repentance, to contrition, and to confession. This was the direction in which the Lord God through all these events was leading Adam and Eve, even though at this point they were not aware of God’s grace and did not evince any spiritual knowledge of sin and any hearty confession. They first had to learn to know by experience the vanity of their own foolish coverings of fig leaves, for sinful and foolish those aprons of fig leaves certainly were, and utterly vain.



Robert C Harbach

The effect of the Lord’s voice was that they “hid themselves,” not in humbleness as unworthy to come into His presence; nor in modesty, but in a sense of guilt. It is clear that there is no sign of grace operating in Adam and Eve at this point. They react, not under the influence of grace, but in fear, and under the power of their sinful nature. Godly sorrow and repentance are not evident. They are not under grace, but under condemnation. The “common grace” philosophy, however, finds evidence of some good in man in the fact that he had a sense of shame. Only utterly shameless men show no shred of grace in them. So the theory runs. But their shame was not a good thing; it was a horrible dawning upon their consciousness of their newly acquired corruption. Their shame was no more “good” than was the “repentance” of Judas (Matt. 27:3). There is a natural shame even in the vilest of criminals which shows that even the incorrigible and totally depraved know what is right and what is wrong. They know, that is, experience, the shamefulness of sin. This shame is no remnant of good in fallen man. It is no form of godly sorrow, but only another form of sin, namely, pride and desire to have some appearance of respectability.



More to come! (DV)

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