There was a time when God walked and talked with the people he created. This must have been an amazing experience for Adam and Eve. But alas, it was a short-lived experience. One evening God came to the garden for his evening stroll and Adam and the woman were nowhere to be found. They had heard the sound of him and they had been terrified. They heard that sound and instead of rushing to him they ran away from him. Clutching fig leaves to themselves, they got among the thickest trees and hid away, trying to get away from God. Their joy had turned to terror, their anticipation to dread.
Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
As a child there were days when I looked forward to my father coming home. He would have been away on a business trip and I knew he would have something for me—a new toy or something good to eat. “Dad’s home!” And I’d rush out and hug him and get whisker burn as he rubbed my cheeks with his stubbly face. Then he’d pull something out of his pocket and give it to me. That is a great memory of days long past.
And then there were days when I was terrified when dad came home. Those were the days I had sinned against my mother and she had sent me to my room; she had banished me. “You go to your room and wait until your father gets home!” I remember lying in bed and trying desperately to fall asleep, hoping dad would have pity on his poor, sweet sleeping child. I remember hiding in the closet one time, shrinking to the back of the closet and hiding, knowing that I deserved to be punished for lying to my mother yet again. This is what we do when we sin, when we are afraid of the consequence of our sin. This is what Adam did.
It is notable that Adam and Eve hid themselves from the presence of the Lord, from the face of God. It wasn’t the sound of him that was terrifying; it was his presence. When we are full of the guilt and shame of sin, that’s exactly what we want. We want to hide from the gaze of the person we’ve offended, we want to run from the person we’ve sinned against. His presence becomes offensive. When a woman sins against her husband, as long as she remains in her sin she doesn’t want him to be near—she wants him to be away from her—far away.
This can manifest itself in another, similar way. The man who has an affair comes to hate his wife—the person he has sinned against becomes a person he hates. The guilt and the shame of what he has done drives him away from the one he should be pursuing to seek her forgiveness and reconciliation. Her acts of love condemn him. Her innocence drives him mad.
Hate and abandonment—here is how we act when we have sinned against another. Sin is so tricky. It’s so dark and deceptive. One of the primary manifestations of a man who is consumed by pornography is anger. Anger against his wife! His sin condemns him, leaves him filthy, leaves him dreading the presence of the one he sins against. Because he has sinned against her, he finds that he cannot be in her presence without his sin crying out against him.
There are many lessons we can draw from the description of man’s fall into sin. But here is one I found that was rather unexpected: When I feel alienated from another person or when I even find myself full of hatred toward another person, I cannot assume that it is that person’s fault. It is just as likely that my own sin is driving me away. Because alienation is exactly what sin desires; it is exactly what sin accomplishes.