By Gerald Cowan
"Did Adam and Eve die in the day they ate the forbidden fruit? Why were they ashamed to be naked only after they had sinned? Was nakedness always a shameful thing? Why did God make clothing of animal skins for them?"
God said they would die in the day they ate the forbidden fruit (Gen. 2:17). Satan said they would not surely die (Gen. 3:4). After their sin they lived a long time; Adam lived to be 930 years old (Gen. 5:5). That does not mean Satan was right and God was wrong. There are two kinds of death: physical death is separation of the soul/spirit from the body; spiritual death is separation of the soul/spirit from God. Adam and Eve experienced both because of their sin. Sin brings spiritual death. “The soul that sins shall die” (Ezek. 18:10). Living people can be spiritually dead, “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:2). Adam and Eve died spiritually on the day they sinned, just as God said. Sin is the originating cause of physical death in humans too. Created to be immortal, Adam and Eve became mortal; subject to physical death; because of their sin. This mortality (being subject to physical death) passed upon all humanity, since all are physically descended from Adam and Eve. Spiritual death is the result of one’s own sins. Physical death is inherited from Adam (see Rom. 5:12-14).
“The eyes of the two of them were opened, and they knew they were naked. So they sewed fig leaves together and covered themselves” (Gen. 3:7). Nakedess is a metaphor for the exposure of what one really is. When what one is or has done is wrong or sinful, exposure will make him ashamed. So one’s nakedness is hidden; the soul is hidden in various ways, just as the body is hidden by clothing. After their sin Adam and Eve were ashamed to appear naked before each other and before God. Nakedness reminded them of their sin; they knew by experience the meaning of sin; dong what one is commanded not to do; and they were afraid of the consequences. Paradoxically, covering themselves was a confession of sin, acknowledgment that something was out of order in their lives. Human nakedness has remained a metaphor for guilt. (When husband and wife appear naked before each other it indicates they have nothing to hide; they are fully open and honest with each other). To expose one’s nakedness, to make one appear naked, etc. is to expose one’s hidden things, attitudes, and actions to the view of others. Whether anything is ever exposed to others, “all things (persons) are naked and laid open” before the eyes of God. Heb. 4:12-13
God made coverings for them from animal skins (Gen. 3:21). Why were the fig leaves not sufficient? Isn’t one covering as good as another? Why cover them with clothing of any kind? Because their original innocence was gone and could never be regained. Being required to wear a covering of the body is a perpetual reminder to all mankind that humanity’s innocence has been lost by sin. It is true today: no one except an infant is innocent enough to appear naked to others. Those who expose their nakedness or nudity to others may be shameless, but they are not innocent.
Why did God use animal skins to clothe Adam and Eve? Perhaps this is the first indication that a life must be given to cover the sin of the human soul. A system of animal sacrifice was instituted very early, as seen in the case of Cain and Abel. Abel’s blood sacrifice made him righteous, but Cain’s substitution of something other than what God specified brought him condemnation and rejection. (See Gen. 4:1-8. Abel’s offering was by faith “but Cain’s was not” Heb. 11:4, Rom. 10:17). Under the Old Testament Law animals were sacrificed continually to keep man in a right relationship with God. Leviticus lists and describes many such sin offerings. Hebrews 9-10 declares that animal blood was not enough to remove human sin, but that it was a temporary expedient, a shadow and type of the blood of the perfect man, Jesus Christ which in due times was given by God as the perfect covering for man. People continue to make their own coverings, but none of these things can take away sin. How blessed are those who receive the gift of God by which our sins and our sinful souls are covered. Our innocence is not restored, but our sin and shame is covered and we appear blameless in God’s sight (Rom. 4:7-8, 5:8-11). - Gerald Cowan preaches for the Dongola church of Christ in Dongola, IL. He may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com