The Glory of God in the Gospel-Centered Life
Be watching for Bill’s upcoming book, Seven Dimensions of Spiritual Masculinity, How God Changes Biological Masculinity into Spiritual Masculinity and Why It Matters.
INSECURITY IS A HUGE PROBLEM. We feel insecure in the presence of the more wealthy, educated, successful, or virtuous. The roots of insecurity are either perfectionism, the fear of being evaluated by others, or the knowledge of recent failures or rejections. Some experience insecurity occasionally. For others, it is a wet blanket smothering them 24×7. It can be a major cause of depression.
Shame is a related malady. We feel ashamed of our income, our appearance, our lack of success, our past sins and failings, and the list goes on. A person attending a Bible study I taught was asked what was keeping them from Christ. They responded simply, “shame.” Most don’t realize it, but insecurity and shame have their roots in the Garden and their solution in the Gospel.
Naked or Clothed?
Before sin wrecked God’s delightful plan for humanity Genesis 2 ends with this wonderful verse. “And the man and his wife were both naked and not ashamed.” In other words, they were content with themselves. Because they had not sinned, they had no experience of shame. Insecurity was an undefined and unexperienced concept. They were at peace with God and themselves. They were God-conscious, not self-conscious.
Then Genesis 3 introduced the Serpent, temptation, and sin. After Adam’s failure, this tragic verse appears. “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths” (Genesis 3:7). The happy couples’ God-consciousness had morphed downward into self-consciousness. How did this happen?
Sin And Pride
The serpent told them that when they ate their eyes would be opened, and they would be like God. What made the Serpent’s temptations so potent was that they contained partial truth. When they ate from the forbidden Tree their eyes were opened, but not to the knowledge that they were like God. Rather, sin opened their eyes to the knowledge of their nakedness. In this context, what does “nakedness” mean?
A synonym for nakedness is self-consciousness. As we have noted, before the fall they were God-conscious and completely content with themselves. They had no experience of selfish ambition, no desire to be more than they were created to be, and no dissatisfaction with themselves.
When the fall cut off their relationship with God they lost God-consciousness and became self-conscious. The reason for their self-consciousness was a new element, pride. Not only were Adam and Eve aware of themselves, but they were also dissatisfied with themselves. Pride made them want to be something more than God had created them to be. In short, they felt inadequate. They felt personal shame, and the root of it all was pride.
So, they attempted to cover their nakedness with fig leaves—the first act of self-redemption. It was an act of self-justification.
Shame and Insecurity are the fruits of God’s judgment. God’s judgments manifest a consistent pattern throughout scripture. He gives us up to what we persistently pursue. When we want something idolatrously, and we persist in that desire, God lets us have it. He gives the idol sovereignty. We become its slave. Scripture contains many examples.
In the wilderness, Israel lusted for meat and God gave them Quail until they got sick (Numbers 11).
Israel asked the prophet, Samuel, to give them a human king. God said, “give them what they want. It is not you they are rejecting, it is me” (1Samuel 8). Then God gave them what they wanted. He gave them Saul, a man after man’s own heart. His reign was a disaster.
When men persistently take pleasure in falsehood God gives them up to it. Referring to those who delight in lies, Paul writes—(2 Thes. 2:11-12) “Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
Adam and Eve’s awareness of their nakedness is the first sign that God had given them up to what they wanted. Their discontentment flowed from an upward grasping for importance that now filled their hearts. Exposed to the Serpent’s temptation, they wanted to be like God, so God gave them up to the deception that they really were. This upward-grasping pride is the heart of Original Sin. We have all inherited it from Adam.
Therefore, one of the manifestations of pride is a feeling of inferiority or shame.“The eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.” I want to be something I’m not, so I am discontented and unhappy. I feel deeply the gap between what I want to be, what I think I am, and what I really am. This pride is the source of insecurity and shame.
Saturated in pride Adam and Eve now tried to solve the problem with human effort. They clothed themselves in home-made fig leaf outfits. But, human ingenuity will not solve this problem. Before God drove them out of the Garden, in mercy “he made garments of skins and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). God’s action implied that Adam and Eve would not be able to solve their nakedness with human effort alone. Second, God’s kindness predicted that he would someday provide “garments of salvation,” that alone would be sufficient to clothe the shame of their nakedness.
God admonished the church at Laodicea to wear these garments. He rebuked them. You are really “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” This is the condition of everyone apart from Christ. Then he counseled them to solve their problem God’s way. “Buy from me white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen” (Revelation 3:17–18). What are these “white garments.” They are the robes of salvation that God provides everyone who believes the gospel and turns from sin.
When people do this God no longer sees the shame of their nakedness. All he sees is the righteousness of Christ. This means that in our relationship with God all grounds for insecurity and shame have been removed.
Have you put on the “white garments” that Christ gives to everyone who believes the gospel, or are you still sewing fig-leafs? God’s garments are efficacious. Fig leaves are not. God’s “white garments” are the beginning of the end to the insecurity and shame that plague the human condition.
This blog is about the gospel and how it influences every aspect of Christian life. Many Christians here the word, “gospel,” and think, that’s for beginners. I want to move on to the deeper truths. But this kind of thinking is a problem. Properly understood the gospel is the deepest truth in scripture. If you knew nothing about the Bible but the gospel, but knew it really well, you would have all the knowledge necessary for a life of godliness.
The gospel reconciles Old Testament and New. It is the center of the Bible. The Old Testament demonstrates the need for it . The Old Testament predicts it. Then the four gospels record the life and death of Jesus, the Messiah, which is the gospel. Last, the epistles look back on the gospels interpreting and applying them.
The gospel is also about ultimate issues. A display of the glory of God is God’s purpose for creation and redemption. The cross of Christ, the center of the gospel, is the greatest display of God’s glory in human history. It also displays the bankruptcy of man. In sum, the cross glorifies God and humbles humanity, and this is how it should be.
The gospel informs how married couples should relate, how they should raise their children, how they should relate to other Christians, why they should evangelize, and how they should conduct themselves in the market place. It’s all there for those who have eyes to see.
The gospel is the heart and soul of the Christian worldview. It explains how we got here, why life is often problematic, and the glorious hope that God has set before all true Believers.
These subjects and others, this blog will explore. Occasionally we will address culture and politics, but the main subject will be the gospel and its application.
If you have questions or concerns my email firstname.lastname@example.org
ONE OF THE MOST PRACTICAL VERSES in the Bible is Jude 21. It begins, "Keep yourself in the love of God." Notice, it is a command, not a suggestion. Why does the Holy Spirit feel the need to command this? Because we easily slip out of the daily experience of God's...
PEOPLE OFTEN ASK, what is the fundamental difference between a liberal and a conservative? When all the vehemence is boiled down, how are their worldviews different? It is a good question, and the answer might surprise you. It is not their belief, or lack of belief,...
GOD'S PEOPLE EXPERIENCE HIS JUDGMENTS for sin in a variety of ways. But one of the most common is that God gives us up to the evil we desire. He surrenders sinful individuals or nations to their idols. The idol comes, however, with great pain, sorrow, and...
God atones for our sin of self-exaltation by an infinite humbling of his Son.
JUDY AND I JUST RETURNED from cold, snowy Grand Rapids, Michigan. We led a marriage retreat for Peace Church, a growing congregation located in a suburb of Grand Rapids. Grand Rapids is about the size of Spokane and is the second-largest city in Michigan behind...
Spouses will love each other to the degree that they understand how God has loved them.