A man had driven his car through two red lights and caused a serious accident. Talking to his attorney he wondered if he should admit his guilt or try to beat the case. The man asked his lawyer, “How should I plead?” “On your knees!” the lawyer wisely replied.
At the beginning of time, Adam and Eve needed this good advice. They had willfully sinned, eaten of the forbidden fruit because they wanted to “be like God.” Their sin has infected us all as we continue to try to “beat the case.” But instead of confessing his guilt, Adam showed the only two foolish ways that sinful mankind ever reacts, apart from God’s intervention: “flight” or “fight.”
Adam was the first to discover that he could run, but he couldn’t hide from God. And yet, throughout all of time, for every person born, we continue to deceive ourselves into thinking that we can hide from God. But God Himself says in Jeremiah 23:24: “Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? … Do I not fill heaven and earth?” How should we plead? On our knees in true confession!
So often we are like the children, whose mother looked out the window to see them playing with some cute little baby skunks. Terrified, she screamed at the top of her voice, “Run, children, run!” And each child ran in different directions, each carrying a skunk held tightly to their chest! How typical this is of our “human nature.” We try to “run” from the danger we sense, but in our running, we cling so closely to the sins that cause the great danger!
When we realize that “flight” doesn’t work, we “put up a fight.” Not necessarily a physical fight, but a “battle of words,” a list of excuses, a shifting of guilt and blame. When the LORD God called Adam and asked, “Where are you?” This, of course, was a rhetorical question, for God knew the answer. In His great love, God was pursuing Adam, wanting him to face up to his sin. But Adam, having failed in “flight,” now tried “fight” – making up lame excuses for his sin. Adam replied, “I heard You in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” (v.10) Adam had heard God’s voice before, and he had not been afraid. He was naked and there had been nothing shameful about it. But now he had something he wanted to hide – his guilt!
Notice how God, in love, pursues and breaks through all the lame excuses by His further questioning: “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” (v.11) But Adam still wouldn’t break – he wouldn’t confess his obvious guilt. Instead, he did what has been so typical of all sinners since that time: he tried to pin the blame on someone else! “The woman YOU put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it.” (v.12) And of course, Eve tried the same lame excuse, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (v.13)
Here sin is seen in its true nature. No one wants to confess. We readily blame others for our wrongdoing, or we try all kinds of devious ways to cover up our sin, and we do it all the time!
We also use so many flimsy excuses: “It’s not my fault.” “I couldn’t help myself, I was born this way.” “Everybody else is doing it.” “It’s not as bad as what others do.” Instead of acknowledging our sin, we are much quicker to point the finger of blame – away from ourselves!
But this always leaves us in a terrible condition. We are not only (1) fearful and wanting to hide from God, but (2) we have turned against each other, and (3) lost all self-respect and feeling of self-worth. We can become so deceived that we do not even see that we are in trouble! GOD MUST COME TO GIVE US THE SOLUTION for our wrong actions and answers. And this is exactly what God does!
In true picture language, God gives the first promise of our Savior Jesus Christ. Since the devil had taken the form of a snake when he tempted Adam and Eve, God says to the devil: “I will put enmity (hatred) between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He (Jesus, who would be born of Mary many years later) will crush your head (the way to kill a snake!) and you will strike His heel (how snakes try to inflict harm on people – referring to Jesus’ suffering, crucifixion and death.) (Genesis 3:15)
GOD’S SOLUTION FOR OUR PROBLEMS IS WHAT HE HAS DONE – THE GOSPEL, THE GOOD NEWS OF JESUS. Whether we want to admit it or not, the one great problem we have is: What are we going to do about our sin and guilt? We can’t hide it. We can’t blame it on others. We must confess it and look to Jesus for His forgiveness!
A pastor in New York, tells about receiving a telephone call from an anxious man, a military officer who had been a former member, but who had been transferred away a few years before. This officer had only two day’s leave prior to heading back into active duty. Instead of spending his time with his family, he came all the way to New York to see his former pastor. Putting aside his other plans, the pastor invited the officer to come immediately to his office. There the man haltingly stated that he could not go back into possible battle in his present, confused state of mind. Somewhere along the way he said his faith had crumbled, and the crumbled bits were blown by winds of doubt.
As he described his agony, his pastor interrupted him and said, “I’m not the slightest bit interested in your doubts. I am not going to waste my time or yours going into them. Tell me about your sins!”
A full minute of silence passed without a word. Finally, breaking that silence, the pastor asked the man if he had some pictures of his family. The office retrieved them from his wallet and placed them on the desk. Suddenly in a burst of tears and confession, the truth of the sinful unfaithfulness came out. Confession and repentance was the lance that pierced the boil of sin aching within his heart. And the restorative power of God’s forgiving love as the healing.
King David, when he tried to hide his guilt of adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah, wrote in Psalm 32: “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’ – and You forgave the guilt of my sin.” (Psalm 32:3-5)
We heard this again this past Pentecost (two weeks ago); Jesus’ words from John 16: “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment…” (v.8) Being convicted that we are sinful is MOST IMPORTANT in our spiritual life and health! This is why, in today’s Gospel reading, there is the serious warning: “I tell you the truth, all sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit (e.g. rejects the conviction of sin, righteousness through Jesus ALONE and judgment against sin), will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.” (Mark 3:28-29) God’s desire is that ALL are saved – that’s why the Holy Spirit constantly works through Word and Sacrament so that we may live in repentance and forgiveness.
God pursued this military man, King David, Adam and Eve because of His great love for them – “not to condemn the world, but that the world through Jesus might be saved!” (John 3:17) God continues to pursue you and me right now, and each and every day, through His Word and Sacraments. He is asking you and me, “Where are you?” What are you going to do about your sin?” By faith, we no longer try to hide from God (realizing how impossible that is!) By faith, we no longer try to blame someone else (ultimately blaming God). Rather, by faith, we truly confess our sins, AND BY GOD’S ALMIGHTY POWER, LIVE A CHANGED LIFE; humbly praying: Just as I am, without one plea But that Thy blood was shed for me; And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
God’s blessings to you this week.
See you in worship this coming weekend!