The devil promises there is much to be gained by sin. However, sin always brings loss, both for us and for those around us, and no amount of self-effort can reverse that. The sad legacy of Adam and Eve offers warning to us but also the assurance that God has not given up on us.
Today we’re going to look at the consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin against God. We’ll simply call this the immediate results of a spoiled legacy. And those results have affected us to this very day, because we’re just like the first couple—sinners in need of a Redeemer.
The first thing I want you to know is that Adam and Eve experienced the loss of their original splendor.
In our last study in Genesis chapter 3, we learned how Eve fell for Satan’s schemes. She ate the forbidden fruit and then tempted her husband to sin as well. And while eventually they would die physically as a result, some other things immediately changed.
Verse 7 tells us, “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.”
What many people have done with this text is make Adam and Eve suddenly blush with embarrassment that they’re not wearing any clothes. Well, they’ve known that for some time already.
Do you know what happened when Moses met with God on the mountaintop? There in the presence of God’s glory, Moses’ face began to glow. He didn’t have a mirror up there on Mount Sinai, so he wasn’t even aware of it.
But when Moses came down that mountain, the people couldn’t bear to look at him because of the glow. So, Moses had to wear a veil over his face whenever he went out in public according to Exodus 34.
Adam and Eve were created in the presence of God’s glory. They walked with God in the cool of the evening. Genesis 3:8 indicates they had daily, personal exposure to God’s glory.
Imagine their daily exposure to the glory of God. If the face of Moses shone, can you imagine the physical brilliance of Adam and Eve?
The prophet Daniel says that one day the redeemed will shine like the brightness of the stars forever and ever (Daniel 12:3). Is he exaggerating?
Zechariah 9:16 says God’s people shall one day sparkle like the jewels of a crown in the coming kingdom of God. And Jesus promised in Matthew 13:43 that the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
There’s no reason to ignore these promises or refuse to take them literally. The people of God will one day shine in their glorified bodies with the restored brilliance of God’s original design.
God’s going to turn the light back on, and the believer in heaven will shine with that light that was lost by Adam and Eve.
Back here in the garden, as soon as Adam and Eve sin, God turns off the light. They lose their clothing of brilliant splendor, and they immediately know it. All of a sudden, they’re standing there looking at each other in unadorned nakedness.
And they’re ashamed. And since they can’t turn the light back on, they try the next best thing. Adam and Eve perform the first religious act recorded in human history.
In Genesis 3:7 we read: “And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.”
Let me make this the second consequence to their sin: They experienced the frustration of self-effort.
They’ve lost their brilliant splendor. They’re keenly aware of their unadorned, naked bodies, and they effectively try to cover over their guilty consciences.
This is religion’s motivation all around the world. People are sewing fig leaves together, trying to cover over their sin with good deeds, penance, church or mosque observances, temple rituals, chants, songs, long prayers, and sacraments.
Let me tell you something: fig leaves do not work! They can’t remove guilt. Religion cannot silence internal shame. And that’s because the issue isn’t so much how you sin but who you’ve sinned against. Only He has the cure for shame; you have to deal with your Creator.
Third, Adam and Eve experienced the futility of trying to hide from God.
Genesis 3:8 reads:
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.
Can you imagine trying to run from God? Well, people do it every day. You can run from God, but you can’t hide from God. There isn’t a tree big enough.
Verse 9 says, “But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’”
God knew where they were; He knew what tree they were hiding behind; He knew Adam was now wearing a size 38 fig-leaf suit. He even knew how they were feeling and why they were hiding.
So why does God ask, “Where are you?”
God wants them to come to Him in open admission and honest confession. The apostle John writes, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
God had warned them back in Genesis 2:17, “In the day that you eat of it [the forbidden fruit] you shall surely die.” And although Adam and Eve remained physically alive, they immediately died spiritually.
The apostle Paul tells us that spiritual death is now inherited by every human being since that original sin. This is part of our spoiled legacy. Paul writes in Romans 5:12:
Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”
So, we can’t just blame Adam – we all sin, too.
Maybe you’re sitting in a coffee shop or office or at home and you’re hearing that quiet voice asking this same question: “Where are you?” Where are you in relation to God? Maybe you want to run from that question and hide. Maybe you’ve been trying to silence your shame and guilt through religion or good deeds.
No amount of good is good enough. That’s why that little voice you can’t turn off tells you that you’re guilty—the shame you feel is telling you something’s not right.
Keep listening. The words you are hearing are an invitation to stop hiding and start confessing your sin to God.
Let me point out two principles from this scene here in the garden of Eden.
The first principle is this: God already knows the worst about you.
In Hebrews 4:13, the Bible says, “No creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of [God].”
That verse makes a direct connection between Adam and Eve and you and me. We’re all naked and exposed. None of us can hide from Him.
The God who created space, time, and matter knows everything that’s going on everywhere, all the time, in the light and the dark. He knows every thought you’ve ever had, every word you’ve ever spoken, every action you will ever take—He knows it all, already. That means God already knows the worst about your past and your future.
But here’s the second promise we can draw from this garden scene: Even though God knows the worst about you, He will forgive you.
When all seemed lost and without hope for Adam and Eve, the Creator came walking, seeking, asking, “Where are you?”
Jesus said, “[I] came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Are you lost? You’re just the person He’s looking for. He invites you to stop running, to stop hiding. Confess your sin to Him, “for God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
That’s part of God’s promise to Adam and Eve—the promise of a coming Redeemer. It’s a promise given even in the garden of Eden, as we will discover in our Wisdom Journey.