Our human nature tends to look at the one thing we cannot do, instead of seeing all the range of possibilities that we can do. The serpent, the devil, was successful in getting Adam and Eve to focus on that one tree they needed to avoid (Genesis 3:1-7). Instead of seeing all the prospects of life with God, in our fallen condition just tell us what we cannot do and we will probably be sure to do it. More than that, the devil subtly planted a terrible and untruthful idea in the heads of Adam and Eve – that God was somehow holding out on them and was not providing everything they really needed and wanted in life. Sin looks really good, and even initially tastes really good. Yet, sin has an awful aftertaste and reeks inside us. Sin always over-promises and under-delivers.
We all face temptation, sin, and the effects of sin. Perhaps the greatest impact of sin is sewing fig leaves for ourselves and hiding – hiding from God, hiding from one another, and even hiding from ourselves. All this hiding causes us to be spiritually blind, and to sleepwalk through hell unaware of our true spiritual condition. Because of this reality, we all need a Savior to deliver us. Apart from God we are only dust. We need God’s Spirit to breathe life into us. We need God’s Spirit to breathe life into the church. We need God’s Spirit to grace us with conviction of sin, and breathe new life into us so that we may again enjoy him in Paradise. Just as we did not give ourselves life and cause ourselves to be born, so we cannot give ourselves new life but must be born again by God’s Spirit.
Hiding with fig leaves is the symbolic way of demonstrating that Adam and Eve were acting independently, and were now going to operate on their own apart from God. Our fallen spiritual condition does not want to acknowledge our need for the sheer grace of God. Instead, we hide our true motives and desires. Through The Fall we are inclined to look for ways to deal with problems in our lives apart from God.
We want to return to Paradise, and we devise all kinds of thoughts and ways of doing that. Paradise always seems to be “out there” somewhere. In our fallen condition, we buy into the “if only” syndrome instead of dealing with the sin in our own hearts. If only we had that one thing, then we would be happy and be in Paradise. Single people may look for that special someone, believing that Paradise will come if they meet Mr. Right or Miss All That. Married persons may think that if only their spouse would be more like _____, then Paradise will come. Kids might believe that when they grow up, then there will be independence and they can do whatever they want and there will be Paradise. “If only” we had more money. “If only” we had a bigger house, another car, or more power and influence. “If only” other people would stop being jerks, care more, serve more, love more. “If only” I had my way then, we think, there would surely be a restoration to Paradise.
We often expect way too much of relationships with others. A woman will never find a man who completes her because no man can fix what is broken within her heart. Even If every woman had a man who thought of nothing but her, how to romance her, how to love and encourage her, she would still be empty. No man is enough. Every woman needs a Savior. And a man will never find a woman that takes care of everything in his life. Even if every man came home each evening to a woman who was all dolled-up with a freshly grilled steak on the table for him, he would still be empty because no woman can fix what is broken within his heart. Neither red meat nor any woman can provide for a man what he really needs. Men need a Savior. We all need a Savior. We all need deliverance from our disordered loves and misguided attempts to find Paradise in this life apart from God. The temptation after The Fall is to try and find Paradise outside of God through perfect relationships and ideal circumstances. Yet, what we really need is to repent of the sin of our own hearts, and deal with the brokenness of our own lives. And that is what the season of Lent is all about.
In this season of Lent, we must repent of our hiding and wishing for everything and everyone else to be different without any cost to ourselves. What do you need to repent of in this season? Who are the people that you look to do for you what only God can do? Have you forsaken your first love of Jesus Christ? Has your relationship with God been non-existent? Has it been stale, dull, and lacking passion, desire, and energy? Has distance replaced intimacy between you and God? Do you avoid the spiritual disciplines of bible reading and prayer because you believe something else will satisfy the real needs of your heart? Are you keeping up appearances and hiding, while on the inside you have doubt, depression, and despair that things will never change?
May you have the courage to face the empty places of your heart and allow the unconditional grace of Jesus to cleanse and fill your soul. Soli Deo Gloria.