And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:7-8)
Immediately after they transgressed, we are told that Adam and Eve became painfully aware of it. Their eyes were indeed opened, but not in the way that they had expected. Upon acting out their rejection of the Word of God, our first parents realized to their own horror that they had committed a kind of spiritual suicide.
They were enlightened alright, for they now knew by experience what death really is.
When the Creator told Adam that they would die the day they ate of the forbidden tree, Adam could only know death by revelation of God. He would have to take God’s word for it that disobedience would bring death, and that death is not desirable. That should have been sufficient for the first couple.
But after allowing the serpent to seduce them into distrusting God, now they would know death by experience. for indeed on that very day Adam and Eve died, and the human race with them.
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned…For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. (Romans 5:12,19)
It should be obvious that the death God warned of, is not limited to physical death, for Adam would continue to live for another 930 years. From the moment he transgressed, his own physical death was assured. But the couple would now know spiritual and moral death in all of its forms, for the rest of their now limited lives.
Death is more than a physical reality, it is a state of being. To die is to be “cut off” from the real source of our life. Death is estrangement from God.
The first couple now “knew that they were naked”, they could sense their vulnerability, they had become self-conscious and painfully aware that no longer were they covered, as before when they dwelt under God; His communion and clothed in His glory.
From now on, the particular parts of the body which were intended for procreation, would be accompanied with a sense of shame, as though the high calling of God-given to the first man and his wife, to “be fruitful and multiply” had been affected.
Yes, the man and his wife were still called to bring forth the human race, but they would pass on to their own seed their own estrangement from God the Creator. All who would come of the loins of Adam would also share in the corruption of his nature.
Because of Adam’s disobedience, the beautiful calling of procreation and birth is now associated with the transmission of sin and death, therefore generally speaking, humanity has a sense that the loins are to be covered.
No longer acting in accordance with the Word of God, the man and his wife now act out of self volition. They are on their own, operating out of their own limited wisdom and (now) perverted perception.
Therefore Adam and Eve moved quickly to remedy this new-found sense of shame and nakedness, for they made themselves outfits out of fig leaves. This was the first expression of what would become the universal human aspiration, reflected in world religion, philosophy, and culture, Self Redemption.
Self redemption is the vain imagination that we can get things right without humble submission to God. We sons of Adam know universally that we are spiritually and morally naked, and that there is something wrong with us that needs to be set aright.
There are numerous examples of this ,such as Hinduism’s cycle of Karma and re-incarnation, Islam’s tortured works righteousness, the Buddhist “noble path”, or even the works righteousness of Judaism and heretical christianity. Consider the centuries of extreme renunciation and self flagellation of monks such as Martin Luther.
All of these prove to be Adam’s fig leaves. There is a deep instinct in all of us to “cover up” by self redemption or reformation, but all fig leaves are inadequate to heal the breach between God and man, and the conscience knows it.
Adam and Eve, in the process of hiding their shame from God, also end up hiding from each other. The personal estrangement would prove to be vertical and horizontal, death was working already.
The serpent told them they would “know good and evil” , well now evil was being revealed to Adam. He would learn immediately that sin,(evil) is divisive, it breaks fellowship and makes communion impossible, First hand the division plays itself out…
Man now separated from God, becomes man separated from his wife . Also man separated from all other men, and we shall see, man separated from his environment, and from himself, until at the end, the final indignity, man’s soul would be separated from his body.
Lost, condemned and estranged, they will not come to God…But in Genesis three, God comes to seek them out. Thats what happened in the garden, and it was a picture of what would happen in history, God comes to seek us out.