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Psalm Sung Before the Sermon: Psalm 139:23-24.


EXCUSES FOR SIN

(SERMON #27 ON THE BOOK OF GENESIS)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Saturday Evening, October 20, 2007
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat” (Genesis 3:11-12).


Adam and Eve broke God’s law and ate the fruit that He told them not to eat. Instantly their consciences felt a sharp sense of guilt. They made aprons of fig leaves to conceal their sin-revealed nakedness from God. What a foolish thing – to imagine that God could not see through those shoddy aprons!

But their guilty consciences drove them to do an even more foolish thing. They hid themselves from God “amongst the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8). They tried to hide from God, but they could not do it.

See what fools they have become now that they have broken God’s law! See how they run back and forth, trying first this thing, and then another thing, to avoid God, to escape from His piercing cry, as they hide in those trees! Sin has made such fools of them that they imagine that they can hide from God’s all-seeing eye! But God’s eye sees through every trick man uses to conceal his sin. God catches up with them and asks them two penetrating questions.

“Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?” (Genesis 3:11).

Dr. Henry M. Morris wisely said,

…the shame of nudity [was not] introduced by the conventions of civilization, as certain anthropologists and self-serving sophisticates have urged. It has its source in this primeval awareness of sin, and is only discarded when the moral conscience has been so hardened as to lose all sensitivity to sin.
       It is noteworthy also that clothing is worn in heaven. The “armies…in heaven” are seen as “clothed in fine linen, white and clean” (Revelation 19:14), and the glorified Son of Man [Jesus] is pictured to John as “clothed with a garment down to the foot” (Revelation 1:13). Except for the brief period of Edenic innocence, nakedness before anyone other than one’s own husband or wife is, in the Bible, considered shameful (Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., The Genesis Record, Baker Book House, 1986 edition, pp. 116-117).

[Nakedness] had never been a problem before, but there is no doubt that Adam was now acutely conscious of being naked in God’s presence. The fig leaf girdles were [no help], either; and [Adam] knew it. Flagrant sin had entered Adam’s body and would contaminate all future generations (Morris, ibid., page 116).

It was only after our first parents sinned that their consciences were troubled by nakedness. The sin they committed robbed them of their innocence, and made them feel painfully aware that they were naked in the presence of God.

They were ashamed of their nakedness because their consciences, though fallen, were not completely hardened by sin. Later, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments, the people were unashamed when they danced naked around the golden calf they made. The Bible says,

“…when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:) Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the Lord’s side? let him come unto me” (Exodus 32:25-26).

Then Moses, by the command of God, slew all of those who had danced with no clothes on, except the ones who saw their sin and stood with him in repentance and shame. The hardened sinners among them, who refused to repent of their naked idol worship, were slain justly by the command of God.

Ever since Adam and Eve sinned by eating the forbidden fruit, nakedness was seen as a great evil on the pages of Scripture. Nakedness is portrayed in both the Old and New Testaments as a deliberate act of sin and rebellion against God. In the Book of Revelation evil members of the church at Laodicea were so debased by sin that they [knew not that they were] “blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).

Christ said they were so hardened by sin that they saw nothing wrong with being “blind, and naked” in God’s sight. Those at the church of Laodicea had consciences even harder than those of Adam and Eve, who were terrified by God finding them naked in sin. Is this true of you? When God looks into your heart, does He see sin? Does He see that you have inwardly, or even outwardly, sinned?

“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts” (Psalm 139:23-24).

What a load of sin would be uncovered if you prayed that prayer with any degree of sincerity! God, by His Word, “is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). All of your inward and outward sins will be revealed at the Last Judgment unless they are covered by the Blood of Christ.

“For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil”
      (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

Luther said,

[Adam’s] conscience was aroused at his nakedness…So now he had to hear from the mouth of the Lord the very thoughts that were in his mind. Still he refused to confess, and passed over his sin in silence (Martin Luther, Th.D., Luther’s Commentary on Genesis, Zondervan Publishing House, 1958 reprint, volume I, p. 76).

At last Adam spoke. But he did not truly confess his sin. Instead, he excused his sin, and insinuated that God Himself was at fault.

“And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat” (Genesis 3:12).

Luther said,

Adam denied his transgression and excused himself; indeed, he accused God (of being the author of his sin). This he did even when he had been convicted in his conscience and God had showed him that he had sinned. He meant to say to God, “Had you not given me the woman, I would not have eaten of the tree.” So he put the blame of sin on God. His transgression began with disobedience and unbelief; now he added to it insult and blasphemy. In the same way every sinner hates the punishment (inflicted on him on account of his sin). (ibid.).

And, in the same way, every unawakened sinner tries to excuse himself from condemnation, by blaming others, or by saying that he is no worse than others, or by deflecting guilt to others, rather than confessing his sin to God.

Eve answered God in a similar way.

“And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat” (Genesis 3:13).

Luther said,

[Eve] tried to excuse herself by putting the blame on the serpent, which God had created. In this way, while refusing to take the blame, she put it on the Creator. From this we learn that the sinner never wants to [admit he is a] sinner nor bear his (just) punishment. He [pretends to be] righteous, and if he does not succeed in this, he puts the blame on God (ibid., p. 77).

As long as a lost sinner blames others, or excuses himself, there can be no forgiveness of sin. He must be brought to the place of saying to God,

“I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:3).

When the all-seeing eye of God penetrates your heart, and you admit your sin, and it weighs heavily upon you, then you will confess your sin and search for Christ to save you from its guilt. Turn to I John 1:8-10. Please stand and read those three verses aloud.

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (I John 1:8-10).

You may be seated.

Matthew Henry said, “We must beware of deceiving ourselves in denying or excusing our sins” (note on I John 1:8). “The Christian religion is the religion of sinners” (ibid.). In other world religions salvation comes by man trying his best to be good. But, in real Christianity, salvation comes by acknowledging sin, admitting it, and throwing one’s self on Jesus, who died on the Cross to pay for sin, and shed His Blood so that sin can be cleansed. The heart that acknowledges its sin will want to come to Jesus, and will sing with full sincerity,

I am coming, Lord! Coming now to Thee!
Wash me, cleanse me in the blood
That flowed on Calvary.
   (“I Am Coming, Lord” by Lewis Hartsough, 1828-1919).

(END OF SERMON)
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