Confession Clothes: Seeking Dignity
Updated: Mar 10, 2022
This discussion guide interacts with the corresponding devotional video, Death and All of His Friends Session 3 - Seeking Hiddenness. Use this post to facilitate discussion and interaction with the Scriptures as you seek God together through his Word.
Genesis 3:7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
The first noticeable effect of sin is shame. Adam and Eve become ashamed of themselves, hiding from each other and from God. There is something about sin that makes us want to hide. Hiding robes ourselves in darkness, in oblivion, in an anonymity that pretends to salve the relational wounds of sin while in reality those wounds remain undressed and untreated. Notice the inadequacy of the clothing they made to hide themselves. They made garments of leaves. The Hebrew word refers to belts or a loincloths. They don’t cover much. And even with their piecemeal covering, they still feel the shame beneath them. Shame is not something humans can cover on their own.
God’s response gives space for theirs. He walks back and forth, searching (though he surely knows where they are), using his voice (the Hebrew word for sound is the same for voice). It appears that while God is “searching”, they are either hiding from the sound of God passing back and forth or from his voice calling. Whichever nuance of the Hebrew word for sound or voice is intended, they are initially unresponsive.
Let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment: Do we hide from God when we sin?
Let’s consider the sound Adam and Eve heard, the phrase God was likely repeating through the Garden. It’s actually God’s first question in the biblical narrative: Where are you? Take some time to consider this remarkable verse. He knows where they are, so what is God doing here? God gives his precious children the opportunity to come forth. To confess. To seek him. He offers them a way to come into the light freely. He does not flatten the orchard with gale force winds to catch Adam and Eve in their shame, huddled in fear. He invites them into the light of his presence with his voice. He invites them to speak to him.
Now imagine the varied responses God could have had toward their rebellion, their rending of the relational fabric of reality, and their compromised state. What should God do given this new reality of a sinful humanity? We will ruminate more deeply on his sentencing (Genesis 3:14-19) in our next session, but let’s now go to the closing of the scene, where we find God (of all things) bestowing a merciful gift to his children.
Genesis 3:21 The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.
He gives them clothes. The Hebrew word is not the same as the skimpy garment they fashioned for themselves, but instead a word for a tunic, dress, or coat. In fact, it is the same word used for the coat worn by the priesthood in Leviticus. These are garments of dignity. And these were not made of leaves, but skin. And thus, we have the first physical prefiguration of the need of a sacrifice. This is the first report in the Biblical narrative of something physically losing its life as a consequence of sin. And though the wage of sin is death, it appears there has already been a prefigured substitution. Something in Eden has died to cloth humanity and restore its dignity.
Clothes become a symbol throughout the biblical narrative. The priestly robes, in particular, are meant to convey the partial recovery of Eden with its embedded jewels, embroidered fruits, and engraved gold (along with the Tabernacle imagery). It is no surprise, then, when New Testament authors begin to speak of the work of Christ by use of fashion language. Paul gives the imperative, “Rather, clothe yourself with Christ” (Romans 13:14). Indeed, God has completed Adam and Eve’s wardrobe, that which their hide tunics only hinted at - he has given humanity new clothes. We no longer need to stitch together patchwork coverings to hide our shame, our false selves by which we wish to cover over the brokenness inside. Instead, God invites us to wear the righteousness of Christ, to be restored in dignity as his children, and to walk unashamedly wearing the grace of his love. Just as we are invited into light of God’s presence to be clothed, Adam and Eve were invited out of the shadows.
In a way, we are invited to rehearse this through the spiritual practice of confession. Contemplate these two New Testament passages:
1 John 1:6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
James 5:16a Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
John and James speak of the same invitation away from the shadows and into the light where healing takes place. And if you’ll permit a poetic word from Legolas, Tolkien captures the sentiment well at the table of companions. "Come, said Legolas at last. 'Speak and be comforted, and shake off the shadow!’” We must shake off the shadow and come into the light together. Don’t stay silent amid God’s invitation. Don’t stay hidden forever. Confession clothes the broken repenter with restored dignity.
We seek hiddenness. It is a natural response to sin. But God invites us out of the shadows and into the light to be healed, clothed, and restored to unimaginable dignity. Would you come into the light with your sins and experience God’s lavish grace?
What are you hiding behind? Have you fashioned for yourself an inadequate covering, a false self behind which you hide your true self? Take a moment to journal (and then share) some of the self-made coverings you attempt to cover yourself with. How have you experienced being clothed in Christ?