We are heading into the second month of a New Year. How are you doing? Are you on track or off track in the pursuit of all that God is calling you to this year? One of the great stumbling blocks to living the life God has called us to live is our tendency to continue hiding behind fig leaves. Let’s take a look.
Go back with me to the Garden of Eden, and with the eyes of faith, picture our first two parents attempting to hide their sin-stained shame from God with fig leaves.
When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. They sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. 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. (Genesis 3:6-8)
It would be silly if it wasn’t so sad. In the context immediately following the first sin, nakedness represented shame, guilt, and humiliation. Here are the parents of all humanity attempting to cover their glaring shame, guilt, and humiliation with a few fig leaves, and God immediately rejects their feeble attempt to do for themselves what only He could do – cover their sin. The flimsy physical covering those fig leaves provided was wholly inadequate as a spiritual covering. Only the promised Seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15), the Lamb of God, would be able to take away the shame, guilt, humiliation and debt caused by their terrible rebellion. Fig leaves are no substitute for the Gospel!
So why are we still trying to hide behind fig leaves today when the gospel has freed us from our sin-stained past? Why do we still feel it necessary to perform our way into promised blessings and pretend our way into our Promised Land? What compels us to hide behind all manner of masks? There is only one reason we still sew fig leaves together to hide behind: we do not believe in the power of the gospel to free us from our past, transform us in our present, and secure us in our future.
So . . . have you been in the loin cloth business lately? If you don’t think you are sewing your own covering of fig leaves together, prayerfully consider your answer to this question: when was the last time you confessed your sin to someone else? I am not talking about confessing to another brother or sister in the Lord when you failed to witness to a co-worker, skipped your morning devotion, or forgot to pray over a meal. James instructed us to “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16). I’m talking about confessing what is really going on in your life right now when no one is looking–baring your soul, unburdening your heart, getting real with someone and getting right with God.
You see, the gospel frees you from hiding behind whatever fig leaves you think you need to make you look better than you really are. The gospel is about great sinners who are in need of an even greater Savior–and that is exactly what you have in Jesus. He is big enough to handle every scandalous sin and terrible transgression, having paid for them in full on Golgotha’s Hill. Let me close with these words from the great reformer Martin Luther, writing to a friend who was hiding behind fig leaves:
Therefore my faithful request and admonition is that you join our company and associate with us, who are real, great, and hard-boiled sinners. You must by no means make Christ to seem paltry and trifling to us, as though He could be our Helper only when we want to be rid from imaginary, nominal, and childish sins. No, no! That would not be good for us. He must rather be a Savior and Redeemer from real, great, grievous, and damnable transgressions and iniquities, yea, from the very greatest and most shocking sins; to be brief, from all sins added together in a grand total.
As long as we hide we can never be honest. As long as we hide we can never be helped. As long as we hide we can never be humbled. As long as we hide we can never be happy. As long as we hide we can never be healed. Jesus invites us into a real and radical love relationship with Him and He wants all of us–the good, the bad and the ugly. There is no reason to ever hide behind fig leaves when we have such a faithful Lord.
What a Savior! What a Friend! What a salvation we have been given by faith in the One who has secured for us both eternal life and everyday life.
This is the gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!
Rev. Tommy Boland is the men’s minister and sports minister at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. He also teaches adult Sunday school. For more information, including Bible study resource materials, please e-mail [email protected] or visit www.tommyboland.com.