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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Shameless: Life in the New Covenant Age

'Who told you that you [ were ] naked?'
Genesis 3:11a

First of all; I would like to thank a friend of mine ( In Facebook-land ), Robert Rutherford by name, because this post stems from a status that he recently posted to Facebook, or Gracebook, as I like to call it!

Several years ago, I had begun to write a series of articles on 'The Gospel Typified in the Book of Beginnings'. In the third  article in this series, I wrote, 'Did Adam & Eve have any idea that they were naked, before they sinned? I dare say that they did; but before they 'acquired' the knowledge that they had been forbidden; they probably thought nothing of it ( Genesis 2:25 ). ( Let me again remind my readers; although it may seem like I am assuming a strict historical understanding of this chapter; I am simply showing you that, as I believe, this is not so much a literal, scientifically accurate account of what actually transpired in a geographical location called the 'Garden of Eden', as it is significant, or representative of the greater spiritual truth of our need for the true wisdom, the righteousness of Christ! ) We can speculate about such matters until we're 'blue in the face', but until we realize that this story, like so many others, is prophetic hyperbole, significant of, and typifying the fact that we cannot gain wisdom on our own, and that we are naked, and 'destitute of the truth', without Christ and His righteousness; I believe that we miss the point of many such passages!'

Since writing these words, I believe that I have progressed somewhat in my understanding, but the basic principle outlined here still holds true; I believe that the story in Genesis 3 was not about Adam & Eve's lack of clothing, but rather was a prior revelation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the righteousness that He has clothed us with.

Many or most of us, like myself, were probably brought up believing that when God asked the question quoted above, he was condemning Adam through this rhetorical question ( He well knew ) by saying that their nakedness was something that needed to be covered, especially after they fell, or disobeyed. Now most, if not all of us, have been brought up to believe that nakedness is shameful, that it is wrong to be naked, except in certain situations ( example-husband and wife ), but RoberTRUTHerford's recent post started me thinking. Is the Bible telling us that it IS shameful to be naked, or was God saying, with a slightly different emphasis, ( and slightly different words ), 'Do you think there's something wrong with the way I made you?' ( 'What up?' ) Now, Genesis 2:25 does say, 'they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed', but it was not that they saw nothing wrong with their 'nakedness', and were thus not ashamed of it; there WAS nothing wrong with their 'nakedness'! That was the way God had made them, and pronounced them good! The problem came when they disobeyed God's Law, and they became aware of their 'nakedness' before their Creator and were ashamed.

Much of the problem with viewing ( reading ) this passage out of its covenant context, and with a physically literal understanding of the words, is that now we're tempted to think that since Adam & Eve were created naked ( and pronounced good, by the way ), and that it was only after 'The Fall' ( Genesis 3 ) that God clothed them; now that the curse has been reversed, and we need no longer be ashamed of our nakedness, it is not only okay to be physically naked wherever and whenever ( or just in nudist colonies ), we can also flaunt it, and tempt the passions of others who may not enjoy the Righteousness of Christ!

Nakedness, though Adam & Eve were, traditionally speaking, created perfect, was not a reference, as most people seem to think, to their physical state, but was rather a reference to their covenantal status. As the true Tree of Life ( remember God's words in Genesis 3:22-'And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever' ), the Righteousness of Christ was the true ( and only ) clothing ( no fig leaves ) that would cover the shame of our 'nakedness' before a righteous God!

Nudity, or physical nakedness, can pose quite a problem! It has been much degraded among those who do not enjoy the Righteousness of Christ, and has seen much abuse in both camps, Christian and non-Christian alike. Physical nakedness, we are told, is for the marriage-bed only, and for good reason; it has certain effects on members of the opposite sex, and while these effects are not necessarily wrong, they are not all good and righteous either. The exploitation of human nakedness, physically speaking, has led to the downfall of many a marriage relationship as well, and thus Wisdom tells us that it should be reserved thusly, for the marriage-bed.

Although we should not be ashamed of our nakedness ( that IS the way God made us, after all ); Wisdom tells us that we should not share it with just anybody, but only with the wife of our youth, as the Scriptures say. This article, though, is not about physical nakedness, because I don't believe that Genesis 2 & 3 are about physical nakedness! Genesis 2 & 3 are about the fact that, before the Revelation of Jesus the Christ as the Son of God, and the clothing of covenant man with the Righteousness of Christ, covenant man was 'naked' before God, and thus his shame for the sin of disobedience was uncovered at every turn!

'If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself'
II Timothy 2:13

As we read in Genesis 3:7b, 'they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings', but the 'fig leaves' obviously could not do the job, for, as Adam admitted, 'I was afraid because I was naked' ( verse 10 ). Until our true Righteousness was revealed, in Christ, there was no covering available to cover the 'nakedness' of man, although the many different 'coverings' commanded in the Hebrew Scriptures were typical of this Righteousness.

It is because God Himself, as typified in the book of beginnings, clothed the nakedness of (covenant ) man that we need no longer be ashamed! It is through His Righteousness that there are 'No More Tears', and, as in the quote above, it is His clothing ( righteousness, faithfulness ) which covers our unfaithfulness, our 'nakedness'.

Let us live trusting in the true clothing, The Righteousness and Faithfulness of our God and Father; let us live unashamedly in this New Covenant age, not trying to cover our 'nakedness' with 'fig leaves', but resting in His Righteousness, His Covering!
 
Let us recognize that we are not naked and move past any vain attempts to clothe ourselves, and let us go and love our neighbor as ourselves, as we were given!

Charles Haddon Shank

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