Genesis 3:7 tells us that Adam and Eve were ashamed of their nakedness after their sin. To cover themselves, they sewed fig leaves together and wore them. This seems an expecially unfortunate choice, since fig leaves are rough and induce painful itching.
But isn’t this just like us? When we sin, we try to hide our shame by beating ourselves up. We practice negative self-talk, we kick ourselves, we acknowledge that we are terrible Christians. Some even go so far as to chastise themselves physically.
God never tells us to beat ourselves up after we sin. He tells us to return to Him. But instead, we hide in the bushes, making God come after us. Why do we do it? You can bet that Satan has a big part to play in it. He is the accuser, and we listen to him far too often. Another reason is that we don’t understand God’s grace. We mistrust it. We can’t believe that God could really forgive us with no strings attached. Surely we have to do some penance. “God will forgive me if…”
We’ve also learned that some self-flagellation will go a long way to changing public opinion about us. We know that we will be judged by the sins we commit, so we seek to lesson the criticism by doing some of the punishment ourselves. It’s a pretty good strategy, actually. People are less quick to dogpile if they see that a beating is already being administered.
Benefits aside, God wants us to come to Him in our nakedness when we sin. No covering. No self-disciplining. Just us, admitting we were wrong and asking for God’s forgiveness. Adam and Eve had it exactly backwards. They prolonged their suffering by hiding from God.
When God found them in the garden in their sin, He replaced their covering with His. His covering involved sacrifice. An innocent animal had to die to pay for their sins. Its blood covered their sin, and its hide covered their bodies. God was demonstrating how they would now have to live in order to maintain a relationship with Him, and He was showing them how He would eventually solve the problem of sin forever. The death of an animal is a picture of Christ’s death on the cross. His blood covers both our sin and our spiritual nakedness.