Have you ever tried to make yourself out to be better than you are?
Maybe you were trying to impress a girl or land a job or gain someone’s esteem, but whatever the case, you felt pressured to cover up.
That instinct goes back to the Fall.
After they ate the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve realized they were naked:
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked (Genesis 3:6-7a).
Have you ever had a nightmare where you went to school without pants and then woke up in a cold sweat?Maybe that basic fear traces back to Adam and Eve’s painful realization in the Garden.
To put things into perspective—man had just disobeyed God for the first time. Through that act of rebellion, death and sin entered a good world. And what did Adam and Eve do about it? Say sorry? Cry out for help? Run to God? No. They tried to fixed the problem themselves:
and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden (Genesis 3:7b-8).
They covered themselves with leaves and hid.
Was that really enough?
In the face of death, doom, and the war between Satan and God, were fig leaves enough?
I remember when my daughter was two years old and tried to change her own poopy diaper.
It didn’t go well.
In fact, I briefly considered selling the house rather than clean up her mess! We try to fix our own problems and we only make things worse.
We’re all naked. Just like Adam and Eve. Sin has made us naked. And the world is hell-bent (literally) on doing its best to cover things up and make the best of a bad situation. The world wants to pretend that, despite sin, death, and the devil wreaking havoc in our lives, “we’ve got this.”
But do we?
You might not use literal fig leaves to cover up your nakedness, but you use modern substitutes. You put out exaggerated resumes, job titles, and salaries.
You buy cars you can’t afford.
You max out your credit cards.
You try to pacify your conscience with gluten-free organic foods with none of those processed meats or sugars in them because you want to be one of the good guys doing their part to save the world (and yourself!).
You post perfectly curated vacation photos and carefully filtered Instagram pics that announce to everyone that you have it all together and you’re definitely not naked and afraid.
But those are all fig leaves.
Those are all examples of you hiding. Those are all expressions of Law writ large—that is, they are attempts to save yourself and to cover up your sins with feeble works, efforts, and lies.
The truth is you’re not OK.
You know it.
God knows it.
But here’s the good news—God did something about it. He sent Jesus to die for you and to take your sins upon Himself so that you wouldn’t be naked anymore.
Here is what the Apostle Paul proclaimed to the Galatians:
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ (Gal 3:26-27 NIV).
See the contrast with Genesis 3? Adam and Eve were naked. Believers are clothed. Baptism tells you that. Baptism isn’t your message to God, but God’s message to you. Rising out of the waters of baptism symbolizes what the Spirit works in you at the point of faith: new life, new identity, new clothes.
Do you believe in Jesus?
Then you’re clothed, not naked.
There’s no reason to hide. No reason to self-justify, make excuses, or pull yourself up by your own spiritual bootstraps.
God sees you, not as naked, but as clothed with Christ.
That’s the difference between grace religion and law religion.
Through faith, you can give up spending your life trying to make yourself presentable by masking your nakedness with legalistic fig leaves. You can give up that quest and rest in Christ’s finished work for you, knowing that, and that alone, is what God requires.
Fig leaves never suited you anyway.