Modesty is the best policy

Epiphany 3 – Genesis 3:1-13

It is almost an afterthought in our text from Genesis 3.

So much else is happening that we tend to forget that which is most visible to the eye, and in some sense, it is the most pressing matter.

For Adam and Eve have not died in our text. The serpent assured Eve that the punishment for eating from the fruit of the tree was not instant death; and indeed, Adam and Eve are still alive.

Although perhaps they might wish they were dead right now.

After all, while eating of the fruit of the tree has not triggered instant death, it has triggered instant shame. Adam and Eve look at themselves and at each other and realize that they are naked, and they do what anyone would do in such a situation: they hide themselves, they try to undo the shame.

And for all we talk about the genetic disposition of Adam being altered ever so slightly so that now all of those who descend from him will now find themselves subject to sin, there is the reality that there would be no more sin so long as sin triggered instant and immediate shame in the heart of the sinner.

You do not do things that you are ashamed of. You do not want to experience that guilt and that pain and that humiliation ever again, so you swear that you will never do that sin again, no matter what.

And so there is the trick. The devil can make you sin once. He can tell you that this sin or that sin will make you like God, or that it will make you feel good, or that it will make you special.

And so like Eve, like Adam, you go ahead and do it. You eat of the forbidden fruit; you enter the forbidden city; you do the forbidden act.

And you feel instant shame, a shame so deep that it makes you wish that you were dead. A shame so deep that without anyone else telling you so, you know that you have done wrong; a wrong so deep and so vile that you can barely lift your face to those around you; a sin so great you wonder if it can even be forgiven.

And you promise that you will never allow yourself to feel such shame ever again. You will never do that sin ever again, so that you may never be so shamed before others, before God, ever again.

And there is the challenge for Satan. You know shame; you know how horrible you feel when you are found to be guilty; you know that you do not want to feel that way ever again. So Satan’s goal is to remove that shame; because if you do not feel shame, you are not going to notice anything different when you sin, and you will be more than willing to commit that sin again, either in the same form, or in a form that is ever so slightly worse.

It is no easy task to bring things out of the darkness of shame and make them acceptable. Things perfectly accepted today would have caused riots in the streets 100 years ago, let alone 25 years ago. Once upon a time, foul language was relegated to late night cable television. Not so long ago, movies that are today rated PG-13, would have been rated R. Clothing worn today would have been the equivalent of walking around naked in a different age.

How has Satan done this?

He has used the culture; he has been slow and methodical; he has spared no expense, whether it be the sanctity of the home or the church or the school. He has begun quite small, and watched everything snowball from there.

What is the result?

It is practically impossible to buy clothing that would be considered modest today. Movies and television of every variety are all polluted with the same style and language. Music of every genre covers the same explicit topics of impurity.

With help from all, Satan has done the seeming impossible: he has removed shame from society, and replaced it with pride. No longer do the children of Adam and Eve hide in the bushes for fear of the Lord God discovering what they have done; instead you parade in the streets, boldly declaring what is now permissible, even if it is only in your own eyes.

But fear not, for however far you have pushed the proverbial envelope, be sure that another is not far behind to push the envelope even further to remove another layer of shame, so that someone else might never know the guilt of their own sin.

For no longer do Adam and Eve hide in shame, for there is no shame at all outside of Eden.

What is the world to do?

What are believers to do?

What are you to do?

It probably sounds lame, and some days impossible, but the answer is to push the envelope back in the same way it was pushed forward.

The absence of shame and immodesty have reigned long enough; now is the time for modesty.

It does not have to be all things at once, going one at a time will prove challenge enough.

It is time for the people of God to demand that clothing be modest clothing; that entertainment be found to have some redeeming properties; that life in the world turn back to a time when the world knew shame, where there was some embarrassment for one’s actions conducted in sin.

For there is a promise to those who repent of their rejection of shame.

There is forgiveness.

For the Lord of heaven and earth Himself knew shame. Christ Jesus knew the shame of leaving the holy of holies in heavenly glory, to take upon Himself the shame of our mortal nature.

The Son of God is not supposed to do that; and yet He did. The Lord Jesus took on our shame, not just in our flesh, but also took upon Himself the shame of our sins as He Himself hung naked up the cross of Calvary.

Jesus died a shameful death, so that your sin of not having any shame might be forgiven.

The shame of Adam and Eve, the shame of you and I, is now covered completely and totally by the robe of Christ’s righteousness that covered all our sins.

No longer do you know the shame of sin, for you have been covered, wrapped up, not in the animal skins of the Garden of Eden, but in the holy and precious blood of Christ, that covers you and makes you clean.

And that is nothing to be ashamed of.

Rather it is something to rejoice in.

Rejoice, for Christ has called you out of the bushes and the shadows and the darkness in which you have hidden yourselves and removed the curse of death and restored unto you the gift of life.

The sons and daughters of Adam and Eve may know the depths of shame that sin brings upon you, but for you who have been baptized into Christ Jesus, you shall know the heights of life and glory with your Father who is in heaven.

About revschmidt

An LCMS Pastor in North-Central Kansas
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