"Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, 'Where are you?'" (Genesis 3:9)Adam was a man who was familiar with the presence of God. For some time he was accustom to walking with God "in the garden in the cool of the day" (Genesis 3:8). However now, for the first time, he found himself afraid of God's presence and attempted to hide himself from God. How could Adam, in one day, go from enjoying God's presence to hiding in fear? When he sinned, what changed to caused him to fear God? I believe that two things fundamentally changed on that day when Adam partook of the forbidden fruit.
First, by partaking of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God ceased to be Adams father and instead became his judge. Prior to that day, Adam obeyed God as a son would his father; he simply did whatever his father told him. However, now after having his eyes opened by the knowledge of good and evil, his obedience shifted to having to satisfy an external set of rules, ordinances, and laws. He was now responsible to live by what he knew to be good and evil; to live by this new knowledge of right and wrong apart from the simplicity of obeying God's voice. To further compound the problem, Adam awakened something with in his soul: sin!
"But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me." (Romans 7:8-11)While Paul is speaking here specifically regarding the Law of Moses, I believe the same principal applies to Adam. With the knowledge of good and evil there awakened in Adam a sinful nature that was bent on evil. Now, living apart from the grace of father God, Adam was overcome by his sinful nature and that realization caused him to fear God. Paul reminds us of this in recounting how even Moses was fearful in the presence of the law.
"For they could not bear the command, "If even a beast touches the mountain, it will be stoned." And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, "I am full of fear and trembling."Moses was also a man familiar with the presence of God. He would often enter before the very presence of God in the Tent of Meeting. However, at the giving of the law, Moses found himself fearful of the presence of God.
The chief reason the law introduces fear into our hears is because we know instinctively that we are incapable of keeping the law. We understand the weakness of our own flesh and our internal tendency to sin. Paul says of his own internal struggle against sin,
"For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?" (Romans 7:18-19, 24)When we consider our internal sin nature, we understand that we are sinners and we deserve punishment, and the one to judge and punish us is God. We have broken, not the commandments of man, but of God and God is the judge, jury, and executor of our sentence of guilt. John echos this truth when he said, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love." (1 John 4:18) What John is saying is, as long as our conscience is fill with the knowledge of our sin and guilt, the prospect of punishment moves is to fear; the fear of God. However, if our conscience is filled with the knowledge and experience of God's love, then there is no room left to fear God or His wrath. When we come to understand that we walk with God by grace, as children of our Father, then the law and its condemnation of us no longer rules our lives; fear is no longer our master but rather we are free to fellowship with God in the knowledge of His love. The knowledge of good and evil turns God into our judge, but the knowledge of the love of God restores God to us as our father.
More to come... David Robison