For I am not ashamed of the gospel... - Romans 1:16
Yep, my brain is still mulling this one over.
After last Friday's post, another passage came to mind. At the conclusion of the account of creation in Genesis 1 & 2 - God has just created the world and everything in it - we read this: And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (Gen. 2:25) Adam and Eve were perfect - perfectly beautiful, perfectly healthy, perfectly guileless, perfectly sinless. And so they stood before each other and before their Creator without any sense of shame, no need to cover or protect themselves, nothing to hide.
Of course, in the very next chapter, we read of the Fall. Sin and corruption mar what was once perfect, and Adam and Eve know right away what it means to feel guilty and ashamed. They are afraid (as they should be!) and they try to hide themselves from God.
As the children of Adam and Eve, we have all been doing the very same thing ever since that sad day in the garden. Though we try every way possible to convince ourselves otherwise, we are still painfully aware of what it means to be guilty, naked, ashamed. And so we try to hide from God.
That, I think, is one of the things that makes the gospel so shocking - for creatures who have for thousands of years made it their standard mode of operation to hide, to deny, to pretend (like the emperor who wore the invisible clothes), the gospel calls us to proclaim the truth that we are indeed naked and guilty before a God who is holy and just. After so many generations of lying, how can one suddenly change course and just admit the truth? Gasp! If being naked before this God makes us feel ashamed (and it does, no matter how vehemently we protest otherwise), then actually admitting our nakedness must bring with it shame of such magnitude as we've never known!
Except that it doesn't.
In the garden, after the fall, God sought out His guilty children: "Where are you?" Adam answered, "I was afraid, because I was naked..." What did God do with this confession of guilt from His naked children? We read in Genesis 3:21 that "the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them." God knew their shame, and in compassion, He covered them. We've been wearing clothes ever since. But even garments of skin couldn't cover the nakedness of our souls, the shamefulness of our sinful hearts. What was to be done about that more terrible nakedness?
God knew, even way back in the garden, that animal skins could never cover this greater, deeper nakedness. And God already had a covering for that, too. We needed - we need - a garment of righteousness to cover our shameful spiritual nakedness.
Speaking of Jesus: For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (1 Corinthians 5:21). In Jeremiah 23 we read: Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: The LORD is our righteousness (verses 5-6).
The LORD is our righteousness - that is the gospel!
In Christ, we have much better than we had in Adam. In Christ, we are covered physically and spiritually - what Adam lost, Christ has reclaimed...and more! Finally, we can know once again what it means to be "naked and ...not ashamed." Why? Because God sees us and knows us - knows it all, people, every nasty detail - and He mercifully covers us with garments, not of animal skin, but of His own righteousness.
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. - Isaiah 61:10
Naked, ashamed...no more!
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith." - Romans 1:16-17
Naked, ashamed...no more!