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Covering the Shame

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
September 13, 2022 12:01 am

Covering the Shame

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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September 13, 2022 12:01 am

Our sin leaves us naked and exposed to the judgment of God. Only the robe of Christ's perfect righteousness can cover our shame. Today, R.C. Sproul explains how the gospel provides the solution to our guilt in the presence of God.

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Coming up next on Renewing Your Mind... We continue now with our study of the holiness of God and with our focus, as we've seen in the last few messages, on the trauma of God's holiness how frightening God's holiness is to us in our fallenness. In our last session we saw Simon Peter's response to Jesus' miracle of filling the nets with fishes, wherein Simon said to Jesus, looking for some refuge, some place to hide, some defense that will cover us from the unveiled gaze of God. In the Old Testament, in the book of Genesis, we read a somewhat unusual and strange incident that took place in the life of Noah. After the Scriptures record for us the righteousness of Noah, the noble expression of faith that characterized him through his life and by which God redeemed Noah and his family from the ravages of the flood, we see an unpleasant episode in his life that takes place later on. In the ninth chapter of Genesis, the verse 20, we read this, And Ham the father of Canaan saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father.

Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father's nakedness. So Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his younger son had done to him, and then he said, Cursed be Canaan, a servant of servants he shall be to his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem, and may Canaan be his servant. And may God enlarge Japheth, and may he dwell in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be his servant. This story almost sounds bizarre, and it's been subjected to a lot of speculation by biblical scholars.

What is going on here? We have the strange story of Noah's becoming drunk and being asleep in his tent, and his clothes have fallen off of him so that he is now lying there naked. He's in a drunken stupor, and we read that his son comes in, his son Ham comes into the tent and looks at his father's nakedness and presumably goes out and tells the other brothers about this compromising position in which he had found his father. Now as I say, some scholars read something into this text. They say that the term looked upon his father's nakedness is a Jewish euphemism for some kind of sexual act, and they suggest that what the son had done was an unspeakable act of sexual assault upon his father.

Now that may be, and it may be in the hints of the language, but we don't have to go to something as radical as that to see what is going on here in the story. In any case, the brothers do not participate in Ham's activity of looking openly and scandalously on their father's sin. Instead, Shem and Japheth go and get a covering, and they spread it between them and walk backwards into the tent so that they will not be looking at their father's nakedness. And what makes me think that the real sin here was looking at not being involved in some sexual activity because these men go to great lengths to not look at their father in his exposed, embarrassed, humiliated state. These sons of Noah have the grace to cover their father.

This is a cover-up, not a cover-up driven by sin but a cover-up driven by grace. And so they come and take this blanket or this covering and walk in backwards and cover their father's nakedness. Now when Noah wakes up and realizes his own folly and his own embarrassment and hears what Ham has done by making a spectacle out of his own father, Noah proceeds to pronounce a curse of judgment upon Ham that includes future generations. Cursed be Canaan, the son of Ham. And at the same time, he pronounces the patriarchal blessing upon Shem and upon Japheth. Blessed be Shem, and larged be Japheth.

Now what's the big deal? I once made a study because of this text of the concept of nakedness in Scripture. The Greek word for naked is the word gumnos, and we see this in the Greek text. The Greek word gumnos is the word gumnos, and we see this frequently in the literature of the Jews. And the idea that is behind the response of Jewish people to human nakedness must be found in its roots in the story of the fall of man in Genesis 3.

Let's take a moment to look at that story. The very end of chapter 2 of Genesis, which has just told the story of the creation of Adam and of Eve and the joining together of the two to become one flesh, there is a final comment at the end of chapter 2 that seems to be just dangling there with no particular significance. We read at the end of chapter 2 these words, therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Then we get this sort of dangling statement, and they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. Desmond Morris wrote a book several years ago called The Naked Ape, in which he observed that in the animal kingdom there are 80-some particular varieties of primates, different kinds of apes and gorillas and chimpanzee and so on, and said that in this broad class man is assigned as one of the primates. But the thing that distinguishes man from the rest of the primates is that man is naked.

That is, he's not covered from head to toe with a coat of fur like he would find on a gorilla. And man is the only species that uses artificial clothing, not only among primates but among all of the animals. You don't see a clothing industry among ants or pelicans or horses. Sometimes you will see clothing on animals, on horses, on dogs, on mules, but where does that clothing come from?

It comes from us. We make little sweaters for our puppies, or we put hats on our mules. But by nature animals don't wear clothes.

They belong to a natural universal nudist colony. But of all of the species in the world, only one walks around dressed in shirts and dresses and pants and hats and so on shoes. And we say, well, the reason why we do that is because of our advanced intelligence by which we need the practical advantage to get warmth from the cold and so on. But protecting ourselves from the elements is not the only reason why we wear clothes. One reason we do it is for the sake of aesthetics, for beauty, for adornment. We try to improve our natural looks by wearing beautiful clothing. But perhaps the deepest motivation for the wearing of human clothes is to cover our nakedness.

And there's something profoundly unnatural about that. When we see here in Genesis that when God created man and God created woman and joined them together so that they became one flesh, we read that they were naked. And not only were they naked in this created state, but they were not ashamed of their nakedness. They were comfortable being nude.

What happened? Well, if we look at chapter 3, we read of the biblical account of the fall. And in verse 6 of chapter 3, we read, so when the woman saw that the tree was good for food and 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, and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And then 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. And the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, where are you? So he said, I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, and I hid myself. God said, who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded that you should not eat?

And then, of course, the replies come, the woman that you made talked me into it, and then the serpent of Begalas, and all of the excuses were given. But do you see in this encounter, in this episode, the dramatic focus upon the change of the human condition and attitude and psychology about nakedness? The first emotional, psychological experience that humanity had with the first sin was an awareness of nakedness. It was an experience of shame.

It was an experience of guilt. Guilt does provoke shame and humiliation, and there's nothing that we protect more carefully than our reputations, because there's a very real sense, beloved, in which we do not want people to know what we are really like in secret. We all have doors on our houses and blinds on our windows. Yes, we're living in an era where there has been more preoccupation with nudity and nakedness than perhaps in any generation in American history. But we are living in a world where there is no pornography. Pornography is in every city, able to be seen, and in every corner in every city there are magazines that can be purchased where people can look at pictures of naked people. Our dress styles are more and more and more revealing, and every city has its peep shows and its burlesque houses where people can go and watch people do things while they're nude. We even had a phenomenon many years ago of people running down the street or in the middle of a football game across the field naked. We called it streaking, but it's interesting to me that even that phenomenon where those daredevils who would risk public humiliation by running down the street bare naked were not called strollers.

They were streakers. We still have this sensitivity to being seen naked, and yet we still have this sense of being naked and ashamed, and we still long for a place where we can be naked and unashamed once more. God has provided a place, marriage, where two people can know each other as intimately, as unvarnished, unendured, and open as is humanly possible. There's a reason why God requires solemn oaths and vows before people enter into that relationship, because I want to know that if I'm going to be naked, totally naked, not just physically but emotionally and spiritually and intellectually naked before another person, that I'm not going to be slaughtered in the process.

Everybody wants us to be open, and the reason why people are closed is because they've tried being open, and when they revealed their deepest sins, they were crushed. And so we have learned to be very, very cautious about our nakedness, spiritual nakedness, intellectual nakedness, ethical nakedness, and physical nakedness. If you look through the Bible, all the way through the Bible, the experience of nakedness is related to humiliation. When armies in the Old Testament would capture warriors from another army, they would parade them in captivity, and they would lead them away naked, because a naked prisoner is a docile prisoner. Once he's stripped of his clothes, he's stripped of his dignity, and he is reduced to a sense of powerlessness. It was the practice of the Romans to crucify people naked, and in all probability, Jesus was crucified naked.

He was made a public spectacle before the eyes of those who held Him in derision. It was a punishment in antiquity to strip people of their covering. No one of us wants to walk down the streets of our city naked.

No one of us wants to have everything that we have ever done or said exposed to the whole world. What we want to cover more than anything else is our guilt, and the first experience of humanity with sin was to flee when God came near. Adam and Eve rushed to the trees to cover themselves from their nakedness.

What they were covering or trying to cover was not their bodies but their guilt. And when God came and said, Why are you hiding? Adam said, Because we're naked. How do you know that you're naked? You were naked yesterday, and you didn't run. Did you eat of the tree?

Yes. Now this is crucial, because I want us to see what God did. God cursed Adam. God cursed Eve. God cursed the snake. God cursed the ground. God cursed the world. God cursed the world that had fallen into sin. God was not going to negotiate His holiness for Adam, for Eve, for the snake, or for anybody else.

But in the midst of all that, what else did He do? He made clothes for His embarrassed, frightened, humiliated, sinful, fallen creatures, and He covered their nakedness. The great tragedy, beloved, today is that people are still running and still hiding from the holiness of God, for fear that they will be found naked before God. What they have missed is what the Bible is all about, that the whole imagery of the Bible, when it describes the work of Jesus in our behalf, is that Jesus provides a covering for our nakedness. You know and I know that all of my righteousness is as filthy rags before God, and that I can never stand before the gaze of a holy God, and neither can you. I need to be covered.

I need clothing. And the very essence of the gospel, that which makes Jesus a friend of sinners, is that Jesus has achieved perfect righteousness and holiness, which He weaves into a cloak that He offers to give you and to cover you in the presence of God with His righteousness. So that once we are covered by the righteousness of Christ, we can be naked again in the presence of God and not be ashamed. We can stop running. We can stop hiding, because we have been adorned with a gown of perfect righteousness if we place our trust in Him.

What a liberating reality. You know, throughout Scripture, we see this theme of God covering His people. He provided coverings of skins for Adam and Eve after they sinned in the garden, and He provides the perfect righteousness of Christ to cover us. You're listening to Renewing Your Mind on this Monday. Thank you for being with us.

I'm Lee Webb. As we learn about God's holiness from Dr. Sproul this week, we find that even catching a glimpse of the Holy One of Israel changes everything. Early on in his ministry, R.C.

recognized that the church had lost sight of God's holiness. He believed that if we understand how majestic and perfect God is, it would revolutionize our lives, the way we look at God, and the way we look at ourselves. We'd like for you to have all 15 messages of the extended version of this series. Just request the digital download when you contact us today with a donation of any amount, and we'll also send you the special 25th-anniversary edition of Dr. Sproul's classic book by the same title.

Contact us and request both resources at Renewing Your Mind dot org, or call us at 1-800-435-4343. As we consider our Coram Deo thought for the day, I want to remind you of the meaning of the term Coram Deo. It means before the face of God.

It means before the presence of God. And what we've learned today is that there's no place a naked person is more uncomfortable than Coram Deo in the presence of God, before the face of God. And what I want us to understand today is that just as Noah's sons went out of their way to provide a covering for their father's nakedness, they didn't make excuses for their father's nakedness. Their father had sinned. Their father had violated the law of God. But the sons were not interested in condemning their father. They were interested in his redemption. And so humanly they provided a covering for the father whom they loved. And in so doing, they were simply repeating what God himself had done for his fallen creatures in the Garden of Eden when God condescended to make clothes for his naked creatures. And what he has done in the cross of Jesus Christ, whose blood covers the mercy seat, whose blood covers our sin, whose blood covers our guilt, and whose righteousness covers our nakedness, so that we may be comfortable in the presence of God.

That's the insight you'll find in Dr. Sproul's series, as well as the book, The Holiness of God. I'm holding a copy of the book here. It's beautifully done, silver hardback with embossed lettering, and I hope you'll contact us and request one for your own library, along with the digital download of the series.

Our phone number again is 800-435-4343, and our online address is And let me thank you in advance for your generous donation. Dr. Sproul's teaching on the holiness of God is just one topic of study available to you on our app. There's an expansive library of content there for you at WISA, a rich tapestry of theology, apologetics, church history, and biblical studies. You can enhance your Sunday school, small group, or personal Bible study when you study all that's available to you on the Ligonier app.

And again, it is free. Well, tomorrow Dr. Sproul will address skeptics who say things like this. Some events in the Old Testament that are recorded there are utterly incompatible with the character of God that is revealed to us in the New Testament. The God of love that is shown to us in Jesus certainly would never just kill people for a simple error at the altar.

How do we square the God of the Old Testament with the God of the New Testament? Dr. Sproul will address that question tomorrow on Renewing Your Mind. I hope you'll join us. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-26 07:14:21 / 2023-02-26 07:22:02 / 8

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