Patching Up a Righteousness of Our Own

George Whitefield on the consequences of disobedience (Genesis 3):

And what are the consequences of their disobedience? Are their eyes opened? Yes, their eyes are opened. But, alas! It is only to see their own nakedness. For we are told (verse 7), ‘That the eyes of them both were opened. And they knew that they were naked.’ Naked of God, naked of everything that was holy and good and destitute of the divine image, which they before enjoyed. They might rightly now be termed Ichabod. For the glory of the Lord departed from them. O how low did these sons of the morning then fall! Out of God, into themselves; from being partakers of the divine nature, into the nature of the devil and the beast. Well, therefore, might they know that they were naked, not only in body but in soul. And how do they behave now they are naked? Do they flee to God for pardon? Do they seek to God for a robe to cover their nakedness? No, they were now dead to God and became earthly, sensual, devilish: therefore, instead of applying to God for mercy, ‘they sewed or platted fig-leaves together and made themselves aprons,’ or things to gird about them. This is a lively representation of all natural man. We see that we are naked. We in some measure confess it. But instead of looking up to God for succour we patch up a righteousness of our own (as our first parents platted fig-leaves together) hoping to cover our nakedness by that. But our righteousness will not stand the severity of God’s judgment. It will do us no more service than the fig-leaves did Adam and Eve, that is, none at all. For (verse 8), ‘They heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the trees of the garden, in the cool of the day. And Adam and his wife (notwithstanding their fig-leaves) hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God, among the trees of the garden.’ They heard the voice of the Lord God, or the Word of the Lord God, even the Lord Jesus Christ, who is ‘the word that was with God and the word that was God.’ They heard him walking in the trees of the garden, in the cool of the day.

from the sermon “The Seed of the Woman, and the Seed of the Serpent” in Lee Gatiss, ed. The Sermons of George Whitefield (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012), Kindle edition.

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