God took away Adam and Eve’s fig leaves and clothed them himself. He stopped them from covering themselves, and he covered them. This is a physical picture of a spiritual reality. God doesn’t want us to cover our sins. He wants to cover our sins for us. In Psalm 32:1 David wrote, “Blessed are those whose sins are covered.” We can’t cover our sins. When we try, we fail. We still see our sin. It is always before us. But when we confess our sin, and God covers it, it is hidden from sight, never to be seen again.
Table of contents
- Our Flesh Tempts Us to Cover Our Sins
- God Wants to Cover Our Sins
- God Wants to Forgive our Transgressions
- God Doesn’t Want to Count Our Iniquity Against Us
- God Doesn’t Want Us Living Deceitfully
Last Wednesday, January 10th, Charis and Chloe baked cookies, walked around our neighborhood and quickly sold out. Two days later, they wanted to bake and sell more cookies on Friday morning. I knew the big storm was coming, but I told them I would take them around a different neighborhood to support their entrepreneurial efforts.
When we were leaving the house, George wanted to go too. I brought him even though he wasn’t dressed warmly, and it should have occurred to me that he didn’t know how cold it was or what we were doing. As a two-year-old, he saw people leaving the house and didn’t want to miss out. Plus, I thought he might help us sell cookies. Ignore the fact that it was about 20 degrees outside, and he wasn’t dressed very warmly.
Things were going well until, actually, things were never going well. It was freezing. People didn’t seem interested in buying cookies. Charis and Chloe were walking down different sides of the street, and they wanted me to stay out of sight. I think everyone who opened the door thought, “What is this little girl doing outside my door all by herself, selling cookies with a National Weather Service warning? Where are her parents? Is that why she’s selling cookies? Is it because her parents don’t care for her, and she needs the money? And is that a little boy with her?”
At one point, a man came out of his house to tell Chloe to bring George home. I quickly ran up to explain the situation. I said, “Well, you see, my girls sold out of cookies the other day, and I told them that if they baked more, I would take them out again. I thought I should keep my word even if the weather is bad. I brought my son along so that Katie could have a break from him because he’s very busy, and we have nine other kids. Yes, I did say nine, so that makes ten total.” Believe it or not, my story didn’t convince him that I wasn’t being a foolish father.
And did you know cold weather is hard on car batteries? That was another fun part of the night. I couldn’t get the car started when we tried to leave. Fortunately, I had my portable battery charger. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get it to work.
Katie called to see where we were because she knew we were only a neighborhood over, and it shouldn’t take long to sell eight boxes of cookies. I told her what happened, and she asked, “Do you want me to pick you up in the bus?” This was code for, “I hate my kids being outside when it’s freezing, so let me come pick you up.”
I said, “Well, they aren’t outside. They are inside the car.” Unsurprisingly, that didn’t make her feel better because she knew the heat wasn’t on. After all, the battery was dead. Nothing really gets by Katie.
She said, “Just let me come pick you up.”
I said, “I bought a car battery charger, and now I can learn how to use it.” This also didn’t make Katie feel better because she knows I’m not the handiest with this sort of stuff.
After trying for 5, 10, or 47 minutes, I still couldn’t start the car. Katie called again to see how things were going, which really means Katie called again to see if she could pick us up. I reassured her that I was going to get the battery charged. But that didn’t really reassure her.
Do you remember that guy who came out of his house to tell us to bring George home? It turns out he’s a very nice guy. He came out to see if we needed help. I said, “No, I’ve got it. You sound like my wife.” Just kidding. I told him that I couldn’t get the battery charged. He told me he didn’t trust those chargers, which made me feel better because I didn’t think it was owner error. But it probably was.
He pulled his truck up next to us to jump the battery, and his fiancée came out with blankets and invited the kids into his truck, which was nice and warm. She also gave the kids hot chocolate and, I think, some microwave popcorn, which, of course, made me appreciate them even more.
Our Flesh Tempts Us to Cover Our Sins
I share this story, because there were numerous times throughout the night that it was obvious I made a bad decision, but it was much easier to cover up my foolishness by saying things such as:
- “Yes, I think George is dressed warmly enough.”
- “No, I don’t need you to pick me up, and I will get kids home quicker if you stop calling me.”
- “Yes, I can start the car, and it will be quicker if you stop asking me.”
- “No, I don’t think it was foolish to take my kids out in the middle of the night in freezing temperatures to sell cookies when nobody would want to buy cookies.”
Genesis 2:25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
At this moment, Adam and Eve were not experiencing any shame or conviction. Wouldn’t it be great never to experience shame or conviction? And I don’t mean because we have a seared conscience or we resisted the Holy Spirit for so long, we have become reprobates or are given over, as Romans 1 describes. I’m talking about the freedom from shame or conviction because we haven’t done anything wrong.
We will know what this is like when we receive our glorified bodies. But until then, shame and conviction are common feelings for us. Adam and Eve started feeling shame or conviction as soon as they sinned. God told Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but Satan said:
Genesis 3:5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Satan was telling the truth. As you’ve probably heard before, Satan deceives people by mixing truth with lies. That’s why Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons will always be greater threats than Buddhists or Hindus. They have so much truth mixed into their false religions.
Genesis 3:6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
Adam and Eve ate and experienced what Satan said they would: their eyes were opened to the knowledge of good and evil. And now that they have this knowledge, they know they did something evil. And when we have knowledge that we did something wrong or evil, we experience shame. There is at least one version, the New Living Translation, that reads, “They suddenly felt SHAME at their nakedness.”
Covering Their Nakedness Pictures Them Covering Their Shame
Adam and Eve move from being not ashamed to being ashamed. Numerous commentaries make this point. Here are just three of them:
- Ellicott’s commentary reads, “Their increased knowledge brought only shame. Their minds were awakened and enlarged, but the price they paid for it was their innocence and peace.”
- Benson’s commentary reads, “To cover at least part of their shame one from another, [they] made themselves aprons.”
- Gill’s commentary reads, “[trying] to hide their sin and shame from the all-seeing eye of God.”
This is a physical picture of a spiritual reality. Adam and Eve physically cover themselves with fig leaves, but it shows what we want to do spiritually when we are ashamed or convicted: cover our sins. When The Fall took place, they received sinful natures, and this is what our sinful natures tempt us to do: cover our sins instead of confessing our sins. They continue to try to cover their sin by hiding from God:
Genesis 3:8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
This is also a perfect physical picture of a spiritual reality. When we are ashamed of our sins, we try to hide from God…even though it isn’t possible. What does this look like? We don’t want to pray, read the Bible, or be in fellowship. If you’re someone looking at things you shouldn’t, I’m praying this sermon will convict you and bring you to confession and repentance. Few sins are as destructive as pornography.
But even when we hide from God, he seeks us out:
Genesis 3:11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
God knew the answer to these questions, but he asked because he was giving Adam the opportunity to stop covering his sin and start confessing his sin. One of the most common ways we cover our sin is by shifting blame…which is what Adam and Eve did:
Genesis 3:12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”
No confession whatsoever. In one sentence, Adam tried to cover his sin by blaming two different people:
- He blamed his wife for giving him the fruit.
- He blamed God for giving him the wife who gave him the fruit.
Now God gives Eve the opportunity to move from trying to cover his sin to confessing his sin:
Genesis 3:13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
She followed her husband’s example and shifted the blame, too. With nobody left to blame, she blamed the devil. She was the first to say, “The devil made me do it.”
The Word Atone Means “To Cover”
The Greek word for atone is kāp̄ar, meaning “To cover.” You have probably heard before that making atonement for sin means covering the sin. That idea came about because the word atone means to cover. For example, when God told Noah to build the ark, he said:
Genesis 6:14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and COVER (the Hebrew word for cover is kāp̄ar, the word for atone) it inside and out with pitch.
So, when we talk about substitutionary atonement, we are talking about a substitute cover, or covering, for our sin. We are not covering our sins. Instead, a substitute is covering our sins for us. Now, let me go a little further:
Romans 6:23 The wages of sin is death.
When there is sin, there must be death. Because the wages of sin is death, for a substitute to cover or atone for our sins, that substitute must die. We see this principle throughout the Old Testament with the sacrificial system. Animals died for people’s sins, or another way to say it is that animals died in the sinner’s place:
Leviticus 1:4 He (the sinner) shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement (kāp̄ar) for him.
The sinner even laid his hand on the head of the animal to communicate the transmission of the sin to the animal that was dying in the sinner’s place and covering their sin for them. This all looked forward to Christ as the lamb of God dying for our sins, in our place, as our substitute, and God covering us with his blood. We see this illustrated with Adam and Eve, too:
Genesis 3:21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.
God clothed them with “garments of skins,” which means God sacrificed an animal or two animals and used their skins to cover Adam and Eve’s sins. This is substitutionary atonement. The animal, or animals, died in Adam and Eve’s place.
God Wants to Cover Our Sins
God took away Adam and Eve’s fig leaves and clothed them himself. In other words, God stopped Adam and Eve from covering themselves, and he covered them. This is another physical picture of a spiritual reality. God doesn’t want us to cover our sins. Instead, he wants to cover our sins for us.
We are blessed because God has graciously given us someone in Scripture who covered his own sin and then had God cover his sin for him.
Here’s the context. David committed adultery with Bathsheba. We talk about covering our sins, which means shifting blame, making excuses, or justifying. But David literally covered his sin. He murdered Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, one of his mighty men, to cover or conceal his sin. David continued hiding or covering his sin until God sent Nathan, the prophet, to confront him. After that, David wrote this Psalm, in which he did two very fascinating things:
- In Psalm 32:1-2, David wrote about the blessedness that came when he confessed his sin, and God covered his sin for him.
- In Psalm 32:3-5, David wrote about the misery when he kept silent about his sin.
Psalm 32:1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
David covered his sins for almost a year, which contributes to the beauty of this. Who could better write about the blessing of God covering their sin than someone who had spent so much time and effort covering their own sin for so long? After David was forgiven, he couldn’t wait to shout about it. He recognized the greatness of what took place and wanted to share that with others.
David mentioned three Old Testament words for offenses against God: sin, transgression, and iniquity, as well as how God deals with these offenses. We will look at each of them, but first, let’s ensure we understand sin:
Romans 3:20 Through the law comes knowledge of sin.
The law gives us knowledge of sin. The law is the speed limit sign telling us we’re speeding. But without the law or without knowledge of sin, God treats sin differently:
Romans 5:13 Sin is not counted where there is no law.
God doesn’t hold sin or count sin against us, that we are unaware of, like he holds sin or counts sin against us, that we are aware of. What does God do with sin that he doesn’t hold, or count, against us, because we are unaware of it? He covers it!
Psalm 32:1ab Blessed is the one whose…sin is covered (or atoned for).
“Sin” is an archery term that means missing the mark. In other words, sin is anything less than a bullseye. I doubt many of us have many bullseyes. Because sin is anything less than perfection, we sin regularly and are unaware of it. We would be in trouble if God expected us to confess sins we committed that we aren’t even aware of. But here’s the great blessing for believers: David wrote that God is covering sins that we are unaware we committed.
God Wants to Forgive our Transgressions
Sins we commit that we are aware of or that we have knowledge of are transgressions:
Psalm 32:1a Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven.
When there is knowledge, that is transgression. Transgression is knowing where the line is and deliberately stepping over it. It is knowing what not to do or what the law says not to do but doing it anyway. David transgressed because he knew the Mosaic Law forbids murder and adultery, but he committed these sins anyway.
Romans 4:15 The law brings wrath, but WHERE THERE IS NO LAW THERE IS NO TRANSGRESSION.
Why does it say there is no transgression without the law? Because we need the law to tell us something is sinful for it to be a transgression. In other words, we need the law to tell us where the line is so we know when we are stepping over it. As we just read in Romans 3:20, the law provides knowledge of sin, but without the law, there is no knowledge of sin, and without knowledge of sin, there can’t be transgression.
It blesses me that David said God forgives transgression because that is even better than saying God forgives sin. If David said that God forgives sin, and I know sin is missing the mark or sinning unknowingly, I could wonder about the sin I committed knowingly. I could wonder if God forgives my transgressions. But David said, “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven.” God forgives transgression, too, or even those sins we commit knowingly.
God Doesn’t Want to Count Our Iniquity Against Us
Psalm 32:2a Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity.
The Hebrew word for iniquity is ʿāvâ, which means to be bent, twisted, or perverted. Iniquity is twisted or perverted behavior. Think of homosexuality or bestiality. But God forgives this too, and blessed is the man or woman who is forgiven of their iniquity.
If you ever meet people who have committed iniquity, or you have committed iniquity, or engaged in perverted or twisted behavior, you can let them know God forgives that sin too, or you can remind yourself God forgives that sin too.
God Doesn’t Want Us Living Deceitfully
Psalm 32:2b Blessed is the man…in whose spirit there is no deceit.
This doesn’t seem to fit because deceit is not a category of sin like transgression, trespass, or iniquity. Instead, it is a specific sin like adultery, murder, theft, or idolatry. So why did David list deceit here?
I think because it described David so perfectly.
Consider how deceitful King David was. First, he wanted Uriah to get drunk to go home to be with Bathsheba so he would think he got her pregnant and the child was his. He was willing to let Uriah spend his life raising a child that he thought was his but was actually David’s.
Second, when that didn’t work, David had Uriah murdered, and he took Bathsheba as his wife. He let the world think he was a compassionate king who cared for the poor, pregnant widow of one of his fallen soldiers. He brought her into his home, where he could provide for her and the child. But it was all a big lie.
It is deceitful to cover or conceal sin, and that is exactly what David was doing. He was living a lie, which was deceitful. He was leading a double life, being one person in public but someone else in private, which is deceitful. This sets us up for the next sermon because we can’t tell in these first two verses, but we will see when we cover the next three verses that David’s deceitful living was excruciating for him.
And God doesn’t want us living deceitfully. A huge burden is associated with living a lie, but it is lifted when we repent and live in the open.
We Can’t Cover Our Sins
The longer I preach, the more precise I strive to be. Words are important and even more important, or we could argue they are the most important when describing spiritual or eternal matters. I repeatedly said, “When we try to cover our sins,” versus, “When we cover our sins,” because we can’t cover our sins. When we try, we fail. We still see our sin. It always seems to be before us. It plagues us. It hurts us spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and, as we will see in our next sermon with David, even physically.
But when we confess our sin, and God covers it, it is hidden from sight, never to be seen again. If you’ve been squirming, that’s called conviction, and you should respond to it. Confess your sins and find your sins covered by Christ. Twice, David says, at the beginning of verses 1 and 2, that the man who experiences this is blessed. The Hebrew word for blessed is ešer, and it means “to be happy.” In Psalm 32, David wrote, “Blessed are those whose sins are covered,” But it could be understood as, “Happy is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Happy is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.”