The Damages of Sin
Sin, by its very nature, causes deeply damaging injuries to our souls, to our lives, and to our relationships.
The Biblical account of Adam and Eve points to several significant injuries they experienced as a result of their sin in the Garden of Eden—injuries that have been passed along to us as well:
Shame! Immediately after disobeying God, the poison of shame began to eat away at Adam’s and Eve’s souls so that they no longer looked upon their nakedness with innocent joy but with a sense of shame.
Jan Luckingham Fable writes, “Shame is an unrelenting feeling of not being wanted and of being unworthy of being wanted…. Shamed people fear that if others really knew them, they’d be disgusted or hate them. People who have been shamed also dread being caught in a mistake of any kind…. The shamed person believes, at some level, that she—or he—should not exist, that she is a worthless, defective and empty human being…. Excessive shame is a prison. It keeps a person caged in feelings of worthlessness, self-hatred, and even despair.”
Out of shame, Adam and Eve covered themselves up, afraid of being fully seen for who they really were. We have been doing the same thing in our relationships ever since.
Fear! Fear was unknown until Adam and Eve disobeyed God, but it quickly began to dominate their souls, driving them to hide from God.
Edgar Wallace writes, “Fear is a tyrant and a despot, more terrible than the rack, more potent than the snake.” Angela Liddon adds, “It’s crazy how much I worry about things that haven’t happened yet and probably never will happen. I’ve spent my entire life battling the anxiety monster, and I’ve missed out on so many great opportunities due to debilitating fear.” Out of fear, Adam and Eve went into hiding. Likewise, you and I miss out on “so many great opportunities due to debilitating fear.”
Broken relationships! Adam and Eve were designed to live together in harmony as complementary partners, but as soon as sin entered their hearts the harmony disappeared. Right away, Adam blamed his actions and his troubles on Eve, and ever since then, we have been blaming one another for everything that goes wrong in our lives. Genesis 3:16 even traces the oppressive, heartbreaking, injurious relationships between men and women back to Adam’s and Eve’s original sin.
Hurt and Injury! The sin that breaks relationships, inevitably leads to hurt that we bring upon ourselves and injury we inflict upon others. Our history books and our newspapers are full of evidence of the hurt and injury caused by sin. Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend remark, “No matter what someone is struggling with, most likely someone else is being hurt by the sin. Addictions hurt the family. Lust hurts the marriage partner. Irresponsibility hurts many people. And on and on. There are no victimless crimes.”
Turmoil! Sin is not something we do as if in a vacuum. It kicks back at us, making a mess of our souls, our lives, our relationships. It results in turmoil in our lives.
- Neil Strait states, “Sin does not serve well as a gardener of the soul. It landscapes the contour of the soul until all that is beautiful has been made ugly; until all that is high is made low; until all that is promising is wasted. Then life is like the desert—parched and barren. It is drained of purpose. It is bleached of happiness. Sin, then, is not wise, but wasteful. It is not a gate, but only a grave.” No wonder God describes the “curses” that will fill Adam’s and Eve’s lives.
But there is one thing that sin cannot destroy. It cannot destroy the unstoppable love of God! So even in Genesis 3’s description of all the horror that sin has brought into the world, we still see evidence of the unstoppable love of God. Despite their sin, God did not desert them, but walked into the garden and called out to them. He promised them that He would send an “offspring” of Eve to settle matters with the devil. And He lovingly clothed them. Indeed, the word used in Genesis 3:21 to describe God clothing Adam and Eve is a word that is normally used to describe a king clothing an honored subject, or of dressing a priest in sacred vestments. Despite their sin, God still reached out to them as honored persons. Indeed, Romans 5:8 stresses, “But God demonstrates His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” Despite sin, God’s love remains unstoppable!