(Image courtesy of http://pixgood.com.)

For some reason, over the last few years, I have been searching for the answer to why we feel shame and guilt when we do what is evil. The obvious church answer is that we are apart from Jesus. This is true. But I wanted to
go a little deeper into the history of sin and its shame, if nothing more than to amuse myself.

First of all, we need to establish the grounds that all humans know what is right and wrong. This can be proven in two ways: 1) Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and 2) the Moral Law that is in every human today. C.S. Lewis argues this idea Moral Law in Mere Christianity beautifully, which essentially proves the first point to be true, saying that God has created us in His image to know right and wrong. (For more on the Moral Law and C.S. Lewis, check out this blog.)

Since Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 3:12), and since all humans claim Adam and Eve as their father and mother, all humans today now have the knowledge of what is good and what is evil. It is the only certain genetic trait that all humans will inherit.

As I thought about this even yesterday, driving the long road from Wisconsin to Tennessee, I looked out the window and saw a herd of cattle huddled for warmth in the corner of a pasture. I was aware that animals have no knowledge of good or evil; they act strictly by instinct. Yet, by acting in instinct, they bring glory to their Father in Heaven because they are doing exactly what He created them to do. The same goes for all creation; everything was good (Genesis 1:31). Furthermore, in Psalm 19:1, the Psalmist writes: "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." All nature brings praise to God because all things were created by Him and for Him (Colossians 1:16).

I wonder, then, if humans were like instinctual animals before the eating of the fruit. For only after the fruit was eaten did Adam and Eve immediately became instantly aware of their nakedness: "[Adam] answered, 'I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.' And [God] said, 'Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?'” Before this, they were like animals, if only in the sense of having no awareness or shame in their nakedness.

Am I really proving anything by going into theories and speculations right now? I don't think so. I'm not arguing my beliefs, nor am I even sure I believe what I just wrote. But it is interesting to think about, nonetheless.

Regardless of how it may have been before the fruit was eaten, this much is true: after the fruit of the Forbidden Tree was eaten, sin entered the world.

Or did it?

If God created a tree called the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, then that would ensue the belief that Evil already existed, along with Good. So where did Evil come from? That is a good question, not to be answered in this post....

After the fruit was eaten, we are told that the knowledge of Good and Evil now entered into the minds of the fruit eaters, namely Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:12-13). Once that knowledge entered humans, it only grew and transformed into greater forms of evil. People have been inventing ways of doing evil ever since (Romans 1:30).

But let's get back to the idea of shame. Adam and Eve immediately felt shame and hid because of it: “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid” (Genesis 3:10). Why did Adam and Eve feel shame? They felt shame because they knew what they had done was wrong; they knew that they had disobeyed God. After all, God said explicitly in Genesis 2:16-17, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” And they obviously understood its importance, since God only told Adam first; in turn Adam told Eve later.

Today, this shame continues to haunt human beings who disobey God. We are given a choice in every situation to either obey God or disobey God; it's as black and white as that.

Many people try to hide from their shame, as our first ancestors did. They constantly entertain themselves with cell phones, computers, television, parties, drugs, alcohol, sports, relationships, and other forms of idolatry. But in their spare moments of self-awareness, they indeed feel great shame at their disobedience.

I know this because I have felt this shame before - because I am human.

Thankfully, the story did not end in the Garden of Shame.

The Apostle Paul writes, "But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!" (I Corinthians 15:57).

John the Baptist, the great preparer, says in John 1:29, "Behold! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!"


God did not abandon man in the Garden, even after his disobedience.

And God does not abandon you today, even after your disobedience.

God provided a way for man to forget his mistakes because Jesus already made God forget them.

Will you call on Him today to forget yours?


"Don't be defeated by sin's shame; kneel before the Name above all names!"