Certainly we have all been involved in confrontations of some kind. The word itself comes from two Latin pieces, con meaning “with” and front meaning “face”. Due to its face-to-face nature, it is often uncomfortable. As such, some avoid it at all costs, while others seek it for better or worse. Whatever the case, confrontations have consequences. But what is confrontation all about? The atheist, Christopher Hitchens, said “There can be no progress without head-on confrontation”. Basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski states, “Confrontation simply means meeting the truth head-on”. Francis Schaeffer avers, “Truth carries with it confrontation”. Confrontation is understood to be the proper response to deceit. It carries the desire to not only correct but also to make amends so that progress might be made to restore the fractured relationship. The outcome is largely dependent on how the confronted person responds to the truth presented. As we consider consequential confrontations in God’s Word in this series of studies, we will see this to be the case, starting with the first, and perhaps model, confrontation in Genesis chapter 3.
God confronts Adam and Eve because of their sin in taking the forbidden fruit. It is clear from the narrative that truth was being twisted, not only with respect to what God had said but also with respect to who He is, as His goodness towards them was questioned. In their immediate fallen state, we see that God’s movement towards them in their sin reaffirms His love and goodness even though consequences for their actions remain. God was under no obligation to seek resolution and restoration of relationship, but His heart of love motivated this confrontation in anticipation of a positive outcome.
Sin Committed and Covered
Lessons can be drawn from this interaction. Adam and Eve’s response to their action was a recognition of their nakedness. Surprisingly, the enlightenment provided by feeding on the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was increased self-awareness. This led them to seek cover in the form of fig leaves and to hide from the presence of God. A little self-reflection would exhibit the same pattern in our own lives. Unless desensitized by persistent sin (which shouldn’t be the case for a Christian), our own consciences bother us as we expose ourselves to our sinful actions. Like Adam and Eve, we have already justified our sin and seek to manage the situation rather than confess our wrong. This often leads to alienation as we attempt to avoid those we have wronged rather than seek forgiveness in the exposure of our sin. Sadly, it is often the case that the wronged individual is left to seek resolution (cp. Matthew 18:15-20). Perhaps a little mental exercise is in order for each of us. Is there anyone that I am hiding from? Anyone I am avoiding? Could this be because I have sinned against them and I haven’t been forthcoming in confession with the goal of seeking forgiveness?
Sin Confronted and Condemned
God graciously seeks Adam and Eve by asking them questions. He knows their hearts, but reserves judgement until they have exposed their hearts to Him. He confronts them by bringing their sin into the light. In their nakedness before Him, they still seek to justify their actions by passing blame. But sin has consequences and they are duly condemned. Judgement is allotted righteously. What is my response when confronted with my sin? My instinct, as a descendant of Adam, would be to justify myself and side-step my responsibility for the action. A whole host of physical, social and psychological reasons may be presented as excuses for my behaviour. These may be legitimate contributors to my actions, but, at the end of the day, God holds me responsible for the sins I commit, independent of my justification of them. And He will lovingly pass righteous judgement, and assign suitable consequences for every sin committed.
Sin Confessed and Corrected
Despite Adam and Eve’s unwillingness to initially take ownership of their sin, their response to the word of God in judgement demonstrates their acceptance of it and the recalibration of their thoughts towards God. He “called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20) in anticipation of the fulfilment of God’s promise made in Genesis 3:15, and she would say at the birth of Cain, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD” (Genesis 4:1 ESV). This renewal of faith in God led to the reconciliation of their relationship with God. God met their need of nakedness with coats of His providing rather than their flimsy fig leaves. Their sin was atoned for and their physical existence as fallen humans limited. The terms of maintaining relationship was clearly shown to be on the basis of sacrifice.
We would not know God had He not confronted Adam and Eve’s sin. We would not know God had they not responded appropriately to His confrontation. Meaningful relationships involving sinful human beings require confrontation. In the gospel, God confronts the sinner with his sin, seeking to elicit repentance and faith, so that He might forgive and reconcile. This has ever been the case with God’s dealings towards us, even as believers. His rivers of mercy and grace are only hindered by the sin in our lives – we need to be quick to repent of our sin and welcome the truths presented to us in His Word. The same could be said of our confrontations with each other. We are so quick to ascribe ill-will to those who seek our well-being, but the best outcomes are dependent on our willingness to repent and own our actions, accept the consequences and move forward in trusting, meaningful relationship. Proper confrontations are borne out of a desire for truth and motivated by a heart of love seeking restoration and well-being. May we learn a lesson from the experience of Adam and Eve as God and His people confront us for our good and His glory.
“Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit” (Psalm 32:2 ESV).