The exact nature of the “knowledge of good and evil” has been argued since the beginning of the church. Still today, it’s a subject of debate at seminary student centers and during church potlucks, as well as from many of the pulpits around the world. We have to admit though, the text never really tells us what that knowledge is. Johnson says, “Some claim that it’s omniscience or moral knowledge or even means that someone has gone through puberty. However, the story only relates one aspect of their new knowledge: “They knew that they were naked.”[1] That was the knowledge that God addresses when he finds Adam and Eve hiding amongst the trees in the Garden of Eden covered with fig leaves. Again, we see God use rhetorical questions. He’s not asking in order to “learn” something. He’s asking in order to reveal something. Genesis 3:11 says, “He said, ‘who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’”

Some commentators consider Adam’s answer suggests he’s still hiding his guilt. Now, I realize that the fig leaves were a response to their shame and an attempt to cover their sin, but I’m of the opinion that Adam knew, and admitted his nakedness. This isn’t by any means a complete confession of his need for God, but it seems to be a step in the right direction. Not everyone will admit that they are naked and need God. John indicts the Church at Laodicea in Revelation 3:17. He tells them, “For you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing,’ not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”

I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m surely conscious of my “nakedness” and I openly confess that I need God. Spurgeon once preached on our condition of nakedness and how God has provided for that need in Jesus Christ. He said, “For, first, in the Lord Jesus Christ, there is covering for your nakedness. The garment covers the man; he is hidden, and his garments are seen. Come, then, poor sinner, and take by faith the Lord Jesus Christ to be a covering for your soul. You are naked, but he will be your robe of righteousness. There is in the Lord Jesus a complete and suitable apparel for thy soul, by which every blemish and defilement shall be put out of sight…”[2] Then, this prince of preachers, says in a different sermon, “If you are hungry, you are fit to eat; if you are thirsty, you are fit to drink; if you are naked, you are fitted to receive the garments which charity is giving to those who need them; if you are a sinner, you are fitted for Christ, and Christ for you; if you are guilty, you are fitted to be pardoned; if you are lost, you are fitted to be saved. This is all the fitness Christ requireth, and cast every other thought of fitness far hence; yea, cast it to the winds. If thou be needy, Christ is ready to enrich thee. If thou wilt come and confess thine offences before God, the gracious Saviour is willing to pardon thee just as thou art. There is no other fitness wanted.”[3]

[1] Johnson, Dru. 2018. The Universal Story: Genesis 1–11. Edited by Craig G. Bartholomew, David Beldman, Doug Mangum, Joel Wilcox, and Danielle Thevenaz. Transformative Word. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press; St. George’s Centre.

[2] Spurgeon, C. H. 1881. “Dressing in the Morning.” In The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, 27:468. London: Passmore & Alabaster.

[3] Spurgeon, C. H. 1916. “Coming to Christ.” In The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, 62:196. London: Passmore & Alabaster.