First, Sin - Then, Brokenness

By Mark D. Roberts

July 13, 2015

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. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.”

Genesis 3:6-7

Now we come to a major turning in the biblical story, to an event with historic, cosmic implications. After being tempted by the serpent, the woman, and the man who was right there with her, eat some of the forbidden fruit. They do what God said not to do. They do what God said would lead to death. They eat because they like the look and taste of the fruit, but mostly because they believe it will enable them to know in new ways, to be just like God.

From a theological point of view, we understand that the first result of sin is a rending of the perfect relationship between human beings and God. We’ll see this illustrated profoundly and painfully in just a few verses. But, from a narrative point of view, the first result of sin affects the first humans, both their self-perception and their relationship with each other. As the story says, “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves” (3:7).

What do we see here? First, we see human beings no longer able to be themselves. Literally, they are naked and feel a new need to cover up. Metaphorically, we see this as indicative of what is happening in the hearts of the man and woman. They no longer are free to be themselves, to be the people God made them to be. They feel shame and want to cover up, not just their bodies, but also their hearts.

Second, we see that this opens up a breach in the relationship between the man and the woman. Where once they were free to be themselves with their partner, now they want to hide from their partner. Where once they could open their hearts to each other, now they want to conceal and deceive.

If we think of creation in terms of wholeness, then sin brings brokenness. There is brokenness in the relationship between the individual and himself or herself. There is brokenness in the relationship between people, in particular, between man and woman. God’s creation was not obliterated by sin. It didn’t blow up in some cosmic explosion. Yet, it was twisted beyond the point of breaking. It was marred and tarnished. What God intended is still there, but imperfectly and incompletely.

Every one of us knows the brokenness that comes from sin: our own sin, the sin of others, the sin done before we ever existed, stretching back to the earliest times. Brokenness pervades our souls, our actions, and our identities. It warps our relationships in every part of life, including work and family.

As we’ll see soon, the brokenness of sin touches even more than individuals and personal relationships. But, for now, the story encourages us to grieve, not only for the first humans, but also for ourselves, because their story is our story too.


When you think of the brokenness that comes from sin, what thoughts occur to you? How do you feel?

How have you experienced the brokenness of sin in your own life?

Where do you see the impact of this brokenness in your work? In your church? In your community? In your family?


Gracious God, as we read this story from Genesis, our hearts are heavy. Oh, the pain that comes from sin. Oh, the shame, the hiding, the brokenness. We all know it, Lord. Of course, you know it too.

Each one of us knows shame as we try to hide who we are from others, from ourselves, even from you. We also know how sin breaks relationships, even among those closest to us.

O Lord, as we reflect on this story from Genesis, we do see ourselves in this story. And we cry out for mercy. Lord, have mercy. Kyrie, eleison. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us all, for we are sinners! Amen.

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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