God Clothed Them
“And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them” (Gen. 3:20-21).
As we have seen, the first covenant God made with man is usually called the covenant of works (or the covenant of creation). In this covenant, God promised eternal life to Adam, and all those in him, on the condition of perfect obedience (Gen. 2:16–17; Rom. 7:10).
The judgment on our first parents demonstrated their failure to meet this obligation (Gen. 3:16–19) and guarantees eternal death for Adam and all those in him (1 Cor. 15:22). However, though death was promised on the day the fruit was eaten (Gen. 2:17), Adam’s life does not end immediately. Implicitly, Moses is telling us that God mercifully delays the full realization of the curse. Moreover, the Lord has already promised that life will continue, albeit with difficulty (3:16–19), and that His people will defeat Satan (vv. 14–15), the one whose temptation resulted in the rift between God and man.
These facts point to the second covenant made with man: the covenant of grace. The Westminster Confession of Faith says God “was pleased to make a second [covenant], commonly called the covenant of grace; wherein He freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ” (7.3) after Adam’s sin. This covenant is unfolded in a series of successive covenants with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and Christ, and it is assumed in the post-fall narrative.
Today’s passage alludes further to what the covenant of grace entails. First, Adam calls his wife Eve “because she was the mother of all living” (v. 20). Many commentators find here a reference to Adam’s faith in God’s promise that life will continue (vv. 16–19). Even if this is not the case, other passages clearly teach that the promises of the covenant of grace are ours through faith alone (Gal. 2:15–16).
Secondly, it is a covenant of grace with us because God Himself fulfills it, not because works are not involved. God’s holiness demands that our sin receive His wrath, and it is this wrath against which we need protection. In clothing Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:21), the Lord shows us He will meet this need ultimately through a death—the death of the Lamb of God, whose perfect obedience to the Father clothes us when we trust in Him alone (2 Cor. 5:21).
In the covenant of grace God mercifully reckons perfect obedience to our account when we trust in Jesus, who alone obeyed the Father perfectly. However, though our own works play no role in our justification, we have foolishly imagined that we have true faith if we do not obey God with our entire lives (James 2:14–26). Consider how you have habitually disobeyed God in certain ways and resolve to obey Him in faith today.
Passages for Further Study
Ps. 32; Zech. 3:1–5; Luke 23:4; 1 Peter 2:22–25