It started in Genesis 3 as Adam and Eve’s first response to sin’s new devastating presence in their world and it continues to today with each of us to one degree or another. What is it? Our futile attempt to cover up our guilt and shame. Our first parents demonstrated this tendency when they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths to cover up their nakedness, when they hid from the presence of the Lord behind the trees in the garden, and when they each blame-shifted their failed responsibility (Genesis 3:7- 8, 12-13).
Adam and Eve tried to deal with their own guilt and shame. But the key word in that sentence is “tried”, their efforts were only attempts, and failed attempts at that. With everything they tried, their guilt and shame remained, God still cursed them and they still were made to leave the garden.
We see a similar attempts to cover up sin in 2 Samuel 11 with the story of David and Bathsheba. In seeing her from the roof, King David lusted for Bathsheba, he sent for her and he committed adultery with her. As a result, Bathsheba becomes pregnant and the attempted cover-ups begin. David calls Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, back from war with the guise of inquiring about how things are going on the battlefield. He then sends Uriah to his wife in the hopes that he will sleep with her and the question of who got Bathsheba pregnant will never be asked. Uriah is a stand-up guy who doesn’t want to get the rest and pleasure that his fellow soldiers don’t currently have access to, so he refuses to go home to his wife. The next day David tries again to get Uriah to go sleep with his wife by getting him drunk, but even in his inebriated state, Uriah won’t have it. David, in his sinful tenacity, doesn’t stop there though, but sends Uriah back to war with a note to the general giving instruction for him to put Uriah on the frontlines where the battle is most fierce. Consequently, Uriah is killed, and what started out as lust in the heart ended with murder (vv. 2-17).
The question we must ask at this point in the story is, did David’s guilt die with Uriah? Not at all. To the contrary, it increased! For all his persistent conspiring and scheming, David’s guilt and shame still remained, and at greater depth. His sin may have been covered from the eyes of other people, but not from the eyes of the Lord, who sin offends first as the supreme, benevolent Creator of all (Psalm 51:4).
As we so often do, David put his trust in his own abilities to deal with his guilt, which only served to deepen it. David should not have lusted and he should not have committed adultery, but sadly, he did. So, what should David have done with his guilt and shame after sleeping with Bathsheba? He should have resigned to God all his desire for dealing with his guilt himself. He should have run to Lord, the only one who doesn’t just cover up sin, but removes it from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). David should have planted his trust in God who, through Jesus’ blood, washes away all guilt and shame. There are only two options, Church: live in the filthy burden of your guilt or run to Jesus who makes it go away.