“The truth of justification by faith alone is contrary to depraved human nature, which always supposes and insists that the way to be righteous is by exerting oneself to attain this status, since righteousness makes one worthy of salvation and of every blessing. The truth of justification is truly amazing since faith is not a work that makes one worthy of righteousness, but merely a means, an instrument, by which God gives – by imputation – and the sinner passively receives righteousness as a gift. Indeed, the faith itself by which the sinner is justified is God’s gift to the sinner.” -Rev. David Engelsma, “Gospel truth of Justification,” p. 191.
In most things, we expect a person to choose the easiest way to attain his goals. To choose the hardest way is considered irrational. Yet we all exempt salvation from that plain rule.
Recall the reactions of Adam and Eve immediately after their Fall into sin: “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ And he [i. e., Adam] said, ‘I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.’ He [i. e., the Lord] said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’ The man said, ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.’ Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate’” (Genesis 3:7-13).
First, let us notice who is speaking. This is the Lord, the tetragrammaton, Yahweh. This is the covenantal name of the preincarnate Son. Where the Father could have come in proper wrath and justice, instead, the Son comes in the first instance of His mediatorial role. He is present with the now-sinful Adam and Eve, giving them an immediate opportunity to plead His mediatorial mercy and forgiveness. That would have been the easy solution.
Instead, what did they do? Immediately they covered their nakedness with fig leaves. The consciousness of their nakedness is an indication of their loss of their pre-Fall innocence. So, they attempted to work out their own solution to their guilt: cover it up. Next, they hide themselves among the trees. They have hidden their sin from their own eyes with the leaves, and then they add hiding themselves from the eyes of God. After all, he cannot judge them if He doesn’t know where they are, right? Or so they reasoned. Yet, when He finds them, as was inevitable, they resort to pointing fingers. It was the woman, Adam claims, and You gave her to me. So it is God’s fault. Even in her place passed the blame to the serpent, that ancient Tempter, whom we know as Satan. For Adam and Eve, their defense boiled down to, No one here but us innocent little chickens!
And to this day, the posterity of our first parents respond the same way. We always strive to avoid responsibility for our wickedness. It is someone else’s fault, not mine. Or I will fix myself, and God can just go on about His business with those other wicked people.
And while we scramble to make all of these efforts to hide or fix our sin, the only mediator between the just God and sinful men is Jesus Christ. How simple it is to turn to Him alone by faith alone. Then we need not make garments for ourselves, because He gives us His own white robe of righteousness: “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see” (Revelation 3:18; compare Zechariah 3:3-4). We need not hide or fix our sin. Indeed, we cannot. But He can, and does. How easy salvation in Christ is!