The Origin of Self

Genesis 3:7

TO FULLY UNDERSTAND the battle against “self” we must go back, way back, to that ancient scene pictured for us in the second and third chapters of Genesis: the Garden of Eden. What a splendid setting! Beautiful beyond description, a perfect, pollution-free atmosphere, luxurious foliage, fragrant flowers, crystal-clear water—that Garden would make Tahiti look like a pigsty by comparison.

On top of all the physical beauty, there was absolute innocence. Zero sin. Which means that Adam and Eve had a relationship that was free of hang-ups and pushback. The last verse in Genesis 2 verifies that: “Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame” (Genesis 2:25).

Naked. Laid bare. Open. No secrets. Not just physically but emotionally as well. That explains why they were not ashamed. There existed in that pristine place a remarkable openness, a lack of self-consciousness in each other’s presence. Talk about the ideal marriage! Their discussions, their actions, all their conversations were nondefensive, unguarded, and with no focus on self.

How could it be? No sin. Therefore, no selfishness. Until . . . you guessed it.

Enter the devil with his alluring offer, and exit innocence with its pleasurable benefits (see Genesis 3:1–6). Remember the result?

At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.


Don’t miss what that says about their eyes. They were opened. There was this shocking realization they were naked. Seems amazing to us, doesn’t it? You and I couldn’t be more aware of any time when we are naked.

But remember the difference. Suddenly, humanity became self-conscious. Adam and Eve had never known those feelings before. You and I have never known anything else.

Sin ushered in the reign of self-awareness, self-concern, and selfishness. And it all started with willful disregard for God’s command.

Are you willing to submit to the gracious scrutiny of God’s Word and His Spirit today? The only way to break the grip of selfish living is to surrender to the will and purposes of God. You, and everyone around you, will be so glad you did.

Has God worked in your life in a significant way through Chuck Swindoll and the ministry of Insight for Living? Whatever your story, we’d love for you to tell it to us! Psalm 9:11 tells us to “declare among the peoples His deeds” so others can be encouraged. Submit your story.

Devotional content taken from Good Morning, Lord . . . Can We Talk? by Charles R. Swindoll. Copyright © 2018. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved. The full devotional can be purchased at

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Accuracy, clarity, and practicality all describe the Bible-teaching ministry of Charles R. Swindoll. Chuck is the chairman of the board at Insight for Living and the chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary. Chuck also serves as the senior pastor of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas, where he is able to do what he loves most—teach the Bible to willing hearts. His focus on practical Bible application has been heard on the Insight for Living radio broadcast since 1979.