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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
Title:As in the Days of Noah
Text:Genesis 6:1-8 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Living in a sinful world

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Selections from the 1976 Psalter Hymnal, unless otherwise noted:

Supplemental songs #13 - Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven

389 - Not What My Hands Have Done        

114 - Praise Waits for Thee in Zion

453 - O For a Closer Walk with God

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Pastor Ted Gray
“As in the Days of Noah”
Genesis 6:1-8
The worldwide flood in the days of Noah was a direct result of the wickedness of mankind. Later on in this chapter we will read of how corrupt and violent the world was: Verse 11 says, "Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence." And in verse 13 God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them.”
Although it is commonly understood that the world of that day was extremely wicked, corrupt and violent, the opening verses of this chapter teach that one of the principal reasons why God's judgment flooded the earth of Noah's day is because people denigrated - they belittled and disrespected marriage - even though God ordained and blessed marriage.
Back in the Garden of Eden, before the fall of humanity into sin, marriage was seen as a great blessing. Adam was absolutely overjoyed when the Lord presented him with Eve. He said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”  The following verse, Genesis 2:24, is quoted in the New Testament numerous times, and is also quoted at most Christian weddings: "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh."
The reason why marriage, as ordained by God, is such a blessed relationship is that marriage between a Christian husband and a Christian wife reflects the love, the unity – the oneness – that Christ has for the true church, which he loves as his bride. That is why in Ephesians 5:31 the apostle quotes from Genesis 2:24, writing, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” And then he adds: "This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church."
God is not bound by time. God is the one who created time. So when he presented Eve to Adam and blessed the first marriage, he already knew the high calling of marriage. He knew that his Son, the eternal Christ, would be born at the fullness of time, truly human, truly divine, named Jesus "because he will save his people from their sins." He knew that his Son would take the church as his bride, cleanse her from all her sins, and present the church as a radiant bride without spot or defect. That is the high calling and the blessed design that God has for marriage.
Because of the high calling and blessed design of marriage, all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ seek his will for their spouse. Godly parents begin praying for godly spouses for their children, even when their children are little, even when their world is one of make belief; already then godly parents are praying that in the future God will lead a Christian spouse to the child that they are raising in the knowledge of the Lord and his word.
In the same way, for those who are older, when you come to the age where you may desire to be married, you don't just run after anyone who catches your eye. Rather you prayerfully ask for the Lord to lead you to a Christian. It must be your main desire, young people, and older folks who desire to be married, that your future spouse, if it is indeed God's will that you are married, is a Christian. Since two will become one it is absolutely crucial that they have the same love for the Lord, the same desire to live according to his word, the same willingness to sacrifice to raise their children in the knowledge of God.
But that's not what we read in Genesis 6, is it? Instead, the first two verses say: "When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose."
Who were the sons of God? And who were the daughters of men? Some scholars believe that the sons of God are a reference to fallen angels. They believe that those angels who fell with Satan had relationships with the daughters of men, and that from them came a giant species known as the Nephilim. The Nephilim are also written about in Numbers 13:33, where they are described as giants living in the land of Canaan. When Joshua and Caleb, along with the other spies, spied out the land the other spies were terrified of the Nephilim, and urged the people to turn back from the promised land.
While that is an interesting view, it is not universally held, in part because Jesus himself said that the angels do not marry nor are they given in marriage, though some point out that he was speaking of angels in heaven and these would be fallen angels on earth.
Another view that is commonly held is that the sons of God refer to the godly line of Seth. Seth was certainly godly, as was Enoch who walked with God. We have reason to believe that Methuselah, along with many others in the genealogy recorded Genesis 5, were also devoted, godly people. But as time went by many of the descendants of the godly line of Seth got a “roving eye”. They looked at the daughters of men, meaning the daughters who were not godly but worldly, and, infatuated by their beauty, they married any of them they chose.
In other words, it is a description of those who know better, those who come from a godly family, yet leave the godly teachings that they have received, and follow the impulses of what their eyes see. Instead of looking for godly spouses, they married "any of them they chose" and their choice was not based on the heart of the woman, but on her outward beauty. By doing so they denigrated God's purpose for marriage. They belittled God's plan of bringing two together as one, and they made light of the requirement that one would only marry a spouse who shared their faith in the God who ordained and blessed marriage.
These verses are teaching us that a disregard of God’s plan for marriage was a key reason why the earth was flooded with judgment back in the days of Noah. But what about our day? Is marriage honored? Is marriage esteemed and recognized as a great blessing originated and ordained by God Almighty? Quite the opposite. In the last few decades we have seen the same denigration of marriage – even by many who claim to be Christian.
Our culture now declares, by the mandate of the Supreme Court, that marriage is not only for a man and a woman, but for men with men and women with women. The denigration of what God blessed in the Garden of Eden, and the disdain for the relationship that is a shadow and type of the love and oneness of Christ and the church, has reached a level of forced acceptance within our culture.
Is it any surprise then, that the Lord our God, when he was on earth, said, “For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” Is there any surprise that the way humanity treats marriage today will bring on the judgment of the One who ordained marriage and gave his blessing to it?
Not only was God's institution of marriage denigrated and belittled back in the days of Noah, but there was also rampant wickedness which was pervasive, springing from the deepest recess of the heart, which led to continual evil all the time. We read of that in verse 5 which says, "the Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time." That verse is one of many verses which teach the doctrine of total depravity. Total depravity is that condition which, unfortunately, every human being is conceived into. From the moment of our conception we are sinners because of our sinful nature.  As Psalm 51:5 puts it, in the words of David: "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me."
It is because of our sinful nature that we commit sins. As an example, we tend to look at someone who sins in an obvious way, perhaps they are guilty of stealing, and we say, “They stole merchandise, so they are sinners.”  But the biblical view of total depravity would have just the opposite progression. God looks upon us and sees that because we are sinful from the moment of conception we commit sins. It is because we are sinners that we are prone to steal, cheat, commit adultery, along with all the other transgressions of God's law.
Or to put it in the analogy of one of the Puritans, John Donne, our sinful nature is like the trunk of a tree. We come forth from conception just as a tree comes forth from the seed, breaks through the ground, makes its appearance on earth as a sapling and begins to form branches. John Donne taught that our sinful nature is like the trunk of that tree. It is inevitable that because of our sinful nature we will commit sins of all types, just as it is inevitable that the tree, unless it dies immediately, will produce branches and leaves which are like so many sins that come from the sinful nature.
It is that concept of total depravity which is described with such clarity in Genesis 6:5. Did you notice that the wickedness of Noah’s day was all-pervasive? Verse 5 states: "The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time."
That verse describes the totality of evil. It isn't saying that just some of the thoughts of mankind were evil. Instead it describes how "every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time." The verse pinpoints just how pervasive sin is. Sin affects every part of our being, causing us to be, in theological terms, totally depraved.
Most of you have seen how the pervasiveness of total depravity is often illustrated. I have before me this glass of water. If I take some food dye and put just a small amount in this glass, what will happen? Every molecule in the glass will be affected by the food dye. The dye will permeate the entire glass. Sin in our lives is the same way. It permeates every molecule of our being.
It doesn't mean that I am as evil as I could be. I'm a sinner, every part of me is affected by my sinful nature, but I could be more sinful, just as this water would look even more contaminated if the entire bottle of food dye was put into. It is only by God's grace that sin is restrained, both in a believer like myself, and also in unbelievers.
The catechism addresses this pervasive nature of evil in Lord Day 3, as Question 7 asks,  “…Where does this corrupt human nature come from?” Answer: “From the fall and disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, in Paradise. This fall has so poisoned our nature that we are born sinners— corrupt from conception on.”
Question and answer 8 also address the totality of our depravity. Question 8 asks, “But are we so corrupt that we are totally unable to do any good and inclined toward all evil?” Answer: “Yes, unless we are born again, by the Spirit of God.”
It is only by God's grace through faith in his Son, Jesus Christ that totally depraved sinners can be saved from their sin and then do good. Again, the catechism addresses that. Question 91: “What do we do that is good?” Answer: “Only that which arises out of true faith, conforms to God's law, and is done for his glory; and not that which is based on what we think is right or on established human tradition.”
Because of the pervasive nature of sin, we must be cleansed by the precious blood of Christ. That cleansing only comes through faith in Him. And once cleansed, we begin to live transformed lives; we begin to have an obedience that comes from faith and we prove our repentance by our deeds. But neither our repentance nor our faith is perfectly displayed in this life. Yet the God who justifies us also graciously sanctifies us by the Holy Spirit’s work in the word he has inspired.
Verse 5 also addresses the internal nature of our sin problem. The verse points out that sin is rooted in "the thoughts of (our) heart." Sin in the human race is like a cancer in the internal organs. Some of you have had skin cancer. That in itself is a serious thing. If it is not taken care of it can spread and can even lead to death. But because it is on the skin it can be relatively easy to remove.  Perhaps surgery is required; other times the cancerous cells can be frozen or burned off. But at least the problem is on the surface. It is easier to deal with than cancer that is in one's lungs, or within one's pancreas or other internal organs. Those cancers are much harder to treat because they are not on the surface; they are internal.
In a similar way the cancer of sin isn't just on the surface. It is not something that you can freeze, or surgically remove. Instead it is deep within. It is in the thoughts of our heart that sin has its root.
I'm sure that many of you recall how Jesus described the internal sin problem when the Pharisees rebuked him for allowing the disciples to eat without first washing their hands ceremonially. Jesus explained to his disciples, “Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” It is because our heart is evil that we need the cleansing that is only found through faith in Jesus Christ and his shed blood.
And then, a third element of our total depravity, as it is listed in verse 5, is that our sin is continual; it is "only evil all the time." I don't know the exact hour and the exact day when God's grace came into my life with saving power. But I do know that even though I am saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, I'm still a sinner. And, unfortunately, I will remain a sinner until the day that I die. And the same is true for you, and for everyone else who has ever lived. As David wrote in Psalm 51:3, "For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me." Or as Paul acknowledged in Romans 7:18-19, I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing."
Every Christian struggles with ongoing sin. It’s not just you. And it’s not just me. Every Christian struggles with sin. That is part of the battle – the fight of faith. But that doesn't mean that we just resign ourselves to our sin, and continue in it without repentance that leads to change. The catechism also addresses that in question and answer 114, “But can those converted to God obey these commandments perfectly?” Answer: “No. In this life even the holiest have only a small beginning of this obedience. Nevertheless, with all seriousness of purpose they do begin to live according to all, not only some of God's commandments.”
Our culture denigrates marriage and our society is permeated with evil. As we read Genesis chapter 6 we should be able to see a direct correlation to our world today. No wonder Jesus said, "As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man." In that passage from Matthew 24 he urges us to keep watch, to always be prepared to meet him, and to be faithful. Those are crucial warnings, because just as God brought judgment on the wickedness of Noah's day, so he will bring judgment on this present world.
The warning that Jesus gave expands on the truth of Genesis 6:3 where the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal." Just as the flood in Noah's day was certain to come, even though so many people scoffed at the idea of the great flood, so the Lord will return to judge all humanity, even though so many people scoff at that idea as well.
If it was left up to you and to me to stand before the Lord on our own merits, we could never be saved. The same total depravity that gripped those in Noah's day permeates not only our culture, but sin permeates you and me. That is why it is crucial that our faith is based in Jesus Christ alone. If you have never put your faith in Him, "now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation." (2 Corinthians 6:2)
For those of us who believe in Jesus Christ with saving faith,  our consolation – indeed our certainty of standing with confidence before the Lord on the last day – is in the promise that God looks with favor on his people to whom he extends his grace. Verse 8, after describing all the wickedness of the people in Noah's day, simply says, "But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord." The word for “favor” in that verse can properly be translated as “grace”. In fact, a number of commentators point out that verse 8 is the first verse in the Bible to specifically mention grace. Noah found favor, not because of some intrinsic goodness in himself, but because of God's grace.
But what about you? And what about me? We certainly cannot find favor with God because of the works of our hands. We are sinners in need of the only Savior, Jesus Christ. Have you and have I, by God's grace, truly placed our faith in Christ alone for salvation?
It is only when we believe in Jesus with a true saving faith that we can have assurance of our salvation. We can have assurance that Jesus Christ has redeemed us from our sin. We can have assurance, "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 1:6). Through saving faith in Christ alone we can have full confidence that one day we will stand before the Father unashamed, washed clean, presented as a bride without spot or blemish before the great God who brings judgment on the unrepentant, but salvation to all who by his grace believe upon his Son.
May that describe your faith and mine, this day and always! Amen.
 - bulletin outline -
The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become
on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart
was only evil all the time. - Genesis 6:5
                                 “As in the Days of Noah”
                                           Genesis 6:1-8
I.  The evil that led to the great flood was marked by:
      1) The denigration of marriage (1-2, 4)
      2) Wickedness which was (5):
            a) Pervasive – every inclination
            b) Internal – the thoughts of his heart
            c) Continual – only evil all the time
II. Applications:
      1) Our culture denigrates marriage and is permeated with evil (1-5) as it was
          in the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37-39)
      2) God’s Spirit will not contend with humanity forever (3, 6-7)
      3) God’s looks with favor on His people to whom He extends His grace (8)






* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2017, Rev. Ted Gray

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