A Portrait of Grace
An exposition of Genesis 6:5-8. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, May 10, 2009.
Message Outline »
I still remember the look. The look struck terror in my soul. At the same time there was outrage. Why is he so upset? What’s the problem? The job is getting done. I was told the yard was to be mowed before he got home from work. I was finishing up. Sure I had wasted most of the day. Sure I waited until the last minute – but I was in the process of putting on the finishing touches. Okay, maybe I do understand why he is so upset. Maybe I do understand the fury. Yes I was finishing up the front yard – I guess it was the fact that mom was sweating away in the backyard trying to get it done so I wouldn’t get in trouble. I thought it was a brilliant move. The perfect con – but he wasn’t buying it and he was not amused. Dad had a way of seeing past my bag of tricks. He always knew what was going on in my head and what I was up to. Nothing got by him.
That’s the way it is with our Father in heaven. The Sovereign One knows everything. He sees our every action; He knows our every thought. He has established a standard and will accept nothing less. We know that and yet it still surprises us. It surprises us because we’re pretty good at the con game. We can con most anyone. But we are especially skilled at conning ourselves. But then – we are easy – we want to be conned. So it really shouldn’t come as such a surprise when we find God angry with man – and maybe we’re not really that surprised. But what does surprise us is His grace. I’m constantly amazed by God’s grace. You find it in the most unlikely places. This morning I want us to look at one of those “unlikely places.” It is found in the sixth chapter of the book of Genesis.
Text: Genesis 6:5-8
The picture painted by the inspired narrator is pretty bleak. The dark clouds of judgement are gathering. We are at the beginning of a time of tremendous judgment upon the earth. God is sorry he ever made man. He is going to wipe him out and start over. And yet there is a word of grace. This is actually a perfect example of the principle stated in Romans 5:20:
…moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more…
Often it is wrongly assumed that the God of the Old Testament is a God of wrath and judgment. The God of smoke and fire. While the God of the New Testament is loving and gracious. It is as if God somehow became civilized between the Testaments. The fact is He is the same yesterday, today and forever. God didn’t change. He is still a God of wrath, of smoke and fire. And He was, in the Old Testament, a God of love and grace.
God is loving, gracious and kind and yet He is at the same time holy and righteous. He is transcendent and yet He is approachable. Vengeance is His and yet He is forgiving. All of this is a part of who He is and who He has always been.
As we walk through this passage this evening I want to call three things to your attention.
- A Shocking Announcement (6:7)
- A Righteous Judgment (6:5-6, 7b)
- Sin is internal as well as external – “The thoughts of a man’s heart.” Sin is not to be thought of in terms of outward acts such as adultery, stealing, murder but internal thoughts as well. “As a man thinks in his heart so is he.” We often try to comfort others and ourselves by saying, “God looks on the heart.” If this verse is true – that is not a comforting thought. How about Jeremiah 17:9?
- Sin is pervasive. The reason for that is that it comes from the heart and the heart controls what we think and do. That is why the narrator says, “every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” That is why Paul can say with such confidence “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:10-18.
- Sin is continuous. “Only evil all the time.” This is from God’s perspective. We look at each other and see many good things. But we do not know the thoughts and intents of the heart. Why do you do the good you do? Is it to be notice? That makes it evil. Is it so that you can feel better about yourself? That perverts it. Unless it is done in faith – for the glory of God and the glory of God alone – it is sinful and corrupt.
- A Gracious Exception (6:8)