Wickedness in Today’s World
Is it fair to say that minor things like picking up someone else’s newspaper or ignoring someone in a hallway are part of an “evil world?” We tend to think of evil as the big stuff; terrorism, murder, bank robbery – the things that only “bad people” do.
But maybe that kind of thinking is half the problem. Other than the Terrorist headline in the video, all the other problems are quite ordinary. We see things like this everyday. We get so used to them we start to just ignore them saying, “oh, it’s just them.”
However, evil arises out of our own selfish desire. It’s selfish desire that leads us to hurt others or cut someone off in traffic. Big or little, sin is sin and sins together knit a fabric of evil that ends up covering our entire world.
Wickedness in Noah’s Time
Lets step out of our time and take a look at Noah’s time.
1 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, 2the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown. 5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. 9 These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.
What kind of wickedness do you think the Lord is talking about in verse 5? What kind of evil could have been happening in Noah’s day? Violence, Murder, Rape? Probably a lot of the same things we see today. But it must have been a bit worse than we have today, because God says everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil.
Now you may be tempted to think after reading these verses, “This was long before God gave Moses the 10 Commandments, so how would they know right from wrong? Can we totally blame them for their choices?” Well, God says, yes.
The Bible speaks of a “law written on their hearts” in Romans 2:14-15. God’s law of right and wrong is written on our hearts and God uses our consciences to direct us. So whether you have actually read the written laws or heard them, you are still born with a conscience that knows right from wrong. The people in Noah’s day just chose not to listen to it and instead they followed their own selfish desires (like Adam and Eve even did). All except for one. But before I get into talking about him, I want to ask you to look closely at verse 6.
Wickedness Breaks God’s Heart
And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.
Now look, I know that statement alone could bring up some questions. But before we start debating if God changed His mind, or why God would even make humans in the first place when He knew what would happen, I want you to put all of that curiosity to the side. Today, to get the fullness out of this scripture, we need to accept this picture of a God with very human-like feelings. He always wanted a relationship with His people like He had with Adam and Eve before their sin. But God had allowed people to choose either His way or their own way. It’s called FREE WILL. In Noah’s day people were clearly choosing “their way”. They wanted absolutely nothing to do with God’s way. This hurt God deeply. It broke His heart! And if we reduce that to a theological equation right now, we’re missing something important about God’s Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 4:30 says, “And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live.” That means we can hurt God’s feelings! How? Well just in Ephesians, it suggests we do it with angry outbursts and hateful behavior. This breaks God’s heart!
Like a sculptor might throw down a lump of clay and start over, God was ready to scrap this artwork. But he didn’t actually do that. Someone changed his mind!
Do you think the world we see in Noah’s day looks like the world we live in today? If we’re not there yet, we’re certainly heading in that direction. We see violence and greed and selfishness in excess! No doubt God is grieved by the evil intentions of our world today.
One big difference from our world today to Noah’s world is that we have millions of faithful Christians acting as Salt and Light in various ways, whereas in that time, there was only one man trying to make a difference in an evil world.
What set Noah Apart?
Noah was described as having Favor with God, being blameless and righteous, and he walked with God. What in the world did Noah do to stand out so differently than all other humans in a world that was so bad that God was going to destroy it all?! What did he do that deserved a description like this? Do ancient manuscripts suggest he did daily Starbucks runs for his neighbors? Was he doing acts of kindness though in this violent world? Did he stand up for peace? Was he faithful to his wife? Did he spend quality time with his sons? We don’t know, but what we do know is that he was blameless, righteous, good, and morally straight.
A. Noah was Salt
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
There are several different ways to be ‘salt of the earth’. Let’s look at two characteristics of salt.
1. Salt has always been a seasoning, making food taste better, adding flavor.
So if we were looking to provide seasoning to the world and make life taste better, adding flavor, we might think of adding love, joy, and peace, things that the Spirit gives us. These are attractive qualities, even in a wicked world.
Think of the guy in the video. He’s the one who greeted his co-worker in the hallway, while the coworker acted like he didn’t exist. He’s the guy who brought coffee to his coworkers, while they were stealing work time playing solitaire. In those ways, he was being Jesus to them.
2. Salt is a preservative in foods.
Christians serve the needy and each other. Christians uphold virtues such as loyalty, responsibility, honesty, and humility. Christians build community and relationships. All of this makes the world a better place and keeps the world from destroying itself. Noah was certainly a preservative as he kept God from completely destroying the entire planet.
B. noah was the Light of the World
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
If you’ve ever been in a completely dark place, after a while, you don’t know which way is up. But put a little light in there and wallah, light shows us exactly where we are and where we need to go.
The world is dark, but Jesus is described as the “light of the world.” That’s the light we show to those around us, the light of Jesus. We help people see themselves, their situation, and the way they need to go.
Let’s all Be like Noah
But how do we actually do that? How do we actually become salt and light? How do we actually be righteous and blameless like Noah? We need to look further into scriptures…and there are so many. I’m going to go over a few of them today. On your own I also want you to also look at Matthew 5-7. It’s Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
14“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
You might expect murder or adultery to be the big sins to avoid, but no. This says we shine when we’re not complaining and arguing, when we get along with one another, when we’re living clean, innocent lives, not sinning (as best we can) and we can do this by holding onto the word of life…the truth of Christ.
You know what Christ says…
37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
John warns us to be careful with our life…
1 John 2:15-17
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
As Christians we’re told to practice love, and yet here we’re told not to love – not to love the world or anything in it. So does that mean we can’t love ice cream or ballgames or a day at the beach? Those are things of the world. Yet there enjoyable, we even see them as blessings. But what we need to consider, is what the word ‘love’ means in this context.
In Luke 14:26, Jesus said, “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.”
That sounds harsh. But He says “by comparison”. He’s not actually saying to hate your family or yourself. He’s saying don’t love anything in this world, even them, more than your God. Don’t put anything ahead of God. So it’s OK to love ice cream and your family, just don’t put it ahead of God. Because ice cream won’t last long.
Things of this world are temporary. Only God will last forever. Be careful, because the world is very good at luring us away from God. Boy the Devil is good. He knows what he’s doing. He’s been around a lot longer than you and I have and even though he doesn’t know the future, he knows what good looks like in the making. He knows God’s patterns of growing disciples and he’s going to do all he can to lure us away from that.
And he knows how to distract us. It’s not uncommon to see people forget about God and God’s work while they reach for something greater or boast about themselves or indulge in cravings or complain and argue with each other.
So John is saying, don’t do that. John warns us against falling in love with the world’s temptations and says, “But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.” In other words, when you love God and love each other, in that order, you will be salt and light. 1 John 2:8 says, “For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining.”
When Christ came into this world, he radically changed everything. Starting at his birth. Everything he did all the way up to his sacrificial death, changed the world. People’s motives began to shift and they actually laid down their self-interest to pursue something much bigger than themselves. They began to see a world in tremendous need and they did something about it!
Like the guy in the video said – “God our creator, is still showering the earth to find those righteous people who will see the needs of this world and do something about it.”
I beg of you to stay focused. Don’t get distracted. Keep your eyes seeing and your heart listening for God. And let’s see where he takes us. I know it can be scary. How do you think it was for Noah being righteous in an awful world?
I know it’s not easy to be righteous…I’m not always righteous. But if we stick together, think of what God could do with us. Think of what this church might look like if we center ourselves on loving God and loving others. That’s righteousness.
Let’s be as righteous as we can. Let’s all be like Noah!