Alfred Place Baptist Church

6:5-8 It grieved God that He had made man

Genesis 6:5-8 “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. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the LORD said, ‘I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth – men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air – for I am grieved that I have made them.’ But Noah found favour in the eyes of the LORD.”

We are told that the Lord saw something that stirred him, and when Moses refers to God seeing there is a deliberate harking back to Genesis 1 where we are told time and again in the course of the work of creation that “God saw”. At the conclusion of each particular stage of creation we meet the refrain that “God saw.” God was considering the work of his own hands, and at every stage God saw that it was good. We are told that right up to the last era in creation, with our first parents being made by him, that God saw that this was good, and even that God saw that his completed work was “very good”.

Here in Genesis 6 we have this simple phrase taken up again and we are told that “the LORD saw” (v.5), that he looks out again on the creation that he has made – as he did in those early days when it came from his hands. God is not a distant uninvolved deity. There is nothing in the world that escapes him, in your life or mine. His eyes are running to and fro through the whole world, and here we are told that what he saw was a very different picture from the world he had first made. He no longer sees that it was good, far less does he see that it was very good, but rather, instead of a favourable evaluation, how great man’s wickedness on the earth had now become. How rapid, and comprehensive, and universal had become man’s depravity.

1. GOD’S FEARFUL JUDGMENT UPON MANKIND.

We are told quite deliberately that this was God’s own verdict. It is certainly not an acceptable verdict to the religious broadcaster and writer and former Roman Catholic nun, Karen Armstrong. She calls the chapters before us a “hideous story.” She says sniffily that “many people like that kind of God,” inferring that she and people like her certainly do not. She calls him an infantile God, knocking down his sand castles, a regretful God who brutalizes people and passes on the burden of suffering to other people. She has chosen to make a god in her own image and she is worshipping that deity – as many do. She thinks she knows better than Jesus Christ who actually liked “this kind of God,” who in fact said, “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (Matt.24:37). No doubt there are many other things our Saviour said that she and others of her opinion don’t like, but for us Jehovah Jesus can say no wrong. We believe in the infallibility of Jehovah Jesus. We worship him as the only God there is.

So we are told in our text that this was God’s verdict on the world, “How great man’s wickedness on the earth had become.” This was not the verdict of a snake-handling American fundamentalist. It was not the verdict of prejudice, or the verdict of partiality. It was not the verdict of bigotry, or animosity, or bias. It was not the verdict of a primitive people. It was not the verdict of men and women with very limited knowledge and perspective. It was not the verdict of hate or depravity. It was not the verdict of self-interest. It was the verdict of God. It was the verdict of omniscient holiness. It was even the verdict of the divine pity. It was the verdict of God’s own longsuffering. It was a verdict passed by the application of the most rigorous, valid, objective, standard in heaven or on earth. Mankind was being weighed in the only balances that can have any absolute validity. Mankind is being evaluated by the only eye that can never be deceived, who pronounces this fearful verdict, “How great man’s wickedness on the earth has become.”

God looked at the creation which had left his hand in an absolutely perfect condition, and the LORD looked at the creature man, who was the very crown of creation, who had borne his exact image perfectly, and what he sees is anything but his image reflected back. It is not God’s perfection and his goodness. What God sees is great wickedness. Let us pause for a moment and let us stand where God stands. Let us try to see what it was that God saw. We have this all-embracive statement, “how great was man’s wickedness” and we can ask what did God see in detail when he passed this appalling verdict?

These are God’s own words, “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” (v.5), and I believe that it would be appropriate to join to it similar words from God in chapter eight and verse twenty-one, “every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood”. To what then is our attention being drawn? Firstly, the intensity of the wickedness – “how great!” Secondly, the totality of the wickedness – “every inclination” – ‘inclination’ refers to the most rudimentary movement of thought. You cannot find a more penetrating term in Scripture than this. Thirdly, the inwardness of the wickedness – “of the thoughts of the heart.” It would have been sufficient for God to say that the hearts of men were evil because in the language of Scripture the heart is the very seat of intellectual and volitional movement, but here the Lord goes further, “the thoughts of the heart”, yet he does not stop there; “the inclination of the thoughts of his heart.” Here we have an unparalleled expression in Scripture emphasizing the inwardness of the wickedness. Fourthly, the exclusiveness of the wickedness – “was only evil.” Fifthly, the constancy of the wickedness – “all the time.” Sixthly, the innateness of the wickedness – “from childhood.” It was not something that man acquired during the course of his development; “Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies” (Ps. 58:3). There is no escape from the comprehensiveness of this indictment. There is no possibility of a favourable judgment. From whatever angle you approach these words in Genesis 6:5 and in Genesis 8:21 you find depravity and depravity alone.

God looked right into the depths of human souls. He peered right into men’s minds. He examined the thoughts of mankind. He looked into the operations of human intelligence. He looked into the convictions that men held. He looked into the way man’s reasoning process functioned. He looked at man’s imaginations. He looked at the life of his desires, of his aspirations, of his determinations and purposes. He looked at his ambitions and at his motivations. He looked at his knowledge, at his joys and sorrows, at his ecstasies and depressions. He looked into the very foundation of his activities, right into the depth of his unconscious life, and we are told that down there in the radix, the root of man’s existence, God saw only evil all the time.

It applied to the human intelligence; it applied to the human emotions; it applied to the human ambitions; it applied to the human desires; it applied even to the human conscience. It was evil all the time. You will take note of the fact that I’m not saying that God saw only what was criminal. I am not saying that God saw only what was immoral, but I am saying that God saw the pervasive presence of sin, that every single thought and idea and imagination was contaminated by sin. God saw that there was not anything thought and done by anyone at any age that was free from sin. Let’s say you could extract from your mind your holiest thought and you could hold it right alongside the piercing uncreated holiness of God that then you would immediately see how faint was its light in comparison to the perfection of God. Or if you could remove the most wise and true sentence you’d ever spoken and you put it alongside the words the God himself speaks then immediately you would see how corroded those words of yours were – and they were the best words you had ever spoken. So it is also with our golden deeds, even our very best when put alongside the works of God, they make us cry, “How is the gold become dim!” (Lams. 4:1). So, when God looked into the very depths of men’s souls he saw a violation of his own standards; he saw enormous selfishness; he saw consistent ungodliness.

Now it is clear from the rest of the Bible that the words of our text are not some odd or obscure verses tucked away at the beginning of Genesis that I have selected for some hateful and humbling reason, but rather that what I have said to you is a theme running throughout the Bible. For example, Jeremiah the prophet says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). The prophet Isaiah says, “we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Is. 64:6). The apostle says, “in my flesh dwelleth no good thing” (Roms 7:18). He describes the natural man as dead in trespasses and sins, and that these things are true for all mankind; there is none righteous no not one.

I would ask you today, if you were to take this home to the only level that matters, that is, to the level of personal application, do you agree with this verdict? I would ask you would you dispute this divine analysis, and this divine evaluation? Would we defend ourselves against this kind of charge? Would we protest and say, “Yes, but . . . Yes, but . . .” Or do we say as Christians that it is entirely accurate, that our behavioural problems are not external. The problem is not our genetic inheritance, or our past upbringing, or our present environment. Man’s problem is not the unequal distribution of money, or the state’s failure to spend enough money on education, but that right down in the depths of our unconscious lives, in our hearts and minds, our ambitions and aspirations, that there, by nature, is evil at work all the time.

I would press you on this; what is the verdict of your consciences? I would say that if we have today the remotest quarrel with this divine evaluation then we are not Christians at all, that if we quarrel with this lucid divine judgment of the totality of our own depravity – the corruption of every faculty of our souls, the enslavement of our wills, the darkness of our minds, the irregularity and ungovernableness of our emotions – if we are repudiating that assessment then we have no Christian understanding of ourselves.

I am saying to you that God looked at men living at the time of Enoch and Noah as he looks at mankind today, and the very first thing that God saw as he surveyed this dark scene was the heart of man. And he went into the hearts of men, and in and in he went, and in and in and in his gaze penetrated. He could separate soul and spirit, and evaluate every thought and every single imagination, and this is the verdict he came to with every single person except one man and his family who had found grace in his sight. And I would confess utterly frankly and in the most matter of fact manner possible that as the Holy One looks today into my heart, and into my thoughts, and into my imaginations, as he goes in and in and in and into my life that this is precisely what he sees, only evil all the time.

2. GOD’S AWESOME RESPONSE TO MAN’S DEPRAVITY.

How did God react to this fact of human sin? The response is simply incredible, some of the most amazing words in the Bible; “The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain” (v.6). Men were setting up cities and naming them after their sons. The big men were becoming heroes, men of renown, ruling over the earth as lords and kings. This is the humanist cult, sinners being deified as sons of God, but consider the Lord himself, he mourns for the state of things. Now of course when I read that to you, you have only one question, what does it mean that the Lord was grieved or even that he ‘repented.’ You hope that I will deal with the theology employed in this great concept, can God repent? No doubt it is important, but the whole point is a simple one, that the inspired word of God says the Lord was sorry, that he grieved at what he saw. It is not an issue of the living God changing his mind. Yesterday I was at a wedding at the Three Legged Cross Evangelical Church in Hampshire. At the front of the church above the pulpit these words were written, “I am the Lord I change not.” God is immutable in his justice, goodness and truth. He is not a man that he would tell lies or repent, neither does God shrug his shoulders at our behaviour. Rather we are told that God is disquieted with the conduct of mankind, grieved and troubled in his heart. It is very bold language, but it is inspired boldness, and it is Scriptural boldness. God looks, and God was sorry.

It does not mean that he made a mistake because he could not foresee what was going to happen. God is not surprised by anything – like human race freefalling depravity. God is not amazed that this happened. He knows the end from the beginning, but he is also a personal God who responds to his creatures; he becomes incarnate and then this same God weeps over Jerusalem’s sinfulness. Aren’t we told that his Spirit is grieved by our own wickednesses as Christians, and doesn’t he also react to faithfulness and sacrificial obedience with delight – “You are my beloved Son and I am so pleased with you.” This passage is making the important point that God responds to wickedness with grief. This is a reflection of his unchangeable character. He must react to sin with wrath, but he must also respond to holy obedience with delight. These are appropriate dealings which God has with sinners. God is involved with man moment by moment. For example, when Adam is talking lovingly to the Lord and keeping his commandments they can walk together, man and God, in the cool of the day, but when Adam is listening to the voice of the serpent and defying the Lord he is alienated from God and the result is judgment, man and women are driven out of the Garden. God is an involved God; he is not only the author of the human story he is the principal character in it responding to everything around us in his creation. It is utterly consistent with God to be most grieved with the total depravity of man. “I made him. I took the initiative and created him free to defy me. I am so sorry,” he says. We’re even told that God’s heart “was filled with pain” (v.6). Can’t you rejoice that the only God there is is such a wonderfully personal God? Would you want him to be any different? Would you want him to see the spectacle of human cruelty and shrug his shoulders? You couldn’t love such a God. Fear him, maybe, but not love him.

Why was God sorry? He was sorry for the wickedness, but it’s not only that. He was sorry for the wickedness of individual men and women made in his image. He was grieved that he’d made man on the earth to behave in these filthy and diabolical ways. It is so extraordinary because God could look at the spectacle of nature raw in tooth and claw. He could look at all the violence of the animal world, the agonizing and brutal death of every creature, but the Lord didn’t express his grief about that. He looked at all the forces of nature, the hurricanes and volcanoes, the tsunamis and dust bowls, all so destructive and calamitous, but we are never told that God mourned that he had made winds and lava and ice and fire and oceans’ depths, but we are told that he was grieved that he’d made man.

Now I wonder whether even the children can understand this, and perhaps if you haven’t thought of this before perhaps you can think now. I’m sure that you all know what it is to make something and then be sorry you made it – a bow and arrow for example – you made it, and then there was an accident with an arrow and someone was badly hurt and you wish you had never made it in the first place. A teenager can’t wait until he can drive a car and then he passes his test and not long afterwards he is involved in an accident in which someone is hurt and he wishes he had never got behind the driving wheel or even that the automobile had never been invented. I wonder how the man who invented the world wide web feels about his invention today? Is he grieved at all the filthy perversions that are on the web that seem to contaminate every computer everywhere?

Now, of course, God has not lost control of his world, but we have this picture of God being sorry, and of all the things that God saw in human history the one thing that is emphasized as making him sad, even sorry that he had made man, was man himself. Surely I may put it to you that as that is so then man must be terribly wicked. It must be a terrible thing to be a man if God is sorry that he had made men and women. I suspect today, that even in this kind of well-disposed congregation there is some resentment, intellectual and emotional, at what you’ve heard me saying. To think that in this university town which has been worshipping at the feet of the goddess wisdom for more than a century that anyone could get up and say that man is as bad as this.

Yet I’ve said before that I haven’t the slightest hesitation of asserting that this is true of me, and that I believe it is also true of you. This is God’s word; this is a statement that is God-breathed, inspired by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, and I know its truth in my own life. The Lord looked at the world and he was grieved at what he saw. Men had made such a mess of God’s creation. Will you notice in particular what stood out in God’s eyes? It was men’s violence to one another. You see it in verse eleven, “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.” The earth was full of men like Cain and Lamech, filled with a spirit of envy and vengeance and aggression. The Lord looked down from heaven itself which is a world of love and there could hardly be a greater contrast then the scene presented to him on earth. The whole world had drifted to the “dark side” of life, people were alienated from one another, dominated by envy and a sense of lost entitlement, without any real notion of their predicament, overwhelmed by self-pity. They were at best erratic in the little control they exercised of their aggressive impulses. This was not the case with the Nephilim only but also, perhaps more so, with the physically inferior, the weak and inadequate. They quickly took up weapons of violence, and got together in gangs and little one-man crime waves. People cried for help when they were attacked but no one listened. No one did anything. There were random violent deaths everywhere; no one in any family was safe simply from being in a family, and no one cared. That was life, and so the whole culture before the flood was indifferent towards the victims, no women, no little children and none of the old people were spared, simply because of their frailty, and God was grieved with all he saw, a world packed with violence from pole to pole.

Now of course it might have been an exceptional age, yet today as God looks upon our own generation does he not see the deification of human aggression and competitiveness even in the most respectable areas of our civilization? Doesn’t he see in our society a tremendous emphasis upon the will to assert oneself, and to stake one’s claim, and be a macho man? Isn’t there evidence of a new pedagogy of parents urging their children to grab hold of what they fancy? Isn’t there an enormous stress on self-expression and self-satisfaction that is the furthest extreme from the Biblical virtue of humility and a Christ-like spirit? Don’t we see in sport how quickly violence breaks out in games? Don’t we observe as we look upon mankind today a world of bombings and wars and murders and assassinations and rape and muggings? Men are blowing each other apart, exploiting and hating each other. Aren’t we living in a world of racial hatred, and riot, and car bombs, and suicide bombers? Isn’t ours a world of terrorism and kidnapping, an age of brutality and torture, a culture of wife abuse and baby battering, a civilization where the child in the womb of its mother is unprotected by the law? Aren’t the elderly sick being pressurized not to take a long time in dying? Even if that is not the total picture yet what an utterly enormous picture it is – if the media are to be believed and the simple testimony of our own ears and eyes is right. How alarming!

If we look into our own recent history, into Belsen, and Baghdad, and 9/11, and 7/7, and a recent foiled attempt at blowing up ten planes full of passengers as they were flying to the USA, don’t we still see the earth filled with violence? And this is not the violence of insane men. It is not the violence of imbeciles. It is not even the violence of criminals, but the violence of the mothers of nine month-old babies, and fathers who were school teachers, human beings with the same constitution and aptitudes and interests as ourselves, men who did ‘murder most foul’ and then went home to watch ‘Match of the Day,’ and the whole horror emanated from the hearts of men.

And God was grieved with the world he had made, that people made in his own image and likeness could behave like this, that they could use the human brain he had designed and the resilience and imagination he had given to them to design fiendish tortures like nailing a young man to a cross. I am sure that what you know of human history, and what you read in the newspapers, and what you are aware of your own heart is all a reinforcement of this. I appeal to your knowledge and consciences to confirm to you the rightness of what I am saying. God saw it and he was sad. That is the sort of God he is, and I cannot eliminate the personal. It is what history says of human depravity, but it is also the testimony of self-knowledge. It is the most depressing thing in the world, and it is the whole presupposition of the gospel. The Bible despairs of human nature. There is no use saying in the face of the Bible that there is something good in every man, that there is a so-called divine spark in us all. It is the counsel of despair to tell men to look for the hero inside themselves. I am not saying at all but that all men are made in God’s image and so have the capacity for extraordinary kindness and tenderness, but when one measures them by God’s standards then the inevitable conclusion must be that the Lord was sorry that he made men and women.

3. GOD DECIDED TO WIPE MANKIND FROM THE FACE OF THE EARTH.

We are told of God’s response to human depravity, that “the LORD said, ‘I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth – men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air – for I am grieved that I have made them’” (v.7). There had been a time when man did not exist. Man owed his entire existence to the will of God. The planning of the creation of man and the execution of that plan was solely a result of sovereign divine power. There was no cooperation in the venture. Man was inert dust and God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living creature. Man confesses, “It is he that hath made us and not we ourselves.” God gave man form and life, and God is the one who sustains that life. Now God will end that life, as he ends the lives of everyone. The Lord gives and the Lord also takes away. Blessed be the name of such a sovereign Lord. The grave does not fill by accident. Sometimes many die together in plagues and shipwrecks and atomic bomb explosions and other devices of modern warfare. All the evil for their deaths is man’s alone, but none die outside the will of God as if he were just the surprised and helpless onlooker. On the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1st of July 1916, there were almost 20,000 British casualties and by the end of the battle there were a million casualties and over 300,000 dead. I guess that those figures would be more than the population of the world of Noah at this early stage in human history. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the slaughter of so many in the wars of mankind – and the wrongs far outweigh the rights – the judgment of God in the age of Noah was impeccable as 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” (v.5). The Judge of all the earth did right when he condemned mankind to death then, and will he not do right in the great day when to many he will say, “Depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels”? Know that the Lord is God alone; he can create and he destroy.

God determined to make a new beginning through the line of Noah. The ground was cursed, the whole animal world had become affected through the corrupt rule of man, God’s rebellious vice gerent. All the creation was groaning and travailing in pain, in bondage to decay and God wiped it out. He utterly destroyed man from the face of the earth. “Well,” you say, “ . . . this ‘judgment’ . . . I don’t believe in ‘judgment.’” Then I ask you what was Golgotha? God condemned sin in the flesh. Calvary! That was judgment and it came on Christ the substitute. You say you don’t believe in judgment? Then I am only saying this, and I am speaking from Scripture, that Scripture believes in judgment. I am speaking to your conscience . . .your own conscience believes in judgment. I want to point this out to you that the circle of people amongst whom Enoch and Noah moved didn’t believe in judgment. They preferred to believe in the false prophets of the time, as Jude describes their language, “all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against [God]. These men are grumblers and fault-finders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage” (Jude 15&16). Noah’s friends thought the message of the judgment of God was so ridiculous, to speak of such a theme, to talk about a great flood. They boasted about themselves and flattered one another. How contemporary it all sounds! Like that woman whom I quoted at the beginning describing these chapters as, “a hideous story.” People heard Noah preaching and said, “Tut, tut! What a hideous fable.” There wasn’t a single expert on Noah’s side, not one scholar. Noah was the only man in the whole wide world who believed God when he said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth”. Yet whatsoever God approves by his eternal world that shall be approved. Whatsoever he damns shall be condemned, though all the men in the world should dare to hazard their support for it. Noah was the only futurologist on earth who was correct because he believed the God he walked with was in charge of the future. I would say again to you that you can’t afford the risk of assuming that your rejection of judgment is true. The issue is far too important. You must be certain it is a lie. You must be utterly convinced you can believe anything you choose to believe, and act in any way your feelings take you, and hurt as many people as you will, 100% certain you face no judgment for your wickedness – other than annihilation.

So there is this immense display of the grieving God, his heart filled with pain, saying, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal. His days will be 120 years.” And then, when all those years have passed, we see God arousing himself and setting into motion all the wheels of judgments, the fountains of the deep beginning to open, and the sluices of the firmament lifting remorselessly, with the first drop of rain falling and the initial burstings forth of a spring here and there, filling this creek and cascading down this valley, and never stopping, simply increasing and increasing, for, “I will erase mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth.”

But we don’t take leave of that civilization on that note. There is another note which runs through the Bible and through the lives of many of us. We find it in the eighth verse;

4. NOAH FOUND FAVOUR IN THE SIGHT OF THE LORD.

I profoundly hope today, though it seems, humanly speaking, so unlikely, yet I’m hoping against hope, that people would be disturbed by what they hear. I could wish that they were antagonistic rather than that they were indifferent. I could wish that people read these words and afterwards felt anxious and fearful. But to those of you who are thinking that this is all doom and gloom do you see there is one glimmer of hope in this tremendous section, that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord?

It is a terrible thing to be me. It makes God sorry that he made me when he looks at me. His heart is filled with pain because of my life, and yet God’s Spirit strives with me, he brings me to a place where I read these words saying I may find grace in his eyes. All the world is looking at someone like me who believes that God hates sin and will judge the world again, and they think I am a fanatic and extremist. They put me in the same category as a suicide bomber and dismiss me with the label ‘fundamentalist.’ I find no favour in their eyes, but even I who believe God may find favour in the eyes of the only One who matters. God is in despair of human nature, and yet here is one human being who finds his favour. God discriminates; he doesn’t destroy the whole ant hill indiscriminately, he distinguishes one ant from another. God is in despair of human nature and yet one human being finds favour in his sight.

A man called Noah in those days found God’s favour, that divine pity that energizes and transforms men in women. When everything would make men despair and give up, when men would even drown their sorrows in drinking (and from the future life of Noah we can see how influential the drink culture was at that time), and when men sought in such ways to escape from the reality of a world full of violence, still at a time like that there was a man who became gripped by the grace of God. While God’s heart was filled with pain at the state of mankind, one individual was finding not just pity but grace! God looked on him with favour. God was offering him deliverance, pressing upon him salvation, presenting himself to Noah to be his Guide and Protector and Saviour. He spoke to Noah assuring him that Noah could take him and have him for ever as his heavenly Father, his Provider, his Shield and Reward.

This is the same God who makes a diagnosis of our own civilization, and your heart. He is the one who offers the same favour to us. He offers the same grace to you, and invites you to come to him. He pleads with you to turn from your sins and take him as your Lord and Saviour. No matter how unworthy, and no matter how unprepared, and no matter how worldly have been the motives leading you to be reading these words – to scorn, or mock, or ridicule how anyone could believe in Noah and the judgment of God – still in the offer of the gospel there is a free Christ. In the offer of the gospel there is deliverance for everyone, for the vilest offender. In the gospel you are being offered no less than Christ in the fulness of his blessing, and in the fulness of his salvation functions, and in the totality of his power to save. Christ is today’s ark where if you enter you can be saved from the judgment to come and so many of the pains of it all around us now.

The grace Noah found has actually appeared. He has come in the flesh, incarnate in Jesus Christ. The omnipotence of God acting effectually to redeem sinners is now enfleshed in a glorious living person, a Saviour, a Teacher, a Leader, a Priest, a Protector, a Sacrifice and the Son of God. Behold the Lamb of God who has taken away the sin of the world, and he who died rose again. He is a living Lord. Jesus Christ is risen today, and he sits at the right hand of the majesty on high with the whole world in his hands. He can give you rest; he can provide for you leadership.

Who else can help you in this violent and fleshly age? Who else can help your marriage? Your family? Who will you have at the end? In death? At the judgment throne? Who else will present you to God? Who is going to plead for you? Who will keep you in temptations? Who will mediate between you and the Holy One who was Noah’s God and is the Bible’s God and is Jesus’ God? The only God there is is God in Christ. There is no grace elsewhere other than in him. Your life is indispensable without that grace, and I plead with you to come in a violent age to Christ, and come in a dying age to Christ, and in an age of divorce, and sexual license to come to Christ. Come to Christ with your future to be made, and your past to be covered and pardoned. Come and tell him how exposed and vulnerable and fearful you are. There is that sudden pain in the chest, that catching of your breath, that unusual dizziness, the growing bouts of forgetfulnes. God is calling you and summoning you away. His grace alone will make you ready to see him, to be with him as the one your soul begins to love as your Saviour and friend.

Do you understand what I am asking you to do. I am not going to use the terminology of ‘giving your heart or life to Jesus’ because that phrase is nowhere found in the Bible, and we can see from our text just what unspeakably filthy things all our hearts are. I am telling you that you need a new heart and that that is a gift of God’s favour. When he gives that heart then we believe in Jesus Christ the great sin-bearer, the one who died to wash our hearts of all their filth. Then we feel our sorrow for what we’ve done, and we’re so thankful we’ve been cleansed and washed in the fountain on Calvary – the great Golgotha laundry for sin. Tell him that you have begun to realise what a problem you have, and that only his mighty grace can help you. “Help me Saviour.” That must be your prayer. “Save me or I perish!” And you must keep crying that with all the earnestness you are capable of until you know that he has heard you and saved you.

27th August 2006 GEOFF THOMAS