Beyond Self Help
Brother Sean begins by running into the sanctuary to Eye of the Tiger. He uses this as an illustration of how we can focus on making church and God about us, as if God were some sort of self-help. However, the purpose of the church and God is not to provide a way for us to help ourselves. What we see in Noah, is that mankind is beyond self-help.
In Genesis 5, we are told there are two lines of mankind: the line of Cain (children of the devil) and the line of Seth (sethites, the line of faith). However, when we open Genesis 6, the line of faith has begun to mix itself with the children of Cain.
Genesis 6:2a “The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were attractive.”
The sons of God should not confuse us. This does not mean that God has more than one only begotten son. But the title ‘sons of God’ is a typical name for those belonging to the line of faith (Exodus 4:22, Jeremiah 31:20, 1 Chronicles 22:10, Romans 8:16). When Genesis 6:2 refers to the sons of God it is bringing to mind those who are in the line of faith. The daughters of man are, therefore, referring to those in the line of the devil. The ways of the “flesh” are attractive to children of faith. One issue with many Christians is they highly desire what the world says is attractive. Yet, God has always desired that which may appear as unattractive (While we were still sinners, Christ died for us).
Genesis 6:2b “And they took as their wives any they chose.”
The term which we need to pay attention here is “took”. There are a couple of meanings to took. We use the term took to mean “Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife.” Yet, the word for took here is generally a more abusive and violent term. This word is used of David in 2 Samuel 11:4 when he TAKES Bathsheba. These men of faith take wives either against the will of the women, against the will of God, or are abusing the idea of marriage in some way. The violence, whatever it is, results in God stating, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.”
Genesis 6:3, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.”
We do not need to read this passage as man’s life being limited. After all, we have many examples of people living much longer than 120 years after God states this. Some have tried to explain this by an increasing shortening of mankind’s lifespan over time. However, the statement doesn’t refer to a shortening over time, but a dramatic statement that 120 years is all mankind gets.
Therefore, we could say along with Jerome “It is not therefore that human life was contracted to 120 years… but that 120 years were given to that generation for repentance.” God gave the people of the earth 120 years to repent of their sins before he would put an end to their life. Or as Galatians 5:16 puts it, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit.”
We understand that our concern now is not simply to follow after a spirit of this age, or after a Spirit of God, but after the HOLY Spirit. Why is the term holy paramount to understanding God’s Spirit? In Christianity Today, April 20th 2018, an interview with Brian Tome, pastor of Crossroads Church, was conducted. Crossroads Church is the fastest growing church in the US. In the article he states that they are willing to do anything to get people to come to church. Tome states, “Any thing short of sin is up for grabs.” But is simply avoiding sin in our church methods our only goal? We are not just saved from sin but we are saved to holiness.
Tome argues for using keg stands at prayer tents to attract young men to come and pray. Is this acceptable for the church? Rather then continue to focus outwards on Crossroads, we need to turn inwards as well. What things are we saying we need to run a good church? Is a hymn book required? Do we need a pulpit?
One major issue with Christians is that we often bring things into the line of faith that belong to the world. Our concern isn’t to have a sanctuary that looks like how we want church to look, but to actually worship God. Could it be that we are using fleshly methods in running church?
Genesis 6:4 “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days… they were might men who were of old, the men of renown.”
We need not be surprised that fleshly efforts to run church succeed. After all, these mixed marriages between faith and flesh resulted in men of renown. The offspring of the marriages were highly celebrated. These men were called giants, great big heroes to everyone. But the result of these highly well liked, highly successful children is, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great.”
Even highly successful people doing things according to the world, even great heroes that we think are amazing, are simply just men. And for many cases ‘just men’ means sinful and wicked.
Genesis 6:3 “For I am sorry that I have made them”
So what does it mean that God is sorry? It doesn’t mean that God is having an emotional chemical reaction. It doesn’t mean that God thinks creation is an accident. Rather, it means God’s wrath will be poured out against all evil. When the line of faith begins to look more like the line of the devil, God is sorry – he judges evil.
Genesis 6:8, “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.”
Noah shocks us in this bleak and evil passage. Noah strikes us with a ray of light that we simply are not expecting. Yet, what commends Noah to us? Nothing in this passage could commend Noah to us. Noah falls into the category of “their hearts were evil all of the time.” Noah is beyond self help. Noah needs grace. Noah is very much a sinner like us. However, Noah learned the meaning of Psalm 18:16, “He sent from on high, he took me; he drew me out of deep waters.”
If we are to find favor in eyes of the Lord we need to see grace as a primary need of every human being. We need God to reach down from on high and pull us out of deep waters. The flood of God’s wrath is coming. But God gave mankind in Noah’s day 120 years to repent. Let’s not squander our time now. Lets admit we are beyond self help. Once we realize we cannot help our selves there is only one solution – repentance. Repentance means realizing you aren’t strong enough to reach up, so God has to reach down. Turning from living life our own way, we ask God to lead us his way. Only then can we truly find favor in the eyes of the Lord in this present age.