Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: We're living in a time of incredible advances in technology. But, does that really make a better world? Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Man left to himself may get smarter. He may learn more, but getting smarter without God only makes him more wicked. He will make a worse and worse world left to himself apart from God.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, August 5, 2015.

Here's Nancy continuing in a series called "Noah and the Flood: The Gospel in the Old Testament." 

Nancy: How many of you are familiar with the Humanist Manifestos—you’ve seen or read the Humanist Manifestos? Quite a few of you. The first one was written in 1933. It had thirty-four signers including John Dewey, many scientists, educators, philosopher. The premise of that first Humanist Manifesto was that man was a brilliant creature, that if he would just try and work hard enough at it that ultimately he would be able to create a world of utopia, a world of peace and prosperity for everyone.

The second Humanist Manifesto was written in 1973. What happened between 1933 and 1973 to show that man wasn’t quite as brilliant or capable as they had thought? World War II. So it’s interesting, when you come to the second Humanist Manifesto in 1973, they say in effect, “Now we realize that things have not quite turned out as we hoped or thought they would.” And they say,

Events since then makes that earlier statement seem far too optimistic. Nazism has shown the depths of brutality of which humanity is capable.

Using technology wisely, we can control our environment, conquer poverty, markedly reduce disease, extend our life-span, significantly modify our behavior, alter the course of human evolution and cultural development, unlock vast new powers, and provide humankind with unparalleled opportunity for achieving an abundant and meaningful life.1

That was their conclusion.

Now that’s a reflection of modern philosophy. What’s the essence of it? That man is basically good, that man just needs to be improved. If he does bad things, it's not because he is bad. It's because he just needs a better education, or better home, or better job, or better opportunities, or a better mate. If you give him a better environment he will be a better person because he’s innately, inherently good. And man has within himself the powers to create this world of our dreams.

Now that’s modern philosophy’s view of human nature. We have to go to the Scripture to find the true view of human nature, God’s view of human nature.

We’ve been looking at Genesis chapter 6, looking at the era, the culture in which Noah lived when God sent the Great Flood. We’ve seen in that passage a description of man’s fallen, sinful nature. He's not getting better, not improving, but rather we've seen that wickedness becomes increasingly perverse. Man left to himself may get smarter; he may learn more. But getting smarter without God only makes him more wicked. He will make a worse and worse world left to himself apart from God.

Genesis chapter 6, beginning in verse 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. . . . And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth (vv. 5, 12).

Now, all men ever since Adam are sinners, but sin had taken its course and people in that culture had become exceedingly perverse. I want to point out several things about the perversion of that day, the depravity of the human heart as it was seen in Noah’s era.

First of all, it was universal—universal in its scope. All flesh was only evil continually. All flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. This was widespread sinfulness. Sin does not get contained. It does not get narrowed down to a small group of people. It spreads like cancer, like wildfire. It just increases; it swallows up everything in its wake. It becomes universal in its scope—widespread.

Not only was human depravity in Noah’s day universal, but it was intentional. It was deliberate. “Every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” That word intention—some of your translations say “the inclination of the thoughts of his heart” or “the imagination.” It’s a word in the Hebrew that means “that which is formed in the mind,” the plans, the purposes of the heart of man.

These were not people just sinning carelessly or naively—unaware of what they were doing, or just couldn't help themselves, just fitting in with the culture. These were people who were sinning deliberately. They were planning how to sin. They were thinking up new ways to sin. As we read in Romans 1:30, they were inventors of evil. They were always thinking of new ways to sin. Every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The sin of man was universal and it was intentional.

Thirdly, it was habitual or perpetual. And then the perversion was total. Every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil. Here was man who through and through had become corrupt and violent and evil and wicked. It's as if in this passage, there aren't enough words to describe how evil, wicked and perverse the world was. It's utter perversion.

So then we see universal, intentional, habitual, total perversion, and then internal sin. Internal depravity—this was a heart issue. The Scripture says that not only were their deeds corrupt, but “every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). Their hearts were corrupt, and that’s the problem, because evil deeds spring forth out of an evil heart.

If man does evil deeds, it's not because he needs a better education, or he needs more money, or he needs to be pulled up out of his poverty. It's not because he didn't have good parents. Those things contribute perhaps. But the issue that causes evil deeds in our world is the evil heart of man. His heart was wicked. His heart was corrupt. The heart is the spring and the source of all sinful behavior.

That’s why we can’t make excuses for sinful behavior, whether it’s in your children or in great evildoers in the world. We can’t say, “If only this had been different.” You know this if you have children. You don’t have to teach your two-year-old how to do what’s wrong. It comes naturally. What’s the first word he learns? “No!” Where does that come from? This child hasn't been exposed to all that perversion out in the world. Where did the perversion come from? Where did the inclination to do it his way, contrary to the way that he is supposed to do it come from? It comes from his sinful, little heart.

All sin begins in the heart. It’s the sinful heart of man that produces evil desires and evil deeds. That’s what we read in Jeremiah chapter 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (NKJV).

So if you’re trying to understand why some of this unspeakable wickedness is in our world today, trace it back to Genesis and realize the why for all that—it’s been the natural course of man’s sinful nature left to itself without calling out to God for grace, without looking to Christ for salvation. That’s where sin leads.

You let it go unaddressed in your life and it will lead you down paths you never dreamt you would go. It will cost more than you thought you would have to pay. It will have consequences more damaging, more painful, and more severe than you ever realized if you don't learn to deal with sin God's way.

In those dark times it’s easy to wonder, “Where is God? Where is He in the midst of all this?” You could just think that evil has overcome, overpowered the world. Where is God? We’re going to see as we move on in Genesis chapter 6 that God is there. God is not absent. He is not silent. He is not stumped. He is not helpless.

He is very much alive. He’s aware of what’s going on. He’s acting in the midst of men’s actions. He is responding. He is initiating. He is engaged. He is at work. He is always, always, always fulfilling His purposes. And His purposes will always be the end result, the final chapter. He’s always the victor, the conqueror over the worst sinfulness of man.

So in a day that was very corrupt, when men were paying no heed to God, God was paying heed to men. God was actively involved. I think of that chapter in Genesis 1:2 that talks about the day when darkness was over the face of the deep. What does it say? "The Spirit of God was hovering over the waters."

God is there. God is active. God is at work. God has a plan, and God’s plan will not fail. It cannot be thwarted by man. That’s one of the great themes of Scripture, one of the great ways of God.

First, I want us to notice in Genesis chapter 6 the knowledge and the oversight of God. God knows what is going on. We read twice, “The Lord saw.” Verse 5 says, “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.”

The Lord saw. The Lord saw not only what they were doing, but God saw what was in their hearts. God knows what is in the hearts of men. God knows what’s in your heart. The Lord saw. The Lord knows.

Same thought in verses 11 and 12 of Genesis 6:

Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.

God is never oblivious to what’s going on down here on earth.

There are many men on this planet who give very little, if any, thought to for God. There are time in our lives when we give little thought to God. When we sin, are we thinking, Lord, I know you're watching. If we were thinking of God watching, we would have more of the fear of the Lord and sin less. Even when we’re not thinking about God, God is watching. God knows what is going on.

I quoted earlier in this series from the Psalter, the psalms set to verse, which I’ve been singing through in my own quiet times. One of those passages in Psalm 94 struck me as relating to this whole passage. Here’s how it reads:

How long will evildoers,
O Lord, be jubilant?
They pour out wicked boasting;
Their words are arrogant.

O Lord, they crush your people,
Oppress your heritage;
The widow, stranger, orphan
They murder in their rage.

[Sounds like Noah’s era, doesn’t it? Violent and corrupt.]

They say, “God does not notice;
The Lord has closed his eyes.”
Take heed, you senseless people;
Fools, when will you be wise?

Do you think the Creator,
Who gave mankind the ear
And made the eye for seeing,
Can neither see nor hear?"

( Psalm 94:3–9, Sing Psalms )

What does that psalm say? God sees. God knows. Let me say, that should affect you in two ways.

First of all, God knows what is happening to you, and God is not passive. God is not uninvolved. We’re going to see that God cares deeply about sin and how it affects sinners and the righteous as well.

But not only does God know what is happening to you, God knows about you and your sin. As we’ve said, He knows what is going on in your heart. That should put the fear of God into our hearts.

What is the fear of God? It’s living in that reverence, that conscious, constant awareness that God knows, that God is here, that I can never escape the all-seeing, all-knowing eye of God. The Lord saw the wickedness on the earth. The Lord knew what was going on in their hearts. So we see the knowledge and the oversight of God. But then I want us to see the grief and the sorrow of God.

How was God affected by all this? How did He respond to it? We see as clearly in this passage as any other Old Testament passage that God is personally, deeply, profoundly affected by our sin. Verse 6 tells us that God “was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.”

Let me read that in a couple of translations, because it gives you a sense of the intensity of the Lord's response. The NIV says, “The Lord was grieved that He had made man on the earth, and His heart was filled with pain.” One paraphrase says, “When the Lord God saw the extent of human wickedness, He was sorry He had made them. It broke His heart.” The Lord was sorry.

God is deeply grieved by sin. He hates it. It grieves Him. He was sorry about it. “It grieved Him to His heart.”

There are two words in the original Hebrew language that are used here in verse 6. The first word, some of your translations say, “The Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth.” That’s a word that means “to draw breath forcibly; to pant; to breathe strongly; to groan.” It’s a physical display of one’s feeling—usually sorrow or compassion or sometimes comfort.

As I was meditating on this passage, I had the feeling like someone just punched you in the stomach. You went, “Uh, that hurts.” It’s a forcible breathing, pouring out of this sorrow and this grief. One commentator says that this word “describes the love of God that has suffered heart-rending disappointment. Literally, it speaks of taking a deep breath in extreme pain.”2

God loves His people; a holy God, a righteous God sees these humans that He has created, these humans that He has made for Himself, and He sees them not only sinning but sinning in worse and worse ways and thinking up new ways to sin and living their lives with no regard for Him. And God is sorry. It pains Him deeply that He has made man on the earth.

And then that verse goes on to say, “It grieved him to his heart.” That’s a different word there. It’s a word that speaks of "physical and mental discomfort, anguish, outrage." These are strong words. In fact, it’s the same word that’s used in Genesis 3:16 that talks about what kind of pain a woman will have as she brings forth children. “In [sorrow and] pain you will bring forth children” (NASB).

Some of you women have had a child. You know about the pushing, the hardness, the travail, the grief, the sorrow (in a sense) physically that you experience as you give birth to a child. “Labor, toil, trouble,” means “to pierce oneself or to experience piercing.” Again I’m quoting from the Wycliffe Bible Commentary that says, “God experienced heart-piercing sorrow as he looked upon the tragic devastation that sin had produced.”2

Now when you look at sin, yours or others’, do you experience anything close to what God experiences? Do you experience any sorrow and grief? It may do more of that if you realize what it does to God, if you see how God’s heart is pierced, this heart-rending disappointment. His heart is pierced by the tragic devastation sin has produced.

I want to make two take-home points about this. First of all, it is not wrong for us to be grieved by the sin of others as we look at the devastation of a fallen world and we see what sin has done in our relationships, in the people around us. Some of you are married to a man who has no heart for God, maybe an alcoholic, maybe somebody who’s addicted to pornography.

As you look at those things, it’s not wrong for that to grieve and break your heart. It should bother you; it should disturb you. It’s a reflection of the fact that you’re created in the image of God, that you would grieve over the sin of others.

I think sometimes we have this mindset that, “If I’m really spiritual, then what other people do in this world won’t bother me at all.” It should bother us. It should grieve us. It should break our hearts. What’s happening with our teenagers? What’s happening with our marriages? When your son or daughter gets divorced, that should grieve you; that should break your heart. You should hate the sin that has brought about those kinds of devastating consequences.

So don’t try to say, “If I’m spiritual I won’t feel this. It won’t bother me. I can just say, ‘God is in control.’” God is in control, but it’s not wrong to have a broken heart.

But before we get too carried away with grieving and mourning and weeping and having our hearts pierced over the sin of others, we need to be reminded (and this passage does that for us) of what my sin does to a holy God.

When God sees me being corrupt or violent, going my own way, arrogant, angry, controlling with words or tongue, with intents of my heart, crafting things in my mind of ways to hurt other people or to manipulate circumstances—when God sees those things, whether they are overt or covert, in my heart, this is how God feels.

God grieves. He is sorry. It grieves Him at His heart. Now, we’re going to see that this grieving God has provided a means for sinners to be redeemed from their sin. So we’re going to worship Him; we’re going to love Him; we’re going to thank Him for it.

Again let me say it: You will never love the salvation of God until you’ve seen what sin does to the heart of God.

O Father, we confess that we can just barely enter into what Your heart must experience as You look on the devastating consequences of sin. We ask that You would help us to see what You see—to see our sin in the way that You see it, to have your perspective on it, to hate it as You hate it. Lord, sins breaks our relationship with You. It puts up walls and barriers with our relationships with other people.

It's not what we were made for. You didn't make us to sin. You made us to be right with You and to be right with each other. I think of, Lord, the broken marriages and the broken relationships, and the sexual and sinful addictions. Lord, as we look at these things, our hearts grieve. Lord, how long? How can You bear it?

Yet, we thank You that You have borne all that grief, taken it upon yourself and put it on Your Son Jesus.  He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. Punishment that we deserved was put upon Him. By His wounding, by His stripes, we all are healed. So we say “thank you” Lord, and we love You. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Leslie: Once you face the reality of sin, then you can appreciate the miracle of grace. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been describing the seriousness of sin as part of the series "Noah and the Flood: The Gospel in the Old Testament." 

It's given us a chance to consider the horrible nature of sin. But later this week, we'll also take a fresh look at the incredible gift of salvation and grace. As you've heard today, the gospel throughout the story of Noah, and the entire Old Testament.

Nancy was taking a college level class not long ago and heard the professor read from an illustrated book—the kind usually reserved for children. This book, The Jesus Storybook Bible, does the same thing this series is doing. Nancy says this book shows how Old Testament stories look forward in history.

Nancy: In fact, the subtitle for this Jesus Storybook Bible is Every Story Whispers His Name. You'll love how the author takes stories, like the story of Noah that we're listening to in this series, that for many people in our culture, it's just a story. You see Noah's Ark toys, and Noah's Ark decor, Noah's Ark jewelry, and Noah's Ark stationary, and for a lot of people, it's just a fun, whimsical story. But in this book, The Jesus Storybook Bible, the author tells the story in a way that children can appreciate, understand, and connect with, but in a way that shows how Noah's Ark points to Christ, how the flood in Noah's day points to the coming judgment of God, and how God does judge sin but He's also a redeeming God who offers a means of escape for those who will put their trust in Him.

Leslie: We'd like to send you The Jesus Storybook Bible when you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts. Your gift will help us continue broadcasting in your area. Your support is very important as we continue calling women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ. Ask for The Jesus Storybook Bible when you call with your support. The number is 1-800–569–5959, or make your contribution at ReviveOurHearts.com.

God is long-suffering. He often withholds judgment, giving people time to repent. Find out why this is so important tomorrow. I hope you can join us again for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

1 Humanist Manifesto II (1973).

2 Pfeiffer, C. F. (1962). The Wycliffe Bible Commentary: Old Testament (Ge 6:5). Chicago: Moody Press.

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