The Depth of Wickedness in Man

pitYou can check out the podcast here.

Last week, we reaffirmed that we are privileged to play a part in God’s plan for humanity. Whatever that role may be, we’re part of getting accomplished what God wants to accomplish. Our motives should be pure and holy as we seek to fulfill the purpose He has for our lives. Do right in all facets of life because it’s the right thing to do. Be obedient to His leading, but line His leading up with Scripture. We quickly covered a number of principles for daily living that we’ve seen before in Proverbs. We finished last week talking about a contentious woman. If the woman in your life is contentious, show her the unconditional love of Christ. If you’re the contentious woman, allow the power of God to transform your life. This morning, we’ll see the depth of depravity that’s present in the wicked.

Take a look at what Solomon says in Pro. 21:10-19. Where does wickedness come from? I think that’s a good place to start. We need to understand the foundation for wickedness that is present in man. People born into this world don’t need to make a conscious effort to do wrong – it comes naturally. We’re born with the sin nature that is passed from father to son from generation to generation. We saw this a couple of weeks ago when we looked at Rom. 5:19a that told us, “For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners.” Remember, “There is none righteous, not even one.” (Rom. 3:10) Sin is the lost person’s master and you have to do what the master says.

Wicked people do wicked things because they have no power to do otherwise. Of course, they can do things that society would call good, but goodness evaluated by a morally bankrupt culture is not the standard. I know that sounds harsh, but we’ve got share the truth of Scripture so people are aware of where they are. Eternity’s too long not to tell the truth. The wickedness is formed in the soul at conception because of Adam’s disobedience. That’s why, “The soul of the wicked desires evil.” Desire can also be translated crave. Evil dominates the thoughts and plans of the wicked. Remember what led to the flood: “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen. 6:5) Remember the second greatest commandment Jesus referred to in Matt. 22:36-40? He said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The wicked have no favor for their neighbor.

Let’s do some quick review. V. 11 says, “When the scoffer is punished, the naive becomes wise; but when the wise is instructed, he receives knowledge.” It’s the same principle we saw in 19:25. When people see that others are held accountable for their actions, it will deter bad decisions. That’s one of the reasons the news reports sentencing for high profile crimes. Wise people make themselves available to learn and are willing to receive instruction. This leads into the next verse, “The righteous one considers the house of the wicked, turning the wicked to ruin.” Even though there may be short term gain for wickedness, the righteous wants to avoid the pain and suffering that comes with it. The righteous remember Pro. 12:7 where Solomon said, “The wicked are overthrown and are no more, but the house of the righteous will stand.” No amount of prosperity or comfort in this world will turn the righteous from following God. I’m sure this next verse has been used to justify all sorts of pseudo outreach programs. “He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be answered.” This is a verse that speaks to mercy, but it can’t stop there. It’s great to feed people who are hungry and clothe people that are naked, but if that’s where you stop, it’s just a good thing to do. The Gospel must be intentionally woven into that work for it to be a work of God. Our primary goal as a church is to make disciples, but if all we do is feed hungry people, we’ve missed the goal established for us by Jesus Himself. This verse speaks to the cry of the poor being ignored. If we ignore the plight of those in poverty, then our cries will not be heard. Remember Jesus’ words, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matt. 5:7)

The next verse is not an endorsement to bribery. A gift in secret subdues anger, and a bribe in the bosom, strong wrath.” Gifts are often appropriate, especially when given in private. If you make a big show of giving someone a gift, then the emphasis is on the giver instead of the receiver. If a bribe is offered to subvert justice, that is clearly unbiblical and must be avoided. “The exercise of justice is joy for the righteous, but is terror to the workers of iniquity.” This make sense, right? If you are righteous, and the only way to be righteous is through the blood of Christ, you want to see justice done. This is the justice dispensed by our government: you want to see right things accomplished and wrong things squashed. So, the next obvious question is, right according to who? We must stick to the unchanging standard of God’s Word. There may be amendments to the U.S. Constitution, but there are none to the Bible.

“A man who wanders from the way of understanding will rest in the assembly of the dead.” The path of righteousness is a straight and narrow path. Last October, Kari and I were in the mountains of NC and we went hiking. What’s nice about hiking off the Blue Ridge Parkway is the hiking trails are marked. If you get off the marked path, chances are good you’ll get lost. If you stay on the path, you won’t get lost. This is the metaphor Solomon is using. If you get off the path of understanding, you’ll end up with the dead because you will be dead. In Matt. 7:13 Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.” There are no alternate paths to righteousness. It is only God’s way through Jesus.

“He who loves pleasure will become a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not become rich.” I could spend a whole lot of time here because this is sure a verse for today. The pursuit of pleasure drives many people – even in the church. Solomon is not just talking about pursuing pleasure, but coveting pleasure. Now there’s nothing wrong with having a good time, but if that’s your focus, something’s wrong. If you’re looking for the next fun thing, the next thing to entertain you, the next thing to wow you, Solomon says that you will become poor. Solomon also says, “He who loves wine and oil will not become rich.” At the risk of being labeled old fashioned, I think this loving wine thing is an epidemic in the church. I know I spent a lot of time on 20:1, but Solomon addresses the topic again. Do you look as forward to getting into God’s Word as you do having that glass of wine? The oil in this verse refers to olive oil. This seems a strange addition to the wine. Wine and oil were common at banquets. Overall Solomon is saying if you pursue pleasure and luxury, you’re going to be poor. Turn over to 2 Tim. 3 and we’ll tie up this thought nicely with Paul’s warning to Timothy. Look at vs. 1-5. Avoid here means keep away from. That’s a pretty stern warning.

“The wicked is a ransom for the righteous, and the treacherous is in the place of the upright.” This is a pretty challenging verse that has to do with justice. The same idea occurs in Pro. 11:8 where it says, “The righteous is delivered from trouble, but the wicked takes his place.” The wicked are atonement or payment for the righteous, but don’t confuse that with the atonement of Christ that brings redemption to those that believe. In Exodus 12, the Israelites were told to put blood from a sacrificial lamb on the doorposts and lentils of their houses. The Lord said He was coming and when he saw the blood, He would pass over the house and go to the next. The Jews followed the instructions and were spared at the expense of the Egyptians. In that manner, the Egyptians became a ransom, or payment for the righteous. Righteous and upright don’t mean perfect here, but an overall desire to follow after God.

In Joshua 6, God told Joshua to lead Israel into battle against Jericho where the walls came tumbling down. Israel was instructed to take nothing as spoils from the battle: no gold or silver, bronze or iron – those are holy to the Lord. Following the victory at Jericho, Josh. 7:1 tells us, “The sons of Israel acted unfaithfully in regard to the things under the ban, for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah, took some of the things under the ban, therefore the anger of the Lord burned against the sons of Israel.” Achan’s sin affected the entire nation of Israel. Their next battle occurred against the much weaker Ai where they were soundly defeated causing Joshua to tear his clothes and go into mourning. God told him to get up and told him what had happened to cause Israel to be defeated. God declared that, “Israel has sinned,” and because of that, “Israel cannot stand before their enemies.” (Josh. 7:11ff) God instructs Joshua to cast lots to find the guilty party and the lot eventually falls to Achan. Joshua confronts Achan who says, “When I saw among the spoil a beautiful mantle from Shinar and two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold fifty shekels in weight, then I coveted them and took them; and behold, they are concealed in the earth inside my tent with the silver underneath it.” (Josh. 7:21) Joshua sends people to Achan’s tent and they find the spoils exactly where Achan said it would be. Achan the wicked, was used as a ransom for Israel, the righteous. Achan was stoned to death and then burned. Everyone else in Israel followed God’s instructions – they had a desire to follow after God. I know that was a somewhat lengthy explanation, but sometimes, you really have to work at understanding the meaning of Scripture.

Let’s get one last one in for today. “It is better to live in a desert land than with a contentious and vexing woman.” This is similar to 21:9 that we looked at last week and Solomon adds vexing here. Vexing means intending to harass and full of disorder or stress. Now, that’s a lovely woman. First, the man is alone on a roof top and now he’s alone in the desert or wilderness. The commonality between the two verses is that it’s better to be alone than deal with an argumentative and unruly wife. I don’t know if that woman from 21:9 found her way to the roof and now the guy has to get away even more or not. It’s better to be exposed to the harshness of the wilderness – the wind, the weather, and the sand than it is to be with that harsh and vexing woman. And before you allow the thought to enter your mind, this is not an endorsement to leave a woman that is constantly arguing and causing stress in your life. The best way to handle a contentious wife is to love her as Christ loved the church.

Another message that covered a lot of ground. We saw where wickedness starts and that’s in the soul of humanity as we are born into sin through one man’s disobedience. Wicked people do wicked things because they don’t know any other way. Righteous people look at pleasing God rather than any short-term gain from wickedness. Don’t shut your ear to the cry of the poor, but make the Gospel an intentional aspect of any acts of mercy you engage in. We looked briefly at gift giving, exercising justice, and staying on the path of righteousness. Don’t love pleasure so much that you forsake God. We looked at the results of Achan’s sin and finished looking at the vexing woman and hopefully we now have a better understanding of the depth of wickedness in man.

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Noah: A Movie Review

NoahI don’t often review movies or books on my blog, but I feel the need to take a closer look at the movie Noah. I’ve been doing an inductive study of Genesis with Precept Camden on Sunday nights and the timing of the movie lines up with our study in Genesis.

I heard the hype. I heard the disdain from Christians who vow to boycott the movie. On a side note, I still don’t get the point of boycotting. Does that ever work? I guess I need to ask Disney. Too often Christians want to take a stand where no stand is needed. We’ll stand against a movie (or book, magazine, a store, etc.) and refuse to spend our hard earned money on that trash or in that place. That is your choice. It’s okay. You can do that. I respect your position. Do we go to the movies for reality? Who doesn’t want to be Jack Reacher or at least have him a a friend? Who wouldn’t want to shoot a web out of your wrist and be able climb the side of a building? Who freaked out when the Terminator found Sarah Connor? We ignored the fact that he was a cyborg from the future. Speaking of the future, didn’t we cheer when Marty McFly came back from the future after setting things straight? I loved the movie The Hunt for Red October. You may or may not know that I spent 23 years in the submarine force of the United States Navy. I know submarines. I know submarine life. It was a very accurate, sometimes eerily accurate portrayal of the cat and mouse games of submarines. Tom Clancy has that knack of writing excellent military novels. I also loved Crimson Tide, a nonsensical, totally unrealistic, implausible scenario of a launch of nuclear missiles from a submarine. The premise of an unauthorized launch of  nuclear missile was nearly as implausible as the Commanding Officer of Alabama having his pet dog at sea with him. I should know, I spend three and a half years stationed on board the Alabama and my Commanding Officer did not have a dog on board. Ask yourself this question, “Am I going to the movies to get a clear (or clearer) understanding of biblical principles?” Or, “Am I going to the movies to be entertained?” That’s for you to decide. I want to be entertained, I want the good guy to win, I want the hero to be heroic, and I want the bad guy to lose. I like the stereotypical happy ending. So that brings us to Noah.

My wife and I went to see the movie with another couple. Yes, we went two by two. Russell Crowe played the title role of Noah and he does an excellent job acting. That’s what he does.  Truth be told, my expectations for this movie were not high on the biblical accuracy scale. Noah was real and he had an ark. That much of the movie is true and that’s about where the truth ends as well. This movie is pure fantasy, a science-fiction epic with all the computer generated graphics to boot. It bears little resemblance to Genesis 5-8. Yes, Noah and the ark are in the movie. Noah has a wife and three sons. Yep, that’s true to the Bible. The animals come two by two. The accuracy pretty much disintegrates from there. The movie’s official website states, “Russell Crowe stars as Noah in the film inspired by the epic story of courage, sacrifice and hope.” There isn’t much hope here.

There is not enough space here to list all the inaccuracies with the biblical account, but as I stated, if you go to the movies for accuracy, you might want to stick with documentaries. Tubal Cain takes a leading villainous role and represents all that is wicked and evil in the world that is the source of the Creator’s anger yet Tubal Cain is mentioned only once in the Bible in Gen. 4:22. If I remember correctly, God is not mentioned by name in the movie. He is called the Creator which is of course, true. Noah’s grandfather is portrayed as a wise man/guru that resides on top of a mountain. According to the movie, only Shem has a wife. Unfortunately for humanity, she is unable to bare children due to an injury sustained as a child. Don’t sweat that . . . Methuselah heals her right after imparting some very sage advice for her. There are the Watchers, rock creatures that look like they were mistakenly dropped on the set of Noah from the set of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. These Watchers are supposed to be the Nephilim of Gen. 6 and work with Noah to save the world. The locals are portrayed as meat eating savages while Noah and his family are vegetarians. The locals are so wicked, they trade their women and children for meat. Ham leaves the ark project in search of a wife among these wicked locals and unfortunately falls into a mass grave that must have been dug to hold all the people killed by the wickedness of man. As luck would have it, there is a fetching young woman that ended up in that same grave. They begin an ill fated romance and Ham promises to get her out of the grave. Seeing that Ham is not at his assigned post, Noah goes looking for him. As the rain begins falling, Ham managed to get his girl out of the pit of death and we see them scrambling among the hoards of people that are fleeing to find refuge on the ark. With the ark in sight, Ham’s girl steps in a animal trap and Ham desperately tries to free her. Thankfully, Noah sees them and unceremoniously leaves the girl in the trap telling Ham that they must get on the ark. Among the throng seeking refuge is Tubal Cain who climbs the construction scaffolding and uses his battle ax to chop a hole through the ark and then climbs in and stows away. Ham later finds him hiding in the ark, but does not reveal the intruder because he’s still angry that his father left his new girlfriend in the animal trap. Ham and Japheth are without wives . . .  at least until the sequel. The movie Noah believes he is to save the animals because mankind has destroyed the creation while the animals are innocent bystanders of this wickedness. The impending doom is designed to destroy humanity and then once Noah and his family deliver the animals to the safety of the new creation now void of people, the remaining humans will die thus ending humanity once and for all. I’m sorry, what?

Don’t go see the movie Noah hoping to get to know the biblical character better through some careful research by film maker Darren Aronofsky. Make no mistake, he made an excellent film. It feels like Gladiator wrapped up in Braveheart with some Waterworld, Lord of the Rings, and 300 thrown in there. It is epic. It is visually appealing. It is not real. It is fantasy. So should you go see the movie? That is up to you, but one could certainly use this movie as a springboard for an honest discussion about God’s deliverance from evil and wickedness through His one and only Son Jesus Christ. Open the Bible to the accurate account of Noah and the world wide flood. It did happen. Does the Bible tell us all that we would like to know about the event? Absolutely not. As a sailor, I have some questions about ark construction and seaworthiness. How did Noah feed the animals and take care of house cleaning. The bottom line is that I have to exercise faith just like Noah did when God told him to do something extraordinary, something Noah likely did not fully understand. We have to realize that we likely don’t have all the information Noah had at the time. We don’t have a dialogue like we do leading up to Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the garden of Eden. I have to trust that God provided all He believed we would need. Knowing the biblical account of Noah and the reason God told him to build it, the major issue with the movie for me is that Noah is portrayed as a hero, a villain, a heartless non-thinking cretin, a mood swinging Neanderthal, and perhaps most disturbing of all – totally doesn’t understand what the Creator is telling him to do.  Yes, Noah gets the ark right and the animals right . . . well sort of; he failed to get clean animals by seven. The biblical Noah was chosen because he was a contrast to the wickedness of the world. Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord . . . God’s eyes. God would establish His covenant with Noah (Gen. 6:18).

If you’re looking for biblical accuracy, forget this movie. Also forget The Ten Commandments, One Night with the King, Ben-Hur, The Prince of Egypt, and Barabbas among a host of others. I’ve had people tell me, “I’m not paying money to see that because Aronofsky is an atheist.” Do these same people evaluate all filmmaker’s spiritual background? Or is it because an atheist promised to make the least biblically accurate film of all time? He most likely succeeded in accomplishing just that.

Righteousness is Preserved

DeliveredYou can check out the podcast for this message here.

Last week we saw three examples of judgment for ungodliness. God judged angels for jumping across the boundaries He established, we saw the wicked people of earth destroyed by a flood, and we saw Sodom and Gomorrah reduced to ashes. These serve as reminders to us that judgment is coming. Where there is judgment, there is also hope. Not everyone was destroyed in the examples we looked at. This morning, we’re going to evaluate the people that God preserved in these examples and the reasons why He did so.

I hope you’ll grab your Bible and take a look at 2 Pet. 2:5-9.

Let’s look at Peter’s first example of preservation. Peter refers to the ancient world that was not spared and mentions Noah. Maybe everyone here has heard of Noah and the ark. In the G rated version, we know Noah built the ark as God told him to do. God told him a flood was coming, but that He would save Noah’s family and the animals. When we went back to Genesis, we found out that God’s judgment didn’t spare the ancient world because of their wickedness and their evil thoughts. The flood didn’t change people’s hearts or their sinful nature; it executed judgment for the total depravity of each person. Gen. 6:8 gives us the contrast with the world’s wickedness and says, “But Noah found favor in God’s eyes.” Why? Gen. 6:9 goes on to say that, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.” I want to make sure we understand why this happened. Noah’s character did not secure favor with God. God saw the people of the world. At the same time, God saw Noah. Remember God’s love is unconditional – it’s not based on what we do or don’t do. Noah’s character indicates his relationship with God. The relationship came first, then the character. His relationship enabled him to walk with God. When all other humanity was destroyed because of their wickedness, God took care of the godly. Even in the midst of universal judgment, God delivered His children. Ez. 14:14 says, “Even though these three men, Noah, Daniel and Job were in its midst, by their own righteousness they could only deliver themselves,” declares the Lord God.” This doesn’t mean they saved themselves, it indicates that everyone is responsible for the choice to follow God. Noah followed God and became righteous. The emphasis is on God’s working in His people.

When we look back to Peter, he mentions Noah was, “A preacher of righteousness.” Genesis doesn’t mention this. That’s why we study the whole Bible. Because Noah was righteous and a preacher of righteousness, it’s reasonable to conclude that Noah warned the people of coming judgment.  Take a look at Matt. 24:36-39. The point is the wicked people of the world understood – they  knew that what Noah said was true when they saw judgment unfolding before them. But we’re told to walk by faith not by sight. (2 Cor. 5:7) While there is judgment for the wicked, there is preservation for the righteous. Noah didn’t preserve himself; God provided a preservation plan; a safety plan; a life boat. Peter is developing the idea that ungodly people will be judged and refuting the false teachers that are leading people astray by their false doctrine. Not only was Noah delivered, so was his family – everyone else in the world was ungodly. When you do the math, 8 people were saved from dying in the flood. We don’t know how many people perished in the flood, but for certain, the ungodly greatly outnumbered the godly. What’s the point? Being on God’s side always represents the majority.

The duality of this verse is really interesting. God did not spare the ancient world. God preserved Noah. God destroyed many people, but saved a few. Noah was preserved as a preacher of righteousness, but the world of the ungodly was destroyed. Judgment is coming for the ungodly, but there is hope in Jesus Christ.

In Peter’s second example of preservation, he looks to Sodom and Gomorrah. These cities were reduced to ashes because of the ungodliness of the people living there. Genesis 18-19 gives us the back story. This is a tragic story of wickedness and ungodliness to the core. Gen. 13:13 tells us that the, “Men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the Lord.” If you go back to Genesis, you’ll see Abraham bargaining with the Lord to spare Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of the righteous. First for 50 righteous men, then 45, 40, 30, 20, and finally 10. Remember that Abraham was Lot’s uncle. Gen. 19:3-8 is long, but it’s worth quoting here: “Yet he urged them strongly, so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he prepared a feast for them, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; and they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.” But Lot went out to them at the doorway, and shut the door behind him, and said, “Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly. Now behold, I have two daughters who have not had relations with man; please let me bring them out to you, and do to them whatever you like; only do nothing to these men, inasmuch as they have come under the shelter of my roof.” Wow.

It’s easy to sit here and criticize Lot and he is not blameless. We wonder why Lot would live in a place that was so wicked. Yet Peter refers to Lot as righteous. Lot was the only one that offered his assistance to the angels. He pleaded with the men of the town not to act wickedly. He offered up his daughters instead of the angels. We look at this and wonder what in the world was he thinking. Culturally, people of the time would have applauded Lot’s courage for standing against the entire town even if his proposed solution was bad. There was an expectation of protection for guests and let’s be honest, few, if any of us, have ever been confronted with such an attack.

Even in all this, God rescued Lot. First from the town’s people in Gen. 19:10-11. Then from the finality of the destruction. Lot’s family included his wife, two daughters and their husbands. God provided a path of deliverance for them, but in the end, Lot’s sons-in-law didn’t heed the warning and Lot’s wife looks back longingly at the city she loved leaving just Lot and his two daughters. Remember Abraham praying the city would be spared for the sake of 10 righteous? There weren’t 10 righteous there. Look at how Lot lived according to 2 Pet. 2:8. Lot was tormented by what he lived with each day. Tormented means severe physical and mental suffering. It wasn’t easy living in that place. He was all alone, no one to share his troubles with, no one to strengthen him or encourage him. No one person, but God was there. He is the redeemer, He is the deliverer.

Peter concludes that God did not spare the angels, or the ancient world, or Sodom and Gomorrah, but He did deliver Noah and Lot. What’s the hope? Verse 9 says, “Then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from the temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment.” If God did all those things, then for sure the Lord knows how to take care of people that are truly His. He will provide the avenue of safety for the righteous and judgment for the unrighteous.

In Peter’s three examples of judgment, notice that none of them occurred immediately. Nothing happens in our lives that does not pass through God’s hands. Even among the challenges, none of us has lived in the total wickedness that Noah and Lot lived in. There is always someone we can draw wisdom from, encouragement from, and love from. We are not called to walk through the challenges of life alone. Even if all others forsake us, God never will.

Judgment Comes

Ark Check out the podcast for this message here.

Last week we learned that false teachers and false prophets were already among us and that they would lead many Christians astray. They do it by teaching things that are not true and too many Christians don’t realize it because as a whole, the church doesn’t study the Bible. The best way to combat false teaching is to be a student of God’s Word and learn its truths. This morning Peter enters what if land through a series of rhetorical questions.

2 Pet. 2:4-6 tells us, For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; and spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an example unto those that after should live ungodly.”

There is a natural progression of events in the world. Do you ever wonder if God is paying attention? How long will the wicked people of the world keep going? That’s a reasonable question in light of the wickedness of the world. Sometimes though, we may have the wrong attitude. Sometimes we’re looking for revenge and not justice. In the grand scheme of things, time is not our friend. We want to see things right in front of our eyes. We want our prayers answered immediately. When we call on God, we want an immediate response. Isn’t that ironic? God often calls and calls to us, but we’ll get back to Him on our time table; we need to think about it, pray about it, or seek council from our friends. We’re like little children demanding action. Quit wondering – judgment is coming, but it’s on God’s schedule.

Throughout history, God has consistently judged the wicked. Now Peter goes on to provide examples of God’s judgment. There are three examples of judgment and two examples of preservation that we’ll look at next week. In his first example in v. 4, Peter mentions angels. When you think of angels, you may think white robes, halos, wings, playing the harp. You might think guardian angels. The reality is there are bad angels – demons. What makes them bad? They sinned. Sin has always been judged and it will always be judged. The specific sin of the angels is not mentioned here so we have to go back to Genesis to find out. Take a look at Gen. 6:1-4. I’m not going to pretend this isn’t a difficult passage. In a nutshell, here’s what happened. Sons of God refer to angels and daughters of men refer to women. These angels looked at the daughters of men and saw that they were beautiful. Beautiful literally means good. Sound familiar? It’s the same word used to describe how Eve felt about the fruit of the tree that led her to take it. So these angelic beings took humans as their wives and engaged in activity reserved for husband and wife. They crossed over the boundaries established by God. Because this happened God, “Cast them into hell and committed them to the pits of darkness, reserved for judgment.” The word translated hell here is not the normal word gehenna used elsewhere in Scripture. It is the Greek word tartaroo meaning underworld or gloomy dungeons. We don’t know for certain exactly what that means since Scripture speaks of the influence and presence of demons today. We do know that there is a final judgment awaiting them.

The second example may be more familiar to you. Peter talks about Noah and the seven others. We need to go back to Genesis once again and see what was happening. Gen. 6:5 says, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” 6:11 goes on to say that the earth was corrupt and filled with violence. Peter repeats the phrase, “Did not spare,” from v. 4 referring to the wickedness and corruption and violence. As a result, God brought, “A flood upon the world of the ungodly.” Notice the universal judgment.

Peter’s final example is that of Sodom and Gomorrah. I hope you’re following along. So take a look at v. 6. Genesis 19 tells the story and we know from post biblical writings that these two cities were reduced to ashes from the fire and brimstone God sent. The word destruction comes from the Greek word katastrophe. Peter did not mention what their sin was, but it was enough for God to bring destruction because of His condemnation over their sin. The point Peter is making is that God’s judgment is coming. The rest of v. 6 says, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter.” It is certain. It is just. It applies to those that live their lives in contradiction to what the Scriptures expect of us. Peter’s assumption is that if you profess a love for Jesus, your life would reflect that. The qualities of 2 Pet. 1:5-7 are present and growing in your life. You’re becoming more and more Christ like. Your love is unconditional. Your desires are to fulfill the will of God. You don’t act on your feelings and emotions. You stand unwaveringly on the Word of God. God’s judgment serves as an example to the ungodly and to those that profess His name.

When you are engaged in an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ, you have nothing to fear. God’s wrath and God’s love cannot be separated. There are consequences for sin, that’s part of God’s character. We must remember the examples provided, not to cause fear, but to know the promises of God are real and true whether we can see them or not.

The Effectiveness of Christ’s Death (Part 2)

You can listen to the podcast here.

Last week we weren’t able to finish our message. We reviewed some behaviors that Peter expects us to demonstrate because we are children of God. No matter the circumstances of our lives, we must demonstrate godly behavior so that people will be drawn to us and ask us why we have hope. Let’s finish this passage this morning by looking at a very difficult section of Scripture.

I encourage you to read 1 Pet. 3:17-20 and see what Peter writes.

Peter has told us to stay pure and to stay focused, now he says stay humble. Remember that it was Christ who suffered and died for you, but He also died for everyone. Don’t draw the conclusion that you are somehow more special than anyone else because you made the choice for Christ. It’s interesting to note that the word translated “died” in v. 18 should have been translated suffer. That’s what Peter’s talking about. He’s tying the suffering of the people he’s writing to Christ’s suffering. 1 Pet. 2:21 told us, “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.” Christ absolutely did die, that is not in dispute. He suffered and died once for all men that He might bring all men to God. His sacrifice is not to be repeated like the sacrifices made by the priests because His sacrifice was final and complete.

Peter is talking to us about suffering and how we are supposed to act. Suffering does not mean God has turned His back on you. If you suffer because of your own wrong doing, don’t blame God. If you suffer for the cause of Christ, you’ll be glorified just like He was. Jesus Christ is our ultimate example. Back in 2:22, Peter told us that Christ was without sin, yet He was crucified. The reason His sacrifice was sufficient was because He was sinless. In Rom. 5:8 Paul said that, “Christ died for sinners.” He added that, “Christ died for our sins” in 1 Cor. 15:3. John said in 1 Jo. 4:10 that Jesus was the propitiation or satisfaction for sins. Is. 53 tells us that Jesus bore our sins. Christ certainly did no wrong, yet He suffered more than any of us will ever know. He did not lash out at His accusers.  He did not fight back. He died in the flesh.  His physical body died.  This fact is foundational to our faith. Jo. 1:14, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.” Rom. 1:3, “Concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh.” 1 Tim. 3:16, “He who was revealed in the flesh.” 1 Jo. 4:2, “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.” 2 Jo. 1:7, “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.” Christ died just as all men die.  When His flesh died, His spirit was made  alive.  KJV renders this word quickened. This word does not mean kept alive, but recalled to life or reanimated. Jesus Christ really did die, he did not pass out; He was not rendered unconscious. He physically died.  His heart stopped beating, His brain activity ceased.  He was really dead. Christ’s flesh was dead, but His spirit was recalled to life. For the Christian, we will not experience real life until our flesh dies and our spirit is reanimated.

After Christ died His body and spirit were separated, “He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison.” This verse has caused trouble for some people.      Some would argue that this is a proof text for the doctrine of purgatory. Others may try to convince you that you can be saved once you are in hell. You cannot separate verses 19 and 20 when trying to understand this. I’m not going to go through all the possible meanings of the verse, but it’s important to understand some words used here. We need to use our good biblical investigative questions, the five Ws and the H. We know from the context that the pronoun He refers to Christ. What did Jesus do? He went and made proclamation. Where? To where the spirits are imprisoned. Spirits most certainly refers to angels and specifically in this passage evil spirits. Only one place in the N.T. does this word refer to humans and the word righteous is added to spirits. That’s tied to v. 20 that tells us the spirits were disobedient. What did they do? Gen. 6:1-4 tells us that there were some things going on between the sons of God and the daughters of men. Genesis then gives the account of the flood. The word prison is never used as a place of punishment for humans after death. This same word is used to describe Satan’s 1000 year confinement in Rev. 20:7. In light of this, it is most reasonable that Jesus Christ physically went to the prison where the evil angels are imprisoned and declared His victory over death. Jesus didn’t preach through Noah as some think. It doesn’t make sense since Jesus went. If He had to “went” somewhere, why would He need to speak through Noah? Remember that Peter is trying to reassure Christians that they must endure suffering and persecution.

Suffering is a part of our walk with Christ. It doesn’t mean that you will always suffer, but don’t let it catch you by surprise. Don’t let it get you down, don’t allow circumstances of this life to control you. Stay pure, stay focused, and stay humble because we know that our refuge is in the Lord.