Have you noticed that most of us in a typical Baptist church have a very similar story? Our testimonies are so similar that we consider them to be boring. We have very few Hell’s angels or recovering psychopaths or former gang members. Now I know that isn’t true for many churches, but in the typical Baptist church…. Most of us have similar stories, and let me tell you that they are just as amazing as one of those dramatic testimonies. Now you need to understand as you read this that what I am about to say might hurt your feelings. This might offend some of you, but it is the gospel truth according to God’s Holy Word. Our sins are every bit as deadly and in need of forgiveness as the gangbangers and psychopaths and murderers and prostitutes and drug addicts and whatever else you want to throw in there. Before we came into a relationship with Jesus Christ, we were just as evil as a man by the name of Adolf Hitler and Charles Manson and Osama bin Laden and all the rest of the evil characters society has produced. Our need for salvation was just as desperate as theirs, and praise God, the blood of Jesus was shed for us just like it was for them. Aren’t you glad for that?
In our next great story of the Bible, we move just a few chapters down the road, but when you consider what has happened, we are miles from paradise and ages from Eden. Yes, Adam and Eve have fulfilled part of their obligation – they have been fruitful and multiplied. Nine generations have passed. Noah made the tenth generation of man, and when you get down to Genesis 6:5, look at what it says: “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Can you believe it? So here we have another story. Let’s call the first chapter of the story The Story of Sin. Like Asaph spoke of in Psalm 78, this story describes the failure of man, and he tells us that we need to tell these kinds of stories to our children and their children so that we can learn to break the cycle. You see, in every one of these stories, while the picture of failure is real, there is also a picture of glorious hope. We fall down, but by the grace of God, we get up. But I don’t know of any verse that is any sadder than these. In just 10 generations, mankind had gone from the Garden of Eden, a perfect paradise, from sinless perfection to total wickedness — wickedness so great that God described it as “every intent of the thoughts of [man’s] heart was only evil continually.” Nowhere in the Bible is the depiction of mankind’s sinful state expressed any more emphatically. Not Sodom and Gomorrah. Not Tyre and Sidon. Not Nineveh or Babylon.
Imagine total lawlessness without a thought of righteousness. Imagine evil without a glimmer of good. Imagine wickedness without any moral compass. We aren’t just talking about evil deeds; we are talking about evil thoughts, and every intent of every moment of every day by every man except for Noah and his family. That is tragic. And I want you to notice something. Most of chapter 4 tells the story of Adam’s descendants from Cain’s side of the family. When you read their stories, you see failure after failure after failure. Listen to me. Sin begets sin. Cain kills Abel. Lamech marries multiple wives. More murders. Multiple murders. Bragging about murders. And then “every intent of the thoughts of [man’s] heart was only evil continually.”
But Noah is not a descendant of Cain. He is a descendant of Adam’s son Seth, and if you go back up to 4:26, it tells us when Seth has a son, Enosh, men began to call on the name of the Lord. The 10 generations of Adam listed in chapter 5 go through Seth to Noah. Could it be that in these generations, these men continued to call on the Lord, telling the stories as Asaph described, teaching their children and their children’s children the commandments of the Lord. Could it be that these righteous men understood the importance of obedience to the one that had created them? And these are the generations that included Enoch, who walked with God, who no doubt passed on the teachings of God which allowed Noah to be described as a just and perfect man in the midst of a wicked world filled with the descendants of Cain.
Asaph said that teaching these things to our children and our children’s children would break the cycle of sin and sorrow. It worked for Noah. Isn’t that exactly what we need in our 21st century culture that seems set on running headfirst into an abyss of sin and destruction?