Out of the Garden, part twelve

We ended last week looking at Noah and how the presence of one righteous person can change everything. Here’s what the Bible tells us about the time of Noah.

Genesis 6:5 The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil.

As we studied last week, God was going to destroy all life on the planet until He came across Noah, the one righteous man in a world of wickedness. When you sit and think about that a question comes to mind. How was Noah able to remain righteous when the entire world around him wasn’t? It’s a critical question for all of us because wickedness surrounds us, too. Every year it seems that the world slips a little bit further into darkness. Our culture continues to accept more and more wickedness and things that are against God. We need to know Noah’s secret of staying righteous in a dark world so we too can stand strong in the face of rampant wickedness.

Luckily, the Bible tells us what allowed Noah to stay faithful, and it comes down a really simple thing.  

Genesis 6:9 This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God.

For all of its complexity, you gotta love when the Bible keeps it nice and simple. How was Noah able to stay righteous in a completely depraved and wicked world? He walked in close fellowship with God. A life of faith is an odd thing. Sometimes it feels like the biggest challenge in the world and other times it seems like the easiest thing in the world. If you walk in close fellowship with God, you will avoid falling into temptations and sin. It’s a practical concept that’s easily explained.

Let’s say I have two friends. First we’ve got Leon, a hard-partying wild man who dedicates his life to having a good time. Every night you can find him bar and club hopping around town, drinking and snorting his way to another wild evening all while finding as much like-minded company as he can along the way.

Then we have Lenny, an avid reader obsessed with books and the people who write them. Every night you can find Lenny out somewhere either reading books, buying books, or going to book clubs to talk to people about books.

Now, if I spend Friday night with Lenny instead of with Leon, guess what the chances are of me falling into the temptations to party, drink, and do drugs? They’re pretty low, right? And I know this is maybe a silly example, but the fact is that time spent with God accomplishes much. One of the things it accomplishes is it keeps you from spending time with people, places, or things that might lead you down bad paths. There’s no real temptation to do drugs at my bible study. And when I’m studying my Bible at the park I’m not at home in front of the TV or the web browser exposed to inappropriate things.

Paul puts it this way in the book of Galatians.

Galatians 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

There are a million benefits to walking in close fellowship with God, but the one I see on display most in this verse from Genesis is the fact that it saves you from falling into temptation. It helps you avoid the pitfalls of sin that surround us on a daily basis. You never fall into darkness when you hang out with the guy who is made of light.   

When I’m faltering spiritually, there’s always a common factor at play. Every single time that I’m not operating at a high level in my faith is because I’m not spending daily time in the word of God. Guess what? This has proven true with everyone I’ve ever dealt with in ministry who is struggling. Yes, there are outside factors that can hurt our walk with God, but the way they hurt our walk is that they get us out of the word and out of fellowship with God. A breakup, a job crisis, an illness, relationship troubles, there are so many different things that can cause problems, but what we fail to realize is that they all cause only one root problem. They pull us out of fellowship with God.

It’s a strange thing when you’re able to boil your life down to a singular struggle. It does simplify things dramatically, however. We are in a constant battle. We’re spiritual beings created to live in fellowship with God who live in a fallen world where our sinful nature and our many spiritual enemies want to keep us away from fellowship with God. Every struggle you have fits into this category. Time with God, or not. Beneficial to your relationship with God, or not.

We’re so used to living in a society of compromise and tolerance that we’re not used to the black and white nature of this truth. If we lined up every relationship, every habit, and every hobby we have and either continued them or cut them off based on this simple truth (beneficial to our relationship with God or not) we’d accomplish two things. We’d seem crazy and “hateful” to the world, and we’d greatly improve the health of our relationship with God. Our time on earth is so limited, and I don’t know about you, but I’ve already wasted too much of it caring what other people think about me. I’d rather focus on pleasing God than pleasing people.

It’s not always easy to be a righteous person in a wicked world. I’m encouraged to know that Noah was able to pull it off. As bad as our society has become, there are still some other people I know that aren’t completely wicked. I have some allies to lean upon, something that Noah didn’t have. So if he could maintain a righteous life, it stands to reason that I should be able to as well. And so should you. Clearly there were many things society indulged in that Noah didn’t. In their eyes he was probably a prude, an outcast, a bore, and so many other things. But he held fast to his convictions, and those convictions saved the life of him and his family and secured the future of the human race. The stakes to us staying true to our convictions may be greater than we realize, and the way we do it is by staying in close fellowship with God.
________________________

Well, it may be Monday, but it feels like the start of a great week to me, so I don’t even mind. I love all of you very much and I hope that you are doing well. I know I say this type of thing often, but I’m really enjoying this study of Genesis so far. There’s so much to get out of this book and I’m excited to see what it has in store for us next.

If you have a prayer request or just need someone to talk to, I’m always available to you via my email. Freejenkins@gmail.com

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