Sin and God’s Grace


I, probably just like you, grew up playing a bunch of backyard football. One of the greatest rules of backyard football was the “re-kick”. If the opposing team kicked a ball off that was un-returnable, someone from your team would yell, “Re-kick!” before the ball hit the ground and the opposing team would have to kick the ball again.

Our narrative today, presents a re-kick of sorts.

What began with Adam and Eve’s rebellion in the garden has grown and permeated all of society. This grieved God and in this story we see God put forth his rightful judgment upon the earth.

[I would not attempt to discuss the theological questions regarding 6:1,2 within the confines of your class, just in case this becomes an issue, I’ve provided some of the popular exegetical options. I have held to view 3 until recently. I have now opened the possibility of option 1.]

Historically, three opinions have won a significant following for identifying the “sons of God”: 

(1) angels, 

  • the argument is that this unnatural sexual union produced the Nephilim
  • However, angels are not mentioned in the biblical text , bringing them up now, doesn’t seem to be the most logical conclusion.
  • The flooding of the earth deals with God’s judgment against “man” not angels.
  • There is no biblical evidence to support procreation of heavenly beings. To assume that fallen angels may now reproduce becomes a stretch in reason and flows from a pagan understanding of supernatural beings. (i.e. demigods)
  • Jesus mentions that our eternal life will be “like the angels” where “they neither marry nor are given in marriage” (Matt. 22.30).  
  • To understand “sons of God” as a reference to demons is an odd choice of words, they are anything but godly.
  • The above arguments are good, however, 1 Peter 3:18-ff. and Jude 6,7.

(2) human judges or rulers

  • This view embraces the broader understanding of the word “Elohim” as refering to human aristocrats. (Psalm 82 provides a biblical example where elohim is obviously understood as human judges/rulers.
  • However, once again, this view doesn’t fit well with the context of chapter 6.
  • Also, Elohim is not commonly understood to refer to human aristocrats and should be understood as a reference to God unless context demands otherwise.

(3) the descendants of Seth.

  • Church Fathers, such as Augustine, as well as the Reformers (Luther, Calvin) interpreted the “sons of God” as a reference to “godly men,” that is, the righteous lineage of Seth.
  • The purpose is to demonstrate the intermarriage of the Cainites and the Sethites, and the resulting depravity of man.
  • This view fits the context well as it understands the entire pericope to deal with God’s judgment against “man’s” sin.
  • It also fits the context well, in that, chapters5-9.29 deal entirely with the expansion of the Seth family treee. See Gen. 5.2. The whole point of this passage is to show Noah to be from the line of Seth.
  • ʾĚlōhîm can be rendered as a genitive of quality, meaning “godly sons,” referring to the heritage of the Sethites.
  • Israel is repeatedly refered to as God’s children (Ex. Deut. 14.1) 

Sin Grieves God and Brings His Judgment (Gen. 6:5-7)

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 the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 

The first two verses here clear up a couple of misconceptions we may have about society and/or God.

One, from verse 5. Many people live with the thought than humanity, for the most part is good, moral, and upright. Because people are made in God’s image, we need to understand that any goodness within the world stems from God’s imprint upon humanity. The Bible paints a different picture of humanity apart from God’s grace. As this verse suggests, the wickedness of man is great and that the intention of the heart focuses upon evil continuously.

Consider just a few biblical references:

Jeremiah 17:9 – “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

Isaiah 64:6a – “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.”

Mark 10:18 – “And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one isgood except God alone.”

Psalm 51:5 – “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.”

Two, from verse 6. We often think of God as distant and unaffected by people, and that sin maybe breaking of a rule, but it’s not that big of a deal, because it doesn’t affect God in a personal way. Read verse 6 again. It says, “it grieved him to his heart.” One scholar offers a literal translation of this verse that reads, “God repented that He had made man because the sin of the race filled Him with pain.”* We don’t take defiance against ourselves in an impersonal way and neither does God. That is why Paul urges new covenant believers not to grieve the Spirit of God (Eph. 4:30).

QUES: How might our attitude toward sin change if we saw it not only as breaking God’s rules but also as Grieving His heart?

[see discussion on p. 45 in leaders guide]

Sin Brings Judgment, but God Provides Grace ((Gen. 6:8-9; 17-22)

But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.

17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. 21 Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.” 22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him. 

QUES: How does God’s interaction with Noah, in these verses, demonstrate that salvation occurs through grace through faith (Eph. 2.8, 9)?

Read: Heb. 11:7

Genesis 6:9 describes Noah as righteous and blameless. Does that mean he was sinless?

Genesis 6:8, tells us Noah “found favor” in God’s sight. The word favor here means “grace.” God didn’t save Noah because he was righteous. Noah became righteous because he received God’s gracious offer of salvation…Only after responding to God in faith was Noah declared “righteous.” That is always the way people become righteous.

God’s nature is to delight in giving unmerited favor to those who are undeserving (Eph. 2:8-9). His grace toward sinners is found most clearly in the salvation He has provided through Christ.

QUES: Why is it important that we keep grace and righteousness in the correct order?

QUES: What gospel parallels do you see in the story of the flood?

Ultimately, Jesus becomes our “ark” in many ways.

Sin Will Not Halt God’s Creative Purpose (Gen. 9:1, 12-15)

And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.

12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

In verse 13, we see a sign of God’s covenant with us. The rainbow may very well a reference to the bow of a warrior, who after victory from battle would come home and hang his bow on a wall of his home.

QUES: Compare the cleansing offered here in the flood with the cleansing we receive from Christ?

Just as God was gracious to Noah and extended salvation to his family, so also God grants salvation by grace to all who come by faith into the family of His righteous Son, Jesus Christ.

*The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Genesis.