Practice Makes Perfect

The Hebrew word 'blameless' does not denote 'sinless' but rather it points to a mature Christian character, in which all graces were blended and balanced.

I rarely hear believers talking deeply about holiness today. Sin and worldliness seem to be missing words in Christian chit-chat. In our zeal to win the lost there appears to be more focus on being trendy – on conforming to expectations of the world so as to be as similar as possible. As I come to preach tomorrow on Genesis 6.9-22, I’ve been called to reflect on grace and it’s power in Noah’s life. 

 

I’ve been privileged in my youth to be surrounded by mature Christians – people who, to my knowledge, I would never have called ‘sinless’ but, as far as I could tell, never took a wrong step or never spoke out of turn. These friends of my family and parents were so kind and good and thoughtful – they smothered us in love with their godly generous spirit.

I suppose looking back, I would now call them ‘mature Christians’. I guess what troubles me a little (or maybe it’s just rose-tinted spectacles), but as such people die off, such Christians are a becoming a lesser-spotted breed. Perhaps I’m just more sensitive to my own and others glitches – but it does seem there has been a lowering of standards.

I rarely hear believers talking deeply about holiness today. Sin and worldliness seem to be missing words in Christian chit-chat. In our zeal to win the lost there appears to be more focus on being trendy – on conforming to expectations of the world so as to be as similar as possible.

As I come to preach tomorrow on Genesis 6.9-22, I’ve been called to reflect on grace and it’s power in Noah’s life. The text makes no bones about the transparently obvious fact that the builder of the Ark stood, morally, spiritually & ethically, head and shoulders above his contemporaries: his was also a wicked, evil, age. He was surrounded by temptation, he must have suffered persecution, yet remained a lone, bright light in a dark and violent age:

But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD …Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.

Please observe a number of things about this blameless, or ‘perfect’, man:

1. The Root of Perfection

Moses makes a point by prefacing works, in v9, by grace, in v8. He says Noah found favor (or grace) in the eyes of God. It seems to be the case, as our late friend and Bible scholar Alec Motyer once put it ‘Grace found Noah’. By kind, sovereign, choice, for nothing good in Noah, Yahweh set his love on this man, and began a work of grace in his heart. It was the effect of regenerating grace upon the mind, heart and will of Noah, that changed him from within, and produced this holy life.

2. The Standard of Perfection

The Holy Spirit asserts, v9, that Noah was a righteous man. It goes without saying, from what we know from the rest of the Bible, that God justified this man even while Noah was a sinner. Yet, justification by grace through faith in Christ alone is not the point that the author of Genesis is making. ‘Righteous’ in context refers to what conforms to the divine standard. In mind, heart and will, in word, thought and deed, Noah lived a life that aligned to God’s commands. Whether this knowledge was that revealed in Creation, made known through His ancestors, or mirrored in God’s Image, the son of Lamech was intent on a life of obedience to what God’s regulations, now impressed on his conscience, informed him would please God.

3. The Life of Perfection

The Hebrew word ‘blameless’ does not denote ‘sinless’ but rather it points to a mature Christian character, in which all graces were blended and balanced. His words, thoughts and deeds and the character that led to behavior, were harmoniously integrated and genuinely godly. Like the unblemished lamb that was outwardly free from defect, there was no obvious blemish or stain on his life, either outwardly or internally. It falls short of sinless perfection but rises above Pharisaic legalism – the godliness that looks good but in public but is contradicted in private and secret. Like all other men Noah sinned and confessed. No doubt his sensitive conscience was heightened beyond most.

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