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Bible Commentaries

Sermon Bible Commentary

Genesis 6



Verse 3

Genesis 6:3

I. What is implied in the assertion, "My Spirit shall not always strive with man?" It is implied: (1) that the Spirit does sometimes strive with men; (2) that men resist the Spirit.

II. What is not intended by the Spirit striving? It is no form of physical struggling or effort whatever. It is not any force applied to our bodies.

III. What, then, is the striving of the Spirit? It is an energy of God applied to the mind of man, setting truth before his mind, reasoning, convincing, and persuading.

IV. How may it be known when the Spirit of God strives with an individual? (1) When a man finds his attention arrested to the great concerns of his soul; (2) when a man finds himself convinced of sin; (3) when the mind is convicted of the great guilt and ill-desert of sin; (4) when men see the folly of seeking salvation in any other way than through Christ alone.

V. What is intended by the Spirit's not striving always? Not that He will at some period withdraw from among mankind, but that He will withdraw from the individual in question. There is a limit to the Spirit's efforts in the case of each sinner; at some uncertain, awful point he will reach and pass it.

VI. Why will God's Spirit not strive always? (1) Because longer striving will do the sinner no good; (2) because sinners sin wilfully when they resist the Holy Ghost; (3) because there is a point beyond which forbearance is no virtue.

VII. Consequences of the Spirit's ceasing to strive with men: (1) a confirmed hardness of heart; (2) a seared conscience; (3) certain damnation.

C. G. Finney, Sermons on Gospel Themes, p. 264.

God strives with man in many ways by the working of His blessed Spirit within him: by the working of our own conscience, by various warnings from without, constantly strewn in our paths; but if we grieve and resist the Holy Spirit of God, then He will not always strive with us, but will give us over to a reprobate mind.

I. Consider the great mercy of God in consenting to strive with man at all.

II. The striving of the Spirit is a means of resisting the flesh.

III. The Spirit of God strives in many ways. His strivings have a meaning, a message, and a warning to us all.

Bishop Atlay, Penny Pulpit, No. 556.

References: Genesis 6:2.—G. Calthrop, Words Spoken to my Friends, p. 149. Genesis 6:3.—C. Kingsley, National Sermons, p. 362; J. Wells, Bible Echoes, p. 217; J. Natt, Posthumous Sermons, p. 328; J. Keble, Sermons for the Christian Year, vol. iii., p. 161; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. vii., p. 43, and vol. xvi., p. 23. Genesis 6:5.—J. Laidlaw, Bible Doctrine of Man, p. 138.

Verse 5-6

Genesis 6:5-6, Genesis 6:7

I. "In these verses," it will be said, "we see the results of the fall. God made man innocent, and man fell when he lost this independent virtue, this innocency of his own; as the first father lost it, all his descendants, by the decree of God or by some necessity of their relationship, lost it too; hence arose the need for Divine grace, and for men being made partakers of a righteouness which is not their own."

Now, if we follow the Scripture narrative closely, we shall find that it directly negatives this statement. It tells us that God said, "Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness." Such words absolutely exclude the idea that man, according to his original constitution, possessed anything of his own. They affirm him to be good Only in so far as he reflects that which exists perfect in another, so far only as he confesses Him to be the Good. God pronounced His creation very good, because no creature was standing in itself—because the highest creature, to which all the others looked up, himself looked up to his Maker and saw his perfection in Him.

II. The principle that man was made in the image of God is not a principle which was true for Adam and false for us. It is the principle upon which the race was constituted and can never cease to be constituted. Adam's sin consisted in disbelieving that law and acting as if he were not under it. The Divine order has not been interrupted because a man refused obedience to it; it is only made more evident by that violation. Man has set up a self-will, has fallen under the dominion of the nature which God had given him. This very act is a step in his education, a means by which God will teach him more fully what he is, what he is not; how he may thwart the purposes of his Creator, how he may conspire with them.

III. The story of the flood, as told in Scripture, is a most memorable part of the history of man, expounding the course of God's dealings with him. He is grieved that He made man, because men were living wholly at variance with the law under which they were created. He uses the powers of nature to destroy those who had made themselves the slaves of nature. The righteous government which physical things obey is thus indicated. God's repentance is reconciled with His divine, unchangeable will. There is a true and holy repentance in God, otherwise there could be no repentance in us.

F. D. Maurice, The Patriarchs and Lawgivers of the Old Testament, p. 50.

References: Genesis 6:6.—Weekly Pulpit, vol. i. (1887), p. 235. Genesis 6:7.—Parker, vol. i., p. 164. Genesis 6:6-8.—J. Van Oosterzee, Year of Salvation, vol. ii., p. 334. Genesis 6:8.—R. S. Candlish, Book of Genesis, vol. i., p. 108.

Verse 9

Genesis 6:9

I. Noah, we read, "was a just man and perfect in his generations"; and why? (1) Because he was a faithful man—faithful to God, as it is written, "The just shall live by faith." Noah and Abraham believed God, and so became heirs of the righteousness which is by faith; not their own righteousness, not growing out of their own character, but given them by God, who puts His righteous Spirit into those who trust in Him. (2) Noah was perfect in all the relations and duties of life—a good son, a good husband, a good father: these were the fruits of his faith. He believed that the unseen God had given him these ties, had given him his parents and his children, and that to love them was to love God, to do his duty to them was to do his duty to God.

II. The Bible gives us a picture of the old world before the flood—a world of men mighty in body and mind, fierce and busy, conquering the world round them, in continual war and turmoil; with all the wild passions of youth, and yet all the cunning and experience of enormous old age; every one guided only by self-will, having cast off God and conscience, and doing every man that which was right in the sight of his own eyes. And amidst all this Noah was steadfast; he at least knew his way; he "walked with God, a just man and perfect in his generations."

III. There was something wonderful and divine in Noah's patience. He knew that a flood was to come; he set to work in faith to build his ark, and that ark was in building for one hundred and twenty years. During all that time Noah never lost faith, and he never lost love either, for we read that he preached righteousness to the very men who mocked him, and preached in vain. One hundred and twenty years he warned those sinners of God's wrath, of righteousness and judgment to come, and no man listened to him. That must have been the hardest of his trials.

C. Kingsley, Village Sermons, p. 74.

References: Genesis 6:9.—R. S. Candlish, The Book of Genesis, vol. i., p. 127; E. Garbett, Experiences of the Inner Life, p. 234.

Verse 12

Genesis 6:12

(with Luke 17:26-27)

I. The statement in Genesis of the corruption of the world before the flood is expressed in very strong language: "The wickedness of man was great in the earth." Only one particular feature of this general corruption is given: "that the earth was filled with violence." Yet this is mentioned as forming rather a part of the general corruption than as being the whole of it. Another, and as it may seem, a more prevailing part, is given by our Lord: "They were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage."

Our Lord here names not occasional crimes which disturb society, but society's most ordinary and most necessary practices; things which are neither crimes nor sins in themselves; things which men may do and must do. He means us to understand that there is a natural danger in the things of which He was speaking, which, if left to itself and not earnestly struggled against, would certainly lead to the following judgment.

II. The great truth is, that no one, old or young, can save his soul by following the course of life quietly and letting it drift him whither it will.. It is not in our life here, as we now live, with all its wisdom and all its labour and all its pleasures, to attain to life eternal. Round the tree of life there is a fiery guard, which allows not fallen man in his own natural course to reach unto it. It is not like a tree standing by the wayside, so that we have only to put forth our hand as we go by, and eat and live for ever. Christ came to take us out of our common nature, to tear us away from the path which we were naturally treading; to give us another nature not our own, to set us in a new way, of which the end is not death but life.

T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. v., p. 82.

Reference: Genesis 6:13.—Parker, vol. i., p. 159.

Verse 16

Genesis 6:16

I. When Noah was building his ark, God gave him a command, "A window shalt thou make to the ark," and this window was to be made in the roof. Its purpose was (1) to let in the light and air; (2) that Noah might look out of it, sometimes, to heaven. He could see nothing of earth through it, only heaven. Sometimes he may have felt inclined to doubt during the forty days of rain; but at that window he lifted his face to the light and held communion with God.

II. We have got a voyage over the water-flood also. We have to pass through many storms and troubles. These will swallow us up, unless we systematically keep a window in the roof open, and go to it, to look through it to God. When Daniel was in the land of captivity, he opened his window seven times a day towards Jerusalem, and prayed to God through it. Our Jerusalem is above—the heavenly Jerusalem; and we must, like him, turn our faces thither and pray.

S. Baring-Gould, Village Preaching for a Year, 2nd series, vol. ii., p. 159.

References: Genesis 6:22.—M. G. Pearse, Sermons for Children, p. 34; G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 383; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. viii., p. 79.


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Bibliography Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Genesis 6:4". "Sermon Bible Commentary".

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