Saturday, January 9, 2010

Living Righteous In an Unrighteous World

“These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations,
and Noah walked with God.” (Genesis 6:9)

We live in a world full of unrighteousness.

People today have put the love of money before the love of God. Tricked out cars, electronic gadgets, and celebrities have become the idols of today. Many people do not think twice before using the Lord’s name in vain. To some Sunday has become just another day of the week. Many do not respect themselves; much less honor their parents. Murder is rampant. Adultery and stealing are rarely blinked at. And, it seems everyone wants something that belongs to someone else.

So, is it possible to live righteous in an unrighteous world?

Daniel did it. The Bible tells us that the prophet Daniel was just a teenager when the Babylonians attacked Jerusalem and took him captive. The Babylonians were idol worshippers, but Daniel was determined to live by God’s law. He was educated at the king’s court, but he refused to defile himself by doing anything that was against God’s will. Daniel’s enemies tried to destroy him because he refused to stop praying to God, but God‘s grace protected Daniel and his enemies were destroyed instead. Daniel was a man who lived out his commitment to God during very troubled times, and his devotion to God brought him protection, favor, promotion, authority and prosperity.

Abraham did it. Abraham was raised up in a family of idolaters. God singled him out and told him to leave his family behind. God knew that Abraham could not continue among his people because he would be in danger of being contaminated by their sin. The Lord promised Abraham that He would make him the father of many nations. God made this promise despite the fact that Abraham had no children at the time, in spite of the fact that he was an old man, and despite the fact that his wife was past childbearing years. Abraham believed God’s Word, and he remained faithful and obedient to the Lord. His reward was that all that the Lord had promised came true and a nation was born.

Moses did it. Moses was born a Hebrew. His mother saved him from death by placing him in a basket and putting it in the river. He was found by the daughter of Pharaoh, who adopted him, and raised him in the house of Pharaoh. He lived among the idol worshipping Egyptians; but he never forgot where he came from. He fled Egypt, only to return a man of God. He was commissioned as leader of the Israelites, secured the deliverance of his people, and led them out of Egypt. He overcame the complaints, disobedience, and idolatrous acts of his people. He remained stead fast to the mission God had presented him with, and even though he never stepped foot in the Promised Land, he was found worthy to be present with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. (Matthew 17:1-8)

Jeremiah did it. Jeremiah was a prophet during a time when most of the people of Jerusalem had stopped worshipping God. He spent his life seeking to turn the Jewish people back to the Lord, but his repeated warnings of inevitable judgment were met with severe opposition, persecution and imprisonment. He prophesized that the Babylonians would take over the city, but his people thanked him by throwing him into prison. Even after the prophecy came true, Jeremiah remained dedicated to God, and his passionate love for God and His people never diminished.

Paul and Silas did it. They were persecuted, beaten, and cast into prison. However, even in the mist of their adversity, they prayed and sang praises to God. When an earthquake shook the foundations of the prison, the doors of the prison opened, and the chains that bound the prisoners fell to the ground. Paul and Silas were free, but rather than running off like the rest of the prisoners did, they remained and brought salvation to the jailer and his family.

So, is it possible to live righteous in the midst of unrighteousness? The answer is yes.
Noah too was a man who lived a righteous life in an unrighteous world. Noah lived in a time when the whole earth was filled with violence and corruption; not unlike today. So, how was Noah able to live righteous in light of the condition of his world? Noah did it by being courageous, just and perfect, faithful, full of godly fear, and by being obedient. Let’s take a moment and look at the life of Noah.

Noah was born into a world full of evil. Genesis 6:5 reads that, “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” The evil of man grieved the Lord, and in His grief He decided to destroy every living thing from the face of the earth. But, Genesis 6:8 reads, “… Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.”

Noah was a righteous man, and it was that righteousness that moved God to change his mind about destroying all life from the planet. Instead God decided to just start over. So He commanded Noah to build an ark to save himself, his family, and enough of each living thing to repopulate the world.

Can you imagine what must have been running through Noah’s mind when God told him that He was going to destroy every living thing on earth, except those who entered the ark? What a burden Noah carried. It was a burden he would carry for a very long time. It took Noah a 120 years to build the ark, and during that time he had to live with the knowledge that everyone he spoke to had a death sentence on their life.

But that is where his courage, his ability to be just and perfect, his faithfulness, his godly fear, and his obedience came in. Noah knew that he had no choice but to do everything that the Lord commanded.

Noah was a man of courage.

Noah was courageous because he was able to withstand the fear of knowing that God planned to destroy all living things on the earth. Noah was courageous because he took on the enormous challenge of building a seafaring vessel on dry land. Noah was courageous because he stood alone against the world and continued to preach on even though the people turned deaf ears to his pleadings and continued in their evil ways.

Noah was a man who stood alone against the world. This meant that he had to stand against his own family as well. It is hard enough to go against the mainstream, but to go against one’s own family is even harder. Noah’s wife, sons, and daughter-in-laws were saved, but the rest of Noah’s family perished. Perhaps they thought of Noah as the crazy relative or as a religious fanatic. Unfortunately too many people today are following their family members into wickedness.

Noah was courageous because the odds did not stop him. He spoke boldly in God’s name even though the people ignored him. Noah preached 120 years without a single convert. That takes a lot of courage.

However, Noah to his eternal credit did not become discouraged nor did he begin to doubt the message. Noah kept sowing the seed, even though it fell only on hard ground.

There are many people today who attempt to walk righteous, but instead become discouraged. But, Galatians 6:9 tells us, “… let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

We all need to be more courageous like Noah. He preached righteousness, he taught truth, and he defend the faith. We need to learn how to sow the seed, and not worry about the results. We need to just do our part and let God take care of the rest. In the midst of wickedness, we must do as Noah did.

Noah was just and perfect.

Genesis 6:9 reads, “… Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.”

To be just means that Noah conformed to an ethical or moral standard. In other words, he just did what was right. It would have been easy for him to bend the rules now and then. In fact, no one in his day would have probably even noticed. However, if Noah had not walked right then God would have had no reason to spare mankind. The prophet Habakkuk taught that “the just shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4).

Scripture reads that Noah was perfect. The word “perfect” means to be entirely in accord with truth and fact. He knew that the Lord planned to send judgment on the people and he told them so. He did not try to sugar coat things to maintain his status or popularity. He said what needed to be said, which was the truth.

And, just like his great-grandfather Enoch, Noah “walked with God.” He separated himself from the wickedness of the rest of the people and followed the Lord.

Noah lived by faith.

If Noah had not been a man of action, he would not have been a man of faith.

Note the words of Hebrews 11:7, “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” Notice that Noah “moved” with godly fear and “prepared” an ark. It was not enough for Noah to simply believe that God would destroy every living thing off the face of the earth. Noah had to prove he believed by building the ark.

Many other men and women of the Bible have shown such an example. A young David went to battle against the giant Goliath because he had faith that God would deliver him. The woman with an issue of blood believed that to be healed all she had to do was touch Jesus’ garment. And, Queen Esther showed her faith by risking her life and going before the king to plea for the lives of her people.

Faith must obey. Through the example of Noah we see that faith involves works of obedience. Faith does not depend on works, but it involves works. Faith does not involve any kind of works, but works of obedience; and certainly the building of the ark was a work of great faith and obedience. No man was ever blessed on account of his faith until that faith manifested itself in acts of obedience.

Noah had godly fear.

Hebrews 11:7 says, “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear …” Godly fear is another thing that motivated Noah to obey. Noah was a man who knew the majesty of God, and knew He was to be reverenced in godly fear.

Noah believed God completely. Noah knew that if God said it’s going to rain you had better buy an umbrella. The great Gospel communicator Charles Spurgeons said, “You can not have faith in the promise unless you are prepared to have faith in the threatening ….“ If Noah had not believed the threat, he would not have prepared an ark.

To be godly means to love God, to be a follower of God, and to emulate God. To have godly fear means to have respect and reverence for God. It means being unwilling to do anything that would cause God to be displeased. Psalm 111:10 reads, “The fear of the Lord [is] the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all they that do [his commandments] his praise endureth for ever.”

Noah was obedient.

Obedience is the one word that best describes the life of Noah. One can not be courageous, just and perfect, faithful, and have godly fear unless they are obedient.

God told Noah to build an ark and gave him exact dimensions and a list of materials to be used.

  • Noah was told to make an ark, so he made an ark … not a house.
  • It was to be made of gopher wood and he made it of gopher wood … not of walnut.
  • It was to be 300 cubits long and Noah made it 300 cubits long … not 100 cubits long.
  • Noah was to bring by sevens every clean beast into the ark, and by twos every unclean beast into the ark, and that is just what he did.
Noah did not go off and follow his own plan.  Noah followed God’s plan.

Genesis 7:5 reads, “… Noah did according unto all that the LORD commanded him.” Noah obeyed thus becoming God’s instrument in saving mankind from total destruction by the Flood. God gave Noah a pattern and he obeyed - plain and simple. Why can’t we be more like Noah?

What would have happened to Noah’s ark had he not obeyed God’s instructions? It probably would have sank and man might have perished.

Scripture clearly illustrates what happens when you do not follow God’s instructions.

  • Adam and Eve ignored God’s instructions and they were thrown out of the garden.
  • Abraham deviated from God’s instructions and the result was Ishmael.
  • Moses forfeited his privilege to bring the people into the Promised Land because he did not follow God’s instructions concerning the water from the rock.
Noah was saved through his obedience  ... as will we.

So what does all this mean for us?

Today, we as Christians are modern day Noahs.  We have been given the dimensions and materials to be used in the present day ark of safety -- the Church. We have been instructed on how the Church is to be constructed. We have been told what the Church is to be made of, and we have been shown how to take care of it. If we do not build the Church according to God’s pattern, it too will sink!

Matthew 24:27 reads, “For as lightening that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.“

We all know that Jesus is coming. Just as Noah prepared for the coming of the Flood, it is our responsibility to prepare for the coming of Jesus.

Things are no different today than Noah’s day. The world is full of all kinds of evil. Just read today’s newspaper or watch the news on television to read and hear plenty of examples of the evil of man.

Jesus is coming people, and we must sow the same seed that Noah sowed … the seed of salvation. If we sow the seed, then God will do the rest.

Noah is an example we should emulate. We too should be courageous, right and perfect, faithful, full of godly fear, and obedient.

Let us all strive to be more like Noah, and we too can live righteous in an unrighteous world.

May God bless you.


  1. Dr. Sanderfer, I really enjoyed this study and the examples of those who lived in such fallen times yet managed to live righteously before the Lord. That leaves us with no excuse for not doing the same thing. Thank you for the reminder to strive to do so.
    God bless you.

  2. Yes, is correct. We will not live sinless, but we do live as righteous, because we are clothed in Christ's righteousness. We run the race toward our eternal home.

  3. Oh.... what a wonderful study! I thoroughly enjoyed you leading us through the examples of 'righteousness' in an unrighteous world.
    We have NO excuse not to live as God intends. He gave us everything we need to live as 'aliens' in this foreign place that is not our home.

  4. My God. This is so good.You have clearly shown us that we have no excuse because all these men were just like us.christ's rigteousness in us,we can and we Will live in right-standing with God