“And the Lord said, my spirit shall not always strive with men, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years” – Gen. 6:3.
God is a spirit, and seeks those who will worship Him in spirit and truth. But man also is flesh, having a fallen nature, for he has turned away from God. Humanity by nature, since the fall, is opposed to God. God is longsuffering, therefore His Spirit has long, lovingly, tenderly plead, and powerfully contended with man. From our text, and from I Peter 3:20, we understand that He waited, and waited, and waited while the Ark was preparing. These horrible conditions grieved the heart of our Holy God. In this chapter, we have described fleshly opposition to the Spirit of the living God reaching its peak, foretelling of another day preceding judgment by fire.
In all this, thank God for the Holy Spirit’s testimony of Noah, he found grace in the eyes of the Lord, He was righteous, and walked with God. God talked with Noah and he listened. He wasn’t a forgetful hearer. Noah was receptive to the Holy Spirit’s striving, and responsive to the Word of God. He prepared and was preserved from the wrath of divine judgment, and was used to re-people the earth.
We learn from Hebrews 11, how God’s Spirit had dealt with him, He being warned of God, was convinced that God would keep his promise. He believed that God could and would do what He said even though it had never happened before. He was so certain, that he undertook this one-hundred-twenty year project of preaching and preparing. He got at it and stayed with it, and most amazing, he did it God’s way.
He “moved with fear.” The action of God’s Spirit had its intended effect, he was inspired, motivated, and moved to do God’s will. It would be wise for all of us to have this attitude toward God and His Word. Noah had great reverence for God; His Person, who God is, the eternal self existent one; His Power, what he is able to do; and His Promise, that He means what He says. God’s Spirit moved Noah to prepare, and by faith’s righteousness he became an heir, I truly appreciate the way the Holy Spirit genders faith in our hearts and moves us toward our inheritance. He, Noah, “condemned the world.” His act of faith, obeying God’s Word, had this effect on the world. The Spirit of God, through Noah, dealt with others and convinced his family, to the saving of his house. All the others turned a deaf ear, mocking until it was too late. He was indeed a preacher of righteousness, and it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
Jesus said: “nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you, And when He is come, He will reprove (convict, convince) the world of sin, and of righteousness, righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now” – John. 16:7-12.
The Spirit was sent to deal with us about our sin, showing us how far short we come of His holy requirements and glory. He earnestly contends with us to cause us to realize that God is right in all He says and does, and our great need for His righteousness. The Holy Spirit solemnly warns us of coming judgment if we do not accept His remedy for our sin. Therefore, what must our attitude be now, today, if His Spirit will not always strive with man? What has it been? Our history in relation to God’s Spirit has not been very good, either ancient or recent. While His Spirit has been pleading, we generally have been obstinate in some measure or form.
“Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, where-with he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” – Heb. 10:24-29.
Sinning wilfully, in its three aspects, or areas; “trodding under foot the Son of God, counting the blood of the covenant an unholy thing, and doing despite to the Spirit of grace;” has been generally thought to be that which was done by Christ rejectors during His time of public ministry here. I do not believe that these actions were limited to that day. Today, as we see the day of Jesus’ return swiftly approaching, these attitudes become more and more manifest in Christendom. There are those who are literally missing the mark, failing to measure up to God’s standard, and ultimately are missing God’s best. “Wilfully” expresses persistence in sin deliberately, on purpose, hatefully, which in a sense seems to differ with that committed unthinkingly, or in ignorance, or from weakness. Yet, we know that God’s Spirit will check His people.
Trod under foot God’s Son – to mock, ignore, spurn, scorn. In order to do this, or have such an attitude toward Jesus, mankind must by-pass the Holy Spirit, for He (the Holly Spirit) reveals Jesus to us as the One that God deigns to honor.
Count the blood an unholy thing – to be disregarded as common, ordinary, worthless, useless. There are many so-called bloodless religions today. Again, it is the Holy Spirit that will cause our hearts to esteem the proper worth of the blood that has provided for our sanctification. His blood must be trusted in to realize its worth. To God, Jesus’ life blood was uncontaminated and precious, and to the believer, priceless.
The attitude of “despite to the Spirit of grace” expresses wanton insult, to treat shamefully, to ignore one’s presence. In the gospels, we read of those who realized the presence of the Holy Spirit. It is evident that some even intellectually recognized His influence, yet inwardly resisted His voice in order to make it less and less audible until finally silenced. The Spirit of God was sent to bring man into the saving knowledge of the truth and would make grace and truth a reality in our lives. It is interesting to consider the insight that king David had to the grace of God. In Psalm 19:12-14 he requested deliverance from errors, secret faults, presumptuous sins, and the great transgression. And also he desired to be pleasing to the Lord in mind, and mouth. Praise God, as His Word is written in our hearts by the Spirit of the living God (II Cor. 3) we realize the answer to these requests. We know that it is accomplished not by trusting in the wisdom of men but in the power of the Holy Spirit.
“Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: but He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: because they said, He hath an unclean spirit” – Mark. 3:28-30. The wonderful works which Jesus did as he walked as a Man, He performed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Those signs and wonders were clear indications that He was indeed the Son of God, as well as the promised messiah. Their dangerous attitude and most deadly act of unbelief was (I believe) attributing the works of the Holy Spirit unto the unholy spirits. A dangerous act which predominates today is claiming much flesh works, to be the works of the Holly Spirit. This doesn’t go unnoticed, either.
Many are the ills of the human race because of their obstinacy toward the Spirit of God. We read of man resisting, hardening against, tempting, grieving, questioning the Spirit. “For that he also is flesh.” This gives a clear indication as to why God’s Spirit has striven with man down through the ages. It also make us realize why this will not always be true.. Jesus said, “That which is born of flesh, is flesh, and that which is born of spirit is spirit” and “Ye must be born again” – John 3:5-7. “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you they are spirit, and they are life” – John 6:63. He also said, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” – Mt. 26:41. God has provided and purposed that no flesh will glory or boast in His sight. The apostle Paul wrote, “In my flesh (fallen nature) dwelleth no good thing” – Rom. 7:18. In Gal. 5:16,17 we read that the flesh and spirit are contrary to each other, and in Rom. 8:3-8 we see that the flesh, or fleshly mind is enmity against or hostile toward God, not subject to the law of God. Let us who are born unto the realm of the Spirit yield wholehearted submission, being receptive to God’s Word and responsive to His Spirit.
– J. D.