AGCC Sun. a.m. 9/3/00


TEXTS:     Gen. 6:5-14;     8:18-9:1;     9:18-29;     I Pet. 5:8;    Matt. 24:37-39


We live in a culture that likes to numb or intoxicate itself! There is so much stress and activity that more and more Americans are turning to ways to numb themselves so they can forget the pain or deal with the pressures. It is no secret that the passion in which we have turned to alcohol, drugs, power, lusts, money, and escapism types of entertainment reflect this trend. ILLUS:Percentage of major U.S. companies that routinely test new employees for illegal drugs: 81. Percentage of positive tests: 1.9. Percentage of work places that have been the site of an act of violence: 33 -- American Management Association (4/96); Men's Health (Jul.-Aug./96). Leadership, "To Verify." Is it any wonder that the #1 cause of teen deaths is from alcohol, that most crime is connected to substance abuse. Adults and children are scarred by the effects of alcoholism and we have more 12 step programs these days than ever before. Even secular sources declare that alcohol and drugs are the major reasons for crime, accidents on the road, spousal abuse, and myriad's of other maladies in our land. PROP. SENT:      The Bible calls us to be "sober" (KJV) (NIV has "self-controlled") as God's people. This reference is not specifically just about alcohol, it is a reference about any intoxication, to not allow ourselves to become "numb." It is in such a state that Satan has his greatest power over us, and it often yields painful fruit.

I. CLEAR HEADED       Gen. 6:5-14;     8:18-9:1

A. Godless Days     Gen. 6:5-14 1. Noah lived in a very corrupt culture, far worse than our own! a. There literally was no other righteous souls on the Earth except Noah! b. It had been a gradual decline once sin entered the picture. (as it always is!) Noah's father Lamech was around 50 years old when Adam died … so the progression of sin from the beginning to the time of Noah could be seen downhill most of the way. c. The apostle Paul described that day this way, Rom 1:21 "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened." A couple of verses later Paul says that God literally gave up on them - what a thought!! d. Imagine living at such a time and in such a culture! 2. While our culture is not that far, we are surely moving that way. ILLUS:For 35 years, the Motion Picture Production Code served as a moral guideline for American filmmakers. The code, to which filmmakers were required to adhere, included this paragraph: "No picture shall be produced which will lower the moral standards of those who see it. Hence the sympathy of the audience shall never be thrown to the side of crime, wrongdoing, evil, or sin." How quaint that sounds today. -- Cal Thomas, Christian Reader, Vol. 31. a. Noah's heart must have been grieved over the plight of the society he lived in, and so should we as Christians for the direction that we see our culture moving. b. Noah preached 120 years with absolutely NO positive results outside his own family. 3. Without God any society will move in this direction. a. The more we push God away from our culture, the more Satan will move in! b. Our hearts should be moved to pray and live godly … to live "soberly!" ILLUS:We have a real problem in this country when it comes to values. We have become the kind of societies that civilized countries used to send missionaries to. -- William Bennett, interviewed on the MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour. Christianity Today, Vol. 41, no. 12. 4. Amazingly, in the midst of this depraved culture Noah was able to keep his own head and heart clear, he remained sober. a. While the society around him lost their morals, dulled their senses, ignored any values that restricted their passions, Noah kept his own life clean. b. The world around him was intoxicated with power, lust, drugs, alcohol, and whatever vice could be discovered. c. So bad was it that God decided to destroy it all -- except the one man who stood head and shoulders above all the sin. B. Godly Demonstration     Gen. 8:18-9:1 1. Noah's very name in Hebrew means, "rest," it comes from a root word that means to "withdraw, quiet, give comfort, settle down" a. Noah did not allow himself to be intoxicated by the things of this world. b. As the culture around him more and more dulled their senses Satan was successfully able to move them in directions that they might never have taken when more sober. 2. This is still true: a. Our youth open themselves up to Satan's destructive tactics by lowering their guard through alcohol and drugs. b. Too many adults have made destructive choices for their own lives and those around them when intoxicated by drink, drugs, power, lust, etc. 3. Take God out of the culture and Satan moves into the vacuum! ILLUS:Dostoyevsky reminded us in The Brothers Kararamazov that "if God does not exist, everything is permissible." We are now seeing "everything." And much of it is not good to get used to. -- William J. Bennett, addressing the 20th anniversary celebration of the Heritage Foundation. Christianity Today, Vol. 38, no. 7. 4. There is still enough knowledge of God in this culture to have a moral conscience about what is sin, but when use of dulling agents like alcohol, drugs, lusts, power, etc. is introduced such moral constraints are easily dismissed or forgotten in the moment. a. These many types of things that can intoxicate us reduce our sense of moral restraint. b. We can become intoxicated with any of these … and the results are always the same … poor choices with damaging results. 5. Noah kept his head clear … are you in our culture keeping your head and heart clear, are you staying sober? a. Noah demonstrated a godly life in spite of the culture around him. b. IT IS POSSIBLE to live a godly life in our society. II. CATASTROPHIC HELPLESSNESS       Gen. 9:18-29;     I Pet. 5:8;     Matt. 24:37-39 A. Guard Down     Gen. 9:18-29 1. Tragically, after God had completely purged the Earth of all evil people we find Noah's new start of the human race a reminder of the possibilities for sin in any of us. a. The first thing Noah did after leaving the ark was worship God and offer a sacrifice … and this was so pleasing to God (Gen. 8:20-21) b. The second thing Noah did was work, he planted a vineyard! Noah was a man of the soil. 2. Tragically, with no evil people around to worry about his own example he allows himself to get drunk with wine. a. Most likely he had never allowed this before, his example to so many wicked people was too important to him, and how could he move them toward God if he himself were intoxicated? b. But here he is alone with his own desires. (which reveals the true nature of sin … it doesn't come from others, it comes from within us!) c. He chose to let his guard down just this once! 3. It will often be the single moments of lapse of judgment that will do so much harm, we cannot afford to let our guard down even for a moment, especially in our culture today! ILLUS:However big the whale may be, the tiny harpoon can rob him of his life. Malay Proverb - Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 11071. 4. Noah may have thought: a. Who will know? b. No one will see anyway. c. I don't have to worry about my testimony, it will be private. 5. The tragic results unfold: a. Noah's drunkenness was great enough for him to throw off his own restraints … and he chooses to uncover himself in a drunken stupor. b. Noah's son Ham happens in the tent and sees his father's nakedness, and instead of leaving and not exposing his father's shame he actually takes delight in his father's drunkenness! (1. The Hebrew verb used here to describe Ham's gaze has such force that some say it means "he gazed with satisfaction." (2. Almost like the world they had left behind, Ham took delight in sin! (3. Ham runs out and finds his two brothers to make even more fun of his father's shame, fortunately, they have more sense and are embarrassed over sin rather than rejoicing over it. They refuse to look upon their father's nakedness and instead pick up his cloak and walking backwards they cover him without even looking at him and then they quietly leave. c. When Noah woke up from the influence of the alcohol and discovered the actions of sons … he was filled with rage that Ham could take such delight in his shame … such was the attitude of the world they had left behind before the flood. 6. Noah does not excuse his own sin, but neither will he tolerate the sin of his own son, and a curse is pronounced upon Ham and his descendants. a. Was this too harsh? b. Noah was simply affirming where Ham's mocking attitude was going to take him and his descendants … down the same path of licentious living that will end in moral collapse. Perhaps Noah was explaining where this attitude among him and his descendants would end up, after all Noah had no power to actually create a curse on Ham, only to pronounce one. (1. Like all sin, Ham's mocking of sin will end in slavery! (2. And in perversity … as indeed is seen in the lives of the Canaanites who later inhabited the land, their sexual perversion was legend as was their violence and idolatry! 7. Ham so quickly forgot that there was right and wrong … and even took delight in mocking sin! a. This process is at work today in our culture! ILLUS: We've lost sight of the fact that some things are always right and some things are always wrong. We've lost our reference point. We don't have any moral philosophy to undergird our way of life in this country, and our way of life is in serious jeopardy and serious danger unless something happens. And that something must be a spiritual revival. -- Billy Graham in a speech at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary's Founder's Day (April 4, 1989). Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 9. b. We need to stay "sober" in this day! 8. Such a tragic event to what was an exemplary life! a. Noah's relationship to his one Son is damaged by his drunkenness. b. Future generations were negatively impacted by this event. c. Even a single event of intoxication can do much damage! (1. How many teenagers have become pregnant on that "first" drunken date? (2. How much damage has occurred from a single drunken moment? (3. How many incidents of drug abuse left a trail of pain in its wake? B. Grave Days!     I Pet. 5:8;     Matt. 24:37-39 1. Where is human history heading? a. We are in a spiritual battlefield! b. Without God all societies move toward a time like Noah's day, in fact, this is precisely what Peter and Jesus said: (1. 1 Pet 5:8 "Be sober, be vigilant;…" (KJV) (2. Mat 24:37-38 "As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark…" c. Just consider the following: ILLUS:Don't bother adjusting your TV. The problem seems to be the images piped out of Hollywood. That's the conclusion made by a study of 104 leading television writers and executives. Conducted by the Center for Media and Public Affairs, the study found that Hollywood's views run far from the mainstream of public opinion. Some examples: Though 85 percent of Americans believe adultery is wrong, only 49 percent of TV writers and executives do. Everyone else is less likely than Hollywood to say a woman has a right to an abortion (59 to 97 percent). While only 4 percent of Americans have no religious affiliation, 45 percent of the TV writers and executives have none. -- Reported in Newsweek, 7/20/92, "To Verify," Leadership. 2. God's call on Christians in these last days is to remain "sober." a. Again, not just in the sense of alcohol, but from becoming intoxicated with power, lust, drugs, alcohol, or anything that would cause us to let our guard down. b. If Noah's one mistake created such damage in his family and for generations to come why do we think it can't happen to us? 3. Because sin comes so easily we must be strong to not let rotten influences affect us …. ILLUS:If you took a bowl of fruit that had all rotten apples in it and placed a fresh one in it what would happen? The fresh one won't make the rotten ones better, but take a bowl of fresh fruit and put one rotten apple in it and watch how it spreads and contaminates the good fruit in short order. We must guard our lives carefully from the influences and effects of sin! The closer our contacts with godless practices the greater the danger of those influencing us. 4. This is not a call however to pull away from the world, Christ has sent us to the world to witness to it, Noah preached faithfully for 120 years before the flood, he did not hide from the world -- but he was careful during that time to not let his guard down spiritually. 5. Satan knows that often we are strong enough to resist him when we are sober, both physically and spiritually … but allow yourself to become intoxicated with drugs, alcohol, power, lusts, finances, etc. and we become weak enough to fall. a. No wonder in these last days when Satan knows his time is limited he has helped move cultures toward drugs and alcohol and other intoxicating things … with this he lowers our resistance and judgment and he can destroy us faster and in greater ways. b. Hell has made a full frontal attack on our young people, our adults, our entire culture with things that can intoxicate us. 6. How "sober" are you? Noah slipped up once and a cascade of destruction followed … as Peter admonishes believers in the last days, 1 Pet 5:8-9 "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings." CONCLUSION:    In Noah's day people were intoxicated with power, lust, wine, drugs, and pleasure … only one sober life was found by God - "righteous Noah!" Ironically, when God starts all over again with righteous Noah -- Noah gets drunk! The price tag of this one incident led to brokenness in his family, and a curse on future generations. We need to live soberly in our world which is moving closer and closer to being like Noah's day, are you clear headed and sober?