Tony Evans - The Obedience of Faith
Noah walked with God. He was on the same page that God was on. And trust me, when you walk with God, he's walking with you. Noah walked with God; and we're told that he was a man of righteousness, blamelessness, and spiritual integrity and character. He wasn't perfect. That shows up later on in his life and in his story. Walking with God is called pleasing God. Pleasing God means to make God smile, to make God happy. Nothing pleases God more than to see somebody walking by faith, making their decisions based on their relationship with God, bringing God to bail on all their decision-making.
Now, God becomes real to you. But here's what's interesting. It is the context in which he walked with God because the first eight verses of Genesis chapter 6 lets you know what the world around him was like when he was walking with God. It says in Genesis chapter 6, verse 1, "It came about that men began to multiply on the face of the earth and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful. They took wives for themselves whomever they chose. Then the Lord said, 'My spirit shall not always strive with man forever because he also is flesh. Nevertheless, his days shall be 120 years.' The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterwards when the sons of God came into the daughters of man, they bore themselves children. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of men was great on the earth and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth and was grieved in his heart. The Lord said, 'I will blot out man from whom I have created from the face of the land; from the man, to the animals, to the creeping things, and to the birds of the sky, for I am sorry that I have made them.'"
Noah was walking with God when nobody else was. Noah was the exception to the world rule. He was marching out of step with the culture because he was marching to a different drumbeat. It says the whole world had become wicked. What was some of the wickedness? Well, if you were to read the Scriptures, you would find that there was immorality, violence, lewdness, vulgarity, profanity, lying, killing, blasphemy, and, then it hit the bottom, demon possession. The sons of God cohabited with the daughters of men. Sons of God are called angels in Scripture. So the fallen angels who are sexless infiltrated evil men who had relationships with women, producing a demonized population. This was a demonized population. That is a population who had been so infiltrated with evil that every thought they had was against God.
The reason why your walk with God is going to be a lot tougher today than maybe in your yesteryear, what your grandmother faced is we're dealing with a demonized environment. It's the evil infiltrating mankind so that demonic activity dominates the environment. And you know when it's dominating environment because people are not only doing evil, they're coming up with new ways to proliferate it. He says every thought was evil. I won't go too deep into this. We don't have time today. But you need to understand how demons work. Demons work because they need a vehicle through which to express themselves 'cause they are spirit beings, they're fallen angels. So they need a vehicle. That's why when Jesus cast the demons out of the insane man, they asked, "Could we go into the pigs"? 'Cause they were unclean. "And so give us a place to reside. We need a house to express ourselves through".
So when sin becomes dominant in my life or your life or our lives, the demons say, "Hey, they've invited us over there into that environment". So they go where the garbage is, and that's why sins then wind up becoming addictions. So now the problem is not only the sin that brought about the addiction. The reason why it's so hard for addicted people to get over the sin is they not only have to try to deal with the sin, but the demonic or amplification of the sin because the demons have gone into a garbage environment and made themselves at home there. That's why it is an addiction because it has been demonically infiltrated. That's why when people try to deal with the sin without dealing with the demons, they wind up right back at it because the spiritual was unaddressed in whatever the addiction happened to express itself to be.
That's why the world calls it addiction. The Bible calls it a spiritual stronghold; the spiritual stronghold of pornography, the spiritual stronghold of gambling, the spiritual stronghold of whatever it happened to be, drunkenness. Because there has been a grip by the demonic world. He says the demonic world had gripped the culture. But here is Noah who was a righteous man, a blameless man who walked with God, meaning he's the odd man out. He's the weirdo. He's the crazy man because he wasn't conforming to the culture. Be not conformed to this world. He wasn't agreeing just 'cause everybody else was going there. He wasn't doing it just 'cause everybody else was doing it. His goal was not to be popular with the world in which he lived 'cause the world in which he lived was not popular with God. He saw himself as pleasing God, not pleasing the culture. But when you're in a world like that, that's a lot of pressure. That's pressure.
Some of you work in pressured environments. You're under pressure to do this, to act that way, to go with them, to be there, to submit to this; and you're under pressure. You're being squeezed. Some of you are in educational institutions. They're squeezing you and pressing you 'cause you're the odd man out if you're walking with God and they aren't. See, it's easy to be a Christian here. There's no competition in the house. Everybody here basically agrees with everybody else. And even if you don't, you're going to fake it 'cause of the environment in which you are in. But once you leave here and go back to family and friends and work and environments, you're going to feel pressure. If you go in water and you go deep enough, you're going to get lockjaw. You won't even be able to open up your mouth because the deeper you go, the more pressure you feel. If a boat goes down in the water too far, the pressure of the water will collapse the boat. Too much pressure. That is except if you're a submarine.
If you're a submarine, you can get to the bottom of the ocean because the inside in a sub is pressurized. So it can go way down and way deep in spite of the pressure because when they pressurize a submarine, there is more pressure on the inside than the pressure coming at it from the outside, which is able to allow it to sustain itself in the pit of the darkness of the depth of the ocean. But if you go real deep and there's no pressure on the inside, the pressure on the outside is going to flatten you like a pancake. The reason why so many Christians are collapsing is there's not enough pressure of walking with God on the inside to override the pressure coming at them from the outside. And so we collapse. He walked with God. He didn't just go to church. This was how he rolled. God's perspective dominated his life.
When you try to be a Noah in a secular world, in this post-Christian era... there used to be a time, when we grew up, when the Christian worldview dominated. So even if you weren't a Christian, you respected the Christian worldview. That is the pre-Christian era. We live in the post-Christian era, and now Christianity has become persecuted all around the world. We're now in a post-Christian environment where that value system, that ethic is no longer accepted as the respected norm. And the more serious you are with your walk with God, the more odd you will look like. Not because you're trying to be weird, not because you're trying to be different, it's that you just are different 'cause you're walking with God. Noah was pressured. But because he was a righteous man who walked with God, he was able to sustain himself in the pressure that we all feel; and you're going to feel it more and more. He looked like a fool. By the way, whose fool are you?
God says, "Noah", Verse 11 of Genesis 6, "Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God and the earth was filled with violence. God looked on the earth; and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. Then God said to Noah, 'The end of all flesh has come, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. And behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth. Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood.'" You got to be kidding me. You got to be kidding me. God talks to him, "I'm going to destroy the world, and I want you to make a boat".
Now, let me explain something. Hebrews 11:7 says that Noah built an ark when he hadn't seen anything; meaning he had never seen a flood, it hadn't rained up till this point 'cause the earth was watered from underneath. So God is warning him about something he's never seen. He's going to destroy the whole world. He tells Noah, "Build a boat on dry land even though you've never seen rain, you don't know what a flood is. And trust me". Let me tell you how big this boat is 'cause God gives the measurements in the chapter. To use our foot and yard measurements, the measurements God gives in the chapter for the ark is one and a half football fields long. That's how big the ark is, one and a half football fields long. It is four storeys high. So it's higher than this church building. And it took him 120 years to build it. Scripture says 120 years.
Some of you've been saying, "I've been waiting on God for a long time and I ain't seen it rain yet. I haven't seen a flood yet. I haven't seen anything yet". But what we find out in the Scripture is it says that Noah as soon as God told him, verse 22 of Genesis 6, "Thus, Noah did according to all that God had commanded him. So he did". Now let me tell you what we do. We do some of what God tells us to do. Uh-huh, to walk by faith involves completing what God tells you to do, the work he's called you to, the obedience he's demanding of you. But remember that obedience is coming 'cause you're walking with him. If you're not walking with him and told to obey him, obedience becomes an irritation. If you're walking with him, obedience becomes a natural outgrowth. That's why some people like obeying God and some people hate obeying God, even though they may be doing the outward thing. They may hate obeying God 'cause they haven't been walking with God. The folks who love obeying God are the folks who are walking with God.
So you need your walk to appreciate the obedience even when the obedience doesn't make sense. Noah exercised faith when he went out and chopped down the first gopher wood tree, and he was going to spend 120 years obeying God without seeing anything. I don't know this, but I'm sure they had to be days when he's saying, "I'm tired of dropping trees. I'm tired of putting this thing together. It's huge boat on dry land". But not only that. Guess what 2 Peter says? 2 Peter says that Noah was a preacher of righteousness. Talks about this; 2 Peter 2:5, 1 Peter 3:20. Noah is a preacher of righteousness. So watch this now. Noah is chopping down trees during the day 'cause he has to work during the day to see what he's doing, and he going to town to preach at night. Now, he only got a three-word sermon. "It's going to rain. It's going to rain. God told me to tell you it's going to rain". They're saying, "Well, what's rain"? "All I know is, you know, wet stuff coming down from earth, and it's going to rain. God told me to tell you it's going to rain".
You talk about looking like a fool. He worked, and he witnessed. Like Enoch before, he proclaimed his faith. He was not a secret agent Christian, a spiritual CIA representative, a covert operative. Paul says, "I am not ashamed of the gospel. It is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes". If you can put placards on your car, placards on your lawn about who you're voting for in the election, then why are you an undecided voter when it comes to standing up and proclaiming your faith in Jesus Christ? It says he proclaimed his faith. In other words, on your job if you were accused of being a follower of Christ, would there be enough evidence to convict you or would you be found innocent of all charges? He was crystal clear where he stood. So he worked by day, he witnessed by night, and he walked with God. That's how he rolled.
So he out there chopping down gopher trees, "I praise you. I give you glory. I don't see no rain, but I'm praising you. I'm giving you glory. I'm putting up this wood just like you told me, and I'm going to bless your name in the middle of the work. Even though I don't see any results of the work, I don't see what you're doing, I'm going to give you glory". You worship while you work. He says he built his ark in reverence. He built the ark for the salvation of his family because a job of a real man is to save his family. The job of a kingdom man is to save his family. Kingdom men don't walk away from their family, don't abandon their children, don't sit home while she goes to work and he does nothing. No, no, no. He was out working. He was out working. And it was clear that, "If nobody else believes me, I'm going to make sure my family believes me, I'm going to make sure my wife's walking with me, I'm going to make sure my children are walking with me". Because a real man delivers his family even if nobody else believes him.
It says Noah built the boat, and he saved his family. He says, "There's going to be these seven other people, and they're going to see my faith at work. They ain't going to see me sending them to church, they're going to see me leading them to church. I ain't going to be saying when they have a Bible question, 'Ask your mother.' I'm going to discover the answer myself and I'm going to best I can give it to them. Why? 'Cause I'm responsible for my family's salvation. I'm responsible to lead my kids to Christ. I'm responsible to take care of them". Because the definition of a man is you're responsible even if you're not to blame. You can't walk with your heavenly Father and let everybody else dictate to you 'cause they're your friends. You're walking with God. And it says, "And by his walk, he condemned the world".
Hebrews 11 says, verse 7, he condemned the world. He condemned the world with his work and his witness, and then it happened 120 years later with all this silence. Plop, plop, plop. Water coming down from the sky. Noah says to his family, "It's time". Mr. Lion looked at Mrs. Lion and went... Mr. Bird looked at Mrs. Bird, tweedle dee, tweedle dee. The species of snake started to gravitate. Noah was given instruction without knowing how God was going to pull it off. "How are we going to get all the animals into the ark? In fact, God, you asked me to build the ark and of all the instructions you gave me, you gave me nothing related to navigation. So how do I know where I'm going? In fact, how am I even going to get to water"? 'Cause he didn't know how all this was going to work. "How is all this going to work? How am I going to get enough food to feed all these animals for 40 days and 40 nights? How"...
God may not give you all the information, but do the work of obedience he's called you to do until he shows you how he plans to pull it off. If you're from the kingdom of God, you need to believe first and then you see; and you believe by moving the stone, not just by having this psychological feeling well up in you. You believe with your feet, not with your feelings. So I don't care how much doubt you have. Get your feet moving the right way and you're moving in faith. Don't wait for the emotions. The emotions are the caboose. Your obedience is the engine. And the reason why we're not seeing more of God in the unseen back to the scene is our feet are moving in the wrong direction. All of a sudden became crystal clear that the one man was right and the civilization was wrong. Okay? It became crystal clear. It took a while.
I know some of you want to give up, some of you want to quit. You're trying to live the Christian life. Nobody's buying it. Nobody's believing it. Maybe, ladies, guys are rejecting you because you won't compromise your standards. Maybe folks are leaving you because you won't hang out with them and do what they're doing. But there is coming a day when God will make it inextricably clear where he stands. And if you're walking with God, he's standing with you. And there came a day when they began to realize Noah's walk with God was the truth, their rebellion against God was a lie, and they found it out too late because the floods came. The Bible declares that one day Jesus is coming back. It says as it was in the days of Noah, shall it be when the son of man returns. We are seeing the days of Noah right before us. We're seeing the demonic possession. We're seeing the compromise of values. We're seeing the rebellion against God. We're seeing the dismissing of God from the culture. We are in the days of Noah.
The Bible says when you see those days, look up. Your redemption draweth nigh. You will be the one who will be 'cause... and I love this. I'll just mention this. It says that he had to seal the boat with pitch. Pitch keeps the water from getting into the boat. It's a sealant. He sealed the boat with pitch. The Hebrew word for pitch is the root word for atonement. So he sealed the boat with the atonement of pitch. Guess why you're going to be safe for eternity? You will be safe for eternity because the Hebrew word for pitch is atonement, and the blood of Jesus Christ seals the eternal destiny of anyone who comes to God by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. And so Jesus is your ark of safety. God has an ark for you to build. He's waiting on you to obey and to obey him completely, not partially. If God says do this and you only have done this much, he won't move. He will not move until obedience has been completed, until faith has been fully exercised.
One of the old television shows I love was simply called "Early Edition". It was this man who got tomorrow's newspaper today. He got tomorrow's newspaper today. So he saw what was coming the day before it came. Because he had the early edition, the day before the actual event, he could do things to make changes 'cause he knew what was coming tomorrow. Noah knew what was coming tomorrow. He walked in light of it today. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you know where this thing is going. So why don't we walk with God today so that we can hear his voice, be prepared for what he wants to do in this life and reward us in the next life because, like Noah, we walked with God, saved our families, condemned the world. And then it closes by saying, "And he became the heir". He was the beneficiary 'cause his family was saved and protected. May God help us as a church collectively, as individuals personally to be known not for our buildings, not for our program, not for our resources, not for all that's good. But to be known for one dominant fact that those folk walked with God. May that be what we're really known for.