I’m Curious: Sin = Loving God ?

photo courtesy Stanford.edu
photo courtesy Stanford.edu


My curiosity was piqued the other day as I was reading a morning devotional. The text was from Genesis chapter 6 on the story of Noah, and the commentary included the following statement:

Saying that Noah was “righteous” and “blameless” does not mean that he never sinned. Rather, it means that Noah wholeheartedly loved and obeyed God.

 I’m curious; how does one reconcile sin to wholeheartedly loving and obeying God?

I have some thoughts and ideas. But I would like some feedback from others before I wade in on the discussion.

(Also, this “I’m Curious”-type of post is something I would like to do more often, especially if I get any type of good feedback or discussion going on some of these topics.)

NEVER be afraid to question!

12 thoughts on “I’m Curious: Sin = Loving God ?”

  1. This comment doesn’t address the main question you’re going for, but it’s just what I thought about as I read your post (which I enjoyed, btw!).

    I think this is a trickier question than it may initially appear, especially when considering something like the Noah story as its basis. Is Noah supposed to be considered a historical character, or allegorical? If he’s the latter, then the author may have really meant completely blameless as in virtually sinless. After all, he’s the “good guy” of the story, and in morality plays, such protagonists are often one-sided characters.

    If he’s supposed to be considered historical, then “blameless” would have to mean someone who is devoted to God, though he’s not perfect. Where I think this becomes problematic is when you consider the rest of the world. Are we really supposed to believe that the entire rest of the earth was covered with evil people? People who had no interest in serving God? I find that difficult to believe. At any point in recorded history, every society is filled with both kinds of people — those who are trying to do what’s right, and those who aren’t. Usually, the former group outnumbers the latter. When people serve “false” gods, it’s just because they don’t know the gods they’re serving are false. They aren’t serving them out of a sense of rebellion — they honestly think they’re serving the right god(s). So in Noah’s time, which was before the Law of Moses, God supposedly dealt with heads of families or tribes. Why would people serve an idol, if they’re being spoken to by the actual God? There’s no incentive to ignore him — it’s just not very believable that people would behave that way. Of course, this doesn’t even get into the scientific reasons for doubting the Noah story.

    Anyway, that’s the direction my thoughts took when I thought about this. Sorry for going off on a tangent! 🙂

    1. Hi Nate. Your post offered some questions that I thought I would try to answer.

      Noah, like all the patriarchs listed in the genealogy of Genesis is an ancestor of Jesus Christ. The focus is on this lineage of human beings, not the entire human race. The earth is the land in which these people lived, not the globe. Noah’s flood experience likely took place in what is now the Persian Gulf around 8,000 years ago. At this time there was a huge release of fresh water damned up in North America from glacial melting into the oceans. The effect was an almost tidal wave rising of sea levels worldwide, especially in areas like the Persian Gulf, making the local flood there quiet severe. Not only was the lineage of Jesus Christ further defined by this event, but the many cultural stories about a great flood are likely based on many local floods in coastal areas at this time.

      It is also interesting that an understanding of the genealogy of Genesis as a chronology of patriarchs, yields a date for the creation of Adam and Eve at about 14,000 years ago, and the flood of Noah at about 8,000 years ago. Because we know that there were creatures with human anatomy living at least 80,000 years ago, Adam and Eve must have been the first humans to have received a spirit. In that their choices effected all humanity, they were the first complete human beings. This chronology may also explain the reasons for the beginning of the Neolithic period of human organization and agriculture at about the same time.

  2. I think I agree pretty much with Nate. At the very least (if a flood which a family escaped on a boat with his animals is the basis of this story), there are some exaggerated or stylised elements, and this division of people into “good” and “bad” can be a feature of such stories (just like nursery rhymes, Old time Hollywood movies, etc).

    The truth about all us believers is that we don’t live up to our profession, just as lovers and spouses can truly love each other yet sometimes say nasty things in anger. As Yoda would say, “It’s the way of the force!”

  3. a) I was considering adding weekly questions to my blog, as well! I found that kind of cool!
    b) I personally begin with a historical Noah, though it can work even if this story is allegorical.
    Looking at the passage, it does not say every human is evil, but it does say that Man’s thoughts/intentions were evil all the time, and their lives had been corrupted. That can be understood as they were thinking only of themselves; they had no concern with others, including God (sounds rather familiar, if you ask me).
    From this perspective, we can reason that even Noah’s life was corrupted, yet his INTENTION was still to serve God wholeheartedly and love Him, even if he still sinned. We can liken this to Abraham and David being called God’s friends, even though they still sinned. They had moments of selfishness and weakness, but overall their INTENTION was to serve God.

  4. God knew we would ALL sin, which is why he chose Jesus Christ, even before the world was created, to be our Savior. Our great battle here has to do with our dual nature. We are flesh and we are Spirit. We are here “in school” to learn to submit the flesh to the Spirit. We do that one step at a time, by relying on the cleansing power and grace of our Savior. As we combine the righteous desires of our hearts with following Christ as closely as we can, He enables us to progress and become more like him. I don’t think our Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ are nearly as concerned about our sinning as they are about us being willing to come to them and be healed and strengthened. I knew that my own children loved me even when they were disobedient or caused my heart to break. It wasn’t about whether they loved me, it was about them working through their own trials. I am confident in the amazing patience of God. He knows we are “works in progress” and the direction we are headed is more important than where we have been or whether we stumble. (I am not suggesting that it’s ok to be insincere or to willfully sin and excuse ourselves without repentance.)

  5. The Greek word hamartia that in translated into the English word sin means to “miss the mark.” Noah, like all human beings since the fall, was infected with the sinful condition that prevented him from living up to his full human potential. Those who strive to overcome their sins through repentance and love are viewed by God as righteous and blameless. Obedience to God if reflected in this effort.

    To repent, change your mind and heart, is often likened to an aircraft that is required to make constant course corrections to arrive at it’s destination safely. As the aircraft must overcome wind and gravity, we must overcome sin to arrive at our destination safely.

    1. Those who strive to overcome their sins through repentance and love are viewed by God as righteous and blameless. Obedience to God if reflected in this effort.

      That comment made my day! Thank you for stopping by, and feel free to throw in your two-cents anytime.

    2. That’s a great analogy, Marc. Thanks! I heard ;my pastor years ago use the term “miss the mark” as a more accurate depiction of sin, and I thought that was really helpful, especially when I needed it.

  6. This is a great question. Something I read this morning commenting on Romans 7 was helpful to me. It pointed out that we do what we know what is wrong because we still think we are married to the law and alternately try to be faithful to it or rebel and stray from it. The reality for those of us who trust Christ is that we are HIS betrothed–that is our identity. So at least some of the challenge is realizing that we are no longer tied to this love/hate affair with the law that provokes us either to sins of excess or self-righteousness. We are the beloved of Jesus who seek to live “spotless” lives as we prepare for our wedding day. Unfortunately–we sometimes forget who we are–sigh!

    1. Thanks for the great reply. I lived in Romans 7 for quite some time during a lot of my early questioning. The book “Discipline of Grace” by Jerry Bridges really helped during this struggle. If you haven’t read it, it might be worth your time.

        1. Anytime! He and Francis Chan really cleared up a lot of questions for me a couple years ago, and I still refer to those books on occasion. Though nothing replaces Scripture, there’s nothing wrong with a little added clarity from time to time 🙂

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