Sin left us in a desperate condition—unrighteous in every way. The comprehensive nature of our unrighteousness grieved the heart of God.
This is powerfully captured in Genesis 6:5–8:
The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.
This is a shocking statement of the sorry state of things as the result of sin. We tend to want to think that sin is not so sinful; that our unrighteous attitudes and actions are not really that unrighteous. But one little phrase in this passage says it all. It forcefully declares why our only hope is the
righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. This phrase is powerful and sobering because it is the assessment of the human heart by the One who is the Creator and knower of our hearts. Here it is: “every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
God wasn’t grieved because the people he had made occasionally did wrong things or once in a while had bad thoughts. He wasn’t grieved because their responses were sometimes colored with bad intentions. This would have been bad enough, but things were fundamentally worse. The effect of sin on people was total. It distorted everything people desired and thought, and consequently everything they said and did. It is humbling to grasp, but sin leaves us in the one condition none of us want to
believe that we’re in. The result of sin is that there is nothing righteous about us. There is nothing that is naturally commendable. There is nothing that we can hold before God as a reason to quiet his grief and engender his acceptance. Nothing.
But this passage tells us more. It lays out the pattern by which God would deal with sin— judgment and redemption. He would wipe out people from the face of the earth in an act of righteous judgment, but he would redeem one man and his family, and renew his covenant promises to them. The redemption of Noah was to be a finger that pointed to another redemption, one following the same pattern. God would send his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus would be righteous in every way, yet judgment would fall on him. He would experience the full weight of God’s anger over sin, even to
death, so that we wouldn’t have to. His death would satisfy God’s anger. His righteousness would be attributed to us. His resurrection would guarantee us life. His righteousness is our only hope, because sin renders us all deeply unrighteous.
For further study and encouragement: Romans 3:21–31
(Source: New Morning Mercies by Paul Tripp)