Am I Really That Bad? (Genesis 6:5)


"The LORD saw ... that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time" (Gen 6:5; NIV 2011).

Why so extreme? Gen 6:5 seems excessively extreme. It infuriates many a man. But Gen 6:5 always keeps me in check because it applies to me 100% of the time. It is not that I do evil or even think evil all the time, however you define evil. I would say that most of the time I do not do or think evil, at least not consciously, perhaps like most people, Christian or non-Christian. So how would Gen 6:5 apply to me 100% of the time? I previously addressed it here: Sin, Faith, Salvation (Gen 6:1-14).

What does Gen 6:5 mean? The Hebrew "yeser" from Gen 6:5 is translated as "inclination" (NIV), "intention" (ESV), or "imagination" (KJV). "Yeser" is derived from the potter's verb "to form" (cf. Gen 2:7), and it implies design or purpose. It is alluding to the direction of our heart, regardless of what we are thinking or doing. God's "severe" indictment and/or assessment is that our heart is going astray, even when we are doing good or doing our best.

An example? Say, sending this email. My purpose is to help explain the often misunderstood biblical doctrine/teaching of the "total depravity" of man. This is so important because without personally acknowledging this, one would never grasp the gospel of grace and salvation, which is a free gift of God to undeserving sinful man (Rom 6:23). Also, we humans default to "feeling superior" to others, in our morals, our honesty, our behavior, our understanding, our success and achievements, our looks!, etc. As a result, we Christians might come across more like Pharisees than Christians. But, if we acknowledge just how bad we truly are, our attitude may be one of genuine humility, even toward others with whom we disagree or find disagreeable.

What's evil? All of the above is good, I believe. But what about the "inclination," "intention," and "imagination" of my heart? I'd like to improve my writing skills! I'd like to "show off" (even if no one is impressed). I'd like to annoy people who are afraid of emails. (Oops, now you know!) This list can simply just go on and on... Though what I want to do is good, if I am honest with myself I cannot really control the "inclination," "intention," and "imagination" of my heart (Rom 7:20-23).

Don't you do that when you are trying to help someone who is really attractive?

Now what? Realizing the "evil" "inclination," "intention," and "imagination" of my heart, my only hope is cry out for God's mercy and grace (Rom 7:24-25).

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