THE WICKEDNESS OF MAN WAS GREAT IN THE EARTH
By John C. Carpenter
The book of Genesis begins with the creation of the heaven
and earth, including the creation of man in chapter 2. A few chapters later, we read these words of scripture: And it came to pass,
when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of
men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with
man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and
also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men
which were of old, men of renown. And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the
thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at
his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping
thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD (Gen 6:1-8).
verse 5 above, wickedness is translated from the Hebrew word ra raah, which means bad, or naturally or morally evil. It can also mean
adversity, affliction, calamity, grievous, harmful, ill noisome, sorrow, or wrong. The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, edited
by Walter Elwell, says wickedness always involves a moral state, and is an active, destructive principle, an opposition to God and
His people, which causes suffering and distress. Wickedness is often considered synonymous with evil, or sin. In Merrill Unger's Bible
Dictionary, Unger defines evil as disturbances of the divinely appointed harmony of the universe. Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary
defines wickedness as going beyond reasonable or predictable limits, which causes or is likely to cause harm, distress, or trouble.
In verse 6 above, the word great is translated from the Hebrew word rab, which means abundant, exceeding, increase, might, or plenteous.
When the scriptures tell us that wickedness was great in the earth, they are telling us that those aspects of life which oppose God
and His people, which go beyond predictable limits, which disturb God's harmony in creation, are therefore destructive, harmful, distressing,
and troubling to God and man, are abundant, increased, or plenteous.
After His creation of the heavens and earth, which included
man, God quickly came to the conclusion that man was full of wickedness. He was sorry that He had created mankind, and was grieved
in His own heart. This is sad, but it is even sadder to realize that man has always been wicked, and will continue to be so until
Christ returns a second time to establish His Kingdom. When we study the holy scriptures, it quickly becomes clear that they have
much to say about the wickedness and evil in man.
THE HEART IS DECEITFUL ABOVE ALL THINGS, AND DESPERATELY WICKED
of all, let us examine what the scriptures have to say about the wickedness of man. Is he considered intrinsically wicked, evil, or
sinful? Is every aspect of man corrupt? Are there any men or women who are exceptions to this corruption?
Isaiah described the
nation of Israel [and all of us as well] with these words: Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children
that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.
Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole
of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness [wholesomeness] in it; but wounds [splits], and bruises [hurt], and putrifying
sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment (Isa 1:4-6).
Jeremiah wrote, Every man is
brutish in his knowledge: every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath
in them. They are vanity, and the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish (Jer 10:14-15). God the Father
described the heart of man with these words: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jer
17:9); whereas Solomon says the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness [folly] is in their heart while they live, and
after that they go to the dead (Ecc 9:3).
In describing the unrighteousness and evil in men, Paul wrote, they are filled with
all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers,
without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy
of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them (Rom 1:29-32). Speaking about himself, Paul wrote For we know
that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but
what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that
do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with
me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not [should not
do], that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me (Rom 7:14-20).
have not come to a knowledge of God through faith in Christ are considered a disobedient and gainsaying [speak against] people (Rom
10:21), lawless and disobedient, unholy and profane, murderers, manslayers, whoremongers, defile themselves with mankind, liars, andperjurers (1 Tim 1:9-10). Men are lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful,
unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors,
heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God (2 Tim 3:2-4). Paul also taught that the [wicked, sinful, evil] works
of the flesh are manifest: Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations,
wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as
I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal 5:19-21). Paul exhorted
the Ephesian believers to walk not as the wicked, unrighteous, and unbelieving walk [live], in the vanity of their mind [understanding], Having
the understanding darkened [obscured], being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of theblindness [hardness, callousness] of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all
uncleanness with greediness (Eph 4:17-19).
Paul wrote Titus, Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled
and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they
deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate (Tit 1:15-16). Jesus Christ, Himself, tells us that
the evil man expresses outwardly what comes from within: That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within,
out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness,
an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man (Mar 7:20-23). Even our own
subject verses conclude that every thought and action of man stemmed from a wicked heart: GOD saw that the wickedness of man was greatin the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually ... (Gen 6:5), and He that trusteth
in his own heart is a fool (Pro 28:26).
THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NO, NOT ONE
Next, not only do the scriptures teach that
man is completely wicked and evil, but they also reveal that there are absolutely no exceptions. The prophet Isaiah prophesied the
rejection of Christ: he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness;
and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and
acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our
griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep
have gone astray [vacillate out of the way]; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of
us all (Isa 53:2-6).
In expressing his own wickedness and lament, Micah prophesied, Woe is me! for I am as when they have gathered
the summer fruits, as the grapegleanings of the vintage: there is no cluster to eat: my soul desired the firstripe fruit. The good
man is perished out of the earth: and there is none upright among men: they all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother
with a net. That they may do evil with both hands earnestly, the prince asketh, and the judge asketh for a reward; and the great man,
he uttereth his mischievous desire: so they wrap it up. The best of them is as a brier: the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge:
the day of thy watchmen and thy visitation cometh; now shall be their perplexity (Mic 7:1-4). David expressed these thoughts about
his fellow men: The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none
that doeth good. The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek
God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one (Psa 14:1-3).
his prayer to God the Father, the psalmist, David, understood that there are no righteous exceptions when he prayed, enter not into
judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified (Psa 143:2). Paul expressed his accurate understanding
of man when he wrote, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat
is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing
and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known:
There is no fear of God before their eyes (Rom 3:10-18). John explained in other terms, If we say that we have no sin, we deceive
ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from
all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us (1 John 1:8-10).
Paul taught that God the Father considers all, everyone, Jew and Gentile alike, guilty of unbelief when he writes the church in Rome,God hath concluded them all [Jew and Gentile] in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all (Rom 11:32). Paul wrote to the believers
in Rome that as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned (Rom
5:12). It may shock most of us, but even Christ said that He was not good: And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what
good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that
is, God [the Father]: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments (Mat 19:16-17). If we take a close look at our own lives
and are honest with ourselves, we must agree that the holy scriptures speak the truth and make it plain that there is no righteousness
in mankind. Man is wicked, evil, and sinful, even from his birth.
I WAS SHAPEN IN INIQUITY
Not only are the hearts of men
currently focused only on wickedness and evil continually, but this is the case from the moment we are born. David, the psalmist,
knew and acknowledged that the sin and evil within him was there from his own conception. After he had committed a sexual sin with
Bathsheba, David prayed to his Heavenly Father, For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee
only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
Behold, I was shapen [formed, destined] in iniquity [perversion, wickedness, evil]; and in sin [fault, offense] did my mother conceive
me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop,
and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken
may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit
within me (Psa 51:3-10). Scriptures also tell us that the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again
smite any more every thing living, as I have done (Gen 8:21), whereas David said, Do ye indeed speak righteousness, O congregation?
do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men? Yea, in heart ye work wickedness; ye weigh the violence of your hands in the earth. The wicked
are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies (Psa 58:1-3). Christ clarifies the human bondage
when He declares, That which is born of [created from] the flesh [humanity] is flesh [human nature with its passions, frailties and
faults]; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (John 3:6).
WHOSOEVER COMMITTETH SIN IS A SERVANT OF SIN
characteristic of the wickedness of man is that scriptures teach that mankind is in bondage to wickedness and sin. Man is a slave
to wickedness and sin, and unable to gain his own freedom from evil. Jesus told some Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in
my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be
Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily,
I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant [a slave, in bondage, a servant] of sin (John 8:31-34). Referring to our bondage
to sin, Paul wrote Titus, speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. For we ourselves
also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving [a slave to, in bondage to] divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice
and envy, hateful, and hating one another (Titus 3:2-3).
Paul also warned Timothy, his dearly beloved son in Christ, about the
satanic and demonic aspect of our slavery to temptation and sin when he wrote, the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle
unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance
to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive [captures,
made a prisoner of] by him at his will (2 Timothy 2:24-26).
Finally, the apostle Paul humbly confessed his own weaknesses and
bondage to sin when he wrote the church in Rome, For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold [sold as merchandise] under
sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would [should do], that do I not; but what I hate [and know that I should not do],
that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin
that dwelleth in me (Rom 7:14-17).
CAN THE ETHIOPIAN CHANGE HIS SKIN, OR THE LEOPARD HIS SPOTS?
The scriptures not only
teach us that we are slaves to sin, but they also teach us that mankind does not have the ability or power, and therefore, cannot
change his own wicked, sinful, evil ways. He is a product of his own nature, and that nature is unchangeable [apart from God]. There
are those who would vehemently argue this point, but the scriptures are clear. Only God, through the power and working of Christ and
His Holy Spirit, can manifest change within man.
Jeremiah complained to God about the wicked. He said, Righteous art thou, O
LORD, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore
are all they happy that deal very treacherously? Thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root: they grow, yea, they bring forth
fruit: thou art near in their mouth, and far from their reins. But thou, O LORD, knowest me: thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart
toward thee: pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter. How long shall the land mourn,
and the herbs of every field wither, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein? the beasts are consumed, and the birds; because
they said, He shall not see our last end (Jer 12:1-4). God then answered Jeremiah in part by bringing into the light Jeremiah's own
bondage and sin: And if thou say in thine heart, Wherefore come these things upon me? For the greatness of thine iniquity are thy
skirts discovered, and thy heels made bare. Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good,
that are accustomed to do evil. Therefore will I scatter them as the stubble that passeth away by the wind of the wilderness (Jer
13:22-24). God is saying that, just as the Ethiopian cannot change the color of his own skin, nor the leopard change the presence
of his own spots, neither can mankind change his own wickedness and sinful nature.
Referring to wicked and evil men, Christ taught
His disciples and those around Him with these words: Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of
thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring
forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and
cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them (Mat 7:16-20). The Lord's point is that men are corrupt, sinful,
and evil, and we know that they are corrupt, sinful, and evil because their fruit is evil and wicked.
Finally, Paul, makes the
point that it is not even possible for mankind to be subject to the standards of God when he wrote those in Rome, the carnal mind
is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please
God (Rom 8:7-8).
MAN LOVED DARKNESS RATHER THAN LIGHT
On top of his own innate wickedness, mankind also has another major
weakness: he is hostile to the only one who has the power and ability to alter this inborn tendency to evil, that is, God the Father,
through His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
According to the scriptures, man does not want his wickedness revealed, judged,
condemned, or corrected. Look what Christ said to Nicodemus, this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men
loved darkness [the hidden] rather than light [the revealed], because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth
the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved [admonished, convicted, and changed] (John 3:19-20).
told the Roman believers that our carnality is the enemy of God, and it is not possible for us to please Him (Rom 8:7-8), and the
Colossian believers they were sometime alienated [estranged from God] and enemies [adversaries, confrontational] in your mind by wicked
works, yet now hath he reconciled (Col 1:21). Man is not only alienated from God, but is an enemy of God because of his wicked works.
WAS FOREORDAINED BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD
Man was clearly wicked, evil, and sinful from early creation, and is still
so today. All we have to do is take an honest look at the world, and take note of the fruit of man. Mankind was and is, in his unregenerate
state, a child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, who wilt not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? (Acts 13:10),
an enemy against God the Father (Rom 8:7), aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having
no hope, and without God in the world (Eph 2:12). But, from the foundation of the world, God the Father, in His foreknowledge, had
a plan and remedy for the wickedness and unrighteousness of man.
The apostle Peter explained the plan and the time in which the
plan developed: Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation
received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who
verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in
God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. Seeing ye have purified your
souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart
fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the [gospel] word of God [which is Christ and His kingdom],
which liveth and abideth for ever (1 Peter 1:18-23). As a solution to the wickedness of mankind, God the Father ordained, before the
foundation of the world, the death and resurrection of Christ so that the faith and hope of man might be in God the Father, and that
we might be born again and live eternally with Christ in His Kingdom.
Elsewhere, Peter also explained in different words the
same plan: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh [near God] by the blood of Christ. For he is [the source
of] our peace [with God the Father], who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having
abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man,
so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and
preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him [Christ] we both have access by one Spirit
unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of
God (Eph 2:13-19). Despite the wickedness found within men, mankind, through the shed blood [death] of Christ, can be reconciled to
God the Father, and thereby become eternal citizens of the household of God.
The apostle Paul instructed the believers in Rome,For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet
peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us (Rom 5:6-8). Paul added later, For as by one man's [Adam] disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience
of one [that is, Christ] shall many be made righteous [equitable, innocent, holy, just] (Rom 5:19).
Paul also wrote the Ephesian
church, Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and
of the mind; and were by nature the children of [destined for God's] wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his
great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened [to reanimate conjointly] us together with Christ,
(by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the
ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus (Eph 2:3-7), Although
destined for God's anger and punishment, we humans were made alive together with Christ Jesus that God can show His exceeding grace
to us forever.
Writing to the church in Corinth, Paul referred to Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness,
and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord (1 Cor 1:30-31).
In his second letter to the church in Corinth, Paul went into additional detail: all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to
himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world
unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors
for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he [God] hath made him [Christ] to
be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Cor 5:18-21). Christ became sin for we humans,
so that we might be made the righteousness of God through faith in Christ.
Lastly, the apostle Paul wrote these encouraging and
uplifting words to the Colossian church: And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath
he reconciled [God and man together] In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy [sacred, pure] and unblameable [without
blemish or fault] and unreproveable [unaccused, irreproachable] in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and
be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven
...(Col 1:21-23). AMEN!