The Courage to Face Opposition
Dr. Charles Stanley
Watch The Courage to Face Opposition video.
Scripture: Genesis 6:5-22
I. Introduction: Courage is an essential quality in every believer’s life. We need it to face difficult situations, admit mistakes, tell the truth, share our faith, and simply to obey the Lord. Courage can be defined as following difficult instruction in the face of danger and doing what’s right without turning back. Noah is a wonderful example of a courageous man who did exactly what the Lord told him despite all the difficulties that accompanied God’s assignment.
II. Although the story of Noah isn’t generally associated with bravery, by examining the setting and the obstacles, we’ll understand why he exhibited courage in his obedience to the Lord.
A. God’s description of the earth. When the Lord looked at the earth in Noah’s day, it was nothing like His original creation. In their fallen condition, mankind had turned away from the Lord and become corrupt and evil.
1. The extensiveness of man's sin. God saw the vast extent of human wickedness. This wasn’t just an isolated area of evil, for the entire earth was ruined in His sight because “all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth” (v. 12).
2. The intensity of man’s sin. The wickedness was not only widespread; it was extreme. The earth was filled with violence, and mankind was consumed by sin and immorality. “Every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (v. 5). In giving themselves over to sinful desires, the human race had descended into depravity.
B. The Lord’s feelings about the state of mankind. Although the Lord had created a beautiful earth and provided everything mankind needed, now human society was completely contaminated by evil. They had walked away from God and became increasingly wicked and violent. Their rejection and sinfulness broke His heart, and He was grieved and sorry that He had made them (v. 6).
C. God's intentions. Because the entire earth was corrupt, the Lord decided to send a worldwide flood. Although some people may think that a loving God would never wipe out every living thing on earth, we must remember that the Lord is also holy, righteous, and just. Yet even in the midst of His judgment, He extended grace to Noah and his family by providing a plan for their salvation. They alone, along with two of every kind of animal, would safely ride out the flood in an ark.
D. Noah's need for courage. Although this passage in Genesis doesn’t explicitly mention the bravery of Noah, we can picture the obstacles and challenges he faced in obeying the Lord’s instructions. Noah’s job was simply to trust Him, obey His instructions, and leave the outcome to the Lord. As Noah invested his time, money, and effort in building the ark, he undoubtedly suffered ridicule. It took courage to continue building despite the derision. Noah was doing more than just building an ark. He was faithfully proclaiming the one true God to people who would not listen.
III. Noah was doing more than just building an ark; He was faithfully proclaiming the one true God to people who would not listen. When we look at Noah’s basis for courage, we see his brave determination wasn’t due to self-confidence; it was based upon:
A. His absolute assurance that he had heard from God. Noah knew that the Lord had spoken to him. And his situation is not unique; God is still speaking to his people today. The question is: are we hearing Him? He wants to give us guidance and instruction, but we must attentively seek Him in prayer.
B. The assurance of the Lord's presence with him. Because Noah “walked with God,” he was encouraged by His presence (Gen. 6:9). Similarly, when we are convinced that the Lord is with us, we’ll have the courage to tackle whatever He calls us to do.
C. The clarity of God's instructions to him. The Lord gave Noah specific directions about how to build the ark. Today, the indwelling Holy Spirit gives us clear instructions about how to walk with Him in obedience. He convicts us when we’re going the wrong way, calls us into specific areas of service, prompts us to obey, and reminds us to trust Him to keep His promises.
D. The experience of the Lord's strength in him. Since building an ark is a huge job, we can be sure that there were times when Noah struggled with exhaustion and wondered how he could ever finish it. But when God assigns a task, He also provides the strength to accomplish it. Because He is always faithful to empower us, inadequacy is never an excuse for avoiding His call.
E. The warning of God's impending judgement. The threat of a flood was a huge incentive for Noah to keep building the ark and warning the people of the coming judgment. An integral part of walking with the Lord is heeding His warnings in Scripture and choosing the path of obedience which always leads to blessing.
F. The favor of God. The entire earth was filled with wickedness, but “Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (v. 8). He knew that whatever he did in obedience to God would be successful. As believers, we are also covered by the Lord’s favor—even if we don’t recognize it. But when we walk obediently with Him, we’ll sense His grace surrounding us.
G. His intimate relationship with the Lord. Even in the face of opposition, Noah never gave up because He knew the Lord intimately and wanted to obey Him. And that kind of relationship is still available to every believer. God wants us to know Him in a way that exceeds any human relationship.
H. God’s promise for his future. The prospects for the earth looked bleak, but Noah’s destiny was safely in the Lord’s hands. Today, our eternal future is secured at the moment of salvation when our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
IV. Conclusion: Sometimes it takes courage to obey God because He may require something that seems impossible. Perhaps it’s a task that is beyond your abilities, or maybe you’re struggling to surrender to Him. Whatever the reason, if you’ll trust the Lord, He’ll do the same thing in your circumstances that He did in Noah’s. Although the situations are different, the same God who helped Noah will help you. If you’ll trust Him, He’ll give you the courage to obey.