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A Good Man’s Sin

“Noah … drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent” (Genesis 9:20-21).

It’s always shocking and sad when a good man sins. When I hear of a Christian leader who has fallen, my initial response is usually, “I can’t believe it! How could it happen?” I want to hope that if I walk with God long enough, the day will come when temptation automatically glances off me.

But it just ain’t so! After walking closely with God for years, George Müller used to pray, “Lord, don’t let me become a wicked old man.” When I first read that years ago, I thought, “There’s not a chance!” But I’ve come to understand his prayer. No matter how long we’ve walked with the Lord, there isn’t one of us who can escape the constant struggle against sin.

Noah is “Exhibit A.” He had walked with God for over 600 years! In a wicked world, Noah stood alone for God. He was the only man on earth whom God saw fit to save from the judgment of the flood. The opportunity to launch a new beginning for the human race stood before him. And what happened? He got drunk and uncovered himself within his tent. Shocking! Disgraceful! Unbelievable! Is this the same Noah?

Some have tried to exonerate Noah by arguing that he didn’t know about fermentation, and got drunk accidentally. Other explanations have been suggested. But since drunkenness and nakedness are always presented in the Bible in a shameful light, we must conclude that Noah sinned.

Noah’s sin shows us that even the most godly are prone to sin. When it comes to godliness, Noah was the most righteous man on the earth before the flood. Centuries later, through Ezekiel, God listed Noah, Daniel, and Job as three of the most righteous men in history (Ezekiel 14:20)! And yet Noah got drunk and lay naked in his tent. “Let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).

Past godliness doesn’t guarantee future godliness. You don’t build up an immunity toward sin. Neither age nor maturity provide protection against temptation. We must walk in dependence upon the Lord daily.

—Steven J. Cole, condensed