5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
6 And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
7 So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”
every intent (v.5) = everything thought, every purpose, every conception
sorry (vs. 6, 7) = lit. “to sigh”
It is this verse [v.5], indeed, that clearly establishes the principle of human depravity—i.e., the principle that we not only have the potential of sinning through the commission of deeds, but that we are already sinners due to our inevitable post-Fall “commission” of wicked thoughts. Quite to the contrary of our society’s “conventional wisdom,” verse 5 thus makes clear that God’s assessment of who we truly are is based fundamentally on what we think as opposed to only what we do. This principle, not surprisingly, is reiterated time and again throughout the Bible as the unchanging ideal both for the Israelite who would faithfully follow the Law of Moses (cf. Deuteronomy 30:6; Proverbs 23:7a; Jeremiah 31:31) as well as for the Christian who would faithfully follow “the Law of Christ” (cf. Matthew 5:22, 28; Mark 7:20-23; Galatians 6:2). — Wechsler, page 135.
The opening clause of verse 6 is often translated “the Lord God was sorry that He had made man on the earth,” in which the expression “was sorry” should not be understood in the sense of “regretted,” but rather—as is also within the semantic range of the English verb—in the sense of “was pained” or “was sorrowful, grieved, or sad.” God is not “second-guessing” His decision to create man—for His decisions and actions are always perfect and exactly as they should be (cf. Numbers 23:19; Romans 11:29)—but rather, and quite consistent with the tenor already established in the opening chapters of Genesis, God is demonstrating an abiding and undiminished concern with man. Incredibly, what we do—even what we think—has a real impact on the heart of the One who created us and continues to take and active, loving interest in our lives. It is from this perspective, moreover, that we must understand the content of vs. 7-8—to wit: that God determines to “blot out man … from the face of the land” not merely because he has offended God’s righteous standard, but because such action is necessary for the welfare of man himself, to preserve man from the full effects of his unmitigated depravity. — Wechlser, pages 135-136.
Verse 5 helps me understand the reason behind the sick and twisted behaviors that have become not only accepted but celebrated in our culture. Some of these behaviors are not only evil, but make no logical sense whatsoever. There can be no benefit whatsoever to those who practice and promote some of the stuff that’s going on. And yet it continues and progresses toward even sicker and more illogical behaviors.
Why? Because man’s thoughts, once God is cast aside, are only evil continually. Evil becomes an end in itself. It’s an active pursuit of anything that is in opposition to God’s nature. I believe it’s often not even a conscious choice on the part of the individual. It’s that when people remove themselves from God, evil results every time, and more further removed they are, the greater the evil.
This is exactly what Paul was getting at in Romans 1:18-32.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves,
25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.
27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;
29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers,
30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;
32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
That is an exact blueprint of what is happening in our culture. There is no limit to the amount or quality of God’s grace, but there is apparently a limit to how many times He will offer it to someone who deliberately and knowingly rejects it over and over. And once He withdraws His offer of grace, there is no limit to man’s depravity.