In verse 9 is the first use of the term “grace” in the Old Testament. Others like Adam and Eve certainly received a measure of grace from God because He could have killed them on the spot for their disloyalty in submitting to Satan since the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Abel, Seth, Enoch, and others undoubtedly also received grace. These men appear to have been converted (see Hebrews 11), and their sins forgiven.
Notice it says, “Noah found grace.” It is stated this way so we understand that he did not earn it by his conduct; it was given as a gift, which happens to every converted person. This is not all it says about Noah. Regarding his conduct, Genesis 6:9 states: “This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.” The word “perfect” does not refer to his ancestry but to his habitual, daily conduct.
The terms “just,” “perfect,” and “walked with God” all signify his conduct among those in his family and community. Noah was a righteous man who could be trusted because people knew he kept the laws of God. “Walking with God” denotes one so close to God in his manner of life that He would keep company with him because he was obedient despite all the corruption surrounding him on every side. That he was perfect (“blameless,” KJV) among his contemporaries suggests he had no major flaws in his character. In addition, II Peter 2:5 calls him “a preacher of righteousness.”
We need to make sure we are correct regarding Noah and grace because we want to be consistent and accurate about receiving grace. Scripture always shows grace as something given by God; it is never earned. Genesis 6:8, then, does not say Noah received grace because his life already reflected all those good attributes, but that he was conducting his life righteously because God had given him grace. His conduct was proof that he found favor with God. God gave grace, and Noah then began living his life in a godly manner. The favor—grace—empowered him to behave as is recorded here.
An additional result of finding grace was to separate or sanctify him from all others on earth whom God had not sanctified for the purpose the Bible goes on to show. The grace, the favor, the gifts of God, always precede anything produced within His purpose and calling.
Noah stood out because he responded correctly to the grace, the gifts, the favor, God gave him, and so God called him righteous. Likewise, we have found favor, grace, and gifts in God's calling of us, so we need to evaluate whether we are responding as Noah did to the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by His Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).
We must not just rush by this first mention of grace in the Bible, which God purposely and deliberately inserted here. He also intentionally used the term “found” so we will understand that Noah's conduct was a fruit of God's grace, not something inherent that made God call and use him. It was as if Noah was walking a path and came upon a great treasure that changed his entire life from then on. The Creator God put the treasure there for him to find.
Grace is a gift of God to enable us to reach our goals within His purposes. Like Adam and Eve and like Noah, we play essential roles in what is going on—but not until after God gives His gifts. Adam and Eve failed. Noah succeeded. We can see from Noah's record that grace leads to righteous conduct, walking with God, blamelessness, and making the right witness. In addition, grace provides salvation from the destruction to come. Without grace, there is no new creation.