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What the Bible says about Co-Existence with Sin
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 14:12

Step by step, Abram lived a godly life, and God chose him. Abram separated himself from the people of the land. But by chapter 14, we find Lot living in the city. Lot also lived his life by faith, but even though he was converted and knew the work of God, he chose to mix with the people of the land, being sucked right into their midst. When he decided to move, Lot may have not intended to be in the city, but on its outskirts. Nevertheless, he eventually ended up in the city.

It is not known why he moved. Perhaps Lot's wife was the cause, or possibly his daughters, interested in marrying. Maybe it was Lot's idea, thinking business would be better in the city.

Lot's actions are in contrast to Moses'. Moses deliberately chose to turn his back on the world, while Lot deliberately chose to go toward the world. Consequently, Lot's association with the world wore down his spirituality and resistance, until his spiritual discernment was so weak that he did not really know the difference between right and wrong. He did not know what he wanted and lingered in the city just before it was to be destroyed. There is no surer way to go backward in one's spirituality, to blunt one's feelings and knowledge of sin, to dull spiritual discernment, than by mingling with the world.

David boasted in prosperity in Psalm 30:6-7, writing, "I shall never be moved." Lot's actions say the same, "It will not hurt for me to go down there. I shall never be moved." But Paul said, "Let those who think they stand take heed less they fall" (I Corinthians 10:12). Lot crashed. In his lack of faith and spiritual pride, he felt he could stand strong against the spiritual onslaught of the world. Lot became hesitating and undecided, a procrastinating man in the day of his trial because of the slow deterioration of his spiritual frame.

It could be reasoned that Lot did make it into the Kingdom of God. God does, after this, call him righteous. But God wants us to understand that, though we may forsake Him, and though He is magnanimous, merciful, forgiving, and full of grace, life could have been so much better.

It could have been so much better for Lot and his family. The Bible shows, especially in Genesis 19, that his voice carried no weight at all in the city of Sodom. No one listened to him. Not even his family listened to him. His family showed him little or no respect, even mocking him and showing contempt.

Why? This happens to anyone like Lot. They are eventually despised because their friends and relatives cannot deal with their insincerity. They would say, "Surely if he believed what he professes to believe, he would not do as he does."

Furthermore, there is a significant, meaningful omission in the Old Testament. The Old Testament writers have a pattern of telling what happened to a person at his death, but it says absolutely nothing about Lot. He just disappears from the scene, in a painful silence. This omission is the Bible's admission that this godly, righteous man had no impact.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part Three)

Genesis 19:14

In Lot's family was a measure of contempt. Lot seemed to his sons-in-law to be joking. It is as if they said, “Who cares for anything you say?” Was Lot's wife different? She looked back. Lot's daughters? They escaped, and then proceeded to involve Lot in one of the vilest sins in the entire Bible, incest. Contempt is not unusual for a lingerer, for they are despised by their families, who cannot deal with the person's inconsistency. They are hot, then cold. They blow this way, then that. They command, “Do this,” but they do something different. Their lives do not live up to the words that they say. Lot was a man whose works burned, but he himself was saved (I Corinthians 3:15).

This is not a way that God wants His children to live. Even though He mercifully intervenes and saves, He wants His children to enjoy the best of the abundant life and to be prepared for His Kingdom.

Most are familiar with Herbert Lockyer's series of "All" books: All the Prayers of the Bible, All the Parables of the Bible, All the Promises of the Bible, All the Women of the Bible, etc. In All the Men of the Bible, he says that Lot is the representative man:

Perhaps there is no figure in the Bible who represents so many men of today as Lot of Sodom. Where you will find one Abraham, one Daniel, or one Joshua, you will find a thousand Lots.

Lot had much wealth, but he did not have the abundant life of God because of his choice to coexist with the world, whose constant, degenerate pressure virtually destroyed his true spirituality. Lot was not a sinner in the normal sense, but a spiritually small and lean man.

There is an interesting contrast between Abraham and Lot. Abraham was probably exceedingly wealthier than Lot, but Abraham lived in a tent, while Lot lived in a house. This clearly shows that Abraham lived his life in such a way that everybody understood that Abraham was just a pilgrim. He did not put roots down in this world, while Lot, his nephew, did.

Lot was converted but carnal. He was a man of weak faith. His hopes and dreams were in the world, and his interest was in the things of this world. Lot had the same vision as Abraham, but by choice, he was firmly anchored in the world. All of Lot's goodness was virtually wasted because his spiritual life was going nowhere.

One might say that, because Lot was "saved," there is more than one way to skin a cat. There might be many poor ways of skinning a cat, as well as some good ways, too. But there is only one best way to skin a cat. Why not choose the best way of doing it? That is the lesson of Lot's life. Why let our works that we have built burn up? Instead, why not do things the way God says?

God was not in all of Lot's thoughts (Psalm 10:4) because he was living by sight. Lot might very well be what we might call the quintessential second-generation Christian. He believed, but all of his passion was spent pursuing the amusements of this world. Lot, whose faith was weak at best, was not committed like Abraham was. The whole aim of Abraham's life was to give glory to God, while Lot, though righteous, lived by sight (II Corinthians 5:7). His aim was essentially to grasp at life, to do it now and enjoy it, rather than work to develop his relationship with God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part Four)

1 Corinthians 5:11-13

Paul explains that we have to evaluate—discern, judge—immorality of all kinds in the church, and he advocates the practice of disfellowshipping those who continue to practice such sins. The presence of unrepentant sinners in the congregation only causes trouble and creates divisions, as they had in the incident he had written about earlier in the chapter.

But what about grace, mercy, and patience? What about demonstrating the love of God? Some might ask, “What's wrong with Paul? Doesn't he understand that we live under grace? Did he not understand that we all need to co-exist and be tolerant of one another? Did he not know that he would have everyone pointing the finger at each other and bringing chaos into the church? Isn't that what's going on in the world as we speak?”

In II Thessalonians 3:6, 14, the apostle gives the same advice:

But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. . . . And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed.

Some might think, “Paul needs to stop! He's going to destroy the church!” But that is exactly the opposite of what he is trying to do. He urges church members to use the gift of discernment to root out the weeds—call them tares, if you will—among them so that good fruits of righteousness could be produced in the ensuing peaceful environment (see James 3:18). Remember, God gives the gifts of His Spirit—including discernment—for the improvement and growth of the body (I Corinthians 12:7).

In fact, what Paul commanded the Corinthians and Thessalonians to do is an expression of godly love. Admonishing Timothy and Titus to guard the truth falls into the same category. It is far less harsh than what many militaries have done to guards who fell asleep while on watch duty! The principle is the same—getting rid of those who demonstrate dereliction of duty—but disfellowshipping is far kinder and more effective spiritually.

Moreover, Paul advises this seemingly harsh treatment to bring about a beneficial effect: It is intended to produce shame in the disfellowshipped individual and spur him or her to repentance—to a restored relationship with God. Is that not what God wants everyone to do, repent and turn to Him? Paul advises in II Thessalonians 3:15, “Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish [caution, warn, and rebuke, if necessary, in love] him as a brother.” In the end, disfellowshipping turns out to be a loving, corrective measure, not a punishment.

Paul poured himself out admonishing, warning, and even rebuking the brethren, imploring them to exercise discernment and judging, if need be, to keep the spirit of the world out of the church. In these times, the need is all the more pressing.

Ronny H. Graham
The Gift of Discernment and Godly Love

2 Peter 2:6-9

Three times in this section, Lot is called "righteous," and once he is called "godly." Yet, when we look at his story, found in Genesis 11 - 19, everything that is written about the man is negative. It is not good. He is not put in a good light at all, yet Peter calls him "righteous" and "godly."

It is even more shocking to consider Peter's obvious inference that he was righteous while all the evil, wicked things were happening in Sodom. From this, we can conclude that he did not become righteous through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ after the shock of events that occurred with the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, but that God deemed him righteous before that time and through the event. Lot, that righteous man, was troubled with what was occurring within the city.

Lot, then, was not what we would consider a bad or evil man. He was, in fact, what we would consider to be a converted man. He had received the grace of God, so righteousness was imputed to him, even as it is to us.

Peter writes that Lot was tormented by the things that he saw in Sodom and Gomorrah. What does this mean? It means that he clearly understood sin. It does not seem that the Sodomites were concerned at all, but Lot was. He understood that his neighbors were far off the mark.

However, though he was not wicked himself, he did nothing to remove himself from his evil situation. There is the problem. He lingered. He was willing to coexist with sin.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part Three)


 




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