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What the Bible says about Living by Sight
(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)

Psalm 78:40-42

Provoked means "rebelled against." Their disrespect and irreverence produced the fruit of limiting His willingness and power to provide for them in any situation. In their minds, they set boundaries upon what they thought He would or could do. The psalmist does not mean they literally hogtied God to keep Him from doing things, though the practical result of their relationship virtually amounted to that. However, in their lack of faith and fear of God and their failure to make practical use of His sovereignty over His creation and His willingness to help His people, they mentally drew lines, concluding that God could not or would not provide for them in their circumstance. Thus, they chose to arrive at their own solutions that resulted in sin and death. They were obviously not living by faith but by sight. Hebrews 4:1-2 confirms this was at the base of Israel's failure in the wilderness

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sovereignty of God and Human Responsibility: Part Eleven

Hebrews 3:12

The Israelites in the wilderness could not live by faith, despite having strong visual evidence of God's nearness to them daily. For example, He killed the firstborn of Egypt; He divided the sea; He provided water from a rock when necessary. Every day for forty years, He witnessed to His presence by providing manna and the cloud over the Tabernacle! On occasion, because of their unbelief, He triggered an earthquake or caused poisonous snakes to invade the camp, sending many to their deaths. He did much more, but these examples make the point: Those who lived by sight fell by the wayside.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Living by Faith and God's Justice


 




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