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Lot: A Warning!

February 9, 2009

God speaks to us in 2Co 6:17 “Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord. “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; and I will welcome you. But it was said of Lot that “He lingered.”(Genesis 19:16)

 

The reason I have chosen this subject this morning is because I have become increasingly aware of the incredible wickedness that surrounds us. I knew of the wickedness before but had not really been confronted by it until recently. There are people who call themselves Christians but who live like the worldlings; who indeed love the world. And God has said that if we love the world, the love of the Father is not in us. That means that we are not Christians. Do you understand that we are not to even dabble; we are not to yield even for a moment to the call of the world? Because if we do we will be dragged down into a pit of evil. Think back to “Fireproof” for a moment. As Caleb was going through the “Love Dare” book he came upon a statement that really should challenge us. The statement was “Beware of parasites.” A parasite is anything that gets your attention away from God and onto the things of this life. And if you yield even for a moment you will be hooked like a fish on a line and then begins the downward pull of lust. We must not give in to anything that will take our eyes off of Jesus Christ. He must be our first love. He must be Lord of all or He is not Lord at all.

 

Now Lot is an example of one who had great privileges. He was nephew to Abraham “The father of the faithful.” He watched Abraham serve God with all his might. And yet when the time came to separate from his uncle where did he cast his eyes…of all places…Sodom! J.C. Ryle has a great statement that I want for us to consider this morning. He says: “Who is this man that lingered?—Lot, the nephew of faithful Abraham. And when did he linger?—The very morning Sodom was to be destroyed. And where did he linger?—Within the walls of Sodom itself. And before whom did he linger?—Under the eyes of the two angels, who were sent to bring him out of the city”.

 

This is insanity! Lot knew the truth and yet he lingered. And herein lies the battle. Ga 5:17For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” We are in a battle…not only within ourselves but we are wrestling against principalities and powers and rulers: against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. There is a monstrous evil pervading our land this morning, a ravenous beast which will not be satisfied until it has destroyed every last vestige of truth and godliness. Now we as Christians have been called out of the world and into the family of God and as such we are called to live for Him. There is no place in scripture that says we can linger in the world. God will have nothing to do with sin, and the world, the flesh, and the devil want nothing to do with God. As we ponder the scriptures this morning I would ask you to examine yourselves to see if there is any lingering with the world. Ask God to shine the searchlight of holiness within your inmost being.

 

Now before we go further; before we get puffed up and say, “this could never happen to me. I’ve been saved. I’m free from such things. Oh? Did you know that God calls Lot righteous? Speaking about the destruction of the cities of the plain we read in 2Pe 2:7-8 and delivered righteous Lot, oppressed by the conduct in licentiousness of the lawless (for in seeing and in hearing, dwelling among them day after day, his righteous soul was tormented with their lawless works.” Lot had knowledge of the truth to the point where God would call him ‘Righteous Lot.’ If God says this, who can say otherwise? Lot knew better. And yet He lingered…”(Genesis 19:16) Lot knew that the cities of the plains were about to be destroyed for their sins. And yet he lingered. He knew that fearful judgment was coming down on all within its walls for the angels had said plainly, “The Lord hath sent us to destroy it” (Gen 19:13). And yet he lingered.

Lot believed there was danger for he went to his sons-in-law, and warned them to flee: “Up!” he said, “Get you out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city.” (Gen 19:14) And still “he lingered.” Lot saw the angels of God standing by, waiting for him and his family to go forth. And yet “he lingered.” Lot heard the voice of those ministers of wrath ringing in his ears to hasten him. “Arise! lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city.” (Gen 19:15} And yet “he lingered.” He was slow when he should have been quick, looking backward when he should have been moving forward, wasting time when he should have been running for it. Knowing what he knew you’d think he would have been an Old Testament version of the Flash. But no! He lingered. You’re right if you are thinking that this is strange beyond belief.

 

And yet, how many people are very much like Lot. Many Christian people, because of poor teaching and little to no encouragement to search the scriptures daily, wallow for a time in immaturity. Then there are those who merely masquerade as Christians and who interestingly are almost indistinguishable from the immature. They are so close in character that, as J.C. Ryle says; “They say they believe in heaven, and yet seem faintly to long for it; —and in hell, and yet seem little to fear it. They claim to love the Lord Jesus; but the work they do for Him is small. They say they hate the devil; but they often appear to tempt him to come to them. They declare that “the time is short” but they live as if it were long, They say that they have a battle to fight against the World, the Flesh, and the devil; yet a man might think they were at peace. They say they are running the race; yet they often look like people sitting still. They claim to understand that the Judge of all the earth is near, at the door, and that there is wrath to come; and yet they appear half asleep. It is astonishing that they should be what they are, and yet be nothing more! They may be classed under one sweeping description: they are all brethren and sisters of Lot. They linger.

 

How about us? Do we linger? Have we been lying to ourselves all these years? Have we examined ourselves thoroughly to see if we are in the faith? Have we striven to make our calling and election sure? Or do we yield to the pull of parasites? Or do we hold to nonsensical doctrines ‘because that’s the way I was taught’? Many pastors, and many church people have declared that it is impossible for believers to be holy and spiritual…that it was for them back then but not for today? This is and excuse; a lie from the pit! We must not yield to this false doctrine for a moment. Cino’s such as these can be marked out clearly for they are the ones who dread the idea of making any kind of sacrifice: who shrink from self-denial. They never appear able to apply our Lord’s command, to “cut off the right hand and pluck out the right eye.” Instead they spend their lives in trying to make the gate wider, and the cross lighter.

 

These are the ones who have never looked to the Cross to see the One who died for the sins of the world. Indeed they are the ones who keep trying to bring the world into the church. And they lead many believers astray with their example as Peter did with Barnabas. They are resourceful at discovering reasons for not separating themselves from the world, and offering excuses for attending questionable amusements, and keeping up questionable friendships. Let me give you an example from my own experience. At Grand Canyon College there were many bible studies and we had chapel services each week. Off campus there was a club called “The Devil House” and the same ones who would attend bible studies and chapel services would go off campus at night to the Devil House. And they offered up all sorts of excuses; witnessing, you’ve got to have fun too, etc. The majority were not believers but their influence caused many true believers to go astray, to linger in the world when all the while Gods word echoed in their ears “Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord. “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; and I will welcome you. 2Co 6:17 When confronted they would say; “You’re being legalistic, holier than thou, and other such statements made to excuse their sinful behavior. They wanted to linger.

 

What about Lot? Why did he linger? We’ve already seen that his righteous soul was vexed by what he saw of their sinfulness? Could it be that his wife really liked the place and that he wanted to please her? Could it be that he was willing to overlook the badness of the place because of its conveniences?

 

This is all mere speculation on my part but it is the way things are today. Men will do anything to please their wives; even sinful things. People are willing to turn a blind eye to evil for the sake of convenience.

 

When the time of separation came we see Abraham, the elder of the two, in the true spirit of humility and courtesy, giving Lot the choice of the country saying in Ge 13:9 “Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me; if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left.” And what did Lot do? We are told he saw that the plains of Jordan, near Sodom, were rich, fertile and well watered. It was a good land for cattle, and full of pastures. He had large flocks and herds, and it just suited his requirements. And this was the land he chose for a residence, simply because it was a rich, well watered land. That it was near the town of Sodom didn’t seem to affect his choice. That the men of Sodom were wicked didn’t seem to matter. That they were sinners before God exceedingly seemed to make no difference! What mattered was that the pasture was rich. The land was good. He wanted such a country for his flocks and herds. And all these positives trumped the facts. He chose by sight rather than by faith. He didn’t seek the face of God but instead thought only in terms of the flesh.  

 

Note the regression of things. Verse 12 states that “Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.” Next we see that he had actually moved into the city for when the four kings came against the land in Ge 14:12 we read “And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed. His tents were left. The country was forsaken. He occupied a house in the very streets of that wicked town. What happened to his flocks and herds? Perhaps being a wealthy man he hired shepherds. Again speculation: because we are not told why he moved into this pit of sin.

 

Wake up and mark well what I am saying. Get this stuff through your heads and don’t forget because to forget is to open the door to your worst enemy the devil. If you wander away from the truth you will find yourself helpless in the day of battle, like Samson without his hair. I would ask you to consider these several verses with me this morning.

Jos 1:8  “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

Ps 63:6  When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches,

Ps 77:12  I will meditate on all Your work And muse on Your deeds.

Ps 119:15  I will meditate on Your precepts And regard Your ways.

Ps 119:27  Make me understand the way of Your precepts, So I will meditate on Your wonders.

Ps 119:48  And I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments, Which I love; And I will meditate on Your statutes.

Ps 119:78  May the arrogant be ashamed, for they subvert me with a lie; But I shall meditate on Your precepts.

Ps 119:148  My eyes anticipate the night watches, That I may meditate on Your word.

Ps 143:5  I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your doings; I muse on the work of Your hands.

 

Meditate on God’s truth in the morning and recall them to mind before you go to sleep. Let the warnings of God sink down deep into your heart. If you wish to be safe from lingering, beware of needless mingling with worldly people. Beware of Lot’s choice. There is only misery in such a choice as his. You may think yourself to be a zealous Christian now. But don’t fool yourself. All you have to do is look away from Jesus Christ and you will begin to walk in Lot’s steps, make Lot’s choices, and you will soon come to Lot’s state of misery. Yield yourself to pride and wickedness for a moment and you will soon be backslidden and lingering at the table of demons. You will find, like Samson, that the presence of the Lord is no longer with you. You will become an undecided, hesitating person in times of trial. Paul tells us in 2Ti 2:15-18 “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

16 But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some.

 

Now I want to give you an example of someone who entered wicked places with the stated purpose of ‘witnessing.’ Pastor John related the story of a former member of Sovereign Grace who after her ‘conversion’ continued to frequent bars. When Pastor John spoke to her about this she told him she was going there to witness. In reality she was continuing to linger in the world and ended up marrying an alcoholic and her life was a shambles; a pit of misery.  Some would say that Lot did a good thing in moving into Sodom because there he could witness to his fellow townsmen. Well how did this work out for Lot if that was the case.

 

Here are the facts: Lot lived in Sodom many years. He may have spoken of the things of God to the Sodomites but when the Angels came to the city on that fateful night, not one righteous person could be found in all Sodom, outside the walls of Lot’s home including his own family. Not one of “all the people from every quarter who surrounded his house in a lustful frenzy” cared for his opinion when he tried to restrain their wickedness. Instead we read “But they said, “Stand aside.” Furthermore, they said, “This one came in as an alien, and already he is acting like a judge.” His life carried no weight. His words were not listened to. His religion drew none.

 

Is it any wonder? Lingering souls do no good to the world, and cause no one to look to Jesus Christ for forgiveness and cleansing.  Their salt has too little savor to season the corruption around them. They are not epistles of Christ who can be known and read of all. (2Co 3:2)  There is nothing magnetic, and attractive, and Christ-reflecting about their ways. Remember this.

 

Notice something else. It was not only the townspeople of Sodom who saw nothing of true religion in Lot but neither did his family. We are not told how large his family was but we know that he had a wife and two daughters and two sons in law in the day he was called out of Sodom and there was not one among them all that feared God. When he “went out and spoke to his sons-in-law and warned them to flee from the coming judgment he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting. (Vs: 14) Is this not humbling! Do you wonderyou’re your words have no weight before your family or friends? They might as well have told Lot; “Who cares for anything you say?” So long as the world stands, those words will be a painful proof of the contempt with which a lingerer in religion is regarded.

 

What about Lot’s wife? It is true that she left the city with him, but the truth is that she did not go very far. She did not see the need to leave and indeed the reality of the matter is that she left her heart in Sodom. She didn’t care one whit about what the Angels said to her and the warnings they gave which is evidenced by the fact that she looked back from behind her husband, in spite of the plainest command not to do so, (Vs: 17) and was turned into a pillar of salt. She is a graphic illustration of Luke 12:34. And what about Lot’s two daughters? Yes they did escape but only to do the devil’s work. They became their father’s tempters to wickedness, and led him to commit the foulest of sins. In short, Lot stood alone in his family. He was not made the means of keeping one soul back from the gates of hell.

 

And it isn’t any wonder for lost people are not completely stupid. They can see through the façade of a lingerer; they can see the inconsistency of the life of one who claims to love Jesus and yet still likes to dabble in the world. Is it any wonder that the witness of such an one as this is despised by the lost! Their nearest relations understand inconsistency, if they understand nothing else in religion. They draw the sad, but not unnatural conclusion, “Surely if he believed all he professes to believe, he would not go on living as he does.” Lingering parents seldom have godly children. The eye of the child drinks in far more than the ear. A child will always observe what they do much more than what they say. Actions speak louder than words. Remember this!

Notice something else: Nothing is said about the death of Lot. We know only a little about Lot after his flight from Sodom, and what we do know is pretty creepy. We hear his lack of faith in the mercy of God who would have given him the time necessary to get to the mountains; pleading to go to Zoar, which was one of the wicked cities of the plains. We know of his departure from Zoar afterwards out of fear because the people knew that he was the only one who escaped Sodom. We know of his conduct in the cave; drunkenness and incest. All these things reveal the weakness of the grace that was in him, and the low state of soul into which he had fallen. We don’t know how long he lived after his escape. We don’t know where he died, or when he died: whether he saw Abraham again, the manner of his death, what he said, or what he thought. We are told of the last days of faithful men like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and David…but there is not one word about Lot.

 

The Scripture appears to draw a veil around him on purpose. There is a painful silence about his end. He seems to go out like an dying lamp; leaving a bad taste behind him. And had we not been specially told in the New Testament that Lot was “just” and “righteous,” I believe we should have doubted whether Lot was a saved soul at all. But do not wonder at his sad end. Lingering believers will generally reap according as they have sown. From Ryle again; “Their lingering often meets them when their spirit is in departing. They have little peace at the last. They reach heaven, to be sure, but they reach it in darkness and storm. They are saved, but “saved so as by fire.” (1Co 3:15)

 

Now consider what I have said.  It is almost impossible not to see a connection between Lot’s evil choice and Lot’s lingering; and between Lot’s lingering and his uselessness to his family and the world. I believe God the Holy Spirit meant us to see it. I believe the Spirit meant to make it a beacon to all professing Christians. We live in days when a lingering, Lot-like religion abounds. If we used a river as an example, the stream of professions of faith are much larger than in any time in history, but that stream is for the most part very shallow. A certain kind of Christianity is almost fashionable now. Wilberforce called it Cultural Christianity and I call those who have such a profession ‘church people.’ They are Christians in name only for they are; “holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; real Christians are called to avoid such men as these. 2Ti 3:5 Why you ask? The bible is clear. Paul says in 1Co 15:33 “Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals.” These phony believers follow another gospel; the gospel of fleshly indulgence!

 

God’s people are called to walk closely with God, to be spiritually-minded, to behave like strangers and pilgrims. We are commanded to be distinct from the world in the way we use our time, in our conversation, in amusements, in dress, to bear faithful witnesses for Christ in all places. We are called to leave a savor of our Master in every society, to be prayerful, humble, unselfish, and meek, to be jealously afraid of sin, and tremblingly alive to our danger from the world. We are to walk through this world like someone walking on forbidden ground. But such a life as this is a rare thing. It is not common even among those who consider themselves to be true Christians, and, worst of all, the absence of them is not felt and lamented and sought after like it should be.

 

So what should we do? I call upon you to remember what I said at the outset of this lesson; the days are evil and we are to be redeeming the time. The first thing we must do is to give diligence to make our calling and election sure. There is no time for sloth or carelessness. We must seek the Lord now, while He may be found. We must call upon Him while He is near. We must seek with all of our might to draw as close to God as a pardoned sinner can be. We must seek with all of our souls to be as full of the Spirit of God and of the Word of God as we possibly can be. If you are lingering; dabbling in worldiness I plead with you to turn away from wickedness in whatever form it may be for as long as you wallow in sin you will be of no use to anyone.  Sinners will see through the façade. Remember the seven sons of Sceva? They tried to exorcise demons by simply naming the name of Jesus. And what was the result? They were beaten and stripped naked and fled wounded from the place. The demon said; “Indeed Jesus I know and Paul I understand, but who are you?”

I would close with these final questions from J.C. Ryle.

 

“Would you know what the times demand?—the shaking of nations, —the uprooting of ancient things, —the overturning of kingdoms, —the stir and restlessness of men’s minds?—Then Christian! do not linger!

 

Would you be found ready for Christ at His second appearing, —your loins girded, —your lamp burning, yourself bold, and prepared to meet Him. Then do not linger!

 

Would you enjoy comfort in your religion, feel the witness of the Spirit within you, know whom you have believed, and not be a gloomy and depressed Christian? Then do not linger!

 

Would you enjoy strong assurance of your own salvation, in the day of sickness, and on the bed of death? Would you see with the eye of faith heaven opening, and Jesus rising to receive you? Then do not linger!

 

Would you leave evidence behind you when you are gone that you were indeed a Christian? Would you like us to lay you in the grave with comfortable hope, and talk of your state after death without a doubt? Then do not linger!

 

Would you be useful to the world in your day and generation? Would you be useful to draw men from sin to Christ, and make your Master’s cause beautiful in their eyes? Then do not linger!

 

Is it your desire to be an instrument in pointing your lost family members towards heaven, and make them say, “We want to be with Jesus?” rather than making them into those who deny the existence of God and despisers of all religion? Then do not linger!

 

Time does not linger, nor death nor judgment nor the devil nor the world. Neither let the children of God linger. Are you a lingerer? Has your heart felt heavy, and your conscience stinging, while you have been listening this morning? Does something within you whisper, “God is speaking to me“? If this is you, if you are a lingerer, you must just go to Christ at once and be cured. You must bathe in the old fountain. You must turn again to Christ and be healed and you must do this at once.”

 

“Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord. “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; and I will welcome you. 2Co 6:17 

 

Awake and remember Lot! Awake, and linger no more for the days are evil.” It is time to bestir ourselves and seek the face of God. It is time to turn away from our lingering, from the parasites of the world which would drag us down. It is past time! Wake up and seek the Lord and  11 ¶  Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12  The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13  Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. Rom 13:11-14

 

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