The subject of the sermon at my church this morning was Lot. Actually I should probably explain that the sermons at my church don’t actually have topics per se. Lot just happened to be the primary focus of the passage of Scripture our pastor was teaching through this morning in Genesis 19. Most folks have probably only heard of Lot because his wife became a pillar of salt when she turned to look back on God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. For the record, Lot was Abraham’s nephew who lived in Sodom until Genesis 19, when the angels sent by God to destroy the city warned Lot to run away.
The apostle Peter calls Lot “righteous” (2 Peter 2:7). I’m certainly not one to gainsay Peter, but I’ve got to say this guy, Lot, was a real piece of work. You can read all about it in Genesis 19, but suffice it to say that not only was Lot living by choice in Sodom (thereby tacitly approving of its well-known wickedness), and exposing his family to that filth, he even offered up his own virgin daughters to be raped by the mob of Sodomites who wanted to rape the angels sent by God to destroy the city. Oh yeah. What a righteous guy!
But Lot’s despicable conduct isn’t the subject of this BriRant, it’s only what set me off. Remember that Lot wasn’t a pagan idol worshiper. He was a Hebrew follower of the one true and living God. That’s what makes his conduct so reprehensible. He should have known better.
That’s just the point. We Christians rail against the sin of homosexuality (as well we should). We’re heartbroken, as we should be, at the horrendous murder of innocent unborn children in their millions. We’re outraged when others claim this mass murder is the mothers’ right of choice, and call it “women’s health care.” We cry out in our churches and Bible studies against the unjust persecution and murder of our Christian brothers and sisters whose only crime is steadfastly professing faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In our prayers, we wring our hands and weep in sorrow at the prospect of the coming judgment of God on the sins of our loved ones who have not yet been cleansed of unrighteousness through a saving faith in the Lord Jesus. Some (very few) of us even proclaim the Truth of the Gospel to our unsaved families, colleagues, and acquaintances in day-to-day life.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying we shouldn’t do these things – we should. The question is, why should anybody pay any attention, when our own lives are just as debauched as those of the unwashed? That’s the most important lesson we must take from the story of Lot. When the angels warned Lot of the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, they told him to take his family and flee…
12Then the men[angels] said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Son-in-law, your sons, your daughters, and whomever you have in the city—take them out of this place! 13For we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it.”
14So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters, and said, “Get up, get out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city!” But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking.
Why wouldn’t they listen? Because Lot had never cried out against the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah before. In fact, Lot had been perfectly content to willingly dwell in the midst of the sins of the city, and to expose his family to that wickedness day-by-day. Why should his family have listened to him when he suddenly changed his tune? The world universally despises a hypocrite, particularly a self-righteous hypocrite.
Why, for example, should the world hear us when we proclaim the Biblical truth that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16), when the rate of divorce within the Christian community is virtually identical to the rate outside the church. In 1936, King Edward VIII was forced to give up the throne of Great Britain because he wished to marry a divorced woman. The Church of England (of which the King was the titular head) did not allow anyone to re-marry following divorce while their former spouse remained alive. Now, less than a century later, virtually every denomination of the nominally Christian church, readily accepts divorce on any of the same grounds acceptable to the civil authorities. In fact, the current heir apparent to the British throne is himself divorced and re-married before his former spouse’s untimely death.
Many ostensibly Christian pastors today routinely allow couples (even homosexual couples) to write their own wedding vows, and some have changed the traditional “until death do us part” to “as long as our love shall last.” Why should a pastor’s congregation pay attention on Sunday morning to his Biblical message of the need for men to be washed of their sins in the cleansing blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, when that same pastor so lightly esteemed the God-ordained sacrament of Holy Matrimony in the wedding ceremony he conducted before that same congregation on Saturday afternoon?
I’ll give just one more example, then I promise I’ll shut up (until next time). The pastor of the church I belonged to some years ago once said, “What was outrageous becomes accepted. What was acceptable becomes the norm.” The Bible clearly defines only one context within which sexual relations are proper – monogamous marriage between a man and a woman. Extra-marital sex when neither partner has ever been married is called “fornication” in the Bible. When one or both sexual partners is currently married or has been married to another person, the Bible calls it adultery. Both of these sexual sins are strongly condemned in the Word of God, yet in modern Christian circles these clearly sinful practices are almost never declaimed. In fact, both of them run rampant within the very Body of Christ!
When I was a child, it was virtually unheard of that people would have sex outside of marriage. Of course it was happening, but such conduct was considered shameful and just was not spoken of in polite conversation. Then, in the 1960s, a so-called “sexual revolution” took place that promised to free society from the shackles of “outmoded” moral constraints, and do away with the hypocrisy of hiding and condemning what everyone knew was going on behind closed doors. Sexual promiscuity outside the confines of marriage became acceptable, and is now the de facto societal norm.
This is equally true both within and outside the Christian church. In fact, a good friend of mine who was pastor of a small congregation was removed from his pulpit for standing on Biblical principle against extra-marital sex. When the daughter of the head of the church’s board of elders came to him for counseling with her live-in lover, my friend told them that the first step they had to take was for one of them to move out of the house, and for the couple to refrain from sex until and unless they got married. How tragic this episode was for the unbelievers in that congregation. Why should anyone consider the Gospel witness of anyone from that church, knowing that the church’s elders not only won’t stand firm on God’s Word themselves, but will cast out someone who does.
The standard joke about Christians is that they can always recognize each other except at the pornography shop and the liquor store. Christian hypocrisy in self-righteous judgment and condemnation of others for the very sins we ourselves commit turns our Gospel witness into a sorry joke, just like Lot’s warning to his sons-in-law. There’s no doubt. God will very soon judge the sin of mankind. All of us will be held to account. Thank God, Christian, that you and I do not have to suffer the righteous wrath of God in punishment for our sins, because Jesus has taken our judgment upon Himself through His atoning sacrifice on the cross of Calvary. Because of God’s grace through faith in that atoning sacrifice, there’s no doubt that Lot will also be with us in Heaven. But there’s also no doubt that Lot’s sons-in-law and wife will not be, and their condemnation will largely be due to Lot’s hypocrisy in warning at the eleventh hour of the coming judgment on sin, but not fleeing from the sin himself, and not boldly and consistently crying out against it throughout his life.
What about your “sons-in-law”, brother and sister? Do they take your warnings as a sorry joke?