By Edward O. Bragwell, Sr.
“. . . Righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds” – 2 Pet. 2:7,8 (NKJV).
Lot, the nephew of Abraham, is scripturally judged to have been a “righteous man.” That does not mean that he was a perfect man. He was subject to weakness and made mistakes. This is clear from observing both his pre-Sodom and post-Sodom days.
Lot’s Unwise Move
Lot made a grave mistake in judgment in choosing the well watered plain of Jordan as a place to raise his family (Gen. 13: 10). The plain was as wicked as it was prosperous. There was nothing inherently wrong in his choice. After all, Abraham had freely given him the choice. However, as time passed, it proved to have been a poor choice. His children grew up and married in that environment. Later, when he attempted to save them from destruction, his sons-in-law thought he was joking (Gen. 19:15). We are not told how many children Lot had in all, but only two daughters escaped destruction. Even after their escape the wicked influence of Sodom still surfaced in the two daughters (Gen. 19:30-38).
One needs all the help he can get in raising his children in righteousness. In the best of communities there are adverse influences. To escape all evil influences one would have to go out of the world. Yet, there are clearly communities where moral standards are much worse than others. There are communities where there are some opportunities to form friendships with morally upright people. There are others where there are little or no opportunities to associate with good people. One needs to understand that, wherever he lives, his children are going to seek companionships of their age group from among those available to them. The harder it is for them to find someone of high moral character the more likely it is that they will associate with those of low character. So, anyone with children to raise, should seriously consider the general moral character of a community before moving there.
It is this writer’s judgment that preachers with school-age children should consider this before moving into a place so isolated from other Christians that their children will have little or no association with young people who are taught the same high moral standards that they want their children to have. It is so easy to lose one’s children to the world in such an environment. Yet, one does not need to so shelter them from the “real world” in which they must function one day that they will not be able to cope. They must learn to be “children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation” (Phil. 2:15).
Being surrounded by ungodliness does not mean that one has to just flow with the current. He can be righteous in the midst of unrighteousness. Lot maintained his righteousness while living in a city so wicked that it has a vile repulsive sin named after it. Too often, we excuse our sins and the sins of those we love by blaming outward circumstances. True, it is easier to live godly when surrounded by godly people. However, the real test of the genuineness of one’s faith comes when he must live godly when surrounded by ungodly people. Truly, Lot shined as a light “in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.”
If asked, “What is the greatest weakness among brethren today?”, I would likely answer that it is our unwillingness to daily stand above the crowd in moral, ethical and spiritual conduct. It is so easy to justify compromises when we look at the world around us.
The secret to Lot’s maintaining his own personal righteousness while surrounded by unrighteousness may have been that he never got to where ungodliness in others did not bother him. He was “oppressed with the filthy conduct of the wicked” (v. 7). He “tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds” (v. 8). When one gets to the point that another’s sin does not bother him, then, likely, it won’t be very long until he will be comfortable with his own sin. When we can hear and see lawlessness with passive indifference we have reached a danger point in our own efforts to remain pure. When we can hear vulgarity and profanity with hardly a raised eyebrow, it is time that we checked our own spiritual health. When we can observe the “works of the flesh” openly advocated and practiced in society without becoming disturbed, it is time to be concerned about our own relationship with God.
Lot is held up to us as an “ample of how “the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment” (v. 9). One, such as Lot, living in the midst of a wicked society faces many temptations. There is a strong temptation to accept a false deliverance – ease the struggle by giving in to, or at least tolerating, sin.
One is tempted to partake of the pleasures of sin with his neighbors. He is tempted to relax and not be so “up tight” about the wickedness that he sees and hears. He is tempted to reach some sort of accommodation whereby he can be at total peace with the world. After all, he may rationalize, such things cannot be so bad or they would not be so socially acceptable to so many people.
One needs to understand that godly living is not freedom from temptations and trials. In fact, because such godly living is not the norm for the world at large it creates a conflict with the world. One must make up his mind to endure trials and resist temptations until the Lord delivers. God will, in his own time, deliver the godly. Some deliverance may come in this life, as in the case of Lot. Complete deliverance is sure to come in the life to come for those who remain faithful, godly, and disgusted with sin through it all.
Let’s not let the lessons of Lot be lost to us.
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 3, pp. 83-84
February 4, 1988