By Donald P. Ames
Most of us are pretty well familiar with the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and the judgment God sent against them. In Jude 7 they are held up as an example of God’s displeasure with sin. Likewise, we are also familiar with the story of Lot and the part he had in living in these cities. But, I wonder how many of us have stopped to take a good look at the influence these cities had on Lot and his family.
Certainly the Bible presents Lot as being a righteous man and zealous to do right. He had been traveling with his uncle, Abraham, from the land of his fathers into the land of Canaan and been richly blessed by God, as had Abraham. Were he not a righteous man, he would have found no pleasure in the company of Abraham. In fact, the Bible even goes so far as to commend Lot as being a righteous man whose heart was vexed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men about him (2 Pet. 2:6-8). We do not need the statement in Gen. 13:13 to conclude these cities were filled with men who were “wicked exceedingly and sinners against the Lord.” Yet, in spite of these men, we still find Lot willing to invite strangers into his home in Gen. 19, unaware that they were angels sent there to rescue him from the impending destruction. He was so concerned for their safety as his guests that when the men of the city surrounded his home, he even went so far as to offer his daughters to them in exchange for the welfare of his guests. With this type background, Lot no doubt felt he could dwell in the city of Sodom and not really be affected by it. Like a lot of us, he felt he could mix and be sociable, without really doing anything wrong. But Lot was affected by these cities in more ways than he realized.
They Destroyed His Influence
Being a righteous man in a city full of wickedness did not enhance the reputation of Lot. Rather than winning their respect, his way of living became a mockery to them. In Gen. 19:9 the men of the city say, “This one came in as an alien, and already he is acting like a judge; now we will treat you worse than them.” Even his own potential sons-in-law did not respect him, but rather he seemed to them as one making a jest (v. 14) when he was pleading with them. He was mocked because he was now different; he did not fit in the mold characteristic of the city. We too can lose our influence if we associate only with those of the world. We will be mocked for not running in the same excess of dissipation (1 Pet. 4:3-5). We will become marked according to the type company we keep. Certainly this does not mean we are to withdraw ourselves from society (1 Cor. 5: 10), but it does mean that we must also seek out and associate with those who love the truth. Too many who obey the gospel do not seek such friendships, but continue to associate solely with their former associates and wonder why the road is so hard. Although Matthew tried to bring his associates into the fold of Christ (Luke 5:27-32), he also sought to draw closer to the Lord and his disciples as well.
They Had Created An Attachment To Him
When Lot originally entered the city of Sodom, he no doubt was repulsed by many of the things he saw (2 Pet. 2:6-8). But time had built up a bit of tolerance for some of them. He was now willing to address them as “my brothers” (Gen. 19:7), and his two daughters were now engaged to two men of the city (19:14). Unlike Abraham (Gen. 24:1-4), he had not sought out from among his own people men who would be more acceptable to God. In fact, Gen. 19:31 would seem to imply that his daughters were not even familiar with the fact there were other men available than those of the wicked cities in this valley.
Now he was being told to get out of the city, take his family and flee, lest he too be affected by the impending judgment from God. And the bible tells us, “But he hesitated” (Gen. 19:16). This was his home. This was where all his friends were. This was where all that he owned was located. He was not quite ready to leave it all. Finally, we are told, the angels seized them and brought them out and put them outside the city. In spite of their corruption, these cities had created an attachment Lot was not yet quite willing to leave behind.
Sin often creates attachments we are not always aware of. At first we may be repulsed, but as our senses grow numb to these things viewed day after day we find our objections also tend to subside, and little by little we begin to accept certain aspects of them. We are made to wonder what might have happened to Lot had the impending judgment not come until after his daughters were married and partaking of even more of these cities. Paul tells us, “Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33). The longer we run with those who enjoy the pleasures of sin, the harder it is to break free of its influence.
They Had Warped His Judgment
A righteous man is one who fears God and keeps his commandments. Lot was now being told to get out of these cities and flee to the mountains. Not only does he hesitate, but he then implores God to let him go only part of the way and dwell in the small town in the distance (19:20). He seemed to feel, in spite of the statement of God that all the cities were corrupt, that a little sin would not be as bad as a whole lot. Since there were not as many sinners there, God would overlook their sins and that would make it okay. Later on, however, as he meditated on it, even the sin within this small town scared him and he abandoned it to go on tip into the mountains (19:30).
Sin has a way of appearing okay to us if we can regard it by degrees, or some as less dangerous as others. Thus we tend to justify social drinking as against drunkenness, petting as against fornication, etc. Gradually we become less concerned about “abhorring that which is evil and cleaving to that which is good” (Rom. 12:9). Rather than to “flee immorality” (1 Cor. 6:18), we try to merely hold it at bay. But, if we would back off and really take a good look, we too, like Lot would fear even the .1 smaller sins” and seek refuge on up into the mountains, as God has instructed.
They Destroyed His Joy in The Lord’s Work
Certainly we cannot expect all work to be f tin, but there is a certain feeling of satisfaction that grows out of being active in the Lord’s work, and certain benefits, we all reap from such (Phil. 4:17). These, Lot never got to enjoy. His heart was vexed because of the evil he saw about him – evil he seemed to be unable to alter. He had to be on his guard constantly lest its influence seep even deeper into his own family, and even when he sought to do a good deed here, he was placed in a position of having to offer his own daughters up in exchange, for the welfare of the visitors. Sin had deprived Lot of many of the joys he could have had in better circumstances.
We too can deprive ourselves of many of the joys of growing in the Lord’s work if we choose to associate with the wicked ways of sin instead. In the end, when all is lost, we will have nothing to show (1 Jn. 2:15-17), because we did not choose to change that which was about us, but rather let it destroy even that which we had.
He Too Suffered Loss
Although Lot was not destroyed with the wicked cities of the valley (though he came close), he did not escape from the effects they had upon his life. He had to leave behind all that he had. Later, as his own wife looked back, she too was lost when she became a pillar of salt (19:26). Even on into the future the results went, as his own daughters got him drunk and had children by him, only to see them grow up to become the enemies of those with whom he formerly associated (19:37-38). Yes, Lot bore a great deal of loss as a result of his close association with these wicked cities.
Many times we may feel we are not being personally affected by the influences of evil about us, but are we? What about our loved ones? What about our children? And their children? If we are not setting forth principles and guidance to preserve them from these evils, what will be our ultimate loss?
The pull of sin is strong and so very real. Today we also have the consequences pointed out for it, (2 Pet. 3:11-13, 17). The stakes are high, and no doubt costly. The effort to break free from our surroundings may be hard, but break free we must if we are to survive. God has sent his only begotten Son into the world of sin to warn and assist its through His word (Jan. 3:16-18). The decision is now it up to us – will we break free and flee from the – ways of sin, or regard such a warning as “one who jested” and be destroyed instead? The Jews, in Acts, 2:38, saw the consequences and cried out, “Brethren, what shall we do?” And Peter replied, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” That is not the final ending, but it is the leaving of the city itself. Paul adds “we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end” (Heb. 3:14). We must not look back to the pleasures of sin, but flee to the mountains of God’s refuge and do His will. Which choice will you make?
TRUTH MAGAZINE XVII: 44, pp. 11-13
September 13, 1973