For the Love of Sodom
By Steve Gallagher
There is no question that Sodom was a sensuous paradise. Prosperity had allowed her people to indulge themselves in every carnal delight. Arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, characterized this great city of vice. (Ezekiel 16:49)
The same spirit that haunted the streets of Sodom is thriving today within the hearts of multitudes of evangelical men. Their very hearts, which have been designated as a temple of God, have instead become virtual houses of prostitution. How could this happen? The lives of Lot and his wife offer a clear illustration of how a person is led into Sodom and what happens to him thereand the judgment that is certain to befall him.
Enticed by the Spirit of this World
Things looked promising to Lot and his wife when they decided to accompany Abraham as he departed the wicked environs of Mesopotamia at the behest of the Lord. Lot must have had some sense about the great privilege and blessing it was to have such a godly man as his uncle. His decision to leave his homeland might be considered tantamount to putting his faith in God.
The two families left the city of Ur and made their way to the Promised Land of Canaan. Because of Abrahams relationship with Jehovah, both families prospered. However, trouble began to brew when Lots herdsmen started arguing with those of Abraham. The strife eventually got so bad that the patriarch was forced to ask his nephew to branch out on his own. This should have served as a wake-up call to Lot and his wife. They should have shown the attitude of Ruth when Naomi told her to return to her own people. She told Naomi, Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. (Ruth 1:16)
However, lying latent within Lots breast was a love for the pleasures and riches of this world. As he looked out over the fertile Jordan Valley, the life in God he had with his pious uncle was eclipsed by the opportunities that lay before him. The fact that Sodom and Gomorrah were extremely vile was of secondary importance to him; the benefits of such a union were too good to pass uphis religion would have to fit around his love of this world. Lot took a huge step away from the Kingdom of God by moving his family near Sodom. He probably justified his decision by the fact that they werent actually moving into the wicked city itself. But what he was failing to take into account was the powerful pull of this world, and where it would take him.
The enticement of the world is even more intoxicating for todays evangelical. Multitudes of people who claim to be followers of Christ openly disregard sober warnings about flirting with the spirit of this world. Jesus said, He who loves his life [in this world] loses it. (John 12:25) John wrote, Do not love the world nor the things in the world. (I John 2:15) James said: Whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4) Such clear-cut admonitions hold no weight for the person who considers the enticements of this world to be his rightful inheritance.
The Danger of Sodom
Dabbling in the world makes the Christian extremely vulnerable to the enemy. This became real to me on a prayer walk I took one day down a deserted country road. At one point in the road there was a little bridge crossing over a creek. As I looked over the railing, there lay a venomous water moccasin in the stream. It occurred to me that where I stood I was in no danger of that snake harming me, unless I got down into the water with it. This applies to us spiritually as well. As long as we keep ourselves out of the old serpents domain, there is little he can do to hurt us. Believers get bitten when they frolic in the enemys territory.
This is precisely what happened to Lot and his wife. They were safe when they were living under the godly leadership of Abraham, but once they struck out in self-will, they were at the mercy of the enemy. And it wasnt long before a marauding army plundered Sodom and Gomorrah, carrying Lot and his family into slavery. Abraham gave chase and rescued them from the raiders.
This was the second wake-up call the Lord graciously sent to this foolish couple. They should have humbled themselves, acknowledged their folly, and showed their repentance by leaving Sodom once and for all. There was certainly plenty of room in Canaan for both families to live comfortably. Would not God have met Lots need and blessed him as He did Abraham? But Lot did not learn a needed lesson from this near tragedy. This time he moved his family inside Sodoms protective walls, and remained there for another ten years, until the day the angels of the Lord came to judge that wicked place.
How many evangelical men, ignoring biblical warnings, have charged ahead in self-will, hell-bent on getting what they want, only to find themselves in serious spiritual trouble because of it? Before they realize what has happened to them, their hearts and lives have been plundered by the enemy. But God is extremely patient with His people and there will often be an Abraham who is sent to rescue the foolish person from some predicament in which he has become entangled.
As is always the case, every Sodom must face the Judgment of God. The spiritual outcry against its wickedness becomes so great that the Lord must send destruction. Fortunately for Lot, his uncle was standing before the Lord. (Genesis 18:22) In fact, we are later told, he and his family were saved only because of the patriarchs prayers. (Genesis 19:29)
The angels made their way into that bastion of perversion to locate Lot. Upon finding him, they urged him to leave NOW. He was so out of touch with what was happening that the Bible says he hesitated. The Hebrew word for hesitate means reluctant to move. Lots wife did not want to leave her beloved Sodom at all, and it seems Lot was leaving with great reluctance. Had it not been for the compassion of the Lord who directed the angels to seize their hands and drag them out of the city, they all would have been destroyed right then and there! (Genesis 19:15ff)
Once again we can see a direct correlation between what happened to this carnal pair and what occurs regularly in the lives of many modern churchgoing men. How many times has the Lord been forced to find a way to drag Christians away from some form of evil? Often it is only the prayers of loved ones that spare them from facing much greater consequences than they actually experience.
Once the angels got Lot and his wife out of the city, molten sulfur fell like a rain of fire utterly destroying Sodom and Gomorrah. Lots wife, even further from God than he was, lingered and looked back longingly, and the falling sulfur turned her body into a pillar of salta perpetual memorial to the love of this world. As is always the case, the heart had stayed with its treasure.
Up until this point, Lot and his wife had seemed identical in their decision-making. Both clearly loved what Sodom offered. They were equally willing to walk away from the life in God that living with Abraham afforded them. However, when Gods judgment came, the difference in their hearts became evident. Only the sifting processes of the Lord can separate wheat from tares. These two Old Testament figures represent two kinds of evangelical men who are involved in sexual sin.
Lots life serves as an illustration of the Christian who has gone astray from the Lord. In spite of the fact that he was a fool, Scripture affirms that Lot was indeed a believer. True, his folly cost him everything. All the possessions he had devoted his life to acquiring were buried under sulfuric ash. His wife was killed. He ended up living in a cave with his daughters. These girls had become so spiritually polluted from living in Sodom that they later schemed to get him drunk and seduce him so that they might bear children. Worse than any of this was the spiritual degradation he subjected himself to. He could have had the inner fulfillment and blessings that only come from ones right relationship to God, but his love for this world brought him to ruin. He surely spent his remaining years in misery and regret.
I have seen the same thing happen to countless Christian men who traded their spiritual birthright for a temporal bowl of porridge. Yes, there was a time when, like Lot, they had put their faith in God and recklessly abandoned themselves to pursue Him with all their hearts. They burned in their first love for Jesus. But little by little they allowed the old worldly passions of life to re-establish themselves in their hearts. Before they knew it, their passion for the things of God had waned and they had become religious actors. When sexual temptation presented itself to them, they found that they had no spiritual strength to resist it.
The men represented by Lots wife are in even worse condition. The truth is that they have never even been converted to Christianity. They have had some kind of spiritual enlightenment. Their eyes had been opened to the unseen realm around them. They wanted to escape hell and to receive eternal life, but they were unwilling to surrender their hearts and lives to the Lord. They attended church, sang hymns and spoke the lingo so prevalent in the Church, but theirs was a false conversion. When it came right down to it, they were unwilling to let go of their lives and their beloved sin.
Scripture clearly indicates that God loves both of these men. It is His great love that causes Him to warn men to flee from the wrath to come. But each person has the right to decide for himself whether or not he really wants to obey God. One does not get the benefits of the Kingdom of God without submitting oneself to the rules of that kingdom.
The Lord is extremely patient in His dealings with sinners. He will withhold judgment for a long time in the hopes that a sinner will repent. (II Peter 3:9-10) But eventuallyand only the Lord knows when a person has reached this pointthe person crosses a line in his heart where he can no longer be reached by the promptings of the Holy Spirit. His conscience has become seared; his heart has become hardened. It is at that point, when the person crosses that line, that judgment comes swiftly
just like it did one day many years ago in the fertile region of the Jordan Valley.