We live in a world that is significantly different from the way the world was, after the seven days of creation. When sin entered humanity through Adam’s transgression, it not only infected all his offspring but brought the curse upon creation itself. This will not change until the Lord Jesus Christ returns and brings in a new heavens and earth wherein dwells righteousness (II Peter 3:10-13).
Because we live in a world that is not reflective of the blessedness of that eternal state, we live among brutal realities. Daily we are inundated with death, injustice, persecution of our brethren, wickedness, sexual immorality, and innumerable acts of violence. For the Christian, these dark realities can press on our souls, wear us down, and make us insensitive to God’s Spirit, if we are not careful to take our emotions and thoughts before the Lord (Philippians 4:6-7; I Peter 5:6-9).
If not careful, Living in a world so brutal, can lead to us tormenting our own souls, should we not be careful to guard what we hear, see, and depend on, from a worldly perspective. Let us read II Peter 2:4-9.
(2 Peter 2:4-10) For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered 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— then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority.
This passage gives us three realities to consider from the life of Abraham’s nephew Lot.
- Lot was considered righteous.
- Living among the wickedness of Sodom oppressed the soul of Lot.
- Lot’s choice to remain among them tormented his soul; meaning he was tormenting himself.
- A fourth reality, when considering Lot’s life as detailed in Genesis, is the outcome of his choice and how it affected his life, family, and relationship to God.
HOW WAS LOT WAS CONSIDERED A RIGHEOUS MAN?
For anyone who knows of the life of Lot, and the outcome after he left Sodom, hearing the word of God characterize him as righteous, can be a little confusing.
We understand that he wound up living in the most wicked city on earth, Sodom, and that the outcome of his choice led to the death of his wife and him conceiving a child with each of his two daughters, while he was drunk. It wouldn’t be fair to leave out that his daughters got him drunk on purpose, to fool him into conceiving with him, but we must also consider that his daughters’ warped thinking was a product of living in such a wicked city. Lot also allowed himself to get drunk.
These details are the reason we may be confused at Lot being characterized by the “righteous” in II Peter 2:8? The Greek word for “righteous” used in this verse means to be not guilty or innocent. The word is associated with the word justified, when considering the salvation of men, in God’s will.
Remember Lot’s uncle Abraham considered by the word of God, as the Father of the faithful (Genesis 15:6), where it declares of Abraham, “And he believed the Lord, and He (God) accounted it to him (Abraham) for righteousness”. We must remember that Abraham had some sketchy behavior in his life, but he was “saved” counted righteous by faith. This has always been the way the Lord has dealt with salvation, in both Testaments.
Because we are counted righteous by faith in God (not by perfect works), we can surmise that Lot believed in the one true God and attempted to by the belief. Because of this, Lot was counted or considered righteousness, by faith.
We are justified (considered not guilty, perfectly righteous as if never having sinned) the same way, through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, we ought to rejoice and be warned by Lot’s life, because even though he was considered “righteous”, the outcome of his life was anything but righteous.
Lot being declared “righteous” is very intentional, considering the context of Peter. Consider how a “righteous man” and his family fell so far from living in righteous ways: once more considering Lot’s disgraceful end was to impregnating his two conniving daughters while he was incoherently drunk.
How did this all happen?
II Peter 2:7 we find Lot being “oppressed” by the filthy conduit of the wicked living around him; which means he was tired out into exhaustion in his soul. It would appear living in Sodom, everywhere one would turn they would see and hear evil. His being “oppressed means little by little his resistance to hold immorality as sin was waning. But we find he was more than oppressed.
II Peter 2:8 explains that Lot, by remaining in Sodom “tormented” or “vexed” his own soul by seeing what he saw. This means that because he chose to remain in Sodom, he chose to look upon things that tortured his soul, but in a way that reversed sanctification.
We understand that when the Lord places us in a trial, His purpose is to purify and or strengthen our faith and practice. The heat of the trial brings up the impurities, like a gold forge, which then can be removed (I Peter 1:6-7). The word for “tormented” refers to a black siliceous stone used to test the purity of gold or silver, after it hardens, by the color of the streak produced on it by rubbing it. This process is to reveal the impurity, but with continued rubbing it mars the purity of the gold, or in this case the faith.
If God had called Lot to preach the coming destruction of Sodom, it would have been a trial to bring greater sanctification. But Lot was not there for the purposes of God, but his own selfish purposes, therefore, he was tormented and being reversed in his growth spiritually and in his relationship to God.
At this point we need to consider a truth. If God calls us to a particular place, ministry, or function, what we face in the way of trial is allowed or ordained by God, for His glory and our growth in Christ. When we choose to live by what is right in our own sight, hence without consideration of God’s will, we can be oppressed and wore down. The reason we have chosen to put ourselves where God has not called us. To be in that predicament can be dangerous and detrimental to our being practically sanctified.
Lots life certainly reveals this truth.
As we investigate Genesis, next time we will clearly see how this “righteous man” began falling away from righteousness the moment he made a choice to live facing the city of Sodom. This can happen to us. How did it occur with Lot?