Thursday, 30 January 2020
…and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked… 2 Peter 2:7
Peter went from the example of the flood to that of Sodom and Gomorrah, where he noted that it was turned into ashes and the people were condemned to destruction. This was recorded as “an example to those who afterward would live ungodly.” However, the Lord stands watch over all people, and in the case of Sodom, it says He “delivered righteous Lot.”
Lot is set in contrast to those who were condemned to destruction. Instead, he was delivered. Further, it is his conduct which brought that about. He is called here, “righteous.” It is a word Peter will use three times in verses 2:7 and 2:8 when speaking of Lot. Some scholars note this and then qualify the statement by saying that this only applied to his time in Sodom, but later when he lived in the cave with his daughters it was not so. The Bible does not make this leap, and the account of Lot’s time in the cave is recorded for a specific purpose which has less to do with Lot than it has to do with the character and hopes of his two daughters.
Despite this, while in Sodom, Peter says that Lot was “oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked.” The word translated as “oppressed” gives the sense of being overwhelmed by labor or suffering. Lot must have trudged through the streets of Sodom and felt the burden of fallen humanity, seeing their conduct and mourning over it. The question in his mind was probably not unlike the question of many moral Christians today, concerning both the state of the world and the state of the church, “How could we have fallen into such a state of depravity?”
This is then highlighted by the use of the word translated as “conduct.” It signifies something that is not in the proper or acceptable order, meaning it is out of place. Thus, it is conduct which is morally lawless and at variance with the nature of God. Paul speaks of such a state in Romans 1:18-32. As noted, any moral Christian need look no further than the church itself.
There are pedophiles who fill the halls of Roman Catholicism. There are perverts in the pulpits of many major denominations. There are sexually abusive people whose shameless acts are uncovered and then applauded in church after church. If this is the state of the church, how can the world ever be brought to see their own sin and mourn over it?
Life application: It may seem strange to read the term “righteous Lot” when comparing him with other noted figures in the Bible. Even figures who were fault-filled still seem to exceed Lot in righteousness. However, making comparisons to others is a fundamental flaw of people looking for personal justification rather than that which comes from God.
In other words, if you ask a person, “Why should God accept you into heaven?” the answer quite often is, “Well, I’m a good person…I’m not like Adolph Hitler.” The fact of the matter, though, is that neither Adolph Hitler nor any other person is the subject of the question. To answer in this way is a diversion brought in to move the question away from the main point.
A more direct and appropriate question would be, “Why do you think you deserve eternal life.” The question demands a direct answer, and the answer must be precise – “I have accepted Jesus Christ. He is my Lord and Savior.” Any answer which fails to include the merit of Jesus Christ alone then fails the test of righteousness. One cannot say, “I have led a good life,” “I paid tithes to my church,” “I did this,” or “I did that.” Such answers exclude the righteousness demanded by God – that of appropriately placed faith.
The Bible says, “Abraham believed God and He credited it to him for righteousness.” Taking God at his word is the path to imputed righteousness. The often-veiled truths of the Old Testament are fulfilled, and sealed, in the New Testament. This full revelation of God tells us of the work of Jesus. Lot’s righteousness, like Abraham’s, didn’t come from works or a perfect life. If we try to find that in the telling of his life, we would be left scratching our head about God’s selection. Lot’s greatness isn’t what is important; God’s is. Lot, despite any perceived faults, received God’s imputed righteousness by faith, just as we must.
Lord God, you have made it both very difficult and yet supremely easy to be justified before You. It is so very hard to put away our personal attempts at righteousness and few truly do it. However, once we have left ourselves out of the equation, we have access to the greatest Gift of all – our Lord’s righteousness. And this, through a simple act of faith. Thank You for Jesus! Amen.