Friday, 31 January 2020
(for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)— 2 Peter 2:8
The Greek here reads, “for the righteous, dwelling among them.” It is showing a complete contrast between Lot and those he dwelt amongst. Despite dwelling among these people who were filled with perversion, he maintained his righteousness. Though chided by some, this is perfectly in line with numerous other verses which imply that there is nothing wrong with this. For example, Paul says –
“I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.” 1 Corinthians 5:9, 10
Jesus was said to eat with tax collectors and sinners. Noah remained a preacher of righteousness in a world full of sin. One cannot be a preacher without someone to preach to. Lot was a human who lived among humans, and he maintained his righteousness as he conducted his daily affairs.
The word used to describe his “dwelling” is found only here in Scripture, and it is rare even in secular writings. It signifies to settle down in a place. It was his home and there is no reason one would expect him to simply pull up and depart. He dwelt among them and yet maintained his character as he did. Despite this, Peter notes that the conduct of those around him “tormented his righteous soul from day to day.”
This is now the third time in just two verses that Peter calls him righteous, stressing that he was without fault despite his surroundings. When Peter says “tormented,” he uses a word which signifies torture. It was as if his soul was severely harassed and beaten as he saw the conduct of those around him. What appears to be the case is that he loved where he was, and wanted those with him to see the good, and then have them give God the glory for what they had.
One could think of someone living in a frontier town surrounded by beautiful mountains and large pastures. And yet, the people of the town brawled, drank the night away, and caroused through the streets doing the shameful things humans do. The one who maintained his righteousness would not want to move. Instead, he would want those who were misdirected to see the good, become productive people of the town, and build a better future.
Like such a person, Lot was tortured in his soul either by, or for, those around him “by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds.” The word translated as “seeing” is found only here in the Bible. It signifies “to glance.” Lot didn’t look and keep looking, as if perversely drawn to their wickedness. He simply saw it in a glance, and it tortured him. What they did was lawless, and it demonstrated the high level of their perversion. It is instinctively known – both in human minds and in nature – that there is a proper “law” or order to sexual conduct. But what they did violated those very laws of nature. The perversion took over, and they did what was unnatural.
Life application: Failings of character don’t exclude someone from being known as righteous. If they did, King David and the other noted heroes of the Bible could never be considered as such. We as well, with all of our idiosyncrasies and our propensities to foul up at the drop of a dime, could never possess the righteousness demanded by God.
As Jesus said in Matthew 5:48, “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” What God demands is a righteousness we simply cannot attain on our own. This is the glorious purpose of God’s “imputed righteousness.” Jesus came and fulfilled the Law on our behalf. He then went to the cross and now offers us an exchange – our sins, judged at the cross, for His righteousness. It is – without a doubt – the greatest offer in the world.
All we need is to accept it, by faith, and God is faithful and just to forgive. Thank You, O God, for the cross of Jesus!
Heavenly Father, we know our unworthy state. Without Jesus we could not stand in Your presence. But, Heavenly Father, we thank You for His perfection, given to us by grace. We thank You for the cross, and we thank You for Your perfect plan which has reconciled us to You. Amen.