A Saint in Sin City
Pastor Darrell Johns
It started with a decision, as it always does. Lot was given first choice by his revered Uncle Abraham. It went something like this:
“Lot, since our estates have grown so large, there is not enough room for us in this territory. We need to part ways, and I’m going to let you choose first. Look at your options and tell me which direction you want to go.” Lot suppresses a selfish grin and looks at the landscape. He can choose either the rough hill country or the well-watered plains of the Jordan valley. The possibility of lush pasture land instead of rocky hillsides is much more attractive, so “Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan” (Genesis 13:11).
Lot’s real choice is not in his direction but in his values. The right decision would have been to say “no” to first choice. He should have deferred to the man who made him who he was. Choices that are rooted in selfishness often have tragic outcomes. We get a hint of the rest of the story when the Bible says that Lot pitched his tent toward (near) Sodom. (See Genesis 13:12.)
Sodom is a wicked city that has
degenerated to a place where the most perverted sins
are commonplace and accepted. By his own choice, Lot is living in the neighborhood. Things may have gone
well for Lot in business, but what he’s gained in
his career, he has lost in his convictions. Lot’s two daughters
are engaged to young men from Sodom. Lot’s heart is
wrapped up in Sodom, but he is miserable because he knew
better. The Bible is clear in saying that Lot is a saint living
in sin city. Lot is a righteous man whose soul is tormented by the
shameful immorality of the wicked people around him. He
is vexed by what he sees and hears every day. (See ll
Peter 2:7-8.) But remember, Lot chose sin city.
God sees the wickedness of Sodom and determines to destroy it, along with the entire area, including the twin city of Gomorrah. He sends two angels to Lot’s house to rescue this saint out of sin city. When the men of Sodom discover that two men are guests at Lot’s house, they demand that he send them out so they can sodomize them. Lot begs them to not do such a wicked thing with men that are his guests. Lot offers his virgin daughters instead, which they refuse. Don’t miss what happens next.
The men of Sodom look at Lot, asking (I paraphrase) “Who do you think you are? You did not have to move to our city, and you certainly didn’t have to stay here. You were an outsider, a saint who chose to live in sin city. You knew who we were and how we lived. You have been vexed every day by our lifestyle, but you never did anything about it. Now, are you going to judge us? Sorry, sir, but you have no saintly credibility here in Sodom.” Then, they attack Lot and try to break down the door. The angels pull Lot inside and strike the men with blindness, forcing them to give up.
Lot is now safe inside his home. The angels demand that he gather his family and get out. It’s past time to leave sin city. Lot speaks to his future sons-in-law, warning them of coming destruction. “Come with us. We’re getting out of here before the city goes up in flames.” They look at Lot and laugh. They think he is joking. (See Genesis 19:14.) How much credibility has Lot lost by the series of compromises he’s made? Lot’s daughters are engaged to marry men who are self-willed, just like their Dad.
In the morning, as fire is about to fall, the angels tell Lot to flee Sodom with his wife and daughters. Lot lingers. In an act of divine mercy, the angels forcibly pull them out of the city. They are urged to escape for their lives. “Head for the hills!” “Don’t look back!” Lot sounds like a wimp when he negotiates a compromise to run to the closer city of Zoar instead of the distant hill country.
Then things get worse. Remember, Lot is righteous. But what about his family? Lot’s wife leaves her heart in sin city and looks back. She becomes a pillar of salt. Her memorial is a message that Jesus preached when He said, “Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32).
Finally, as Lot sees the judgment of God on sin city, he leaves Zoar, resorting to the hills to stay in a cave with his daughters. These two traumatized women worry that they will never marry and have children. They feel very alone. Their value system is skewed. They agree to get their father drunk, commit incest and have children by him. Their offspring are known as the Moabites and Ammonites.
So, ends the story of the saint in sin city.
Fathers, when you are faced with decisions, remember that your choices have consequences for years to come and even for eternity. You may survive spiritually as a saint in sin city, but what about your family? What direction are your decisions setting? What will be the outcome of the values you are embracing? Where will the behaviors you are condoning lead your family?
Lot lost his moral authority with his family and his community. While he remained righteous, he lost everything else to the consequences that started with a single selfish decision. Remember the story of Lot before you chose to be a saint in sin city.