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Listen as Todd continues his message from last week on 2 Peter 2:4-10 and focuses on Lot (Gen 13-14, 19), a righteous man who made poor decisions and suffered for it.
A Diligent and Right Response to "These Things"
A Reminder of How and When "Joy to the World" Comes
Saints and Scoffers Running out of Time
False Teaching and False Teachers: the Difference and the Danger of Both
False Teaching is a Trap
Lot: the Trampled Spring That Is Wonderfully Saved and a Horrible Warning
The Grace and Truth False Teachers Miss and the Judgment They Won’t
The Words and Ways of the False Teacher and What to Do about It
Stirring Truth That Makes Men Useful
The Choreographed Christian Life
Persecution From Without Is Not Near the Threat as Is the Poison From Within
Good morning. It's great to be with my friends in Dallas, in Plano, and in Fort Worth. We're thrilled to be together again and looking through 2 Peter. I'm going to let you in on a little of my insanity this morning. I'm going to teach you everything I had prepared to teach you last week when I went too long and didn't teach you, and I'll probably go long today.
I'll tell you that because there's so much greatness in God's Word that I can't squeeze all the juice out of it as we're moving through. I take a lot of time every week just studying. This is why, by the way, if you really want to grow, you don't just become a consumer. You're not just a parrot that repeats what you hear other people say.
You want to be a pipeline that studies to show yourself approved. If you are learning from somebody, and you should…you ought to put yourself under people who are good teachers and can open God's Word to you and can motivate you to want it more, but, " [These] things which you have heard…in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also."
If you really want to see your life changed, be a person who doesn't just go through re|engage but comes back and leads a re|engage group, who doesn't just go and commune with godly people but steps up and says, "I will be a coach of godly people," who doesn't just go through Equipped Disciple…I mean, you ought to go through Equipped Disciple, but part of really being a disciple is that you come back and teach Equipped Disciple. That's how it is deeply embedded in you.
My life is rich because I'm just letting you get the cream, which just rises to the top, but sometimes I'm going to be cutting out cream. I'm not giving you all that's there in the Word every week when I go through it. I know one of the reasons I teach the way that I do… If you haven't noticed, I'm not a guy that just tries to give three points and you can easily go, "This is exactly what Todd said today." I know you're like, "I can't keep up sometimes," right?
My goal is, when we're done being together, you'd go, "Man, there is so much there. I'd read that stuff and go, 'What in the world?'" I have to fall in love with the Word of God because the more I know the Word of God, it shows me the mind of God and the heart of God. The more I see the heart of God, it makes me love the person of God. The very first thing that will lead to blessing in your life is a deep love for God. The most important thing about you is your opinion of God, what you think about when you think about him.
That's why, in 2 Peter 1, when it's talking about the ladder of usefulness and fruitfulness, it starts with moral excellence. That's not your moral excellence, it is an understanding of real beauty and moral excellence. It's the rich young ruler when he walked up to Jesus and said, "Good teacher…" That word good is not just, "You're better than others," it's the word for deep, abiding excellence. It is the moral goodness, in effect.
He sees in Jesus, "You're not like everybody else." In fact, that's why Jesus says to him, "Why do you call me morally excellent? Why do you say that I'm full of intrinsic goodness? Nobody is intrinsically good except God alone?" His point being, "Hey, if you knew who I was, you would know the answer to your question." Question: "Good teacher, how do I inherit eternal life?" Answer: Only by having a deep, abiding relationship with God.
What Jesus does with the rich young ruler is he tells him, "Go do all the things that God told you to do," and the rich young ruler says, "I think I've done that." Jesus goes, "Oh really?" Well, if you didn't notice, when Jesus did this with rich young ruler, he starts by saying, "Treat people nice." In other words, "Don't murder, don't commit adultery, don't lie, don't covet…" Because he's rich, he didn't covet anybody.
He hadn't listened to Jesus when he first showed up and said, "I say to you, if you say to your brother, 'You fool," you've committed murder. If you look at a woman with lust in your heart, you're an adulterer." Jesus really upped the standard of what righteous looked like. So Jesus just set the guy up. He basically asked him about commandments six, seven, eight, nine, and ten. The guy goes, "I'm good."
But then Jesus went back to the first commandment, which is, "You shall have no other gods before Me." So he says to the rich young ruler, "I'll tell you what. Why don't you go sell everything and come follow me." It says the rich young ruler was deeply grieved because he had a lot of things he didn't want to let go of, which means he had a god that he was pretty happy with, which means he didn't need God, which means he didn't love moral excellence, which means he wasn't going to inherit eternal life.
So, look, that's not a story that is given so that you would sell everything. Listen, if you're told by God to sell everything and follow him, then sell everything and follow him. God, if you haven't noticed, doesn't make that what you should do.
God says, "Be a good steward of everything. Make sure everything you own, you know I own and you're my steward. So as you gather more, you use it more faithfully. You are blessed to be a blessing. You have affluence for influence. I'm not giving you more to up your standard of living but to up your standard of giving. To whom much is given, much is expected."
The rich young ruler already had a god, and he didn't want to listen to God who told him that he was blessed to be a blessing. He just wanted to know how he could buy his way, and Jesus said, "You can't buy your way in. You're impoverished spiritually." The good news for you is that the God who is filled with loving-kindness and truth has, "…though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor…" He has left everything because he is love, because he cares about justice, and so he poured out his wrath upon his Son so he could justify those that he loves.
Jesus says, "Do you know who I am? I am God, and I'm going to give my life for you." If you have that right, you know how to get eternal life. Isn't that great? See, that's my problem. I don't even get to teach that today, and that's we'll go along right there, okay? That's Matthew 19. It's Mark 10. It's great stuff.
What you think about when you think about God is the most important thing about you. You need to be somebody who goes deep in the Word of God so that you can love him more. Because the more you know this story of God and his rescue of lost, fallen, hurting, broken humanity, that he's not scolding for their sorry state but he's saying, "You're in a sorry state because you've left me, so come back to me. Find forgiveness and healing and redemption. Be a blessing and be blessed…"
That's the story of Scripture, Genesis to Revelation. It's not a rulebook; it is a rescue. It is a love story of a God who is full of mercy, whose lovingkindness is everlasting, who is slow to anger and compassionate and true, and whose lovingkindness goes to thousands of generations and never stops. But he is going to punish the wicked.
So last week, in 2 Peter, chapter 2, verses 4 through 10, I walked you through and showed you that's what Peter's message was. Make no mistake, God has always judged the wicked and has always saved the righteous, so you had better make sure that you're not wicked. The primary form of wickedness that exists, the only wickedness that God is really concerned about, is the wickedness that says false things about him, a wickedness that rejects God in all of his beauty, all of his glory, and all of his goodness.
This is why every cult and every false religion always does one of two things. One is that it always makes man better than he is. In other words, he's not without God and without hope. He is not a liar from the beginning. He is not somebody who never seeks right. He is not totally depraved.
He just has a few rough edges, and he has to tap into the goodness of the god-consciousness so he can work his way up from one life to another and not be a slave to the physical world or the physical state but just metaphysically move forward. Every false religion always has man being better than he should be and/or God being a little less holy than he is. So the gap is just not that big. We're not inseparably and eternally without hope. If you just do these things, you're in.
God is saying, "You know what? Here's the beginning. You had better know who I am. I judge false teachers, people who say that I'm not good, that my Word is not true, and that disobeying me is not that big of a deal." God judged the angels when they didn't think he was good. God judged the prediluvian, or pre-flood, world when they mocked the herald of righteousness. He judged people after the flood, and 2 Peter 3 says he's going to judge them again.
What I want to do today is make sure that you don't miss out on a guy that I blew through last week. I talked more about Noah and my amazing affection and respect for Noah in the way that he persisted in righteousness in the midst of a world that was going south, but there's another guy who was called righteous Lot.
When I tell you the story of Lot today, you're going to go, "How in the world is Lot righteous? I'd give Lot a lot of adjectives, but righteous wouldn't be one of them." Here's the great thing. When you hear the story of Lot, you're going to hear about the hero that is God, and you're going to fall in love with God.
"God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent…" When he says something, he does it, and when he speaks, he means it, because he is good and true. So when God said, "Lot, you're mine, and I'll save you," he saves him. What you're going to find out today is that God's Word is true.
The reason that Lot is called righteous is because of the work of God alone. The reason, by the way, that Noah was righteous is because of the work of God alone. He believed in God. God told Noah what to do, and he had faith in what God provided. That's what made Noah saved. Likewise, Lot had faith in God, and that's all you need.
We are saved not according to deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to his mercy, and by the washing of the regenerating work of God and by the renewing of his Spirit. We are saved, the Scripture says, "not by works, so that no man should boast." Now I'm going to tell you this. You'd better make sure that your faith is real. "How do I know my faith is real, Todd?" Well, it will work itself out.
That is why, before we get to chapter 2 and have this phrase righteous Lot, you have chapter 1 which says, "In your love of God, moral excellence, add to it knowledge (more understanding of God), and be disciplined to love that God who is good and persevere in a world that is going to mock you. Be godly, which will be evidence, in your brotherly kindness and your unconditional love, which shows that you are of your Father."
Second Peter 1 says, "If these things are present in your life then you will be neither useless nor fruitless." It's stated positively. "You will be both useful and fruitful." But don't be like Lot, who was saved from the fire, but he was kind of smoky. All right? The smell of death was all over him. The greatness of God is that what Jesus said was true: "I'm the Good Shepherd, and I will not lose even one."
Let me teach you Lot today. Are you ready? I'm going to tell you something. There is judgment. There is judgment for false teachers, and it is severe. I'm also going to tell you something else. I've said this before. There is judgment for those of us who have a great salvation and who are not attentive to our God. You will be saved, and yet as one who passes through fire.
Let me read to you what I mean. We'll come back and close with this, but this is 1 Corinthians, chapter 3, verses 11 through 14. It says, "For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." This is why Peter starts the book by saying, "I want you to know Jesus. There's one person, and he is the one who can save you. He saved me, an impetuous, violent, self-willed fisherman. He made me useful and wise, and he can save you. If you try and become righteous by trusting in anything other than Jesus, your righteous is fleeting."
But he says, "Build on that. To your love of God and love of Christ, who is the good teacher, build on it. If you build on it well, it will be a building with gold and silver and precious stones, but not wood, hay, or straw. If you build with wood, hay, or straw, which are fleeting, temporal things…
In other words, if you don't really set your mind on the things above, then "…each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire…" It will be tested with fire. There's a judgment that's coming. "…and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work."
There's a judgment coming for believers and nonbelievers alike. I'm going to show you this again. "If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward." Other people are going to be saved, but they're going to be smoky. They're going to be saved like one who has passed through fire. You're going to stand before the Lord, and you're going to get everything right about God.
You're going to see in Lot that he is never seen saying anything untrue about God. Ever. We don't ever see him worshipping idols. We don't ever see him getting caught up in polytheism or pantheism. He is a monotheistic. He has seen the goodness of God and the blessing of walking in God's way both in his uncle's life and in his own life. He knows God.
But what he doesn't do is personally pray. What he doesn't do is personally study. What he doesn't do is personally follow. His foundation is right and true, but his way is not holding fast and staying true. So what you're going to see is that Lot is called righteous.
Question: Why will Todd Wagner be called righteous? Is it because for 30 years now, he's studied God's Word? Is it because for 15 years now, he's started a church with other people where he's making disciples? Is it because he shares his faith? Is it because he gives his money in alms to help the poor? Is it because he sets his mind on things above? No.
I'm going to be saved because of Christ alone. I am righteous Todd not because of deeds which I have done. I have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus. That is the gospel, but the gospel in my heart is to produce legs. It's to produce a work. So you are saved by grace through faith alone, but the faith which saves is never supposed to be alone. I'm going to show you a horrible warning this morning.
God wants you to be like Noah, a great example, but you can also be like Lot, a horrible warning. The great news is that Lot is not lost forever, but I want to tell you that if I was hanging around Lot, I'd have said, "Lot, I don't know. If you know God, you are eternally secure, but it just doesn't look to me like you really know him. So the good news is that God's not going to phone me and ask me whether you're his boy or not. He knows his and won't lose you, but if you're his boy, why don't you walk with him?"
What you're going to find out is that Lot lost his wealth and all of his possessions. He lost his lineage, his legacy, his sons, his sons-in-law, his daughters, and his wife. He lost his influence in the city that God told him to be a herald of righteousness in. Yet little smoky Lot was saved, righteous because of who God was and what God said he would do.
But that's not your goal, folks. Your goal is to build righteously and to not have temporal things like wood, hay, and straw be what defines you, but to have imperishable things such as gold, silver, and precious rubies so that when fire comes, it's going to get more beautiful and purified. That's you.
Now what am I going to say about rewards? Here's what I would say about rewards. I believe that you will be rewarded, and I can support that with Scripture. Second Corinthians 5:10, among other places. First Corinthians 3 also talks about it. What I'm going to do with those rewards, I'm not going to walk around heaven with my crowns stacked up, if I get any, but I'm going to be thrilled to lay them at the feet of my Savior.
I'm going to be thrilled to say to Jesus, "Hey, listen. You, though you were rich, for my sake became poor. It was through your poverty that I become rich, and I can never pay you back. What you're doing is you're rewarding me for my responding to your gift. I had nothing to offer you except for the way I responded, and you're rewarding me for the way I responded? Well, here's my last chance to love you. You get it all." I think I'm going to lay it at his feet.
There's going to be a moment, if you know him and you really see him for who he is, that either you're going to bow for the first time before him and say, "Rightly do you judge me," and you'll be separated from him forever, or you'll bow before him and say, "You're going to give me a reward for responding to love? It would be my great privilege to give back to you everything that I can," and from that moment on, we'll enjoy him forever.
Now how that works out in eternity, I don't know. I just know that there's going to be something that happens in me that when you get more rewards than I do because you're more faithful than I am, I'm not going to be in any way sorrowful. But I think there's going to be a moment when you stand before him that if you have not been in every way righteous, you're going to go, "Dang. Praise God that I'm saved. What a fool I was."
Lot is a horrible warning, and I'm going to teach him to you so that you might be a great example because you don't follow in his path. Let's just read what it says in 2 Peter 2:7-8. In this specific passage, Peter is just reminding you that God judges wicked people but he saves the righteous. Peter's telling you, "You're only righteous because of God." That's the gospel.
"…He rescued…" Notice what he calls him. "…righteous Lot, [who was] oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men…" This is what was true of Lot. You have to remember this, because you won't see it when I take you through his life. "…(for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds)…"
This is what's going to be true of you, and if this is not true of you, then I'm going to really tell you that it ought to make you hesitate to say that you're saved. Before I knew Christ, I used to hate when I sinned when I was caught or I knew it was just a matter of time before I was caught. I hated that, but I didn't hate it when I was sinning. I hated that I got caught and it cost me something.
When I came to know Christ, I just learned to hate sin. I still sometimes would chose to do things that were rebellious against God, but even if nobody ever knew about it and even if I was never going to be found out, it still tormented me. I knew it wasn't right. I can remember when I… I think I've shared this story before about a sweet young gal who came to Christ.
She had lived a very hard life and was given to a lifestyle that included not being careful with her body in the way she cared for it, even how she earned income with it, and the way she dealt with the pain of that with some of her abuse to numb herself to her reality. This gal really came to know Christ, but she would walk with us for a while, and then we'd lose touch with her.
She'd come back and would be tearful because she had given herself back over to some things that enslaved her. Eventually one day she was gone, and the next thing you know, we got a phone call that she was dead. Frankly, this encouraged me because the Bible talks about how the Lord will discipline those that he loves, and there's even sometimes a discipline that leads to death.
Like Paul says, sometimes God is going to turn their body over to Satan that their body might be destroyed but their soul might be saved. You're going to see that Lot is almost a picture of that. That was true of this friend of mine, and it was interesting that when I did her funeral, half of the church was filled with people who knew God and were part of her redemption and the other half was filled with the friends whom she used to run with before she came to know Christ and to whom she would go back to periodically.
At the funeral, all of her lost friends came up to me afterwards and said, "You guys ruined Michelle." I was like, "What are you talking about?" They said, "You ruined her. She used to be the life of the party. She would make us all feel great about what we did. She would have just a wonderful time tearing it up, but when she came to know Christ she was never happy over here again. Even when she was doing what she used to do, there was never that same zeal."
What was interesting is that over here we never saw the joy of the Lord in Michelle because she never completely left the world that she was in before, even though there were constantly righteous people around her calling her to it, but there was also never any freedom anymore to sin. That's what it's talking about right here in 2 Peter, chapter 2. Lot was tortured…literally, he was oppressed and he was tortured. It was torture to his soul.
Let me give you one more cross-reference to this because some of you guys are in this right now, and today you're going to understand why for the first time. You are being tortured because you really know God but you're not following him. You have one foot in the world. You have your heart in heaven, but because your foot is in this world, your heart is never at peace.
You don't know where this abundant life that God talks about is coming from, and you want to know, "Where is this greatness of Jesus? Ever since I've trusted Christ, I'm miserable." Well, because you're still walking in the ways of the world, but you know that is going to bring judgment. God loves you enough to just be heavy on your heart.
This is Psalm 32. This is David, the righteous king, when he had made a decision to not live in a righteous way. Psalm 32 says this (this is David talking): "How blessed is he…" You're no longer oppressed and tortured. "…whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered!" David says, "How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is…" Watch this. "…no deceit!"
You're going to find out that in Lot, there was deceit. He didn't give himself over completely to the God that he knew was the true God. Some of you guys are not either. I'm going to explain to you this morning why. David says, "When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand…" Watch this. "…was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer."
Do you ever feel like that? I'm going to tell you why. It's because you have a sense of the goodness of God and impending judgment, even for believers, but you just won't let go of the world. There is no joy of the Lord that's your strength. There's this sense of doom and dread.
Even though nobody knows about your sin, you know about your sin and know that God knows about your sin. The power and the joy of God are not on you, and you are a horrible warning and not a good example. You get the worst of both worlds. You can't enjoy Christ and you can't enjoy sin. Today, I hope to shake you out of it and that you really turn.
Let me show you one more time where Lot shows up in this. I've showed you this now a couple of times lately. I've talked to you before about the chart of salvation. See what's going on here. God offers to the entire world, "Love me. I am a good God. The only sin that's out there is not knowing me and not acknowledging that I'm the good God."
Some people say, "I don't really care if you're God. I'm going to go my own way." Proverbs 9:12 says, "If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, and if you scoff, you alone will bear it." If you don't want anything to do with God, then you're going to be judged on your works, and your works are going to be wanting because God's standard is perfection.
If you're not perfect, you're not going to have fellowship with God, and that means you're going to be separated from God. Not in the way that you're separated from God right here and right now, because right here and right now God's grace is still on the earth and the rain falls on the just and the unjust and the crops still grow in this just and the unjust fields.
The just and the unjust still have friends and music and sex and drugs and all the things that are from God that are used, sometimes, to numb your pain, but they're not going to be around later, because all good things are from God. You can use God's good things right now in a godless way, but later on, you can't use God's good things in a godless way because God is going to put you in a place where there is nothing but weeping and gnashing of teeth and nothing that is good.
Drugs are good. That's a little sound bite that if you pull out, might get me in trouble with some people, but what I mean by that is that there's not a problem with drugs, just like sex is good. It's when you use sex or drugs in a way that is outside of God's will that they become a problem. Right?
So pain meds…lidocaine, cocaine and other derivatives, heroin…which can be used as pain management coming out of things if they're used rightly and with great fear and trembling, can be useful to you as you recover, but if you become dependent upon them they're going to ruin you. That's why you see people who start on prescription meds who begin to take them in an unhealthy way and get really in a lot of trouble. A ton of trouble.
You need to know something. That's what we're giving people in the midst of certain medicinal practices, but if you take them and use them completely inappropriately it's going to maybe numb you from your reality of death, but in hell, there's not going to be an opportunity to use good things in an inappropriate way. It's nothing by godlessness, weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Now over here, there are two kinds of people. There are those who say, "Yes, Lord, you're God. I know you're good." There are some who do that in name only. You might think that Lot is one of these name-only guys, but we're going to find out that he's not. Lot's going to be the guy that goes all the way down.
When he's judged by his works as a son…that's what it will be, as sons, as servants…he's that guy who is not ready to meet the Judge. His work will be burned up. He'll suffer loss, and he's smoky. He's saved, but as one who passes through fire. He has nothing. His legacy is gone, and there is nothing but a curse that comes from him, except he himself is saved.
Don't let that be your future. You want to be a guy who lives righteously and faithfully, so that when you stand before God, it's going to be, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" Look, those guys who are deluded? That's Matthew 7. He says, "Depart from me. You got the true-false question about God right, but I never knew you."
I was talking this week to my son about this. He has some kids in his school who mock him for his desire to live a godly life in high school. They have a name for him that is as crass as any name that you would want a high school kid to give you. It's his nickname. They make fun of him because of the way he doesn't treat girls and because he says, "I don't want to look at that stuff. Well, I want to look at it, but I know that it's poison to me." So they've given him a name that mocks him.
I was just talking to him, and he goes, "Dad, some of these guys call themselves Christians. They go to church." I go, "What they're saying to you is that they're not Muslim. What they're saying is that they're not Buddhist. What they're saying is that they believe there's a god; they're not atheist. That's what too many people call being a Christian."
They go, "Yeah, I know the Jesus story. I don't read the Qur'an; I don't really read the Bible, but I have a Bible in my house. I go to a church with a cross on it, or when I don't go to church, the church that I don't go to has a cross on it. I wouldn't go to a mosque. I wouldn't go to a synagogue. I wouldn't go to a temple. I don't go to a church when I don't go to church, or I go to church and I just kind of go through the motions."
Those are Matthew 7 people. You know who Jesus is. You believe his story; you don't embrace any other story. But you never knew him. You knew about him. Jesus says that there's a line from there right down. So it's not just what you say about Jesus; it's who is Jesus is your life. So watch this. Lot got it right, and then he got it wrong. Let's not be Lot.
We have a lot to learn. Turn to Genesis 12. Here we go. Are you all with me? This is good stuff. Come on! I've been pretty clear with the gospel this morning. I've been trying to get you away from the heaviness that comes with sin and that coming judgment that comes with not following hard after God.
Here's Lot. Lot never had an intellectual problem with God, and he never questioned God's person. He never spoke a word of heresy regarding the nature of God. By the way, this is really important, because there's a difference between…this is the last thing I'll say…why he is righteous Lot and not a false teacher. Let me just show you two verses.
Proverbs 25:26 says, "Like a trampled spring and a polluted well…" Get that. "Like a trampled spring and a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked." That's what Lot is. There's good water there, but he is just… It's like, "No one wants to drink that right now. It doesn't look like it should." But false teachers are what Peter is really going after in 2 Peter, chapter 2, verse 17, when he says that false teachers "…are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved."
If you just trample your spring by godless living and worldly mingling instead of setting your mind on things above, then you're going to pollute what should be the fountain of living waters that should come through you, but you're not destined for the darkness; you're destined for judgment. You'll be saved as a smoky person and not as a brilliant trophy of grace that was useful to God and fruitful.
You don't want to stand before God emptyhanded, you want to come bearing all the gifts of everything you could do because he is good. Watch Lot. Lot's story starts in Genesis 12 in the Bible. It's when God grabbed Abraham…Abram, at the time…out of Ur of the Chaldeans. Just by grace he chose him and said, "Abram, come on. Follow me." Genesis 12:1 is the beginning of all of the redemptive work of God in this little section.
"Now the Lord said to Abram, 'Go forth from your country, a nd from your relatives a nd from your father's house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you…" God continues, "Listen, this is what you should be in the way that I bless you: a blessing to others. I'm going to bless you not so that you can be comfortable; I'm going to bless you so that you can be a blessing to others."
This week, I was in Guatemala, and I walked into a house that is the most rundown house that you can imagine. I mean, it's a shanty that you wouldn't want to spend a night in. It was occupied by two single mothers and their children. These children had been rescued by the church. These mothers are being discipled by the church through a partnership with Compassion International.
It's like our partnership with ALARM and the orphans that we support. If you are not one of the people that are supporting the orphans that we're with right now over in Africa, there are orphans all over the world that are waiting for somebody to come alongside of them. I just want to commend Compassion International to you. If you want to know what child adoption or child sponsorship program you should work with, I can just tell you that I would attest to Compassion as being the one. I'm going to talk to you more about that in the days ahead.
Anyway, I was down there loving these people and being with them and partnering with Compassion on some things. I walked up to this little girl and knelt down. Her sweet name in English was Juliet. I got down and greeted her. She's a little 4-year-old girl. I said, "How are you, sweetie?" She said, "I am blessed."
Then she said, "I am blessed to be a blessing." Those were the first words out of her mouth. See, she was living in poverty beyond anything you can imagine, surrounded by filth, and with a water supply that was a danger to her heath and her family, but she had been receiving grace and mercy through the church. Compassion always partners with a local church.
She understood, "I don't have what the world thinks I should have, but I have this. I have love, care, and attention. They're dealing with my intellectual issues; they're going to develop me scholastically. They're dealing with my spiritual deficit; they're teaching me about the goodness of God. They're dealing with my physical issues, and on and on down the list."
She says, "I'm taking whatever I have and I'm a blessing to others who don't have it. I'm teaching people around here who aren't yet part of the Compassion program about the compassion that I have received through God." She had been abandoned by her father, and her next words to me were, "Adonai is my Father, and he is good."
See, Abram bought that same thing that little Juliet bought. He knew that he was going to be blessed to be a blessing. "So Abram…" Watch this in verse 4. "…went forth as the Lord had spoken to him…" By the way, gang, this is the key. If you want to know what I'm trying to do with you every week, I'm trying to get you to go forth as the Lord speaks to you.
Not just rejoicing that there is provision for your sin, but rejoicing that there is power in your redemption and you can live in the midst of the burning city of desire, of human will and corrupt flesh that mocks authority. You can say, "I'm not going mock the authority of God, and I'm not going to give into the corruption of my flesh. I'm going to live by the spirit and honor the God who is."
That's how you go forward. That's how Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken. It's what you should do. "…and Lot went with him." Do you see that? Here's Lot. He's dragged along by his uncle. It says in verse 5, "Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew, and all their possessions which they had accumulated…" When you come to God, everything you have comes with you. They were called out of the world to follow God, and "…they came to the land of Canaan."
So now we jump over to chapter 13. Now watch this. First, summarizing what happens in at the end of chapter 12 is that after Abram went to Canaan, there was a drought and a famine, and so he went down to Egypt. Abram did some things where he was learning more about the character and sufficiency and provision of God.
Abram himself, who is called a righteous man, is righteous by faith. Abram made some mistakes, but he repented of those mistakes; he dealt with them. He acknowledged that he lied about who Sarai was, and God brought him out of Egypt even more prosperous than when he went it. Watch this in chapter 13, verse 2: "Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver and in gold. He went on his journeys from the Negev as far as Bethel…"
It says in verse 5, "Now Lot, who went with Abram [down to Egypt] , also had flocks and herds and tents." God blessed Lot just like he blessed Abram, and they were doing exceeding well. Lot is walking with God and walking with Abram. It gets to where they are so prosperous, that the following happens in verse 8:
"So Abram said to Lot, 'Please let there be no strife between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me; if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left.'" Abram is like, "God's going to take care of me, Lot. Listen, there's strife coming because we're so prosperous. You choose whatever you want to do and go wherever you want to go, and I'll go the other way. God is going to take care of me."
So watch what it says that Lot did right here. One of the things that you're going to find out right now is that Lot is walking along with Abram, but you're going to find that he's not self-disciplined. Lot is one of those guys, and you know these people. It might be you. You do well as long as you're in a godly environment. As long as you have a healthy church, you're doing really well. But if you get away from that healthy church, just like my friend Michelle did, and you get sucked right back in because you have not established yourself in righteousness.
You don't go and minister to sinners, you mingle with sin every time that you're there. Frankly, you kind of still love a little bit of that sin, and you haven't suffered enough from it. Even though you know it's going to be judged, you count on grace of God and don't really give yourself to it. There are people who are like that, right? As long as the environment, the circumstance, the church, the community that they're in is doing well, then they're doing well. But separate them from that, and you're going to find out that they don't do so well.
Here's one of the reasons you can tell. People that aren't self-disciplined are often selfish. This is Lot. So it says that Lot, when Abram said that to him, "…lifted up his eyes…" Now lifting up your eyes could mean to prayer, "God, what do you want me to do? Where should I go? What should I choose?" That's not what Lot did.
Lot lifted up his eyes and said, "Where can I get more of the things that I like? I like what God has given me. God has made me pretty wealthy. I want to go and build on my wealth. I don't want to be blessed to be a blessing, I want to get blessed more and more and more because I love the things that are in this world. So where can I go and make more money? Ah, the cities." This is what it says in verse 10 of chapter 13.
"Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere—this was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah—like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar. So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastward. Thus they separated from each other." Verse 12 goes on to say, "…Lot settled in the cities of the valley…"
He didn't go all the way to Sodom, which you're going to find out later was just a hotbed of sin. He just kind of got near it where he could do business with the sinful people. I'm going to tell you what happened to Lot. He was greatly blessed. He continued to prosper. This is so important. Listen to me.
I was talking to a guy this week about somebody who was extremely well-off. He goes, "Well, does he really know the Lord?" I go, "Well, let me just tell you something. Considering how blessed he is, he's doing exceedingly well." Here's the problem with blessing, however. When you're doing really well, you have a hard time listening to other people because you're like, 'I've got all that I need, so I must be doing what God wants me to do, because I have everything that I want. Frankly, I have more than you, so who are you to give me counsel?"
I run into people at Watermark all the time who go, "I can't do community with most people because most people don't have everything that I have, so I can't really related to them." Hey listen, if you want to relate to God, I don't care how much money you have or how much money they don't have, you can related to God with anybody who wants to relate to God. Frankly, you need people.
This is 2 Corinthians, chapter 8, verses 13 and following, where it says, "Listen, they have an abundance of something that you need, and you have an abundance of something that they need. This is not for your affliction and their prosperity, but," it says, "it's for the purpose of equality. So listen, God has blessed you at this particular moment, through really no grace or strength of your own." That's Deuteronomy 8: "Everything you have, I've given you. Be faithful with it."
What you need to do is seek God with other people who are seeking God. Don't tell me that you can't seek God with people who don't have what you have provisionally. That's exactly why you should seek God with them, because God has given you the abundance of provision and has given them the abundance of poverty, not so that you could be at ease and they could be afflicted but by way of equality that you could meet each other's needs. That's what community is.
But Lot just wanted to increase his abundance, and he thought he was so blessed because he was doing what God wanted him to do. I was just thinking about this, and I thought, "That's not true. The most dangerous kind of failure is fleeting success." What I mean by that is that I even know guys who have been wrapped up in cults, and what happens is their lives were broken and decrepit. They were alcoholics. They were at the end of their life. They were suicidal.
Then all of a sudden, they bumped into somebody who introduced them to Mormonism, and at that moment, through that relationship, they stopped drinking. Their career all of a sudden started to do particularly well, and they were like, "Okay, my career has taken off ever since I've embraced this ideology, so this must be what God wants me to do because all that's happened since then is, by and large, prospering me."
All I would tell you is this: Don't be deluded that just because everything is going well for you, it's because God is smiling on you. It is quite possible…listen to me on this…that what's going on, really, is that the Prince of this world is sharing with you some of his kingdom so that you don't need to bother to seek the King of Kings who will come to judge the quick and the dead.
If you doubt this, this is what he did with Jesus: "Jesus, skip the cross, baby. Just come right for the crown. This is my world, not your Father's world. This is where I was sent." So in Matthew, chapter 4, when the Enemy was with Jesus, it says in verse 8: "…the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory…" What did he say? "I'll give you all of this. Just fall down and worship me."
Can I just tell you something? Gang, this is true. I'm going to talk about two people, false teachers first. There are people who are preaching messages who have the largest churches in America and are some of the most influential pastors. They're celebrity pastors who are all over TV and everybody loves them. People love the message that they're preaching, and they're going, "How could it be wrong? Look at the way God is blessing it!"
They might say, "Don't tell me that you're teaching a true doctrine. God is increasing my fame; he's increasing the people that follow me. This must be what God wants." I'm going to say, "Well, listen, there's a chance that maybe you're prospering and your ministry is growing because it's not God's ministry but that somebody is disguising you as an angel of light and giving you what you want. Because I would tell you that what I'm hearing you say and watching you do is not consistent with the Word that is revealed."
This is why the most dangerous kind of failure is fleeting success. That is, ultimately, what failure really is. You might be very successful, but if you're successful in the wrong things, you are a real failure. When you have success and everything that the world applauds and affirms, that doesn't mean that you're super faithful. It might just mean that you're being überly deceived.
That's true of false teachers, and it's also true of people who are compromising and thinking they'll get away with it. In fact, the Bible says very honestly, "Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of…men among them are given fully to do evil."
Lot was prospering, but it wasn't because God was blessing him. It was because he was doing business with the world, and sometimes when you do business with the world, it will prosper you. There's a lot of pleasure there, a lot of success there. But watch this: you're never going to be happy just doing business from a distance, so Lot moved in.
First he was in the cities of the valley (that's Genesis 13:12), and then watch what happens in Genesis 14:12. It says that the kings who came to do war (that's what is before this) "…took Lot, Abram's nephew, and his possessions and departed, for he was living in Sodom." He had moved into Sodom.
By the way, what happened is that God had brought judgment, temporary judgment, to Sodom. Other kings came and did battle, and God had all that Sodom was and hauled it off up north to the city of Dan. Abram heard that righteous Lot, his nephew, was a part of the carnage that came to godless people, so God used Abram to go and rescue him.
The righteous went after their own. They didn't shoot their wounded, they said, "We're going to come after you. We're going to admonish you and encourage you and help you." Abram went and helped Lot and rescued Lot, and guess what happened? Everything that Lot had was restored to him because he was rescued by the community of faith.
Watch what happened. Lot is prospering because he's around faithful people. He embraces the God faithfully, he never worships a false god, but he really doesn't seek God on his own. He's not self-disciplined. He is selfish when he has a chance to choose. He doesn't seek God; he seeks his own best interests.
Now he's stubborn. When he experiences discipline and is even rescued from it, he doesn't learn from this. When you go over to Genesis 19, where the story of Lot is really unpacked, this is what you get. It talks here about two angels who came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting at the gate. Who sits at the gate? When you study ancient Near Middle East cultures, people at the gate were judges and leaders.
Lot went back to Sodom. He returned right to the cesspool that he was just rescued out of. Have you ever seen that? This is what 2 Corinthians, chapter 7, verse 10 talks about when it talks about a worldly sorrow that eventually leads to death. You hate it when you're caught. I talked to a guy from the first service this morning who has been caught again, and he is sick. "I don't know if my wife is going to take me back this time. It's not the first time. It's not the second time. It's not the third time."
There is certainly sorrow in his life. I said, "I don't know if this is a godly sorrow or a worldly sorrow. They both start out looking the same, but one leads to death and the other one leads to life. The only way we're going to know is time. Are you going to move right back into Sodom? By the way, this is what the Bible says, "He who confesses and forsakes his sin will find compassion."
Let me just make this very clear to you, because you don't ever want to confuse confession with repentance. They are two very different things. One communicates sin. Confession is, "This is a sin." The other one turns from it. The Bible doesn't say that you're going to get compassion if you say, "I know what I'm doing is wrong. Hahaha! You too? Come on, man, it's wrong!"
What you're going to do is when you turn from it, make no provision for the flesh, and forsake it… Get your heinie into re:gen. Start living in biblical, authentic community. Start really hating that thing, not moving back into it.
Lot was not self-disciplined, he was not selfless, and he was stubborn. So watch what happens to Lot. He loses all of his influence, first of all, because if you know anything about your Bible, in Genesis 18, you know that God had told Abraham, "I'm going to judge Sodom and Gomorrah," okay?
Do you want to know what Sodom and Gomorrah mean? Those are words that basically mean burning submersion. Sodom means burning. It's like a burning desire: "I want more! Give me more, give me more… Muahahaha!" That's Sodom. Gomorrah is just complete submersion. We're not tasting it. It's like Sodom and Gomorrah become the picture of the world doing exactly what 2 Peter says Jesus will save you from, which is just giving yourself over to lusts.
Sodom burned in its lusts, and it delighted in its rebellion, and it was completely submerged in it. Now guess what? When you completely burn with lust and submerge yourself in it, you will be burned and submerged in judgment. When you think of Sodom and Gomorrah, you think of both of those things. In Genesis 18, God told Abraham, "I'm going to judge Sodom and Gomorrah."
Abraham goes, "Oh my gosh, that's where Lot lives. That's where he's mayor." So he said, "Surely, God, can I ask that if there are 50 righteous people… Lot has been there for 15 years now, surely he has done something there. Surely 50 people serve you. Lot knows you. He has been blessed by you. He's seen me rescue him in your name. Surely there are 50 people." God said, "I won't destroy it for 50." Abraham goes, "Well, Lot maybe isn't really abiding. How about 40?" "Sure, okay, for 40 I'll save it."
"Okay, how about 30? Lord, not to discourage you, but could you do it for 20?" Abram was probably thinking, "Okay, well, Lot is married. He has a couple of daughters and some sons. If they married, surely there are at least 10." So he says, "Okay, Lord, I'll never ask anything else. At least if there are 10 righteous?" God says, "I'll tell you what. I won't destroy Sodom and Gomorrah if there are 10 righteous. I'm going to go destroy Sodom and Gomorrah."
Lot lost all of his influence. This guy had no impact in his culture. Why? Because he was of it and in it even though he was a man who knew God. You're going to find out a little bit later, in fact, when there was a judgment that was coming, he goes forth… When the angel says, "Is there anybody else in this city that is yours?" Look down there in chapter 19, verse 12: "Then the two men said to Lot…" These are the two angels that said, "Whom else have you here?" Because they were going to judge this place.
"'A son-in-law, and your sons, and your daughters, and whomever you have in the city, bring them out of the place; for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the Lord that the Lord has sent us to destroy it.' Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, 'Up, get out of this place, for the Lord will destroy the city.' But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be [joking] ."
"Come on, Lot! You don't really care about that God. You do everything that we do. You don't think there's a God who is really there. I know you talk about him and Abraham and what you guys did, but you don't really think there's a God that really there. You don't think he really judges because you don't serve him. Come on, you're crazy, Lot." That's what happened.
That's why your friends look at you sometimes, you know? I talk to girls all the time who are dating some guy and are sleeping with him, and they go, "I just want him to know Jesus." I tell them, "Why would he want to know Jesus? You don't know Jesus in the way that you're living. I mean, you might know him, but you don't love him. You don't serve him.
Why would your boyfriend want to serve him? If you're boyfriend serves him, he might not want to have sex with you. You want to have sex with him and you say you know Jesus. It's like you're saying that there's no judgment for this. You're saying you know God and you're doing it, so you don't think there's judgment. Right?"
By the way, I want to throw this in because too many times people think that when they think of Sodom and Gomorrah, they think that Sodom and Gomorrah are wicked because of their sexual sin. That wasn't why Sodom and Gomorrah were judged. I want to make this quick comment. Sodom and Gomorrah burned with their lust and their desire.
By the way, that's really all that's happening when people take advantage of each other sexually. Instead of caring for people's needs, the vulnerability that they have, and the emotional needs that they have that can sometimes be met with physically giving themselves away… I tell people this all the time: "Girls will have sex with you to get affirmation and guys will give affirmation to get sex with you."
Even within the homosexual community there are guys who are taking advantage of the brokenness and the vulnerability in each other's lives and the absence of healthy male relationships. They just go, "Hey, look, let's just take advantage of each other's brokenness instead of really dealing with our brokenness and learning to control ourselves and not just be reckless." That's not just a homosexual problem; it's a heterosexual problem.
But here's the real problem. The problem is that there's not a love for other people. It's a lack of care for other people. Watch. This is Ezekiel, chapter 16, verses 49 and 50: "Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance…" In other words, there was no authority. They did what they wanted. Sodom had "…abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy."
See, the real judgment of Sodom was that they didn't care about other people. Whether that means, "I have what you need, and I'm not going to give it to you," or, "You have what I want, and I'm going to get it from you." One was physical, one was physically sexual. That's the way they rolled.
God said, "We have to stop that." By the way, do you want some New Testament admonishment? Because sometimes we go, "This is a church right here that doesn't really struggle with the whole sexual thing," maybe, but we do. We do. But if you know that Sodom and Gomorrah were judged because they did not rightly deal with their abundance, do you think that Watermark might struggle with that? Watch this.
This is 1 John, chapter 3, verses 16 and 17. It says, "We know love by this, that [Jesus] laid down His life for [his friends] ; and we ought to lay down our lives for [our] brethren. But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?" How are you doing?
The reason that God judged Sodom and Gomorrah was because they didn't take their abundance and meet the abundance of need. How are you doing? Some of you guys, in all your abundance, don't want to give to bricks and mortar, the opportunity that we have. You wouldn't believe the way that certain people, who have very little, are responding.
I'm going to tell you again. It's God's money. If God does not give you permission to invest in our current opportunities, fine. Come find me. I will give you opportunities that aren't bricks-and-mortar based but are about the care and physical need of people. But here's the deal: if you don't want to give to either one of those, that's because you burn and you submerge yourself in your own love for your own comfort, and I don't have a lot to encourage you with.
All right. Wrapping this thing up. The two angels come. Lot says, at the city gate, "Please come stay with me. Don't go to the city square." They said, "We're going to the city square," and Lot said, "No, I'm going to take care of you." He calls them out. They're in his house. Men of Sodom bang in the door and it says they want the angels to come out so they might have relations with them. They're not there to care for them.
Those men have something that they want, which is physical pleasure. Lot says, "No, please." He makes an awful presentation of a solution, but they reject it. They say, "You're acting like our judge because you won't do what we do. You came here, and we don't even know where you're from. You're not originally from Sodom; you're not originally from Gomorrah, but you're living in our midst. You're judging us now because you won't do what we're going to do. They basically shun Lot.
The angels then say to Lot, "Go get everybody you can," but Lot can't get anybody. He barely gets his daughters and his wife. He had trained his wife to an affection for the things of the world. She looks back. Lot, the Scripture says, hesitates to leave, but finally is snatched up by the angels. He is brought out.
His wife is caught up in the judgment, but Lot and his daughters are brought out. He loses his sons-in-law. He loses his sons. He loses his grandchildren. He loses his legacy and his influence. He is saved, but he is smoky. God calls him righteous just because God is the Righteous One who covers him in his faith. Do you want to be like Lot? Do you want to be saved like that? I hope not. This is a horrible warning.
By the way, the story gets worse. This is how it ends. Lot's daughters had learned from Lot that the way you live in this city is you just do things in a way that seems right to men. They go, "There are no guys around here. We're living in a cave." He had lost all of his provision, just like the 1 Corinthians 3 guy. "We're living in a cave. We're never going to get married, so let's get dad drunk. Let's sleep with dad, and that's how we'll have a lineage." So Lot sleeps with his daughters, and he has two grandchildren.
One is called Moab, and one is called Ben-ammi. One means son of my father, and the other one basically means friends with my father's people. Their father's people were Sodomites. Their father was fully given over to the ways of the world. Their descendants, the Bible says, were the Moabites and the Ammonites. If you know your Bible, you know that Israel has been suffering for generation at the hands of the Moabites and the Ammonites. It's all there.
Here's what I want to encourage you guys with. First of all, Jesus is the hero of every story. He's the hero of Noah's story. He's the hero of Lot's story. He's the hero of my story. We are saved by the grace of God, but when you know the grace of God, don't be righteous Lot. Be righteous Noah. Don't lose your lineage. Don't lose your blessing. Don't lose your influence in this city. Don't be deluded, certainly, but also don't be found like a dunderhead not effectively at work.
Father, I pray that we would fall in love with Jesus in this story and would see that he is the Good Shepherd who doesn't lose any of his sheep. But Father, I pray that we would show that we're your sheep by listening to your voice and following after you. I pray that we would not be just submerged in sin and burning in our corrupt flesh but that we would be burning in our love for you, seeking first your kingdom.
I pray that we would be self-disciplined, surrendered to you in every way. Would you glorify yourself in our submission? Would you allow us to be useful to you and useful to a world that needs to see that we are not just aliens, that we don't give ourselves over to everything but we give ourselves over fully to you and, as a result, even when our physical provision grows we don't love our physical provision; we use our physical provision to advance your kingdom and your purposes.
When we lift our eyes up, it's not to see where we can get more, but it's to see where we can serve more and know more of you. So would you teach us to seek first your kingdom and your righteousness, so that all these things that we really need would be added to us?
Father, I pray that if there's anybody here today that does not have the foundation which is the only one man can build on, which is Jesus Christ, that they would come and see how great your love is that it would save someone even as Lot. But for the rest of us, I pray that we would spur each other on like Abram did and that we would rescue Lots that have wandered away, and may we not be so stubborn as to return to Sodom. For your glory and the world's good I pray, amen.
God bless you. Come if you need Jesus, go and serve him if you know him, and worship Christ alone. God bless you. Have a great week of worship.