“. . . 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” – 2 Pet. 2:7,8.
Lot, the nephew of Abraham, was scripturally judged to have been a “righteous man.” That does not mean that he was a perfect man. He was subject to weakness and made mistakes. This is clear from observing both his pre-Sodom and post-Sodom days.
Lot’s Unwise Move
Lot made a grave mistake in judgment in choosing the well watered plain of Jordan as a place to raise his family (Gen. 13: 10). The plain was as wicked as it was prosperous. There was nothing inherently wrong in his choice. After all, Abraham had freely given him the choice. However, as time passed, it proved to have been a poor choice. His children grew up and married in that environment. Later, when he attempted to save them from destruction, his sons-in-law thought he was joking (Gen. 19:15). We are not told how many children Lot had in all, but only two daughters escaped destruction. Even after their escape the wicked influence of Sodom still surfaced in the two daughters. His two daughters, fearing no man to give them children and continue their family line, thought it good to get their father drunk and sleep with him. Such thinking could only have derived from the wickedness of Sodom and their perverted reasoning (Gen. 19:30-38).
Being surrounded by ungodliness does not mean that one has to just flow with the current. He can be righteous in the midst of unrighteousness. Lot maintained his righteousness while living in a city so wicked that it had a vile repulsive sin named after it. Too often, we excuse our sins and the sins of those we love by blaming outward circumstances. True, it is easier to live godly when surrounded by godly people. However, the real test of the genuineness of one’s faith comes when he must live godly when surrounded by ungodly people. Truly, Lot shined as a light “in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.”
The secret to Lot’s maintaining his own personal righteousness while surrounded by unrighteousness may have been that he never got to where ungodliness in others did not bother him. He was “oppressed with the filthy conduct of the wicked” (v. 7). He “tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds” (v. 8). When one gets to the point that others’ sin does not bother him, then likely it won’t be very long until he will be comfortable with his own sin. When we can hear and see lawlessness with passive indifference, we have reached a danger point in our own efforts to remain pure. When we can hear vulgarity and profanity with hardly a raised eyebrow, it is time that we checked our own spiritual health. When we can observe the “works of the flesh” openly advocated and practiced in society without becoming disturbed, it is time to be concerned about our own relationship with God.
Lot is held up to us as an example of how the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment” (v. 9). One, such as Lot, living in the midst of a wicked society faces many temptations. There is a strong temptation to accept a false deliverance, easing the struggle by giving in to, or at least tolerating sin.
One is tempted to partake of the pleasures of sin with his neighbors. He is tempted to relax and not be so “up tight” about the wickedness that he sees and hears. He is tempted to reach some sort of accommodation whereby he can be at total peace with the world. After all, he may rationalize, such things cannot be so bad or they would not be so socially acceptable to so many people.
One needs to understand that godly living is not freedom from temptations and trials. In fact, because such godly living is not the norm for the world at large, it creates a conflict with the world. One must make up his mind to endure trials and resist temptations until the Lord delivers. God will, in his own time deliver the godly. Some deliverance may come in this life, as in the case of Lot. Complete deliverance is sure to come in the life to come for those who remain faithful, godly, and disgusted with sin through it all.
Let’s not let the lessons of Lot be lost to us. Let us remember Lot’s wife who looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt )Lk 17:32). Let us remember what the apostle Paul warned, “Evil communication corrupts good manners” (1 Cor 15:33). Let us remember that choosing a life of ease can cause us great distress in the long run (Lk 18:19-27). It cost Lot his wife, most of his family, his great wealth, and nearly his eternal life.