Friday, February 22, 2019

Righteous Lot

Many of you may recall the Old Testament narrative about Lot, who with his family fled from Sodom and Gomorrah just as those cities were about to be destroyed by God. Recently I read a post by someone intent on proving that Lot was a righteous man.  Well, I cannot argue with that sentiment since it is clearly stated in 2 Peter 2:6-8.

And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds)  

Okay, so what’s the problem, you might ask.  Well, its just here.  Recalling the events as recorded in Genesis 19, God sent two angels to warn Abraham’s nephew Lot that the city of his abode would shortly be destroyed.  When they, as men in appearance, entered Lot’s house the men of the city came and demanded that Lot turn them over to them:

And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.  And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him,  And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.  Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof. (Genesis 19:5-8)

The problem, of course, is how to reconcile Lot’s action in offering up his daughters to be gang raped in place of his house guests and still be called righteous by the apostle Peter.  Now, I can do it rather easily, (and I will in a moment) as can many Christians who have a firm grasp of scripture, or are willing to take a moment to consider the case.  However, the author of the aforementioned post was forced to read all sorts of missing details into the narrative to square it with his theology, particularly his soteriology. (Soteriology is a 12-dollar word for the doctrine of how one receives salvation)

You see, when your religion teaches that it is your own actual righteousness that saves you, rather than the righteousness of Christ Jesus being counted as yours, then you will have to find a way to excuse or explain away the sin of those who the Bible calls righteous.  But for the true believer, it is quite simple. Lot was called righteous in the inspired word of God for exactly the same reason that his uncle Abraham was called righteous.  For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. (Romans 4:3)   and again,Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. (Galatians 3:6)

But of course, once again, if your religion teaches that it is your own righteousness that saves you rather than the imputed righteousness of Christ, then you will also find yourself looking for a “work around” for the rather clear teachings given through the apostle Paul mentioned above.  In fact, you may need to find a way to explain away his entire letter to the Galatians.

However, by God’s providence, just as I started to write this article I came to this Old Testament admonition during my daily Bible reading which further clarifies the matter:  When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.  (Ezekiel 33:13)

So, while those of us who put our trust in Christ’s righteousness and not our own self-righteousness can ponder whether Lot’s actions in offering his daughters to the mob was morally reprehensible or acceptable given the circumstances, we don’t have to make him out to be someone more than what we are; sinners saved by grace!


Thomas J Starling said...

SOTERIOLOGY new one on me, enjoyed this and other articles, motorcycle and religion.
You always bring new ideas and answers to me on both subjects.

Thanks T J

microdesigns2000 said...

Hello Lee, I appreciate your notes about how Lot may be considered righteous. Can I an add some more clues on this subject? 'Lot vexed his soul', meaning he hated the sin. Those who trust in the promise and build their relationships with Him desire Jesus' character, and also overcome some sinfulness as they are led by the Spirit. 'Be holy, for I am holy' is mentioned a few times in the Bible, always with a subject as the context. Another clue is that he was found every day "in the gate", probably meaning that he sought the protection of visitors as a way of life. The pattern of his life will be made plain when his case comes up at the final judgement. Another clue is in his pleas to the wicked men of Sodom, "Don't do this my brothers". He sought to protect them from their own wickedness, calling them brothers, though they rejected him, their last wicked act before their destruction. A righteous person is willing to suffer loss for the good of others, and Lot was willing. Lot stayed in the city until the very day of it's destruction, not accusing or picketing, but caring for the lives of both the righteous and the wicked. Lot also begged the Angels for another smaller town which was indeed saved at his request. Lot was righteous only because he trusted in the promise of salvation. And the evidence of his righteous character also included works that followed accordingly.

St. Lee said...

Thanks, TJ. Always good to hear from you.

St. Lee said...

Microdesigns2000, thanks for the comment. I certainly was not trying to convey anything like a "carnal Christian" concept of Lot, where he trusted God and then lived like the devil. I agree that the evidence of salvation is the lifestyle that follows. I do have to credit you with prompting me to reconsider my view of the phrase "vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds". I had taken that to mean that even his dwelling among them was sinful and an affront to his imputed righteousness. However, I consulted a couple of commentaries (John Gill and Matthew Henry) and they seem to be much more in line with your thoughts. Interestingly, Gill points out that many Jewish commentaries (without the light of the New Testament) consider Lot to be purely wicked.

That of course still leaves the matter of Lot's offer of his daughters. Both Gill and Henry see that as a sinful act, though perhaps prompted by the panic of the moment. And to be truthful, we can take solace in the fact that even those who are proclaimed as "righteous" in God's Holy scripture, are prone to stumble upon occasion, and like us are daily in need of God's grace and mercy. Thanks again for your comments.