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#364 SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON #20 GEN 18-19
THE GIFT OF REPENTANCE
Abram had fallen into human reasoning, which lead to thirteen years of walking in darkness and in separation from the nearness and the fellowship of God. But the Lord is gracious; He was again the first to return. Note the precious similarity to Abrams situation in EPH 2:4, which says, "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us." Verses 1-3 tell about walking according to the prince of the power of the air, walking according to the conversation of the flesh, but God God is faithful; He is non-changing. His purposes and decrees will not alter because of our human frailties. In His loving condescension, He sees and He understands the frailty of man even though we, by nature, want to walk after the things of this world; but God is rich in mercy. The next verse, EPH 2:5 says, "Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)." This is the case with Abram; he was walking in human reasoning and had departed from the living God. Then we see that again God was first to seek.
GEN 17:1-2 says, "And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly." The Lord is telling Abram that He again gives repentance and the opportunity to return to Him. If Abram would walk before Him, He would make His covenant with Abram. What was that covenant? It was the covenant of circumcision. Circumcision was the type, symbol, and sign of a repenting heart.
Lets study this in its context. First, Abram, in his human reasoning, followed his wifes advice and took Hagar to help the Lord bring about what seemingly, the Lord was not going to perform. God told Abram to keep His covenant, to "walk before me, and be thou perfect." Then He would multiply Abram exceedingly. Even though Abraham was the father of the faithful, he was not above the need of repentance, which was given to him and the generations following as the very seal of their redemption. The seal of circumcision is the mark of genuineness; it is the circumcision of the heart. Repentance was given to Abraham and following generations.
The Lord has allowed, for His own good reasons, all the patriarchs of the Bible to fall in their weaknesses. Moses fell in his weakness, and the Lord did not allow him to enter Canaan. The apostle Peter fell, cursing and denying he even knew Jesus. Why do we have the failures as well as the successes recorded in the Bible? It is so you and I may understand that it is a true biography.
We see in the life of Abraham his need for repentance. That repentance had to be given unto him, but it was to show that repentance would be given to the Gentiles who were also to receive the blessings of Abraham. They would also receive the gift of repentance.
In ROM 4:11 we read, "And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised [before he was restored into fellowship with God]: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised (The gift of repentance is given to those who are still in sin.); that righteousness might be imputed unto them also." The gift of repentance is not given to those who have already become perfect; it is given to those who are yet walking in sin as we also saw in EPH 2:5. These verses are teaching us that He "might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also." The imputed righteousness of Christ must be imputed unto them (or us); the perfect obedience of Christ is symbolized by the covenant of circumcision. Therefore, they can have repentance granted unto them while they are yet in sin. In the granting of repentance, they are restored into fellowship with God.
We are given the example of Abraham. While he was yet walking in rebellion, the Lord came to him and made the covenant of circumcision with him. This sign and seal were to be the visible evidence of the work of redemption being imputed to those who carried that mark. Consider the fact that circumcision is a visible sign. It can be seen with the eye. Repentance is not something so private that the world cannot see it. The world will see that we love God. How will they see it? MAT 7:20 says, "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." The world will see and know them by their fruits and walk of life because their hearts are circumcised unto the Lord through repentance. The mark of their genuineness is this new walk of life, the repentance that was granted by God. The Lord says we cannot judge another persons heart, but "by their fruits ye shall know them." Our attitudes and how we present ourselves before the world becomes a visible sign; it is a mark of genuineness.
The mark of genuineness is clearly shown in DEU 30:6: "And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. " We cannot claim spiritual life while walking in rebellion against the Lord and His revealed will. As long as our hearts are yet in the pit of corruption, we have no evidence of grace in our souls. Repentance becomes the visible mark that we love the Lord with all our heart and our soul.
No person was to be considered one of Gods people without this mark, which is repentance. So many people make such a big profession, but if you cannot see that mark, they are not to be taken in and embraced as one of Gods people. That does not mean that we judge them and declare them not one of Gods people. We may not embrace them as being one of Gods people; we may not take them into our fellowship if they do not have that mark of loving God with all their heart, soul, and mind and their neighbour as themselves. If the mark of repentance is not evident and seen, we may not embrace and encourage them and take them into our fellowship as one of Gods people: "And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother," 2TH 3:14-15.
GEN 17:14 says, "And the uncircumcised man child [the one who does not have that circumcision of heart] whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant." We cannot take in and embrace them in the fellowship, considering them one of Gods people, if they do not have that repenting spirit. They must have the Spirit of Christ.
We read in ROM 4:11, "And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also."
Lets consider the importance of the meaning of the word "seal." It comes from the Greek word "sphragis" which means "A signet (as fencing in or protecting from misappropriation); the stamp impressed as the mark of genuineness." We are to use this seal as a hedge to protect from misappropriation; it is a hedge to keep out those who do not have that mark. It is a hedge of exclusion. GEN 17:14 tells us that those who are uncircumcised are cut off and are not to be received into the fellowship or embraced as brethren in the Lord if they do not have the gift of repentance. The seal is the signet, the fencing in or protecting from misappropriation; the stamp of genuineness.
When we see the work of repentance and godly fear in the heart, that is not only the mark of genuineness, but it is also the hedge whereby we are to discern and separate with whom we can or cannot fellowship. Evil company corrupts good manners. A person may make a big profession that he has accepted the Lord and is one of Gods people, but if he is still living in sin, he does not love the Lord with all his heart, soul, and mind. If he lives in hatred and bitterness against his brother, we must reprove him. We must also admonish him that he is excluded by this hedge.
After Abraham had walked for thirteen years in human reasoning, the Lord came to Him to set up this hedge. The Lord was teaching Abraham that the covenant of circumcision was a hedge that Abraham had to establish to keep out the wild boar, i.e., human reasoning or walking after the flesh. Abraham was to walk in repentance.
See this principle in PSA 80:12-14: "Why hast thou then broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her? The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it. Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine." Who is the Psalmist talking about? He is talking about the vineyard of the Lord. The hedge has been broken down and those who were uncircumcised of heart had infiltrated the assembly. It is polluted by this wild boar, i.e., the unrepentant came into the sanctuary. The unrepentant were admitted into the church when the hedge was broken down.
Now that God had reproved Abraham for his waywardness and entered in a covenant of repentance, God went on to explain to Abraham what He meant by, "And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly," GEN 17:2. After the Lord entered into the covenant of circumcision with Abraham, He qualified what He meant. GEN 17:15-16 says, "And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her." The Lord explained that Hagar was NOT going to be the mother of nations that He was using as a vessel of His blessings. In spite of Abrahams human reasoning and all that he had done in turning his back on the Lord, Hagar was not the one to be the mother of the Messiah. Sarah was to bear a son and be the mother of nations, and kings of people would be of her.
Now was Abraham, after he had fallen on his face, able to reach out the hand of faith and take God's promise when the God of heaven spoke to him? GEN 17:17-18 says, "Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!" See the weakness of the human frame. Relying on his human reasoning, Abraham could not understand that Sarah would have a child at such an old age. He continues by pleading that Ishmael would be the one. Abraham is still trying, through human reasoning, to help the Lord accomplish that which is impossible. Even after the Lord has entered into this covenant of repentance with him, Abraham is still captive to human reasoning and is not yet able to reach out in faith and take Gods promise even though the Lord had just told him that Sarah would bear a son.
Herein we see God's unfaltering love and His firm decree in sending the Messiah. If the Lord had allowed Abrahams human reasoning, the Messiah would never have been born because the Lord was not sending the Messiah through the Egyptian maid. The Lords decree would not be altered.
GEN 17:19 says, "And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him." Therein we see the Messiah. The Lord came back to show Abraham why Sarah would have a son because therein is the promised seed, the everlasting covenant, and the blessed Messiah who was to come.
Abraham and Sarah his wife were still not able to believe. Sometimes we must struggle against the human thoughts and reasoning of our own hearts. Faith is a gift of God. Abraham, the father of the faithful, could not believe Sarah would have a son because they had passed the time of life until God sent His angel to confirm that He would restore their vitality. The Lord would restore unto them the time of life.
GEN 18:10 says, "And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him." Something significant now happened. When the Lord first told Abraham that Sarah should have a son, He did not reprove Abraham for laughing and questioning in his heart, "Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?" However, now that the Lord had confirmed His message and had sent an angel to confirm it, Sarah laughed, and the Lord did reprove Abraham for doubting. Neither Abraham nor his wife was yet cured from their human reasoning nor were they able to believe.
GEN 18:11-13 tells us, "Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?" What happened? When Abraham laughed, it was before he had time to really hear what the Lord was saying. He had not had time to analyze and consider what the Lord had done. On the next occasion, however, they still did not believe. Now the Lord did reprove Abraham because Abraham had also told Sarah so both of them knew what the Lord had said, but they still did not believe.
In verse 14 we read, "Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son." Cannot the Lord restore the time of life to Sarah? She can yet conceive and have a child because nothing is too hard for the Lord. In the New Testament, we are told that Abraham did not falter by unbelief but was strong in faith. In the Old Testament, we see the failures of Abraham. Abraham did not doubt that the Lord would give him seed. He did not doubt that the Messiah would come through him. However, Abraham added his human reasoning in wanting it to be by Ishmael. The Lord asks Abraham, "Is any thing too hard for the LORD?"
All these blessings were not only contingent upon Abraham's obedience to the letter of the law, i.e., his circumcision in the flesh, but also upon his obedience to the spirit of the law which was the circumcision of his heart. The Lord is showing how these things were contingent upon his believing or the obedience of faith. It is important for us to understand the obedience of faith. Look at GEN 18:17-19. "And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him."
Does that mean that by disobedience, we can alter the decree of God? No. It means that God, in His decree, has also said, "For I know him, that he will." When the Lord says, "You will," there are no ifs, ands, or buts because God gives the grace to do it, and by His grace, He constrains us to do His will. The word "constrain" means "to move upon irresistibly." The Lord gave Abraham the grace, the constraining grace to do His will. Notice in those verses the use of the words "will" and "shall." Those are unalterable. Repentance is a gift of God. He gives repentance to His people. It is not only a covenant, but it is a one-sided covenant from Gods side. They shall and they will obey; then the Lord may do what He promised. That comes back to the very principle we saw earlier. The uncircumcised in heart are not to be taken into our fellowship. They are not to be embraced as walking in the love of God because they are uncircumcised in heart. With Abraham, God said He would circumcise his heart.
It is interesting to follow this out. Look at DEU 30:6: "And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live." The Lord does not tell us to circumcise our own hearts. It says, "And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart." It is the same message as found in GEN 18:19.
It is so awesome to see God's eternal, electing love toward Abraham, who is the type of all God's elect, and Gods patience with his infirmities, bringing him within that hedge of His eternal love. God will work His grace with those to whom He will give repentance. He brings them back within the hedge of His eternal love. To see the distinction between Abraham and those who are on the outside of that hedge, notice that the previous verse said Abraham will command his children and his household.
That contrast is found in the connecting word in the beginning of the next verses, GEN 18:20-21. "And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous (They were on the outside of the hedge.); I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know." The people of those cities were not within the bond of Gods eternal love; the Lord did not give them repentance or work His constraining grace in their hearts. He gave them over to work out that which is unseemly, to work out their own destruction.
Look again at, "the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know." What does this mean? Sometimes we have such a tendency to rush into a harsh judgment; we make snap decisions so easily. We see and we hear, and we pass judgment on our fellow man to condemn him. Here we see the God of heaven who knows the hearts of all men and the thoughts and intents of every heart. The cry of their iniquity had come before Him. The Lord did not pass His condemnation upon them until He went down and saw exactly what they were doing.
Do we investigate that thoroughly before we pass judgment on our fellow man? Do we examine and know the certainty of a matter before we form a conclusion? What a reproof this is to snap decisions and passing judgement on our fellow man! God would not even pass judgment upon Sodom until He went down and saw the situation. There were still righteous people in Sodom, and their cry was unto the Lord about the city of sin. When Abraham became aware that the cry of Sodom's iniquity had come up before the Lord, Abraham's heart went out to the Lord for His spiritual brethren who had backslidden.
Many of Gods dear children enter a backsliding condition. What do we do? Do we pass judgment on them, condemn them? Or do we act like Abraham and plead with the Lord? Do we plead for fifty or even ten who are righteous that they may not be destroyed? If we see one of our brothers, sisters, or children in a backsliding condition residing in the city of destruction, do we cry out like Abraham? Do we beg the Lord not to condemn them along with the unrighteous? Abraham had a backsliding spiritual brother in Sodom. He knew Lot was living in that condition, and the Lord could justly have condemned him along with the city.
GEN 18:23 says, "And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?" Could he plead the righteousness of his brother, Lot? No. He could only plead those who were in the electing love of the righteousness of Christ. Lot had coveted the things of this life and joined himself to the citizens of Sodom. He had backslidden. Abraham knew he was within the bonds of Gods covenant of love. He knew the Lord would not be unrighteous to condemn Lot with the city because He would look upon him in the blessed righteousness of Christ.
Do you see why we have to be so careful and not pass judgment when we see a fellow brother not walking in righteousness. There is a difference between being able to put your arm around them and embrace them in Christian fellowship or passing judgment upon them to condemn them. We may not condemn a brother that is walking in sin, but neither can we embrace them and take them into our company.
See this principle clearly and powerfully presented in 1CO 5:9-11. "I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat." Why? Verses 12-13 say, "For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person." In other words, if a person is called a brother and is living in sin, we are not to have company with him so he may be made ashamed and realize his sin. He may receive it as a reproof for his sin, and it may restore him into the fellowship. We cannot hold them in our fellowship even though we do not pass judgment upon them.
See how benumbed one of God's dear children can become when they are in a state of backsliding. Lot never even tried to plead for his own children! Abraham was pleading for the righteous. Even if there were only ten who were righteous, Abraham pleaded that the Lord would spare the whole city? Lot did not make one attempt to plead for the city or even for his own children. It was the angels who asked in GEN 19:12, "And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place." The angels told Lot they had come to destroy the city, and Lot made no attempt to plead for his own children. That is the condition we can fall into when we backslide. We can see our own brothers and sisters dwelling in the city of destruction and make no attempt to draw them out.
Certainly the love of a father to his children is used in Scripture to illustrate love in its most tender form. PRO 3:12 says, "For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth." When you consider the pangs of love that go from a father to his children, that demonstrates the love the Lord has for His children. Can you imagine a man being so numb in a backsliding condition that he can see his own children in the city of destruction on the broad road to hell and make no attempt to recover them? We see this in Lot; and the angels reproved him of it.
What an awesome question this poses to you and me! "Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, [of destruction] bring them out of this place." We see our own children, and we see our own brothers and sisters perishing in the city of destruction? What effort are we making to draw them out? What did the angels do with Lot and his wife? They took them by the hand and set them on the outside of the city. What are we doing with our loved ones?
What parent is there who will not sit up all night to watch and wait upon a child who is physically ill? And can we not watch one hour with those who are sick with sin and perishing in the city of destruction? After we have learned to see the leprosy of sin, and can sit and feast upon the good things the Lord has provided, should we not be as the lepers who entered the tents of the Syrians? Their first concern was the welfare of their fellow man when they began to feast upon that place. In 2KI 7:8-9 we read, "And when these lepers came to the uttermost part of the camp, they went into one tent, and did eat and drink, and carried thence silver, and gold, and raiment, and went and hid it; and came again, and entered into another tent, and carried thence also, and went and hid it. Then they said one to another, We do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace: if we tarry till the morning light, some mischief will come upon us: now therefore come, that we may go and tell the king's household."
Are you and I going to go to our loved ones and shake them out of the city of destruction by the lightnings and thunderings of the law of Mount Sinai? No. However, if we have tasted and handled and felt those things which are precious, we can share with them the love of God and how we have found food and raiment and riches like the lepers found. We should be coming to our loved ones with the knowledge of the riches we have found. It is such a contrast to the city of destruction where they are starving spiritually to the point of death. We should be coming to our loved ones as the lepers who said they did not well, just feasting for themselves. We need to go to our loved ones and share with them the good things we have found.
There is so much difference between going to a person and reproving him of his sins or sharing the good news we have found like the woman of Samaria who said in JOH 4:29, "Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?" She did not go into the city to reprove them of their sins. She went to tell them of her sins and how Jesus showed her all the things she had ever done. It is the good things that we must lay before others because they are so much better than the husks that the swine left.
If our hearts have been fed with the good things of God's Word, how can we hold our peace to our fellow man? How can we deprive those we love, "...son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, [of destruction; the Lord says,] bring them out of this place." How do we bring them out? We accomplish this by sharing with them the goodness of God. It is the only thing, which will lead them to repentance.
The Lord Jesus said in JOH 15:12-13, "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Jesus sacrificed His own honour; He was called a blasphemer and many other obnoxious names. He sacrificed Himself, His lifes blood. He did all that out of His love for sinners. How do we come to our fellow man and win them? It is by the sacrifice of self. We are willing to be looked upon as a little abnormal or different. It is a willingness to be made low, as Christ was, to suffer with Him without the camp. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." We must be able to sacrifice self to win others.
The word love implies self-sacrifice. JOH 15:14 says, "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." What does He command us? He commands us to be willing to sacrifice self to win others and draw them out of the city of destruction. This does not teach salvation by works, but works as the fruit of the obedience of faith. We are not teaching that works under the letter of the law gains salvation. We are showing that the works are the fruits of the obedience of faith.
The righteous need to be hastened in the matter of obedience to the Lord's commands by reason of their sluggish influence of the cares of this life. We may have our children, our loved ones, neighbours, and friends whom the Lord loves, but they are moving slowly because of the venom of sin. They have been influenced by the cares of this life.
Lot had been told destruction would come in the morning, but he was lingering. He needed the angels to hasten him away. GEN 19:15 says, "And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city." This is the way we plead with our loved ones; we need to tell them to arise and flee for their lives or they will be consumed by iniquity.
Even the righteous will settle down in the Sodom of sin, that is the city of destruction as a spiritual sluggard. We are sluggish.. In PRO 6:10-11 we read, "Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep. So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man" We want to wait till tomorrow; maybe it will be a better day. Maybe something will bring them in while we continue to sleep or put off doing what we should. We will come into spiritual famine by being spiritually sluggish. Delay is one of Satans strongest tools of destruction. Hell may well overflow with people who said, "Later." Is there a better way than delay for trapping people into being too late?
I came one day to the door of a home after calling to say we were coming to visit that evening. They gave us the address, and we went to visit. When we arrived at the door, we heard a wailing within. The lady was crying, "Too late, too late. Forever, forever too late." She had just received word her brother had committed suicide in a state of drunkenness. She had delayed trying to bring him out of that city of destruction. Now it was forever too late.
We see that delay is Satans strongest tool of destruction. Our loved ones will trifle with our message when they cannot contradict it, but that does not mean that the situation is less urgent. We must carry them before the throne of grace. If you see your children and loved ones truly slumbering in the city of destruction, how can you sleep at night.
This mocking of Lot's sons-in-law and daughters caused Lot to falter. Lot had spoken to his sons-in-law, and they thought he was speaking idle words. That reaction caused Lot to falter and tarry. Lot virtually would have been consumed in the city himself if he had not been taken by the hand of the angel and set out side of the city. Gods purpose for Lot and Sodom would not linger. Gods time was set; Sodom would be destroyed, and it would not linger.
In GEN 19:16 we read, "And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city." That is grace. The Lord takes us by the hand, and He sets us outside the city of destruction. We need to be obedient. We must question if there are others beside ourselves that we can take with us? We can be the instruments to bring them outside that city of destruction.
GEN 19:17 says, "And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed." Yet Lot was not ready to render unconditional obedience because of his human infirmities. He had a lingering selfishness, a forgetfulness of past mercies, and a fear of the future as we see in GEN 19:18-19. "And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my LORD: Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die." Lot still wanted to linger.
God's message of the gospel is to flee the low-level life of sin from the city of destruction to the mountains of purity and peace, but at first we are not willing to do so without keeping some little bosom sin. In GEN 19:20 Lot says, "Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live."
It is often our desire while fleeing the city of destruction to take some little part, some little bosom sin with us. We are not ready for unconditional surrender to the will of God. We still are not able to sacrifice ourselves in love? The admonition is to not only flee the city of destruction, but, "Escape for thy life; look not behind thee." Having put our hand to the plow, we are not to look back, but too often we want to look back and ponder our loss of earthly honor. We are not to consult with the world.
In GAL 1:13-16 Paul tells us, "For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood." Immediately, Paul was able to forsake everything that lay behind him. He was able to forsake all the wonderful honor he had obtained in the Jewish religion. He was able to give over all the strongholds and human reasoning.
God's message to Lot was, "Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain [of procrastination or carnal security or good resolutions]; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed," GEN 19:17. He was to detach himself from everything in his former life and flee.
In 1TI 6:8-12 we read, "And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things [everything that pertains to the things of this life so they cannot damage your spiritual welfare]; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses."
We are to flee the things of this life because they belong to the city of destruction. They are the pangs that hold us from spiritual well being. When we are able to give it all over and place it all in the hands of the Lord, then we can flee the things that keep us from the fellowship of God. But thou, "O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith." What does that mean? It is to be able to flee from the things of this life; it is the obedience of faith. "Lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses." Amen.
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