But he hesitated. —Genesis 19:16
Scripture offers us examples. Some, like Moses, are good examples; others are not. Lot is a bad example. First, he chose as his home the wicked city of Sodom. Then, when God sent angels to warn him of the city’s impending destruction, he did not leave willingly. Even on the morning of doom, as the angels were urging him along, “he hesitated (lingered, KJV),” and had to be dragged out. J. C. Ryle looks at Lot, and what sort of example he should be for us.
First, he describes what Lot was—a righteous man.
Lot was a true believer—a converted person—a real child of God—a justified soul—a righteous man.
Has any one of my readers grace in his heart?—So also had Lot. Has any one of my readers a hope of salvation?—So also had Lot. Is any one of my readers a traveller in the narrow way which leads unto life?—So also was Lot.
Let no one think this is only my private opinion . . . The Holy Ghost has placed the matter beyond controversy, by calling him ‘just’ and ‘righteous’ (2 Pet. 2:7, 8), and has given us good evidence of the grace that was in him.
One evidence is, that he lived in a wicked place, ‘seeing and hearing’ evil all around him (2 Pet. 2:8), and yet was not wicked himself. Now to be . . . a ‘righteous man’ in Sodom, a man must have the grace of God. Without grace it would be impossible.
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Another evidence is that he ‘vexed his soul from day to day’ with the unlawful deeds he saw (2 Pet. 2:8). . . . Many a man is shocked and startled at the first sight of wickedness, and yet becomes at last so accustomed to see it, that he views it with comparative unconcern. . . . But it was not so with Lot. And this, again, is a great mark of the reality of his grace.
Such an one was Lot—a just and righteous man, a man sealed and stamped as an heir of heaven by the Holy Ghost Himself.
—J. C. Ryle, Holiness (Banner of Truth, 2014), 202–203.
Not only was Lot was a true believer, a righteous man, but he knew the gravity of his situation.
Lot knew the awful condition of the city in which he stood. ‘The cry’ of its abominations ‘had waxen great before the Lord’ (Gen. 19:13). And yet ‘he lingered.’
Lot knew the fearful judgment coming down on all within its walls. The angels had said plainly, ‘The Lord hath sent us to destroy it’ (Gen. 19:13). And yet ‘he lingered.’
Lot knew that God was a God who always kept His word, and if He said a thing would surely do it. He could hardly be Abraham’s nephew, and live long with him, and not be aware of this. Yet ‘he lingered.’
Lot believed there was danger—for he went to his sons-in-law, and warned them to flee . . (Gen. 19:14). And yet ‘he lingered.’
Lot saw the angels of God standing by, waiting for him and his family to go forth. He heard the voice of those ministers of wrath ringing in his ears to hasten him . . (Gen. 19:15). And yet ‘he lingered.’
Lot is by no means unique. He represents a large portion of the church today.
I ask every reader of this paper to mark well what I say. I repeat it that there may be no mistake about my meaning. . . . I say that there are many Christian men and Christian women in this day very like Lot.
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These are they who get the notion into their minds that it is impossible for all believers to be so very holy and very spiritual! . . .
These are they who get into their heads false ideas of charity, as they call it. . . . They would fain please everybody, and suit everybody, and be agreeable to everybody. . . . But they forget they ought first to be sure that they please God.
These are they who dread sacrifices, and shrink from self-denial. They never appear able to apply our Lord’s command, to ‘take up the cross,’ and ‘cut off the right hand and pluck out the right eye’ (Matt. 5:29, 30). . . . They spend their lives in trying to make the gate more wide, and the cross more light.
There is a warning here for all of us: We have no reason to believe we are better than Lot. We could easily be just like him. In fact, it is our nature to be so.
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