The Legacy of Lot
Not every example given to us in Scripture is a positive example. Abraham’s nephew Lot is an example that is most definitely a negative one. As Ryle has demonstrated, his compromise with the world was deadly. He stands as a warning to all who would, for whatever reason, dally with the world. He brought his own life to ruin and, tragically, brought no benefit to his family or anyone who knew him. His testimony to the world was a disaster.
Let us inquire now what kind of fruit Lot’s lingering spirit bore at last.
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I think it of first importance to dwell upon this subject. I always will contend that eminent holiness and eminent usefulness are most closely connected—that happiness and ‘following the Lord fully’ go side by side—and that if believers will linger, they must not expect to be useful in their day and generation, or to be very saintly and Christlike, or to enjoy great comfort and peace in believing,
(a) Let us mark, then, for one thing, that Lot did no good among the inhabitants of Sodom.
Lot probably lived in Sodom many years. No doubt he had many precious opportunities for speaking of the things of God, and trying to turn away souls from sin. But Lot seems to have effected just nothing at all. He appears to have had no weight or influence with the people who lived around him. He possessed none of that respect and reverence which even the men of the world will frequently concede to a bright servant of God.
Not one righteous person could be found in all Sodom, outside the walls of Lot’s home. Not one of his neighbours believed his testimony. Not one of his acquaintances honoured the Lord whom he worshipped. Not one of his servants served his master’s God. Not one of ‘all the people from every quarter’ cared a jot for his opinion when he tried to restrain their wickedness. ‘This one fellow came in to sojourn,’ said they, ‘and he will needs be a judge’ (Gen. 19:9). His life carried no weight; his words were not listened to; his religion drew none to follow him.
And, truly, I do not wonder! As a general rule, lingering souls do no good to the world and bring no credit to God’s cause. Their salt has too little savour to season the corruption around them. They are not ‘Epistles of Christ’ who can be ‘known and read of all’ (2 Cor. 3:2). There is nothing magnetic, and attractive, and Christ-reflecting about their ways. Let us remember this.
(b) Let us mark, for another thing, that Lot helped none of his family, relatives, or connections towards heaven.
We are not told how large his family was. But this we know—he had a wife and two daughters at least, in the day he was called out of Sodom, if he had not more children besides.
But whether Lot’s family was large or small, one thing, I think, is perfectly clear—there was not one among them all that feared God!
When he ‘went out and spake to his sons-in-law, which married his daughters,’ and warned them to flee from the judgments coming on Sodom, we are told, ‘he seemed to them as one that mocked’ (Gen. 19:14). . . .
And what was Lot’s wife? She left the city in his company, but she did not go far. She had not faith to see the need of such a speedy flight. She left her heart in Sodom when she began to flee. She looked back from behind her husband, in spite of the plainest command not to do so (Gen. 19:17), and was at once turned into a pillar of salt.
And what were Lot’s two daughters? They escaped, indeed, but only to do the devil’s work. They became their father’s tempters to wickedness, and led him to commit the foulest of sins.
In short, Lot seems to have stood alone in his family! He was not made the means of keeping one soul back from the gates of hell!
And I do not wonder. Lingering souls are seen through by their own families; and, when seen through, they are despised. Their nearest relatives understand inconsistency, if they understand nothing else in religion. They draw the sad, but not unnatural, conclusion, ‘Surely, if he believed all he professes to believe, he would not go on as he does.’ . . .
(c) Let us mark, for a third thing, that Lot left no evidences beind him when he died. We know but little about Lot after his flight from Sodom, and all that we do know is unsatisfactory.
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The Scripture appears to draw a veil around him on purpose. There is a painful silence about his latter end. He seems to go out like an expiring lamp, and to leave an ill-savour behind him. And had we not been specially told in the New Testament that Lot was ‘just’ and ‘righteous,’ I verily believe we should have doubted whether Lot was a saved soul at all.
But I do not wonder at his sad end. Lingering believers will generally reap according as they have sown. Their lingering often meets them when their spirit is departing. They have little peace at the last. They reach heaven, to be sure; but they reach it in poor plight, weary and footsore, in weakness and tears, in darkness and storm. They are saved, but ‘saved so as by fire’ (1 Cor. 3:15).
—J. C. Ryle, Holiness (Banner of Truth, 2014), 212–215.
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