While we’re not of this world, we are to live in it. But there are times when we may need to remove ourselves and our families from certain environments, whether that is a workplace, a school system, a circle of friends, or a city. Let’s pray for God’s wisdom and grace to know how to stay strong enough in the Lord to be salt and light, yet discerning enough to know when it’s time to go. And what about in a marriage? Is there ever a time to go?
Also, read about God’s view of authority in “Respect for Authority = Great Faith,” His “Mercy in Our Weakness,” and the importance of allowing God’s Word to control our inner attitudes, as well as, our outward actions in “Mercy & Truth Inside & Out.”
Genesis 19 & 20
When It’s Time to Go
Genesis 19 & 20:
Justify, Justify, Justify …
God had sent two angels to Sodom. When they met Abraham’s nephew Lot at the city gate, he insisted they stay in his home instead of in the open square. It doesn’t appear that Lot knew who they were, but he did know the character of the men who lived around him.
4 Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. 5 And they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally” (Gen. 19).
6 So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him, 7 and said, “Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly! 8 See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof.”
9 And they said, “Stand back!” Then they said, “This one came in to stay here, and he keeps acting as a judge; now we will deal worse with you than with them.” So they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near to break down the door. 10 But the men reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. 11 And they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they became weary trying to find the door (Gen. 19).
Romans 15.4 says:
“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
The Bible, especially the Old Testament, often instructs us by telling us the stories of people much like us.
Here in Chapter 19 we see through the lives of Lot and his family how easy it is, even though we may be believers, to compromise and “live” in places and situations where we shouldn’t. 2 Peter 2.7 calls Lot “righteous.” That doesn’t mean everything he did was righteous. He was righteous by faith—faith in the One True God—just as we are made righteous by faith in Jesus Christ and His work on the cross.
Yet he chose to live in a city so wicked that in a few verses God will destroy it!
He had apparently tried to do some good there (v. 9).
Sometimes we justify being somewhere we shouldn’t by claiming we’re “witnessing.” Certainly, we are called to be salt and light, but we need to be sure we’re really called to be there, and not justifying what we want to do. It is often easier when we are hanging around evil people for them to pull us down than for us to pull them up (Ps. 1).
And sometimes, even though God called us to something, that season may be over and it may be time to go: time to leave a job, time to make other plans to educate our children, time to spend less time with relatives, time to make new friends and pray for the old ones from a distance.
The only way we can stay strong enough to be salt and light or discerning enough to know it’s time to go, is if we are staying strong in the Lord. We do so by spending time with Him and by being obedient to His commands (Heb. 5.12-14).
As we’ve been talking about over the last few days, that means reading His Word, talking to Him in prayer, meditating on the truths of God and not the things of this world. It, also, means fellowshipping with other believers and exposing ourselves to people who will hold us accountable (1 Cor. 15.33) and situations which allow us to grow.
Accountability comes from being connected to people who challenge us to be more like Christ and love us enough to rebuke us when we’re sinning. Proverbs 27.6 says:
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.”
It hardly seems necessary to comment on what this chapter says about God’s view of homosexuality but, sadly, I see many believers buying into the world’s message. God loves those caught in the snare of homosexual behavior (so much so that He died for them) and we are to love them, too, but we can’t justify sinful behavior.
12 Then the men said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Son-in-law, your sons, your daughters, and whomever you have in the city—take them out of this place! 13 For we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it.”
14 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters, and said, “Get up, get out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city!” But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking.
When we have compromised or lived a hypocritical lifestyle, we shouldn’t think people will take us seriously when we talk about spiritual things.
15 When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, “Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city.” 16 And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. 17 So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.”
Yet Lot’s own wife failed to see the seriousness of their situation and disobeyed the angels’ command to not look back:
But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt (v. 26).
And even after they had seen God’s hand in their family’s deliverance from Sodom and their mother’s death, Lot’s daughters would take their future into their own hands, get their father drunk and have sex with him to preserve their family line (Gen. 19.30-38).
Make no mistake; our compromise and disobedience can have far-reaching effects.
Is There a Time to Go in a Marriage?
Is it ever a time to leave a marriage? Yes … but not always when we think we should or want to. You can read more about this subject in the posts “The Bible on Marriage and Divorce” and “Biblical Grounds for Divorce.”
Today’s Other Readings:
Mercy in Our Weakness
David understood how easy it is to justify our own sin. In this psalm he cries out for God’s mercy in response to his own foolish, sinful behavior:
“Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak …” (v. 2).
Mercy & Truth Inside & Out
This passage shows us the only way to avoid such foolishness:
1 My son, do not forget my law,
But let your heart keep my commands;
2 For length of days and long life
And peace they will add to you.
3 Let not mercy and truth forsake you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart,
4 And so find favor and high esteem
In the sight of God and man.
We must not let go of mercy and truth, as reflected in God’s laws and commands. We must “bind them around our necks,” allow them to define our outward behavior. And “write them on the tablet of our hearts,” let them guide our inner attitudes.
Respect for Authority = Great Faith
5 Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, 6 saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.”
7 And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”
8 The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
10 When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!
Did you notice that Jesus equated an understanding of authority to “great faith”? As we live under imperfect authority whether as wives, as children, as employees, as citizens of a nation, or as military personnel, we need to be mindful of the importance of a proper understanding of authority in God’s economy. If you would like to understand more about God’s view of authority, check out “God, Authority & Speeding Tickets” or How to Respond to Imperfect Authority.”
On what truths do you need to study and meditate so they can be more a part of your thinking and behavior?
Where does God have your attention?
Have you compromised in any area?
Have you been ignoring God’s conviction instead of obeying?
Is there some area of your life where it’s “time to go”?
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Praying the Bible by Donald Whitney
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When you pray, does it ever feel like you’re just saying the same old things about the same old things?
Offering us the encouragement and the practical advice we’re all looking for, Donald S. Whitney, best-selling author of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, outlines an easy-to-grasp method that has the power to transform our prayer life: praying the words of Scripture. Simple, yet profound, Praying the Bible will prove invaluable as you seek to commune with your heavenly Father in prayer each and every day.
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For more on the subject of Homosexuality: