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The Road to Failure

Genesis 13:12 "..and Lot moved his tents as far as Sodom."

Read Genesis 13, 14 and 19.

High school and college students fail for a number of reasons, but one thing is common to all cases. Failure does not happen instantaneously; it is always a process. This is true of failure in the Christian life as well. Growing Christians don't suddenly "tube it". There is always the step-by-step trip on the road to failure.

The story of Lot in Genesis is the sad case of a believer who failed. Lot was definitely a believer. In 2 Peter 2:7-8 Lot is mentioned three times as "righteous". But "righteous" Lot failed to use his life for God. He travelled the road to failure. It is possible for any Christian to do the same. A Christian may either build a life that counts for God or make a shambles of his life as far as eternal values are concerned (see 1 Corinthians 3:11-15). How tragic and shameful it will be for a Christian to stand before the Lord and give account for an empty and wasted life (see 2 Corinthians 5:10). Although this kind of failure does not determine a heaven or hell destiny for the true Christian, there are a number of warning passages in Scripture which should cause the disobedient believer to seriously question his commitment and make sure of his salvation. (See John 15:4-6 and Colossians 1:23, for example.) Let us, as growing Christians, make every effort to avoid the road to failure.

Lot's first step toward failure came because he looked at things from thewrong perspective. He made a selfish choice--"chose for himself" (13:11). His choice was based only on what looked like the best deal--"he saw all the well-watered Jordan valley" (13:10). His viewpoint did not take into account the fact that the wicked cities of the valley were programmed for destruction--"this was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah" (13:10). Lot had the wrong perspective because he was not in communion with God. The viewpoint of any Christian who is out of fellowship with the Lord is the same--selfish, secular and short-sighted.

Like Lot, many Christians start down the road to failure when they "lift up their eyes" and see all the possibilities and opportunities this world has to offer. It's only natural to opt for what will bring ME the most pleasure or possessions or power. But this is the wrong perspective. God's Word states that this world and all that it has to offer is doomed. (See 1 Corinthians 7:31 and 1 John 2:17). Like Sodom and Gomorrah, this world is programmed for God's judgment. It is only a matter of time before the earth itself will be destroyed and replaced with "a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (see 2 Peter 3:10-13). No Christian in his right mind would "buy stock" in this present world system. Would you put money in a bank that you definitely knew would fail tomorrow? Would you buy a house below a dam that the authorities said was about to collapse? Of course not, but this illustrates essentially what some Christians are doing with their lives because of a worldly and natural perspective. They are investing their time and energies in something that is going to be wiped out completely and has no eternal value. A Christian with the wrong perspective is well on his way to a life of failure.

What a contrast we see between Lot and Abraham. Abraham was a faithful believer who had the right perspective. Abraham was in communion with God. Although Abraham and Lot had the same biological heritage, social background and cultural surroundings (see Genesis 11 and 12), Abraham had a very different outlook on things because he walked with the Lord. Notice in Genesis 13:4-5 how Abram (God later changed his name to Abraham) worshipped the Lord when they came to the altar of Bethel.

Lot was a believer also, but we don't read that Lot worshipped or called on the Lord. We only read that "Lot also had flocks and herds and tents!" What about us? Do we come at life with an Abraham perspective or a Lot perspective? In Hebrews 11:10 we are told that Abraham was "looking for the city which has foundations whose architect and builder is God." Abraham had the right perspective. He was resting by faith on the promises of God's word to him (Genesis 12:1-3). Abraham was not interested in earthly man-made cities like Sodom and Gomorrah. He was concerned with more solid foundations--the eternal values of God. What kind of city are we looking for?

Lot's second step on the road to failure is seen in Genesis 13:12. Lot "moved his tents as far as Sodom." He didn't move into Sodom--yet! He just flirted with the world. This is usually the next step in a Christian's failure. At this point it's never a matter of living in "open sin". It's just a move in the wrong direction. Taking on a good-paying job that involves you in unethical practices; getting involved in exciting extracurricular activities that take your time and talent away from the obvious needs of the Christian group on campus; falling in love with an "irresistible" unbeliever; all these can be "innocent" moves in the wrong direction. As in the case of Lot, it is only a matter of time before the failing Christian "moves into Sodom". By Genesis 14:12 Lot is living in Sodom.

Again, what a contrast we see in Abraham. In verse 18 we see that he also moved his tent, but not in the direction of Sodom. He moved to Hebron in the high country and "built there an altar unto the Lord." There was no altar near Sodom! And we also read that the Lord promised the whole land to Abraham (13:14-17). What a lesson! God's Word states emphatically that the Lord Jesus is going to return some day and set up His kingdom on this earth (2 Timothy 4:1). Faithful and enduring Christians in this life are promised an abundant share in that kingdom. (See James 2:5; 2 Peter 1:5-11; and 2 Timothy 2:12.) Let us not lose our reward.

In Genesis 14 we see that because of Lot's association with Sodom, the problems of that wicked city became Lot's problems. Abraham, on the other hand, was free from all the turmoil and strife and hassles of Sodom. Not free, of course, to be unconcerned. Abraham was very much concerned about the hurts and problems of the people of Sodom -and particularly about the condition of his fellow-believer and close relative, Lot. And he did something about it!

Here again we have a lesson as to the Christian's proper relationship to this world. A godly walk will deliver us from much of the turmoil and confusion of this world system (praise the Lord!), but we do have a responsibility to help the people who are caught in its clutches. And we should do everything in our power (His power!) to "rescue" our failing brothers and sisters in Christ. Like Abraham, we do not have to become part of the "Sodom system" in order to help the people there. We're free to help precisely because we're not part of that system. Our Lord Jesus said we were to be in contact with the world but not part of the evil world system (John 17:9-23). Notice that Abraham did not get "sucked in" by the King of Sodom and the spoils of victory (14:21-24). It wasn't by chance, though, that the godly Melchizedek came along just then to bless and encourage Abraham. God always has His ways of strengthening us at crucial times.

By Genesis 19 we see that Lot is fully ensnared in the affairs of Sodom. Again this is but another logical step on the road to failure. We would think that Lot would have learned his lesson from his narrow escape in chapter 14, or at least from the love that Abraham had demonstrated for him. But failing believers become hardened to love and common sense. Imagine Abraham's discouragement. Many of us can identify with Abraham at this point. Sometimes it takes a very earth-shattering and traumatic event to get a believer out of Sodom. A visit from angels and fire from heaven finally "forced" Lot from Sodom, but even then it was not without great struggle and procrastination and loss (19:15-29).

Lot's reluctance to leave is not the only indication that he was ensnared in Sodom. A close study of these chapters indicates that Lot probably married a woman of Sodom. He got rid of his tent and bought a permanent house in Sodom. He raised his family in Sodom, and family roots are hard to sever. Furthermore, it seems that Lot may have been entangled in the political corruption of Sodom. The expression "sitting in the gate of Sodom" (19:1) can mean that he was involved in the business affairs of Sodom. Now it may have been that Lot was trying to bring about city reform, but it is very interesting that Abraham, from outside the city, was more of a testimony to the people and the King of Sodom in one day than Lot was in a lifetime inside the city. Like Lot, the ensnared Christian may not be involved in the "grosser" sins of this world like homosexuality and violence (19:2-9), but his thinking becomes twisted and distorted (19:8) because he is out of touch with God. And any little vestige of testimony is ignored and mocked (19:14). A failing Christian at this stage is a sorry sight.

The final scene we have of Lot is tragic. By the mercy of God his life was preserved but he lost everything--job, home, possessions, wife. It is true that Lot was able to take his two daughters out of Sodom but he was not able to take Sodom out of his daughters (19:30-38). From those incestuous relationships came Moab and Ammon--nations that were to plague the people of God for years to come. Lot's failure, which began with a choice, had disastrous effects upon himself, his family and finally on all of Israel. The story of Lot is a clear and solemn warning for every growing Christian. Don't travel the road to failure!
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