Dear people, worldliness, worldliness is a curse from God’s heaven; worldliness. And the Bible teaches us, of anything else it could possibly teach us, we are to separate ourselves from the world, all of its blandishments, all of its allurements, all of its cheap evanescence, vanishing, temporary, transient rewards, we are to separate ourselves from it. We are to be a people of God, a sanctified family of the Lord. And I can tell you this on the basis of the Word of God Himself: if you will separate yourself from the world, and will give yourself to God, God will repay you a thousand fold just as He did Abraham. Abraham loved the Lord, served the Lord, blessed the name of the Lord. He’s our patriarchal father. Lot lost everything in the lost world. Lord grant to us a faith and a commitment that we’ll believe if I give myself and all that I am to the service of Christ, He will reward me a thousand fold, both in this world and in the world to come.
And here we come to the point: worldliness is bad. Or is it? Lot is mentioned in the New Testament – … Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard … Yet he still had to do something about living in the physical world, food and drink, shelter and clothing, to a degree we all have to be worldly so long as we’re living, breathing, people. Abraham certainly wasn’t being very spiritual the times that he ordered his wife to lie about her identity as his wife because he was afraid of what the king would do to him or any number of other occasions. After all, in the middle of Lot’s story, Abraham had Ishmael by Hagar (this was a legitimate way for a barren woman to have a child – by her servant that is considered her property – think of it like an ancient form of surrogacy.) Where was his great faith then? Or was his worldly side telling him that it was better to make God’s promise happen than to wait for God to make his promise happen? The point isn’t so much about who was righteous and who was not, who was worldly and who was not – but about two different types of people. This story wouldn’t have been the same if it were a tale of two Abrahams or were it a tale of two Lots. It’s their differences that tell us about who God is. This story could have easily gone the other way – Lot could have chosen Canaan. God still would have destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham would have been spared. They all would have made the same choices just under different circumstances. Perhaps the point isn’t about worldliness, but how the choices we make all impact how we live out our lives and it does not always mean that one bad choice dooms our existence with bad consequences until the end of time. We should strive to make good choices but what we decide ultimately has little impact on the big picture. He is not so powerless as to be unable to work with the times we make wrong decisions to turn them around to benefit many.
Now we’re going to sing us a song of appeal. And while we sing it, somebody you to give your heart and life in trust to the Lord Jesus, welcome. A family you to come into the fellowship of our dear church, welcome. A somebody you to give your life in answer to God’s call, welcome. A fellow pilgrim with us who serve Jesus with all of the strength of our hearts and lives, welcome. As the Spirit shall press the appeal upon your heart, while we sing this song, answer with your life. Do it now. Angels attend you as you come, while we stand and while we sing.
This part wasn’t really the conclusion of the message – it was the section before. I wonder what hymn would they have sung after a sermon like that … Amazing Grace or How Great Thou Art are my guesses. What else would one sing after such a fine example of misinterpreting scripture? Perhaps I’ll end with a cautionary note – one ought not to preach a sermon delivered twenty-five years out of date and from another denomination or with me in the room because I pick up on little details that give me an insight as to the thoughts and interpretation of others that don’t represent how I think or interpret Scripture and I have to wonder which of us is right (though I admit that it’s possible that neither one of us are right.) Obviously, I’ve sat through one too many sermons about Lot.