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S. Lewis Johnson Teaching From Genesis 19

September 4, 2009

I’ve been listening to S. Lewis Johnson’s “Genesis” series, which he preached in 1979. I’ve now completed the study for Genesis 19, and here are a few important points.

This chapter deals with a “carnal Christian,” Lot, and the consequences of his worldliness, including in his own family. It’s a familiar narrative passage, but here are a few things of special note.

SLJ notes that the angels seem much more reluctant to go home with Lot than they had with Abraham. They readily came to Abraham’s tent in Genesis 18; but it seems that they would prefer to stay in the town square than with Lot.

Lot does show great hospitality, one evidence of the fact that he was a righteous man (2 Peter 2), but his worldly life compromises his witness to the world. He had evidently selected unbelieving men to marry his daughters. When Lot later tried to warn them of the coming destruction, their disbelief again reflects Lot’s worldly character, he was the type of person not to be taken seriously.

The words from the men of Sodom to Lot, in verse 9 (“This fellow came here as an alien, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.”), show that the believer trying to get ahead in the world never really does fit in as well as he would like to think. S. Lewis Johnson says it well:

It is obvious that while he been there and evidently he had a place and position, deep down within they did not really like Lot. There was something about Lot that made him different, and even in his worldliness, there was that basic commitment to the promises given to Abraham and they figured that out.

That is why, incidentally, a worldly believer never is able to accomplish what he thinks he will accomplish. He thinks that by mingling with the world, he will be an influence upon them. But he is not an influence upon them and the one who is hurt is he himself.

Lot is the object of great mercy, and his life is spared on account of his relation to Abraham, as mentioned in verse 29 (So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.) Yet throughout the account Lot clearly does not appreciate the great mercy, as he is continually reluctant, to the point that the angels have to take charge. After that, Lot is still trying to wheedle out any more concessions, such as the part about fleeing to the small town of Zoar rather than to the mountains.

S. Lewis Johnson’s remarks about homosexuality in America are interesting, coming from the viewpoint of 1979. The situation is far worse now than 30 years ago, yet even then homosexuality was being championed as a great alternative lifestyle. He quotes from a cover story in Time magazine, “How Gay is Gay,” in which was told the line that 10 percent of the population is homosexual, and that many popular cultural items in our lives (disco and disco lights, long hair, even Adidas running shoes) came from homosexuals and then to the broader society. SLJ makes the important observation, from Romans 1, that increasing homosexuality in a nation is itself a judgement from God–not a sign of future possible judgement, but the actual judgment itself:

So when we look at increasing homosexuality in our society, we do not say, “Well if this continues, we are liable to experience the judgment of God.” According to Paul, the increase in homosexual practices is the judgment of God. It is upon us because of our apostasy from divine truth and so when we see this pervading our society, we are not a society that is moving toward judgment, but we are a society that is already under judgment and moving toward the final cataclysmic destruction of the society as we know it when the Lord Jesus Christ comes at his second advent to the earth.

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