Tag Archives: John Piper

If You Linger, You Die!

I was reading my Bible today, and the story of Lot in Sodom struck me hard all over again. If you aren’t familiar with the entire story, I’d encourage you to read Genesis 18-19 and get the idea of what is going on.

Lot saw these two angels coming, strangers to the land, and immediately bowed down and invited them into his home to stay.  While hospitality was a big deal in this culture, Lot was not simply trying to be kind to the strangers.  He understood what the men of Sodom were capable of doing.  He was being protective.  He knew the ways of his city and he was ashamed and fearful.

Notice that Lot wanted to get the men in his house as quickly as he could and then get them out before anyone else in the city woke up.  In an age of hospitality, you didn’t simply invite people to stay the night, but you offered to let them stay well into the day.  Before they ever accepted his offer, as politely as he could, let them know they would be leaving early as if he knew where they were going and that they were in a hurry to get there.  To the point that when the angels declined his offer, saying they’d just as well stay in the square and set up camp.  “He pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate,” (Genesis 19.3).

He pressed them strongly.  The mental image that you should have is that of Lot nearly tackling the men as they turned to go into the square.  He lunged at them.  Perhaps picture in your head Lot grabbing the men roughly around the chest and then smoothing out there robes, saying, “What’s the hurry?  I insist.  I won’t take no for an answer.”  Lot would do anything to keep the men from seeing the sin in which he lived.  So he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread.  Once again, hospitality but fast hospitality.  A feast, but unleavened bread. There was no time for bread to rise.  He needed them to go to sleep.  It’s like the mentality of Christmas for little children.  The sooner you go to bed the sooner Christmas comes.  The sooner they went to sleep the sooner morning would come and he could send them on their way.

Can you see yourself in story?  I can.  God, or perhaps one of his representatives enters into my sinful life, and all I can do is try and hide the life in which I know I live.  Just hoping that I can get through this moment without my sin catching up with me.  Everything is fine.  It’s all good.  Great to see you; stay for a while, a little while.  Pretending that nothing is going on outside the doors of your house.

But as Numbers 32.23 says, “be sure your sin will find you out.” I am not saying that Lot was anything like the men of Sodom.  However, as we will see, he was aversely affected by them.  “But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them,” (Genesis 19:4-5).

Can you imagine the look of horror and shame on his face as he had to confront those men at his door?  Confronting sin is never fun.  It’s horrifying and it is shaming.  But sin is not something that will ever be hidden from God.  It is not something that one can pretend isn’t happening.  That sin is pounding at your door.  You hear it.  God hears it.  There’s no denying that it’s happening.  The question is, will you confront it?

Lot, mustered up his strength and confronted the men.

Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof,” (Gen 19.6-8).

Here is why I say he was aversely affected by the people of Sodom.  Rather than giving up the two men, he was willing to give up two of his daughters.  Let this be a lesson for us all.  Sin will not allow half-hearted, half-measured efforts to be satisfied.  Sin is not to be trifled with.  It is not to be bargained with.  We don’t compromise with sin.  John Owen once wrote:

Let no man think to kill sin with few, easy, or gentle strokes. He who hath once smitten a serpent, if he follow not on his blow until it be slain, may repent that ever he began the quarrel. And so he who undertakes to deal with sin, and pursues it not constantly to the death.

“But they said, ‘Stand back!’ And they said, ‘This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down’,” (Genesis 19.9).  Half-measured, half-hearted, compromising trifles are never enough when dealing with sin.  It’s kill or be killed.  As John Owen said, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.”  The phrase, “pressed hard” in verse nine is the same word that was used when Lot urged the angels strongly to come to his home.  I like the NLT’s way of translating, the “lunged.”

At this point, the angels pull their host back in, strike the men with blindness, and tell Lot Sodom will be destroyed so he had better get his family out of there.  Lot went to his future sons-in-law, but they thought he was joking and did nothing.  Which leads us to verse 15 once again.  “As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, ‘Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.’”  This is the second warning for Lot.  Punishment is eminent.  There is no time to waste.

Oh that we would understand that we must flee from wickedness immediately!  The promise of judgment is assured.  It is coming.  John Piper did a series of blogs that he calls A.N.T.H.E.M.

A – Avoid all possible temptation.

N – (this is the one I’m focused on) No. Say no.  Piper says we have about 5 seconds to say no before the temptation gets lodged in our minds and hearts.

T – Turn your eyes toward Christ.

H – Hold on to a promise from God

E – Enjoy Jesus more than sinful pleasure

M – Move away from idleness and find something to do.

The warning is true.  Judgment and punishment is coming and it could come at any moment.  We don’t believe it and so we do nothing about it. We are betting our very lives that this is not the moment.  But we are assured that as every second goes by, we are one second closer, and we don’t know when.  Say no immediately.  Don’t hesitate.  Don’t linger. Don’t be like Lot. We see in the very next verse these horrifying, awful, but so relatable words, “But he lingered,” (Genesis 19.16).  I think the whole of chapter 19 revolves around those three words.  But he lingered.

As always, I’d love to read your comments, whether you agree or disagree with me. If you liked this or found this to be a blessing or helpful, please let me know that too. Feel free to share the article on your social media page or with someone you believe could be helped.

Singleness: A Gift

Marriage, we are told by the writer of Hebrews, is to be held in honor among all.  But that doesn’t mean that everyone is honored to be married.  In fact, many are honored with singleness.  For the believer, it is as much of a grace of God to be called to singleness as it is to be called to marriage, though for different reasons.  Sadly, for many, singleness looks to be more of a curse than a blessing, more of a judgment than a grace.

We live in a world where we are often identified by our status.  Single, Married, Divorced, Widowed, and of course by sexuality: virgin, hooking up, not to mention the LGBTQ+ movement.  And it is easy to allow that to consume thoughts and feelings.  It can compound the loneliness and leave one in despair.

Today, I am starting a three-part series on singleness and family. This first post is aimed at helping everyone–everyone–see singleness as a gift. It may be an unwanted gift from God, but it is a gift nonetheless.  Next week, I will show how singleness is a calling. The week of Thanksgiving, I will actually be dealing with contentment in singleness.

I call this a gift or a grace because of what we see in 1 Corinthians 7:7.  “I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another,” (ESV).  What gift?  The gift to be single.  “To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am,” (1 Corinthians 7.8, ESV).  Paul was writing to the Corinthians that, while marriage is and was a good thing, it would be better for them to be single.  God has gifted, or graced some with the gift of singleness and the abstinence that goes with it.  Others have been gifted with marriage and the responsibilities that go with that.

What Paul does not say toward either person is that they are less than fulfilled or that they have or will have lived less of a full life, having or having not been married.  Marital status does not fulfill anyone.  Remember the words of Christ, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly,” (John 10.10, ESV).  Christ is our fulfillment in life, not a wife and not a husband.  When Hannah was praying in Shiloh she recited the truths of God: “There is none holy like the LORD; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God,” (1 Samuel 2.2, ESV).  No one can or ever will fulfill like God, like our Savior Jesus Christ.  If we cannot find fulfillment in Him alone, then we will not find fulfillment.

Paige Brown wrote in a recent article for the Gospel Coalition:

Accepting singleness, whether temporary or permanent, does not hinge on speculation about answers God has not given to our list of whys, but rather on celebration of the life he has given. I am not single because I am too spiritually unstable to possibly deserve a husband, nor because I am too spiritually mature to possibly need one. I am single because God is so abundantly good to me, because this is his best for me. It is a cosmic impossibility that anything could be better for me right now than being single. The psalmists confirm that I should not want, I shall not want, because no good thing will God withhold from me.

John Piper told the story of George Mueller. If you’ve never read or don’t know about this man, he was an extraordinary pray-er. It was as if he received whatever he prayed for most times. But Mueller did not receive the answer he hoped for, when his wife was deathly ill.  Piper quoted him on Desiring God’s website:

The last portion of scripture which I read to my precious wife was this: “The Lord God is a sun and shield, the Lord will give grace and glory, no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” Now, if we have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have received grace, we are partakers of grace, and to all such he will give glory also. I said to myself, with regard to the latter part, “no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly”—I am in myself a poor worthless sinner, but I have been saved by the blood of Christ; and I do not live in sin, I walk uprightly before God. Therefore, if it is really good for me, my darling wife will be raised up again; sick as she is. God will restore her again. But if she is not restored again, then it would not be a good thing for me. And so my heart was at rest. I was satisfied with God. And all this springs, as I have often said before, from taking God at his word, believing what he says.

To be single, whether it is from having never married, having been divorced, or having been widowed, according to God’s Word, can be and is a gift.  The caveat to that is toward the divorced, which ought to come only at the abandonment of the unbelieving spouse.  If he or she leaves their Christian spouse, they are to let them go.  Consider it a gift of singleness.  “But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved.  God has called you to peace,” (1 Corinthians 7.15, ESV).

Remember these words: “No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly,” (Psalm 84:11b, ESV), and “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change,” (James 1:17, ESV).