Genesis 19:10-26


Sermon preached on July 6, 2014 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.cantonnewlife.org/.

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

Apple Computer's new retail chief, who is head of Apple's brick and mortar stores, Angela Ahrendts, recently wrote a blog post on Linkedin in which she shared some professional and personal insights which have helped her over her career. One of them was,

"trust your instincts and emotions. Let them guide you in every situation; they will not fail you."



I certainly think there is a place for instincts and emotions in our lives. Sometimes they can be very reliable and helpful. Perhaps Angela's instincts and emotions have been impeccable and have truly never let her down.

But having said that, the advice she gives is basically unsound. There are lots of people whose instincts are flawed. Their instincts will lead them astray.

This past week I saw a picture on the web of a Japanese Snow Monkey using an iPhone. In the photograph the monkey was sitting in the pool of water in a hot springs, holding an iPhone and looking at it like he was using it. The story behind that picture was that a professional photographer was at this pool taking pictures of the monkeys when some tourists arrived and started taking pictures as well. One lady had an iPhone and as she took pictures she got closer and closer to one particular monkey. When she got close enough he grabbed the phone from her and quickly took it out to the middle of the pool. That lady's instinct to get a closer picture resulted in one lost iPhone.

I found it surprising that Angela would give that advice about trusting your instincts because the guy she replaced at Apple was an absolute disaster. His instincts were so bad that Apple fired him less than six months after they hired him. Apple hired him and he looked to cut costs at their stores by reducing the amount of people working there. He cut down on hiring and also cut staff hours. Apple, which built its retail stores on the principle of excellent customer service soon realized that he wasn't a good fit so they got rid of him. His instincts, as far as working for Apple were concerned, were unsound.

But it's not only instincts that can lead you astray. Your emotions can also lead you astray. I have a good friend who has recently left his wife. He's involved with another woman and from what I understand, she's married to someone else and yet they want to spend the rest of their lives together. According to Proverbs chapters 5 and 7 that's the path to destruction. That's where their emotions are leading them.

We see these principles in our text as well. Lot's wife's instinct was to look back. That instinct failed her. Her emotions also failed her. She looked back because she loved certain people or things about Sodom. Looking back got her turned into a pillar of salt. When Lot warned the young men his daughters were engaged to—their instinct was to laugh. They thought he was joking. When dawn came and the angels told Lot to hurry, Lot's instinct was to delay. He hesitated. The angels had to grab him by the hand and drag him out of the city. When he got out of the city and the angels told him to flee to the mountains—Lot's reaction was to argue with them. His instincts told him that the mountains were too dangerous for him.

There are lots of situations in which you should go against your instincts and emotions. In Proverbs 3:5–6 says,

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight."

Trust in the Lord. That's what we need to do. One of the great lessons underlying our text is that

you need to resist any instinct, emotion or thought that tries to take you away from promptly obeying God's Word.

We see all these things in play in our text. This morning we're going to look at the rational aspect, the one which, under the power of the Holy Spirit, should control all the others. We must control our minds and bring them to obedience to God. Next time, we'll perhaps look at how we have to guard our hearts so they don't lead us astray.

The first way you can fall into disobedience to God's Word is

by putting your mind above God's Word.

Some people have such an exalted view of their rational ability, of their intelligence—that they put it up as the ultimate judge of all things.

In doing this they make a mistake. We are to judge everything by the Word of God, not by our minds.

What we must understand is that our minds have been affected by the fall into sin. The Bible teaches that when Adam sinned it affected every part of his being, body, soul, mind, emotions, will, etc. We are totally depraved. Part of this involves our minds being in rebellion against God. Our minds are depraved. They are not to be trusted. Your mind is not the impartial and good judge of things that you think it is.

As fallen human beings we naturally disbelieve God. Like Eve, in our fallen nature we consider God to be a liar and His Word as being untrue and not good. What we must realize is that your brain is not the best judge of things. It will often lead you astray.

Lot's sons-in-law show us how not to react to God's Word. They thought that Lot was joking. His words were foolishness to them. They put their minds above the Word of the Lord.

That's exactly what many people in our society do. I recently saw a video by the famous atheist Richard Dawkins and he said belief in God was something that he believed when he was a child, but then he quoted from the apostle Paul and said, (1 Corinthians 13:11, HCSB)

"When I was a child,
I spoke like a child,
I thought like a child,
I reasoned like a child.
When I became a man,
I put aside childish things."

It was like he was mocking Christianity. It is obviously foolishness to him. In 1 Corinthians 1:18 the apostle Paul acknowledged that unbelievers would see it this way. He wrote,

"For the message of the cross is
foolishness to those who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved
it is the power of God."

And in 1 Corinthians 2:14 he wrote,

"The man without the Spirit
does not accept the things that
come from the Spirit of God,
for they are foolishness to him,
and he cannot understand them,
because they are spiritually discerned."

The opposite is also true. As Paul told us in 1 Corinthians 3:19–21,

"For the wisdom of this world
is foolishness in God's sight.
As it is written:
'He catches the wise in
their craftiness'; and again,
'The Lord knows that the thoughts
of the wise are futile.'"

The world today tells us that we're foolish to believe in God, to believe the Bible. They will tell you that it's outdated, that it's unreliable, that science has disproved much of it.

I'm not the smartest guy in the world but I'm a little bit intelligent and I've never heard a compelling argument as to why I should to give up belief in God. I've never heard a compelling argument that convinced me that evolution was true, that it has been proven. And this is in spite of the fact that I've gone looking for such arguments.

For example, I recently wanted a TED talk where the speaker talked about entropy and how it relates to evolution. He began the talk by explaining what entropy was and how all processes manifest a tendency toward decay and disintegration. There is a universal tendency for all systems to go from order to disorder. But in evolution, we have the opposite, things going from disorder to order, higher forms of life evolving from lower forms of life. He mentioned some statistics and I think I may correctly say, the improbability of evolution happening. As he was explaining all this I started to wonder how he was going to deal with it, what arguments he was going to use to overcome everything he was saying up to that point—what arguments he was going to make for evolution. When he came to that point he used two arguments. Neither one of the arguments was very profound. In fact, the first argument he used actually supported the other side—the creationist side. Here are his two arguments. Frist, he said that it's really hard. He said that it's really hard for evolution to happen. I think if he had proved that it was really easy for evolution to happen it might have been a good argument for his side—but he said it's really, really hard for evolution to happen. His second argument was that it takes a long time. Again, that's not a very good argument. He's basically saying that even though evolution flies in the face of much of what we are observing today—it can be true because if you give it enough time it could happen.

I think it's accurate to summarize his view as being that evolution is highly unlikely but since we're here, it's obviously true, for there is no other reasonable explanation of how we got here, except the one where aliens came to earth some time ago and we came from them. I think he is like many evolutionists who reject the biblical teaching about creation out of hand because it involves the supernatural. They haven't disproved it. They just assume that it can't happen. They believe in evolution because we're here. Because they view evolution as being 'not impossible', they mock Christianity and look down on Christians.

But Lot's sons-in-law perished. Their flawed reasoning led to their doom. It will be the same for anyone who follows their path.

The second thing in our text is that shows us that we must submit our minds to God's word is

the fact that Lot asked to go to Zoar.

Lot thought he knew better than what God told him to do. After they left Sodom the angels told Lot to flee to the mountains, but Lot said, (Genesis 19:18–20)

"No, my lords, please!
Your servant has found favor
in your eyes, and you have shown
great kindness to me in sparing my life.
But I can't flee to the mountains;
this disaster will overtake me,
and I'll die.
Look, here is a town near enough
to run to, and it is small.
Let me flee to it—
it is very small, isn't it?
Then my life will be spared."

According to Lot's way of thinking, God's way seemed too difficult, too dangerous for him. God told him to go to the mountains but Lot said that if he went there disaster would overtake him and he would die. Lot thought he knew better than God.

But Lot's way turned into a disaster for him. Verse 30 tells us that Lot was afraid to stay in Zoar. The people there probably blamed Lot for the disaster that happened to Sodom and Gomorrah and were wary of him. So he had to flee to the mountains.

There are two lessons for us here.

First, have respect for God's Word, for God's commands even when they seem to lead you into difficulty, when following them seems dangerous.

God knows what is best for us. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Sometimes He leads us through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. That's the path to glory. We need to follow His leading and not be afraid. When Mordecai told Esther what God required of her, she hesitated at first, but then said, (Esther 4:16)

"I will go to the king,
even though it is against the law.
And if I perish, I perish."

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. They said to him, (Daniel 3:16–18)

"O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need
to defend ourselves before you
in this matter.
If we are thrown into
the blazing furnace, the God we serve
is able to save us from it,
and he will rescue us from your hand,
O king. But even if he does not,
we want you to know, O king,
that we will not serve your gods
or worship the image of gold
you have set up."

The apostle Paul faced many difficulties. He was willing to endure them. He said to the Ephesian elders. (Acts 20:23–24)

"I only know that in every city
the Holy Spirit warns me that prison
and hardships are facing me.
However, I consider my life
worth nothing to me,
if only I may finish the race
and complete the task
the Lord Jesus has given me—
the task of testifying to
the gospel of God's grace."

That should be your attitude.

The second lesson from this is that

we should have Christ as our wisdom.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He shows us the way of salvation. He is leading us to glory. We can trust Him. We can trust His Word. We are to view Christ as our wisdom. 1 Corinthians 1:24 says,

"but to those whom God has called,
both Jews and Greeks,
Christ the power of God
and the wisdom of God."

A few verses later Paul says, (1 Corinthians 1:30)

"It is because of him that
you are in Christ Jesus, who has
become for us wisdom from God—
that is, our righteousness,
holiness and redemption."

John Calvin writes,

"For so long as we rest in our own judgment, and are wise in our own estimation, we are far from having made any approach to the doctrine of Christ."



In 2 Corinthians 10:5 the apostle Paul wrote,

"We demolish arguments and
every pretension that sets itself up
against the knowledge of God,
and we take captive every thought
to make it obedient to Christ."

Calvin says that this means that, (referring back to 1 Corinthians 3:18)

"we must give up our own understanding, and renounce the wisdom of the flesh, and thus we must present our minds to Christ empty that he may fill them. Now the form of expression must be observed, when he says, that he brings every thought into captivity, for it is as though he had said, that the liberty of the human mind must be restrained and bridled, that it may not be wise, apart from the doctrine of Christ; and farther, that its audacity cannot be restrained by any other means, than by its being carried away, as it were, captive. Now it is by the guidance of the Spirit, that it is brought to allow itself to be placed under control, and remain in a voluntary captivity."



Lastly,

if you're not a Christian it's obvious that you're not paying attention to God's warnings.

You need to wake up. As Jesus said in Luke 17:26–31,

"Just as it was in the days of Noah,
so also will it be in the days
of the Son of Man.
People were eating, drinking, marrying
and being given in marriage
up to the day Noah entered the ark.
Then the flood came and
destroyed them all.
It was the same in the days of Lot.
People were eating and drinking,
buying and selling,
planting and building.
But the day Lot left Sodom,
fire and sulfur rained down from heaven
and destroyed them all.
It will be just like this on the day
the Son of Man is revealed."

Jesus is coming to judge the world. You need to be ready. The only way to be prepared is to believe in Jesus. Do that today.