by Jerry Gentry
"Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is" (1Co 3:13).
"If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward" (v. 14).
"If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire" (v. 15).
Once upon a time, there was a man who believed in the true God. He moved with his uncle, whose name was Abram, out of the land of his fathers, called Ur of the Chaldees. This man sojourned with Abram and his servants in the promised land. This man's name is Lot.
Lot was a believer, all right. He loved his uncle Abram, and they fared well together, until a time came when their herds grew in multitude and "there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle" (Gen 13:7), because "their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together" (v. 6).
Thus, a separation took place.
Abram offered his nephew Lot first option, and Lot took the offer:
"And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar" (v. 10).
"Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other" (v. 11).
Here begins a new chapter in Lot's life. The day has come for Lot when he "pitched his tent toward Sodom" (v. 12).
Prior to this time, Lot has lived under the authority and cover of his uncle Abram. But now he is on his own. Now he is making the decisions for himself, without the aid of his uncle. Does Lot make the right choice, in taking the well watered plain of Jordon?
Certainly this land is attractive, rich in fertility, and will sustain his herds well. But there is something else that attracts Lot, whereby he "pitched his tent toward Sodom."
Yes, Lot is attracted by the hustle and bustle and bright lights of the big city. He has a yearning in his heart to leave the life of an herdsman, and discover what life is like in the big city. Thus Lot "pitched his tent toward Sodom." Thereby brother Lot becomes what we will see clearly as a disobedient believer.
Brother or sister, have you "pitched. . . [your] tent toward Sodom?" Are you a disobedient believer? Exactly what is a disobedient believer?
The Bible gives us clues as to the identity of a disobedient believer.
The apostle James challenges, "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" (Jam 2:19). In repetition later, James declares: "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also" (v. 26).
Is it possible that a believing person can have "faith without works," which the Bible declares, "is dead?" Perhaps it is impossible that genuine faith in a believer will produce no works at all. Jesus said, "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5).
He elsewhere declares: "And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire" (Matt. 3:10).
And again, He teaches: "Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire" (Matt. 7:19).
Yet, the Bible gives us the example of Lot to help us solve the mystery called "faith without works," a state never upheld in the Bible, a state always condemned, the state of a disobedient believer.
You see, brother Lot was a genuine believer. Yet all his visible works were burned up. He even lost his wife to the sin of unbelief, the sin of faithlessness. Even so, he himself is called "just Lot. . . a righteous man."
"And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly" (2Pe 2:6).
"And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked" (v. 7).
"(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)" (v. 8).
We see clearly that Lot is called "that righteous man," who had a "righteous soul." We must be careful not to condemn "just Lot." Yet we must also learn the lesson of this "ensample unto those that after should live ungodly."
A closer look at the story of Lot gives us further clues in our search for the meaning of a disobedient believer.
"And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters" (Gen 19:30).
"And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth" (v. 31). Lot's daughters apparently felt that God had destroyed every person, except the three of them.
"Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father" (v. 32).
"And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose" (v. 33).
And the next night also "they made their father drink wine. . . and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose" (v. 35).
Here we see the picture of a man thoroughly drunk. Had Lot ever been drunk before? Where did his daughters obtain alcoholic wine? Surely, you do not plant a vineyard, grow grapes, then make fermented wine, in a cave. Every indication is that brother Lot had found it necessary to bring at least a bottle or two of his favorite alcoholic wine with him as he departed Sodom. Thus, it was available when his daughters made their plan of incest.
What kind of fruit did such a plan bear in the earth? Today, where are the children of Lot? They are nowhere, except intermixed with the seed of Ishmael, and among Canaanites, scattered among the Moabites and Ammonites and other Moslems who worship Allah, and not the God of Israel. Such seed will be ultimately destroyed, and thereby Lot's works further burned up. Lot himself will be in the kingdom, yet alone.
All because this man Lot "pitched his tent toward Sodom," consequences play out in history whereby Lot loses his wife to unbelief and his daughters commit incest with their own father and produce a doomed, unbelieving nation. How sad, yet how clear is this lesson. Even as the prophet Samuel chided King Saul: "Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams" (1Sam. 15:22).
It is the same lesson we learn from Moses, who chose "rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season" (Hebr. 11:25), through whom God delivered the nation of Israel from Egyptian bondage.
The lesson of Lot, a disobedient believer, contrasts that of his uncle Abram, who ultimately becomes Abraham, the father of the faithful.
"By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went" (Heb 11:8). We see clearly that Abraham was not a disobedient believer, but an obedient believer.
"By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise" (v. 9).
"For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (v. 10). What city did Lot look for? Sodom. Christian, what city will you look for today? Will you "pitch your tent toward Sodom," that is, will you be deceived by the bright lights and hustle and bustle of "that great city Babylon, that mighty city" (Rev. 18:10), that modern city of this world that duplicates all the worldliness and wickedness of ancient Sodom and Gomorrah? Or will you look to the heavenly "city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God?"
Christian woman, will you look to Sarah, who "Through faith also. . . herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised" (v. 11).
"Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable" (v. 12).
"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (v. 13).
Christian, the challenge is upon us all. Will you be a disobedient believer, like so many "grace only" Christians, who hope to fly away to heaven in a secret rapture when they die, who have little room on their theological plate for the central doctrine of all the Bible, that being the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel on earth? Which will you choose today? Does your life message declare the antinomian doctrine of "faith without works?" Will you deny the very law of God which was upheld in all its perfection by our Lord Jesus Christ?
Or will you be an obedient believer, like our father Abraham?
"Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all" (Rom. 4:16).
How will you respond to the challenge of the apostle James: "Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works" (James 2:18).
If you are like Lot, you will kiss all your works good bye, in your journey through your own personal Sodom of backsliding and worldliness. The memory of what you produced in this life will go down the tubes, be burned up as wood, hay and stubble. You will squeak your way into the kingdom, by grace alone, as a disobedient believer. You will be called the least in the kingdom, just as the Bible says: "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:19).
In contrast with the followers of Lot, a disobedient believer, if you will follow Abraham, you will be an obedient believer.You will make your journey all the way to Mt. Moriah. Just as Abraham sacrificed the thing he loved most, in dedication to God, you too will sacrifice your most beloved thing to God, even as Abraham, who "when he was tried, offered up Isaac" (Hebr. 11:17).
Believer, what is it in your life that stands between you and obedience to the will of God? Though you say you have faith unto salvation, do you show forth that faith by your good works? Are you an obedient believer?
Or are you a disobedient believer, as Lot? He was "saved; yet so as by fire" (1Cor. 3:15). Yet all his works in this world were burned up. Both Abrahan and Lot are saved. Both will be in the God's coming kingdom on this earth. One has lost every work he built in this life. His loss began when he "pitched his tent toward Sodom," in selfish pursuit of the pleasures of sin and worldliness. He has nothing but himself to look forward to in the kingdom, no wife, no offspring, no converts that he led to personal salvation.
Will you Christian live in obedience, and receive your full potential reward?
"Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown" (Rev. 3:11). Your crown is your reward in the kingdom.
Your salvation is freely given, by faith and nothing more. Your crown is your reward, for the way you live your life, the way you "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil. 2:12).
"For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works" (Matt. 16:27). It is by faith alone that we are saved. It is by our works, measured against the standard of the law/word of God, that we receive our reward.
Christian, which will you be today: a disobedient believer, hell bent in this life on living in self will and pursuit of pleasure, sin and worldliness? Or will you be an obedient believer, like Abraham, who will have great reward?
Learn the lesson of Lot today. Learn the lesson of a disobedient believer. Learn how to become an obedient believer. If you have "pitched your tent toward Sodom," turn around. Reject that road to destruction. Reject the road to Sodom and all it's lure of "the pleasures of sin for a season." Pitch your tent, not toward Sodom, but toward the heavenly city, that New Jerusalem, that "city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Hebr. 11:10).
Make your declaration known to all, as did the ancient Joshua, who in Josh. 24:15 states: "As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."
Christian, let no man take your crown. Be an obedient believer.