As difficult as physical pain can be to endure, emotional and mental anguish are far worse. What is worse than the torments of a person riddled with guilt over the loss of a loved one thinking his or her actions caused their early death? In 2Peter 2, the Bible supplements the account of Lot (Genesis 19) a man who was oppressed, vexed, and tormented in soul.
There is a stark contrast between godly and ungodly men as Peter described them in 2Peter 2, “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned; …and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah …and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction …and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men …” 2Peter 2:4-7. We notice that Lot was rescued; it was not something he did that made the difference, and in fact, in the Genesis accounts he appears to do everything to avoid deliverance. Nevertheless, in the end, he is literally pulled from the flames,
“When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city.” But he hesitated. So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the Lord was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city.” Genesis 19:15-16
Peter warns evangelicals in America today about the dangers of false teachers, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you…” 2:1. Furthermore, he alerts us about an improper association with the world around us, “for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds” 2:8.
There is a sense in which Lot’s torment and oppression was good because it reveals he was not so callous to sin, and indifferent to evil that he was not affected by it. He was tormented in his soul by the temptation to sin. However, he did feel the consequences of his choices to live in Sodom, and his persistence to return when God provided the reason to leave. Lot’s wife died when she turned back, his son-in-laws were left when they mocked the way to escape, and his daughters were deeply influenced by too close of an association with immoral Sodomites.
False teachers always speak the truth just enough to deceive their hearers, but alter it to deceptively mock and lead the masses astray. “Many will follow their sensuality and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned” 2Peter 2:2. In our day, many men preach the Jesus that gives men everything they want; the Biblical Jesus takes everything men have. Jesus Christ saves men from the wicked desire to want things over God, and a heart that manufactures idols with every passing breath. Evil teachers condone evil and mock what is good. In Pauline terms, ‘should we sin that grace may abound?’ In a wicked church, forsaking anything evil is always legalism.
We can thank God for His mercy and grace by which He calls evil men to repentance and rescues the godly out of temptation. May we walk like righteous Noah who stood firm against the mocking cries of the ungodly, and not be weak and compromising like righteous Lot. Lot was righteous because God made Him so, and not because of any innate goodness.