We conclude our look at the exhortation by Jesus “Remember Lot’s Wife”. So far, we have considered that she was Lot’s wife (a woman with spiritual advantages) and that she had been warned by God to flee from Sodom. Thirdly, we ought to remember that she was halfway out and yet did not escape.
The Bible teaches two companion truths that together we call the fifth of the doctrines of grace: the preservation and the perseverance of the saints. It is certainly true that those who truly believe and repent have eternal life immediately. Those who are saved are in Christ, and already have his righteousness credited to their account before God. There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Nothing can separate them from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39). However, it is also certainly true that true faith and repentance perseveres. If you really change your mind about God and his glory, the nature of mankind and sin, the uniqueness and sufficiency of Christ and his work, the freeness of saving grace and trust in the Lord from the heart, that kind of repentance and faith will endure. But a cheap or false repentance never turns from idols, and a false faith never trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:23; Hebrews 10:35-39; 1 John 2:19).
Let us never boast in empty professions of faith. To borrow an example from retail stores, there is a difference between customer count and sales. A store can have a lot of people walking through its doors due to location, intelligent design or clever ads or whatever, but the store doesn’t make money from people walking in and out. Sales pay the bills and make the profit. In the same way, it doesn’t matter if many people attend a church and talk with religious lingo and participate in the rituals of the church. Those actions are “customer count”. Lives of people who become learners of Jesus Christ are the “sales” in our illustration. American churches will never achieve reality until they believe and pursue that what matters in true Christianity is following Christ (1 John 2:3; Matthew 7:21-23).
Fourthly, let us remember that she desired to return to Sodom and was destroyed (17:31,33). He who knows the hearts of all people knew the reason she looked back to Sodom. Many people, while they look back at the world like Lot’s wife, have been suddenly overtaken by God’s wrath. “When Lot’s wife looked back, she was immediately destroyed, God had exercised patience toward her before. When she lingered at the setting out, the angels pressed her, and her husband and children, to make haste. Not only so, but when they yet delayed, they brought her forth, and set her without [outside] the city, the Lord being merciful to her. But now when, notwithstanding this mercy, and the warnings which had been given her, she looked back, God exercised no more patience towards her, but proceeded immediately to put her to death” (Edwards, “The Folly of Looking Back in Fleeing out of Sodom”, Works, Vol. 2, p. 67).
Reader, perhaps today God is being merciful to you, but are you looking back? This blog might be God’s messenger. What if a preacher would come down from his pulpit, grab your hand, and plead with you, “Come with me to Christ!” Would you go? Or would you turn beet red, pull your hand away, and say, “What are you—some kind of nut?”
The fatal error of humanity is found in the heart. People love the pleasures of whatever Sodom they are in and look passionately to those pleasures. Listen to God’s word about the heart. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9 ESV) Perhaps by some mercy, your heart might come under conviction to flee your spiritual Sodom. You might even start to change your life. “But the tendency of the heart is to go back to Sodom.” [Ibid.]
No one knows when the Lord will return, but he will return suddenly. “We cannot certainly tell what God is about to do, but this we may know, that those who are out of Christ are in a most unsafe state.” [Ibid.] The Lord’s great warning to you is, “Remember Lot’s Wife!”
Grace and peace, David