The Consequence Of Compromise

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Compromise weakens our witness.

Genesis(39) (Part of the Origins(37) series)
by Stuart Johns(157) on November 21, 2021 (Sunday Morning(218))

Compromise(5), God's Word(6), Love(16), Truth(5)

Origins

The Consequence of Compromise

(Genesis 19:1-14)

 

INTRODUCTION

“For the past eight years, Kim McClain, has been a research scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies. She has traveled to hard-hit cities and towns to understand why people got killed in storms that she says ‘really should be survivable as long as people can get to the right shelter.’

 

In an interview with NPR, McClain was asked to explain why people failed to heed weather warnings:

 

We give people days of alert that their general region may be threatened. But people are really savvy about this. They know that even if a region in general is at risk, that doesn't necessarily mean there will be a tornado that hits their house. So people wait until things get quite close until they make those calls. For tornadoes, they typically wait until they're under a warning and then there are just a couple of minutes. Then all they can really do is shelter in place.

 

People are doing what we call ‘confirming the threat.’ And they do this … on a continuous basis. They'll be watching, and maybe they'll go get their children. But they won't necessarily take shelter until things get a little bit closer.”

 

Rebecca Ellis, “What Makes People Heed A Weather Warning - Or Not?” NPR (3-2-19).

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2019/july/why-warnings-are-not-heeded.html]

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Confirming the threat

        • I have totally done that when we lived in Missouri

        • The tornado sirens would go off and I would wait outside and look around to see if I could actually see a tornado

        • Judy, on the other hand, would immediately scoop up the boys and head to the basement

        • FYI – I never got to see a tornado

    • Wildfires in California

        • It was different when we lived in California with the wildfires

        • We had a container packed, ready to go with all of our valuable information and keepsakes in case we were evaluated

        • The wildfires scared me more than a potential tornado, because it was something I wasn’t familiar with

 

  • WE

    • Every one of us can probably remember a time when we did not heed the warning signs

        • Perhaps it was a medical warning sign that we didn’t heed

        • Maybe it was a financial warning sign

        • Remember Y2K and the preparations that most people made

        • The COVID-19 pandemic was another situation where we had to heed some warnings and prepare

    • What was the result of not heeding those warnings?

 

The warnings that Lot and his family received were not just signs, but actual verbal warnings. ​​ How would they respond to these warnings? ​​ As we will see, Lot and his family were considered righteous, which is why they were being warned about the coming destruction of Sodom. ​​ When Lot tried to stop a morally offensive act from happening to his two guests and when he tried to warn his future sons-in-law, they rejected him and his warnings. ​​ The reason this happened is that Lot had compromised his beliefs. ​​ He was not taken seriously, because he had not led his family well, as the spiritual head of the household. ​​ The citizens of Sodom did not respect him because he had compromised. ​​ What we will learn from this passage of Scripture today is that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – Compromise weakens our witness.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Genesis 19:1-14)

    • Welcomed guests (vv. 1-3)

        • Angels arrive (v. 1a)

          • The narrator tells us that the angels arrived in the evening

            • The journey from Abraham’s camp to Sodom would have been between 18-20 miles

            • That distance would have been humanly impossible from the afternoon at Abraham’s to the evening with Lot

            • There are two explanations for this timeframe

              • There were several days that have passed between the angels leaving, in Gen. 18:22, and their arrival, in Gen. 19:1

              • It is also conceivable that being heavenly beings, they could have made the trip, supernaturally, in just a couple of hours

              • Fortunately, the time frame is not what is most important in this passage of Scripture – rather it is what is going to happen while the two angels are there

          • The angels obviously have to enter through the gateway, which is where Lot is sitting

        • Lot’s location (v. 1b)

          • The fact that Lot is sitting in the gateway is significant

            • “The gate, generally an arched entrance with deep recesses and seats on either side, was a place of meeting in the ancient towns of the East . . .” ​​ [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 148]

            • The gateway was where the inhabitants of the city would meet to discuss what was going on in the city, a place where business transactions would take place, legal matters would be handled, and political affairs were discussed

            • “The gate was the physical symbol of collective authority and power.” ​​ [Waltke, Genesis, A Commentary, 275]

          • This shows that Lot was potentially one of the leaders of Sodom and had some authority

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is pleased when we hold to the truths of His Word and not compromise.

            • This principle is evident throughout this passage of Scripture, so we will be revisiting it again in verses 3 and 8

            • In verse 1 the principle is found indirectly

              • In fact we have to look back to Genesis 13 to see the beginning of Lot compromising

              • First, Lot looked at Sodom, Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, toward Zoar. ​​ (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) ​​ So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. (Gen. 13:10-11)

              • Second, Lot pitched his tents near Sodom, Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. ​​ Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord. (Gen. 13:12-13)

              • Third, Lot moved into Sodom, They also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom. (Gen. 14:12)

              • Finally, Lot has become part of the leadership structure in Sodom . . . and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. (Gen. 19:1b)

            • Lot knew the spiritual condition of the people of Sodom and he willingly compromised on the commands of God in order to live there

              • It would have been different if God had called Lot to live in Sodom and be a witness for Him, but that was not the case

              • “God put Joseph in Egypt, Daniel in Babylon, and Esther in Persia; and their presence turned out to be a blessing. ​​ Worldliness is not a matter of physical geography but of heart attitude (1 John 2:15-17). ​​ Lot’s heart was in Sodom long before his body arrived there. ​​ No doubt he got his first love for the world when he went to Egypt with Abraham (Gen. 13:1, 10), and he never overcame it.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bile Exposition Commentary, Pentateuch, 93]

            • Abraham had separated himself from the evil inhabitants of the plains, which enabled him to have a close relationship and communion with God (2 Cor. 6:14-18; John 14:21-24) [Wiersbe, 93]

          • Application

            • Have we compromised the truths of God’s Word in order to enjoy the things of this world?

              • We can compromise the truths of God Word with our speech

                • I cannot tell you how often I heard people say, “Cussing is not a sin,” or “Cussing won’t keep me out of heaven/send me to hell.”

                • This is how we justify our desire to use foul/filthy language

                • Ephesians 4:29, Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

                • Ephesians 5:3-4, But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. ​​ Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.

                • Colossians 3:8, But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: ​​ anger, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

                • James 3:10, Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. ​​ My brothers, this should not be.

                • Matthew 12:36, But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken

              • We can compromise the truths of God’s Word by our actions

                • We may act one way while at church

                • We may act completely different at home, work, or with our friends

                • Perhaps we have taken something that does not belong to us

              • We can compromise the truths of God’s Word by our attitudes

                • We may harbor bitterness toward someone else

                • We may be unwilling to forgive someone who has hurt us (physically, emotionally, mentally, verbally)

                • We may not love one another as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her

              • We can compromise the truths of God’s Word by what we allow ourselves to watch or look at

              • We can compromise the truths of God’s Word by what we approve as culturally acceptable

                • Premarital sex

                • Living together before marriage

                • Abortion

                • Same-sex marriage

                • Substance use/abuse

            • We have to recognize when we have compromised the truths of God’s Word in order to embrace the things of this world

            • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask the Lord to show me how I have compromised the truths of His Word and confess that to Him.

          • As Lot is sitting in the gateway, he sees the two angels arrive and approaches them

        • Lot’s hospitality (1c-3)

          • Lot bowed with his face to ground

          • He invites them to his home

            • At his home, he would make sure their feet would be washed

            • He was also offering them a place to sleep

            • They would be able to leave early in the morning

          • At first they refused his hospitality

            • They told Lot that they would spend the night in the square

            • In most ancient cities, the square was a safe place to spend the night

            • It was certainly safer than sleeping out in the countryside

          • Lot strongly insisted that they stay with him

            • Lot was aware of the wickedness that took place after dark in the city square, especially when people from out of town were around

            • This speaks again of Lot’s willingness to compromise his beliefs and witness in Sodom

            • He tolerated the wickedness instead of confronting it or fleeing from it

              • Flee from sexual immorality. ​​ All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. (1 Cor. 6:18)

              • Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22)

              • But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. (James 1:14)

            • Compromise weakens our witness

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is pleased when we hold to the truths of His Word and not compromise.

          • Lot provided the two angels with a meal that included unleavened bread

        • After they had eaten, but before they had gone to bed, Lot’s greatest fear for the two angels came true

    • Unwelcomed guests (vv. 4-9)

        • Everyone was wicked

          • The description of those involved help us understand that wickedness and sinfulness had permeated the entire city

          • It was not just one section of the city (the slums or the wealthy section

          • It was not just one age group/generation (it was young and old)

          • It was probably not every man in the city, since Lot has to go out to talk with his sons-in-law (we will see that in verse 14)

        • Homosexual rape

          • The men call out to Lot and a demand that he hand over the two men who came to him

          • The reason they give to Lot is so they can have sex/relations with them

          • It appears as though they would have sex with them whether the two men consented to it or not (rape)

          • “The city is guilty here of two crimes: ​​ violation of guests and unnatural lust. ​​ The men of the city cry not just for homosexuality but for rape. . . . They rape the mind, emotions, and body, trivialize the sacred, and legitimatize the vulgar. ​​ Homosexuality is a capital offense in the Old Testament (Lev. 18:22; 20:13). ​​ The sin of Sodom’s act is presumably the worst sort of sexual offense: ​​ homosexual gang rape (cf. Judg. 19; Jude 7).” ​​ [Waltke, 276]

          • There are individuals who try to say that what is being talked about in Genesis 19 is not homosexuality, but just wanting to get to know the two men

            • This is a weak attempt to trivialize the sacred and legitimatize the vulgar

            • It is talking about homosexual rape

            • The Lord would not have destroyed Sodom because all the men wanting to get to know the two visitors

            • There is a movement within evangelicalism that is trying to argue that the Bible affirms, or at least does not prohibit, same-sex sexual relationships. But renowned progressive New Testament scholar Luke Timothy Johnson disagrees with this approach, even though he himself also holds an affirming position.

              He writes, ‘I have little patience with efforts to make Scripture say something other than what it says, through appeals to linguistic or cultural subtleties. The exegetical situation is straightforward: we know what the text says.’

              He continues:

              I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. And what exactly is that authority? We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us.”

              Possible Preaching Angle: ​​ While we disagree with Johnson’s conclusions, we have to admire his intellectual integrity. On this subject of same-sex sexual relationships, the Bible is clear: “We know what the text says.” The only question is whether that is the authority one chooses to live by.

              Source: ​​ Luke Timothy Johnson, “Homosexuality & The Church” Commonweal Magazine (6-11-07)

              [https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2020/august/progressive-scholar-says-bible-is-clear-about-sexual-sin.html]

            • “Now here's something you don't see every day: in the wake of Ireland's landslide victory to allow same-sex marriages in their country, journalist Matthew Paris, who calls himself ‘a (gay) atheist,’ publicly laments the church's wishy-washiness.

              Paris writes, ‘Even as a (gay) atheist, I wince to see the philosophical mess that religious conservatives are making of their case. Is there nobody of any intellectual stature left in [the church] to frame the argument against Christianity's slide into just going with the flow of social and cultural change?’

              Paris continues his lament: ‘Can't these Christians see that the moral basis of their faith cannot be sought in the pollsters' arithmetic? ...Would it have occurred for a moment to Moses (let alone God) that he'd better defer to Moloch-worship because that's what most of the Israelites wanted to do? … It must surely be implicit in the claim of any of the world's great religions that on questions of morality, a majority may be wrong; but this should be vividly evident to Christians in particular: they need only consider the fate of their Messiah, and the persecution of adherents to the Early Church. 'Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you,' says Paul.’

              Possible Preaching Angle: ​​ Well, okay, that was actually Jesus who said that, not Paul. But Paris raises some tough questions for the church.

              Source: ​​ Matthew Parris, “As a gay atheist, I want to see the church oppose same-sex marriage,” The Spectator (5-26-15)

              [https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2015/june/gay-atheist-laments-churchs-moral-slide.html]

          • The Church’s response

            • Two extremes

              • Going with the flow of social and cultural change

              • Condemning and ostracizing those who struggle with same-sex attraction

            • Balance

              • Tolerance doesn’t work, because tolerating someone else’s viewpoint or belief means that I have to sacrifice my viewpoint or belief – I’m intolerant of my own viewpoint

              • Compromise weakens our witness

              • Jesus modeled the perfect balance – love

                • We can love everyone, regardless of their viewpoint or beliefs

                • Love does not require that we embrace, approve, ​​ or tolerate a viewpoint or belief that is contrary to God’s Word

                • The Church has failed a whole section of our society, because we have either gone with the flow or condemned those who struggle with same-sex attraction – neither of these approaches are loving

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Repent of either legitimatizing or ostracizing those who struggle with same-sex attraction, and choose to love as Jesus would.

          • While the crowd is pressing Lot to hand over the two men, he provides a compromise

        • Lot’s compromise

          • Lot goes outside to talk with the men of Sodom and encourages them not to do this wicked thing

          • He then offers his two virgin daughters as a compromise

            • Compromise weakens our witness

            • This compromise was not going to satisfy the sexual deviant desires of the crowd

            • Lot did not have any real influence over the crowd, even as one of their leaders

            • They saw him as weak alien

        • The crowd’s response

          • We want what we want

            • “Get out of our way!”

            • “Who are you to judge us, you foreigner?”

            • “You’re no better than us!”

            • “We’ll treat you worse than the two men.”

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – Our actions, when confronted with our sin, show our heart.

            • The men of Sodom were not repentant, instead they retaliated against Lot

            • How do we react when someone confronts us about our sin?

              • Repentance

                • “If you brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. ​​ If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. ​​ But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ ​​ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:15-17)

                • Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you – even Jesus. (Acts 3:19-20)

                • Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. ​​ The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)

              • Retaliation

                • “‘No longer were their shameful sins tolerated by a permissive society as something people had a right to practice if they pleased. ​​ It had gone far beyond that. ​​ Now the people were an open, aggressive, insistent force in the city with which none dared interfere. ​​ For their behavior was not looked upon by the Sodomites as criminal but as constitutional. ​​ They had the constitutional right to indulge their passion when and where they wished and any attempt to thwart them could be expected to lead to open riot in the city (Phillips, 161).’ ​​ The parallel with modern Western culture should chill us to the bone.” [Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 168]

                • Our natural inclination is to defend ourselves

                • It is not pleasant to be confronted by our sin

                • We all know our greatest temptation and so does Satan

                • When it is exposed there is anger, but also relief

            • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask the Lord to help me humbly repent when confronted with my sin.

          • The crowd pushed forward against Lot, so they could reach the door and break it down

        • Lot will soon find out who these two men really are

    • Saved by the guests (vv. 10-14)

        • The two men opened the door just enough to grab Lot and pull him back inside

        • Miraculous salvation

          • The two angels then strike the crowd of men with blindness, so they could not find the door

          • There would probably have been a courtyard with a gate between the crowd and the actual front door

          • Perhaps the crowd is groping around in the courtyard trying to find the front door, without success

        • Other family members?

          • The two angels ask Lot if he has any other family in the city

          • They encourage him to get them out of the city, because they are going to destroy it

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – God is merciful!

            • The Lord is allowing Lot the opportunity to warn his other family members

            • This again shows God’s mercy at work

          • PRINCIPLE #4 – God is just!

            • While God is merciful, He is also just

            • The two angels have witnessed enough

            • They have proven that there are not even ten righteous people in Sodom, so destruction is inevitable

            • Lot now knew that these two men were more than men, they were the Lord’s emissaries

        • Warning

          • Lot went to his sons-in-law, who were presumably engaged to his two virgin daughters

          • He tells them to get out of the city quickly, because the Lord was about to destroy it

          • His sons-in-law didn’t take him seriously and thought he was joking

          • Once again, we see that compromise had weakened Lot’s witness

            • His two sons-in-law thought he was joking

            • They probably had not seen Lot modeling a life fully committed to the Lord

            • He was a righteous man, that had allowed the enticements of his world to have priority in his life

            • He had compromised in order to remain living in Sodom, which caused his witness to be weak

          • The same can be said of us

            • When we compromise in our world, our witness will also be weak

            • Those around us (at work, in our neighborhood, our friends) will not listen to our warnings about God’s coming destruction

            • Even some of our own family will not listen to our warnings

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is pleased when we hold to the truths of His Word and not compromise.

            • #4 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Hold onto the truths of God’s Word and not compromise.

 

  • YOU

    • Where have your compromised the truths of God’s Word – confess that before the Lord

    • Do you love those who are struggling with same-sex attraction or have you legitimatized or ostracized them?

    • How do you react when confronted with your sin? ​​ (Repentance or Retaliation)

    • Are you holding to the truths of God’s Word or are you compromising?

 

  • WE

    • As a body of believers, we need to hold to the truths of God’s Word, no matter what

    • We need to model love instead of acceptance or rejection

    • We need to model repentance instead of retaliation when confronted with our sin

 

CONCLUSION

In a sermon, the Reverend Ethan Magness quoted the Danish philosopher Kierkegaard who told this parable:

 

A crowded theater hosted a variety show, with various acts in it. Each act was more fantastic than the one prior, so it created louder and louder applause from the audience. Suddenly, a clown rushed on to the stage and said, “I apologize for this interruption, but I regret to inform you that our theater is on fire! You need to leave right away, and in an orderly fashion.”

 

But the audience thought he was part of the act, so they laughed and applauded. They thought he was very committed to the role. But the clown again implored them that they needed to leave right away or they would get seriously injured, maybe even die. And again, they greeted him with loud and thunderous applause. At last, he could do no more, and so he left the building, and the people were destroyed.

And Kierkegaard concludes in this sobering way: ‘Our age will go down in fiery destruction not to the sound of mourning but to applause and cheering.’”

 

Source:

Rev. Ethan Magness, Sermon: “The Theater is on Fire,” Grace Anglican Church (12-1-19).

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2020/july/theater-is-on-fire.html]

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