Sermon #128 Luke Sermons
Title: “Remember Lot’s Wife”
Text: Luke 17:32
Subject: Faith in Christ
Date: Sunday Evening — August 8, 2004
Tape # Y-38a
Readings: Bobbie Estes & Ron Wood
You will find my text for tonight and the title of my message in Luke 17:32. Few warnings in Holy Scripture are so solemn as that which here falls from the lips of the Son of God. The Lord Jesus says to us, —”Remember Lot’s wife.”
Lot’s wife stands before us in this passage as a solemn warning, an alarming beacon to warn all who profess faith in Christ and yet love the world. Her husband, Lot was “righteous man” (2 Peter 2:8). When God sent his angels to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, she fled from Sodom with her husband; but she “looked back from behind her husband,” in disobedience to God’s express command. When she “looked back,” she was struck dead at once, and turned into a pillar of salt. Here the Lord Jesus Christ holds her up before our eyes as a beacon. He says, “Remember Lot’s wife.”
I say, this is a solemn warning, when we think of the person our Lord tells us to remember. — He does not tell us to remember Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob, Sarah, Hannah, or Ruth. He singles out one woman, lost forever under the wrath of God. He says, “Remember Lot’s wife.”
This is a solemn warning, when we consider the context in which it is given. Our Lord is talking to us about the distinguishing grace of God and the gift of faith in himself. He has just told us that in the day when the Son of man is revealed, we must not return to our stuff. In the next verse he says, “Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.” In a word, our Lord is calling for utter surrender to himself as Lord. He is calling for the utter surrender, devotion, and consecration of our lives to him as our Lord. In this context he say, “Remember Lot’s wife.”
This is a solemn warning, when we realize who it is that gives it. The warning is given by our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Friend of sinners, is full of mercy, grace, and love, ever compassionate and tender, who “delighteth in mercy.” He is the One of whom Isaiah wrote, who will not break the bruised reed or quench the smoking flax. He says, “Remember Lot’s wife.”
This is a solemn warning, when we understand to whom it is given. The Lord Jesus is speaking to his disciples. He is not addressing the Scribes and Pharisees who hated him, but Peter, James, and John, and many others who loved him, trusted him, and followed him. He is addressing these and the multitudes with them who professed to love, trust, and follow him. It is to those who profess faith in his name that the Son of God says, “Remember Lot’s wife.”
This is a solemn warning, when we consider the words our Lord uses to give it. He does not tell us to beware of Lot’s wife, not to follow the example of Lot’s wife, or not to be like Lot’s wife. He says, “Remember Lot’s wife.” Why does he use that word “remember”? Is it not because we are all in danger of forgetting Lot’s wife? We are not in danger of forgetting her existence, her destruction, or the reason for it. What we are in danger of forgetting is the lesson to be learned from her. He tells us to keep Lot’s wife before our minds. He says to you and me, “Remember Lot’s wife.”
Proposition: Our Lord tells us to “remember Lot’s wife” because he would have us to remember that though she thought she was safe, she was not saved.
Her heart was still in the city to which she looked back. Lot’s wife escaped Sodom, but never came to the place of refuge in Zoar. Multitudes there are among God’s professed people who are exactly like Lot’s wife. They profess faith in Christ and outwardly appear to follow him; but their faces and hearts are not fixed on the Christ. Their hearts are divided. They are not “pure in heart,” but divided in their affections.
I. Remember that she was Lot’s wife and learn that salvation is not a family inheritance.
There is much speculation about who she was, where she was born, what her background was, when she became Lot’s wife and so on; but the fact is — We know nothing else about who this woman was. All we are told about her person is this — She was Lot’s wife. There is a reason why the Holy Spirit tells us nothing else about her. It is the Lord’s intention for us to ever remember that grace is not a family possession. Salvation does not come to us simply because we are related to men and women who possess it (John 1:12-13).
(John 1:12-13) “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: (13) Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
This woman was married to a righteous man. She was united to him in the closest possible bonds — yet she perished! She had dwelt in tents with holy Abraham and seemed to share all the privileges of Abraham’s family — yet she perished! She was dear to one who had been dear to the father of the faithful — yet she perished!
Though this fact is plainly revealed in Holy Scripture, it is commonly ignored and needs to be repeatedly proclaimed — Grace does not run in blood lines!
· You may be the wife of the faithful, godly man of God and yet be a daughter of Belial.
· You may be the husband of one of the King’s daughters and yet be, yourself, a castaway!
· You may be the child of a prophet and yet a child of wrath before the prophet’s God.
· You may be the father of a most gracious family and yet still be an alien to the commonwealth of Israel.
No earthly relationship can put you in a good relationship with God if you are destitute of grace, and faith, and life in Christ. No one is born into the kingdom of God by his first birth. To enter that kingdom, “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7). “Except a man be born again he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
That which is born of the flesh is and will certainly perish. We must be born again. Only the new birth, wrought in us by the Spirit of God, will bring us into “the bond of the covenant.” You will not go to heaven on your husband’s coattails, your wife’s apron, or your parents’ faith. You must trust Christ yourself. You must be bathed in his redeeming blood. You must be robed in his righteousness. You must be born of God.
II. Remember the privileges Lot’s wife enjoyed.
In the days of Abraham and Lot, true saving faith was a rare thing. There were few who knew God, few who trusted Christ, few who were born again, few to whom the arm of the Lord was revealed in omnipotent, saving mercy, few who (like Noah) found grace in the eyes of the Lord, few who (like Enoch) walked with God, few who (like Abraham) were called of God and believed God.
The knowledge of God was confined to a few favored people. Most of the world lived in darkness, ignorance, superstition, and idolatry. Very few people had such good example, such spiritual company, and such clear instruction as Lot’s wife. — Yet, she perished!
Not only was Lot’s wife married to a righteous man, she had Abraham, the father of the faithful for her uncle by marriage. The faith, the knowledge, and the prayers of these two righteous men were things with which she was familiar. These were men who knew God, worshipped God, believed God, and walked with God. She saw her righteous, godly husband, Lot, vexing his righteous soul day by day with the ungodly deeds of the Sodomites. Religion in Abraham’s household and in Lot’s household was not a formality. Faith in Christ was the ruling principle of their lives and the mainspring of their actions. All this Lot’s wife must have seen and known. What a privilege it was for her to live in such a house! — Yet, she perished!
· When Abraham first received the promise of God, Lot’s wife was there. — Yet, she perished!
· When he pitched his tent between Hai and Bethel, Lot’s wife was there. — Yet, she perished!
· When the angels came to Sodom and warned her husband to flee, she saw them, fed them at her table, heard their words, and made the beds in which they slept. — Yet, she perished!
· When the angels took them by the hand and led them out of the city, she was one of those whom they helped to escape. — Yet, she perished!
Notwithstanding all her opportunities and privileges, notwithstanding all she had seen and heard, Lot’s wife lived and died graceless, godless, Christless, unbelieving soul. She lived and died without Christ, an alien from the commonwealth of Israel, a stranger from the covenant of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world. The eyes of her understanding were never enlightened. Her heart was never broken. Her will was never made to bow. She had a form of godliness, but nothing more. She had the lamp of profession, but no oil of life and grace in her lamp. She conformed to her husband’s Way, but refused to walk in the Way. She did not oppose his religion, but had no interest in it. The world was in her heart, and her heart was in the world. In this state she lived, and in this state she died.
In all this there is much to be learned. Come and hear the lesson which her case is meant to teach. — Privileges without grace will only add to your condemnation in eternity.
You who hear my voice live in the full sunshine of the richest opportunities and means of grace. You enjoy the privilege of hearing the gospel regularly. You live in households where the Christ of God is worshipped and served. You know truth from error. Yet, you refuse to believe God. If you go on in your willful rejection of divine truth, despising Christ and his blood, clinging to your own righteousness and refusing to submit to the righteousness of God in Christ, stopping your ears and run madly to hell, if God does not stop you and save you by his grace, all these privileges will be as a millstone about your neck, dragging you forever down in the pit of destruction.
Illustration: The Hounds of Hell
It takes something more than providential privileges to save your soul. It takes something more than godly company to produce godliness.
· Joab was David’s captain.
· Gehazi was Elisha’s servant.
· Demas was Paul’s companion.
· Judas Iscariot was Christ’s disciple.
· And Lot had a worldly, unbelieving wife.
They all died in rebellion and unbelief. They all went to hell in spite of all they saw, and heard, and knew, and experienced. They all tell us that it takes more than the means of grace to save. Salvation comes by the mighty operations of grace by God the Holy Spirit.
· I preach Christ to you; but only the Spirit of God can reveal Christ in you.
· I preach the righteousness of Christ to you; but only God the Holy Spirit can strip you naked before the holy Lord God and put the robe of Christ upon your naked soul.
· I preach Christ’s precious blood to you; but only God the Holy Spirit can sprinkle the blood on your heart and purge your conscience before God.
· I call you to faith in Christ, but only the Spirit of God can give you faith in Christ.
Highly value the great privileges God has given you, but do not trust them. If they do not do you good, they will add to your eternal condemnation. The same fire that melts the wax hardens the clay. The same sun that makes the living tree grow dries up the dead tree and prepares it for burning.
J. C. Ryle was exactly right when he said, “Nothing so hardens the heart of man as a barren familiarity with sacred things.”
Lot’s wife had many privileges; but she had no grace.
III. Remember this, too. — Lot’s wife escaped Sodom only to perish with Sodom.
She believed that the city was going to be destroyed. She rose early in the morning with Lot and prepared to leave the house. She ran down the streets of Sodom. She fled through the gates of the city gate, and reached the open plain with her husband. She was willing, for a while, to run with him, following his example. She did so for a considerable distance till she began to think over what she was doing and to consider what she was leaving. She began to think about her “stuff” in the house (Luke 17:31). When she did, she slackened her pace and lingered behind.
She went part of the way toward Zoar. — yet she perished! This woman was actually out of Sodom. She was almost in Zoar, the city of refuge — yet she perished! She was almost there — yet she perished!
More than a hundred years ago a Welch ship called, The Royal Charter, safely sailed around the world, navigating treacherous waters in every part of the globe. When the ship docked briefly at Queenstown, one of the sailors telegraphed his wife, telling her that he would be home in a few hours. You can imagine her excitement. She has not seen or heard from her husband in months, and months, and months. With joy and anticipation, she hurriedly prepared supper, set the table, and got all spruced up. Excitedly, she sat in the parlor, waiting for her husband to walk through the door. Instead, a messenger appeared at the door who told her that as the ship approached its home port it was smashed to pieces in Maelfra Bay, on the coast of Wales, and her husband was drowned!
As soon as her pastor heard what had happened, he hurried over to minister to this shocked and grieving widow. He said later, “Never can I forget the grief, so stricken, and tearless, with which she wrung my hand.” As that lady held her pastor’s hands, these are the words with which she expressed her grief — “So near home, and yet lost! So near home, and yet lost! So near home, and yet lost!”
That was the case with Lot’s wife. Shall that be the case with you? Some of you are, as it were, in the suburbs of the City of Refuge. You are in a very dangerous place. I warn you, if you stay there, you will perish forever. What a pity that some of you will perish at the gates of salvation for want of one step! You have come to the Door. Perhaps you admire the Door. But you have not entered into life by Christ the Door; and you are lost. “So near home, and yet lost!” I can think of nothing more pitiful.
IV. That brings me to a third point of remembrance, which is this. — Remember that Lot’s wife perished under the wrath of God.
Moses tells us, “Lot’s wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt” (Gen. 19:6). What a little thing that appears to be. “She looked back.” But little things often are much bigger than they appear.
There is life in a look. Our Savior says, “Look unto me and be ye saved.” Here there is death in a look. “She looked back.” — Why?
· For one thing, she didn’t believe God. The angel plainly said, “Look not behind thee.” But “she looked back.”
· But that which is obvious from the context in which our Lord gives this warning is this — She looked back because, though she fled from Sodom in fear, she still loved Sodom.
(Luke 17:26-33) “And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. (27) They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. (28) Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; (29) But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. (30) Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. (Oh, bless his name — This is the day when the Son of man is revealed! May he now reveal himself to you!) (31) In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. (32) Remember Lot’s wife. (33) Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.”
That one glance betrayed the love of her heart. She loved the world and its “stuff” and could not pull it out of her heart or her heart out of it.
“Remember Lot’s wife.” — “Our Lord’s design in these words, is to … warn all professors of religion, in all ages, against looking back to things that are behind, or turning their backs on him, in a time of distress and persecution; since such are not fit for the kingdom of God; and in these God has no delight and pleasure.”
“Remember Lot’s wife” and don’t look back (Gen. 19:17, 26; Luke 9:62; 1 Cor. 10:6-12; Heb. 10:38-39; 2 Pet. 2:18-22; 1 John 2:15).
(Genesis 19:17) “And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.”
(Genesis 19:26) “But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.”
(Luke 9:62) “And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
(1 Corinthians 10:6-12) “Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. (7) Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. (8) Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. (9) Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. (10) Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. (11) Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. (12) Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”
(Hebrews 10:38-39) “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. (39) But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”
(2 Peter 2:18-22) “For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. (19) While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. (20) For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. (21) For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. (22) But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”
(1 John 2:15) “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
“Remember Lot’s wife.” — Remember that she perished under the wrath of God. She perished…
· Because she believed not God.
· Because she loved Sodom.
“Remember Lot’s wife.” — Remember that she perished under the wrath of God. She perished…
· As the Sodomites perished.
“Remember Lot’s wife.” — Remember that she is in hell today.
“Remember Lot’s wife” and escape for your life. — Flee, flee, flee away to Christ! Listen to me now, as I seek to persuade you to trust my Savior.
(2 Corinthians 5:10-11) “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (11) Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.”
I know this — There is nothing in Jesus Christ that bars anyone from coming to him. Satan may tempt you, but he cannot prevent you coming to Christ. Your sin may be great, but Christ’s power to save is greater. Your desire may be cold, but Christ’s love is a glowing ember. You are weak, I know; but Christ is mighty to save.
I know this much about everyone here. — You are either saved, or you are lost. Either you are a believer, or you are an unbeliever. You are either in Christ, or you are without Christ. There is no middle ground. Do not comfort yourself by saying, “I am interested in Christ and want to know more about him.” If you speak the truth, I am thankful for that. But a mere interest in knowing about Christ is to abide under the wrath of God.
Poor soul! How can you bear the thought of the wrath of God abiding upon you? It is only because you are ignorant of it. Your unbelief has stupefied you. Awake!
(Ephesians 5:14) “Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.”
That very same wrath that kindles the fires of hell and torments the damned is upon you, right now! Until you are in Christ, united to him by faith, nothing is promised to you but wrath, eternal wrath that no words can describe. Without Christ you are without mercy, grace, or hope. Without Christ you are condemned already. And if you should perish at this moment under the wrath of God, you would receive the just wages of your sin and unbelief — eternal wrath, condemnation, death, darkness, and torment in hell!
Settle the matter at once. Flee from the wrath of God. Flee to Christ. He will receive you! He said. “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” — “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” — Indeed, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life!” That is to say, if you trust Christ, God has already given you eternal life in Christ.
Perhaps you ask, “How can I come to Christ? What must I do?” To come to Christ is to trust him, no more and no less. Right where you are, without moving a muscle, come to Christ with your heart. Confess your sin to him. Surrender yourself to him. Trust his blood for the atonement of your sin. Trust his righteousness for your righteousness before God. If you do trust him, he will speak to your heart by his Spirit and say, “Thy sins are forgiven thee.”
God help you now to trust him. Oh, may God the Holy Spirit graciously bring you out of the city of destruction and bring you, by his almighty, omnipotent, irresistible grace to Christ the Savior! Whatever it takes, I pray that the Lord God will graciously force you to flee to Christ, that he will make you willing in the day of his power to come to Christ. Unless you flee to Christ and take refuge in him, in that great day the wrath of God shall seize you and destroy you forever! I beseech you now, by the mercies of God, be reconciled to God by trusting his darling Son! In that great and terrible day let us be found in Christ, not having our own righteousness, but the righteousness of God in Christ.
Your feet are sliding, and will slide, into Hell if you don’t look to Christ for rest in salvation. I plead with you to break, sinner; break! Down, down at the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ. Look, sinner, look — there where you are sitting. You are on the very brink of hell. The prophet of old declares, “Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming.” Your feet are sliding into Hell. The fires of Hell are crackling beneath your feet. Would to God you could hear them and would flee to Christ! Look up, sinner; look yonder to Christ and say, “Lord, Save me, for I perish,” and save you he will for his own name’s sake.
Blessed Son of God, send forth your Spirit now with your Word to the hearts of these immortal souls. Make this the day of your power, and graciously force those who cannot and will not of themselves come to you, to come. Glorify yourself in salvation today, I pray.