Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Nov 28 2013 - 2 Peter 2:1-22 – Lot

2 Peter 2 is a rather dark chapter, a chapter chiefly about the judgment of God. Buried in the midst of the gloom is the promise that "the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials" (2:9). As evidence to support this assurance, we are reminded of how Lot was rescued from Sodom before the judgment of God destroyed that city: "he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)" (2:7-8).

Certainly Lot was rescued, but the description given of him in 2 Peter does not seem to fit well with the narrative of Genesis. In this letter, Lot is described as a righteous man who was continually distressed and tormented by the conduct of those around him, while in Genesis we read of Lot choosing to live in Sodom and being most reluctant to leave. How can both of these pictures be true?

Sadly, both pictures can be true. Godless conduct can often hold a fascination and perverse attraction for the godly; the very things they profess hateful and distressing they are also reluctant to leave behind. Sodom seems to have held such a perverse fascination for Lot. This righteous man, despite living in the city for some years, had no effect on its inhabitants; God was not able to find ten righteous persons in the city.

The world in which we live is filled with all manner of evil and godlessness. Jesus calls us to live in such a world – it is the world into which he came as Saviour. He calls us to love this world not with an envious love but with his own transformative love. He calls us not to wring our hands at its godlessness while being held captive by its values. He calls us to be salt and light, to bring the transforming power of the kingdom into a lost world. God longs to find many righteous persons in our cities. He wants us not only to be righteous but to be agents of righteousness – those through whom godliness becomes fashionable.

In his valuable little book, The Practice of Godliness, Jerry Bridges writes, “Godliness is no optional spiritual luxury for a few quaint Christians of a bygone era or for some group of super-saints of today. It is both the privilege and duty of every Christian to pursue godliness, to train himself to be godly, to study diligently the practice of godliness… Godliness is more than Christian character: It is Christian character that springs from a devotion to God.” Jerry Bridges argues that such devotion to God “is composed of three essential elements: the fear of God; the love of God; the desire for God.”

We are called to live such lives not simply for our own sake – that we might escape “what is going to happen to the ungodly” (2:6). It is not the matter of perfecting personal piety but of bringing the presence of God into a world that has turned its back on him. We are to live godly and attractive lives for the sake of others – that they too might be saved.

Take a moment to think about those whose lives and words have encouraged you to live for God. What were the characteristics of their lives? How did they have an influence on you?

Think now about how your life might have an influence upon others.

Lord Jesus, make me more like you. By the power of your life within me, may my life have a transformative influence on others. May they also come to know you, follow you and rejoice in your salvation.

Peter Misselbrook