Sodom and Gomorrah

Chapter 7: The 2 kinds of Believers: Abraham and Lot

Chapter 7: Salty, tasteless or salted?
What happened to the 3 kinds of characters in the story? 

The various characters of the story represent different kinds of people. Firstly, there were 2 believers: ABRAHAM and LOT. Then there were the unbelievers of Sodom, including LOT’S WIFE. Each of these were different and ended up with differing destinies. 

As we study each kind of person in turn, we need to ask ourselves: 
To what kind of eternal destiny am I heading? Am I really a believer or an unbeliever? If I am an unbeliever, isn’t it time to turn my life around (repent) before it is too late? If I am a believer, am I like ‘spiritual’ Abraham or ‘carnal’ Lot?

First of all, let us look at the 2 believers: ABRAHAM and LOT. They were both believers, but what a difference! Despite his many failings, the Bible is clear that Lot was righteous (a believer), whom God saved from the fiery Judgement. That is encouraging for us!:

2Peter 2:7-9: “God delivered righteous Lot, vexed (oppressed, grievously harrassed, distressed, worn out) with the filthy lifestyle of the wicked (for the righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed (was tormenting, torturing) his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds). The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of tribulation, and to reserve the unjust for the Day of Judgement to be punished.” 

This passage gives the New Testament analysis of Lot. Although he was a believer (being described as both ‘righteous’ and ‘godly’, in contrast to the ‘unjust’), he was certainly not a happy one! He was constantly under ‘tribulation’ and ‘temptation.’ He was a conflicted soul, tormented, harrassed, distressed and oppressed, and it was all his own fault. By choosing to ‘dwell’ (settle down and live) in Sodom (because of its comfort and prosperity, and despite its sinfulness), he brought all this ‘vexation’ upon himself. 

Although he did not participate in the outward sins of Sodom, he constantly lived in that sinful atmosphere, ‘seeing’ and ‘hearing’ their sins, which exerted a powerful pull on his soul. He felt strong temptation to submit to their ways. Although he knew he should leave that sinful environment, it had a hold on him, a carnal attraction, from its outward beauty, excitement and prosperity. He did not want to let go of its advantages. His carnality made him double-minded, torn in two directions, resulting in him feeling constant guilt and torment for living a compromised life.

We may be in a situation, a habit or relationship that appeals to our flesh, but which we know is bad for our spiritual life, and which therefore is against God’s will. Although we know it is spoiling and dividing our life, it has a hold on us. We are conflicted inside and tormented by guilt and so are unhappy. We are like ‘carnal’ Lot. The loss of peace and joy and eternal rewards is not worth it! 

*Lot was a believer, but he was CARNAL (controlled more by his flesh, by what he could see with his eyes, than by God’s will). Without consulting God first, he had selfishly chose the prosperous and fertile area around Sodom in which to live. He put his fleshly needs first, before his spiritual life. He needed everything to be just comfortable and right around him. As it was a rich place, he liked it in Sodom and wanted to live there, even though it meant compromising his spiritual standards. You cannot help but be affected by the spiritual atmosphere around you. 

This was shown by the fact that he married his daughters off to unbelievers. Then we saw how he was willing to sacrifice his daughters to be raped! He passed this moral weakness onto his two daughters, who in turn incestuously drugged and raped him in order to have children! We also saw how hard it was for the angels to get him and his family out, because they did not want to leave their possessions and comfortable life behind, and go into the mountains, where life would be duller and harder. He was controlled by the needs of the flesh - a classic picture of a carnal believer. 

Because of carnality, Lot’s spiritual life was weak, and as a result he was too easily influenced by the world around him. The spirit of the world was mixed in with his faith, weakening him. Yes, he was upset by some of the evil things there, but in in wanting to be accepted and successful, he compromised and let the spirit of Sodom affect him. Without the strong faith that overcomes the world (from putting God first), we become worldly in our values. As a result, Lot just got out of Sodom, by the skin of his teeth, but he lost everything - his wealth, his position, the inheritance and glory that he and his descendants could have had in the Kingdom of God and the place of honour he would have had! Similarly, all believers will themselves be saved from the judgement-fires, but those who are flesh-controlled (carnal) will lose all their rewards (their whole life-work will be destroyed by fire): “If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss (of reward);but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1Corinthians 3:15). But thank God, that by His Mercy, all true believers are delivered from Judgement. By the Mercy of God, Lot, as a righteous believer was saved from the Judgement-Fire. But he lost everything that he had worked for in his life, as well as his eternal rewards.

*ABRAHAM, on the other hand, was a SPIRITUAL believer, who always put God’s will first in his life, even when it meant denying himself. Abraham looked to God for His guidance, rather than his own needs. He was not looking for a City on earth now, but for God’s future eternal rewards, and that was what controlled him (Hebrews 11:10). He was willing to give up the comforts of a City life and live as a nomad, because that was God’s will for him. Spiritual Abraham is a classic contrast to carnal Lot.

A carnal believer’s fellowship with God is not consistently strong, because it is up and down depending on his feelings and circumstances. He praises God while everything is going well. But the moment there is a problem, he is down the tubes. On the other hand, a spiritual believer is trusting and loving the Lord in both good and bad times. When things are bad, he just turns more to the Lord. He is not looking to the things around him, but to the Lord. He says: “whatever happens, I will trust God and His Word.” 

Are you like Abraham or Lot? Are you living to please yourself or God? Are you living for NOW, or for ETERNITY?

We are called to be SALTY. Jesus said: “You (believers) are the SALT of the world” (Matthew 5:13). SALT is a disinfectant, that kills bacteria. In the days before fridges, it was used to preserve foods, because it stops decay and corruption. The world without God is corrupted by sin. But believers are not part of the corrupt world, but are rather SALT, restraining the sin and evil in the world, through our uncomprimised witness. Our faith in God’s Word makes us different, making us stand out in a corrupt world. The Salt is God’s Word in us. Salt represents the Word and Power of God in us, restraining corruption: “You are the SALT of the earth. But if the SALT has lost its savour (saltiness) how shall it be salted (seasoned)? It is then good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden (rejected) under men’s feet”(Matthew 5:13). 

A believer has the SALT of God within him, but Jesus warns us that we must be careful not to compromise and lose our saltiness, as Lot did. A carnal believer, like Lot, can lose his savour (power) by letting other things mingle in with the salt. In ancient times, salt was very expensive and was often used to pay wages (for example, Roman Soldiers were often paid in salt). So sometimes they would cheat and mix-in other white powders (like flour) with the salt, in order to increase its volume. It compromised the salt and caused it to lose its effectiveness. Now it looked like salt, but it was not salt. The salt had lost its savour (its power to restrain corruption), and so it was no longer any good, and it was thrown away as useless. 

This is a picture of a carnal believer who compromises and lets the spirit of the world into his heart, so that it mixes with the salt of God within him. He is now like salt that has lost his savour, because God’s Word in him has been mixed with worldly values. As a result he loses his saltiness; his sin is not restrained as it should be, and his life does not taste very different from the world around him, and his witness becomes ineffectual and discredited, and so it is trodden under foot (rejected) by men, for he does not live out his faith boldly for God. As a believer, he is not rejected by God, but He loses his power and influence on men, because he has become compromised, since his life has become a mixture. 

The challenge for believers is to be like Abraham, and not like Lot: 

To be PURE SALT, that has not lost its savour; to be in the world, but not of it; to live by God’s eternal Word, not by the spirit and values of the world; to put God first in our decisions, before our own comfort; to be attached to God, more than our things. 

If we trust and honour God, going the way of the Spirit, like Abraham, then He will surely provide for us and meet our needs, and we will also have wonderful eternal rewards (of joy, glory, and authority). But if we go the way of Lot, following the way of the flesh, going after temporal things, we may be plucked from the Fires of Hell by God’s Mercy, but we will lose the joy of dong God’s will, as well as our eternal rewards (inheritance). Lot’s place in history and God’s Kingdom could have been so much better. Abraham was the real winner, because he put spiritual things first.

*Let us now consider the UNBELIEVERS, who were judged by FIRE, BRIMSTONE and SALT. God chose these Cities to be an example of the Judgement that will come to all who reject God, and His Mercy and Salvation - the Final Judgement of HELL-FIRE. God is Merciful in giving man time to repent. But God’s Judgement will surely happen, and His Fire will turn the wicked to ASHES. The Judgement of Sodom is a demonstration of how God will judge the world by FIRE, BRIMSTONE and SALT. By these means, He will (1) PUNISH all sinners (retributive justice) and He will also: (2) PUT an END to all SINNING, just as He did for Sodom. 

The Sodomites were punished with Fire and Brimstone. Naturally, this also stopped their sinning. In addition, God covered the whole area with SALT, as we see from what happened to Lot’s wife. She was SALTED, and in that way her sin was fully restrained! In ancient times, if an invading army wanted to stop all rebellion in a region, they would cover the fields with salt. By salting an area, no vegetation can grow there, and in that way it was made uninhabitable. Thus, SALT was part of the Judgement, stopping all further sinning and rebellion in that area. By thoroughly salting Sodom, God ensured that it would never sin again. This was a demonstation of how God’s Judgement of the world by FIRE and SALT will finally and fully restrain sin, putting an end to all sinning.  Thus, in the the Lake of Fire, God will subdue all sinning.

This is further confirmed by God’s use of BRIMSTONE (Sulphur),
which produces an acrid and poisonous smoke, made up of the oxides of sulphur. Because of this property, burning Sulphur has been used as a fumigant and disinfectant. The image of burning Sulphur is a frequent element in Judgement (Job 18:15, Psalm 11:6, Isaiah 30:33, 34:9, Ezekiel 38:22), especially in the Book of Revelation (9:17-18; 14:10; 19:20; 20:10; 21:8). As well as being a tool of retribution upon God’s enemies, it also indicates the fumigation of the wicked and their works. Evil is so contagious and serious that ultimately all Creation will need total disinfecting.

In Mark 9, Jesus gives His main warning about the danger of final Judgement in eternal Hell (the Lake of Fire): 

Mark 9:43-50: “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. 
It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having 2 hands, to go to Hell (Gehenna),
 into the FIRE that shall never be quenched, where ‘their worm does not die, and the FIRE is not quenched.’ And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. 
It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having 2 feet, to be cast into Hell (Gehenna)
, into the FIRE that shall never be quenched, ‘where their worm does not die, and the FIRE is not quenched.’ And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. 
It is better for you to enter the Kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having 2 eyes, to be cast into HELL-FIRE, where ‘Their worm does not die, and the FIRE is not quenched.’ 

For everyone will be seasoned (SALTED) with FIRE, 
(and every sacrifice will be seasoned with SALT). SALT is good, but if the SALT loses its flavour, how will you season it? Have SALT in yourselves, and have peace with one another.”

His repeating warning is: “where their worm (inner guilt) dies not, and (outer) FIRE is not quenched” (v48). 

Then in Mark 9:49, He then warns unbelievers: “Everyone shall be SALTED with FIRE.” The FIRE of Hell will act like SALT on the unrighteous, restraining their sin and subduing their rebellion. Here we see SALT and FIRE mentioned together, as in Sodom’s Judgement, which is a picture of the final eternal Judgement of Fire. In ancient times, SALT was in great demand as an antiseptic and preservative. It killed the bacteria and prevented corruption. Spiritually, SALT represents that which stops the corruption of SIN. Here, Jesus is describing what the Fires of Hell will do to unbelievers. It will salt them, so that they will not be able to sin. God will no longer permit sin. He will overcome all sin in Hell. 

God, by Christ, will get the final victory over all sin and rebellion: 
1Corinthians 15:25: “He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.” Philippians 2:9-11: “God has highly exalted Him and given Him the Name which is above every name, that at the Name of Jesus EVERY knee should BOW, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that EVERY tongue should CONFESS that Jesus Christ is LORD.” 

‘Every knee’ and ‘every tongue’ includes all unbelievers. Even satan will have to bow his knee in subjection to the Rule of Christ. 

Everyone, will be forced into submission to God by external pressure and pain (fire). Hell will not be a party, where you can freely indulge in your sin with others. It is more like solitary confinement. You will not even be free to sin, for no sin will be permitted or committed in eternity. God will restrain all sin in Hell.  

Every sinner will be forced to bow his knee forever.  God will allow no more rebellion in His universe. Therefore, everyone will descend to the level of pain necessary to restrain their rebellious sin-nature.   You either voluntarily choose to submit to God now, or by punishing pain, you will eternally be forced into submission.  

God could force us to obey Him now (from the outside) by salting us externally (by giving us increasing pain when we sin, until we stop sinning), but He does not want to control us that way. He wants us instead to receive His Word, love and grace on the inside (in our heart), so that we voluntarily stop sinning and live for Him. But in the Lake of Fire, everyone will be at the pain-level necessary to stop them sinning and expressing their rebellion. This means there will be different Degrees of Torment (Punishment and Pain) in Hell (just as there are different Degrees of reward for the righteous), for not only are there greater and lesser sins (John 19:11), the more sinful the person, the greater level of pain will be necessary to restrain their sin-nature. All will be miserable, but some more than others. This is confirmed by the words of Jesus:

Matthew 11:20-24: “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the Day of Judgement than for 

you. And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the Land of Sodom in the Day of Judgement than for you.”  

Here is a terrible warning for those who have had much light, for their sin will be greater. The more light you have rejected, the greater your sin. Those who have heard the Gospel of Christ, and have had much opportunity to repent and believe, but have still rebelled will face a greater condemnation than the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. Jesus warned the relatively moral people of His day, that they were more guilty and so will suffer a greater punishment than even the immoral people of Sodom, because of the witness they that rejected from Him, through His words and works. 

In Matthew 10:14,15, Jesus said that the same principle applies to those who reject the Gospel, when preached by His disciples today: 

“Whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or City, shake off the dust from your 
feet. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the Land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgement than for that City!” 
Gospel-rejectors today are greater sinners than the men of Sodom, because they have greater light and opportunity!

After warning of how God would deal with unbelievers in Hell, by saying: “Everyone (in Hell) shall be SALTED with FIRE” (Mark 9:49), Jesus then gave us the key to avoid having to be SALTED by Fire: “Have SALT IN yourselves” (Mark 9:50). 

Salt is that which restrains and stops sin. Salt is the Word of God, the Grace, Life and Power of God. Jesus urges us to have SALT within ourselves, to be saved and so receive God’s life and grace within us, in order to overcome the corruption of our sin. You can either receive and possess God’s SALT within yourself, or else you will be SALTED from the outside like Lot’s wife. If you do not receive SALT on the inside, you will be SALTED from the outside, and that is Judgement. If you do not choose to receive the Salt (the Grace and Word) of God inside you now, you will still be salted, but it will be imposed upon you from without. You will be SALTED with eternal FIRE (to restrain your sin and corruption). One way or another God will salt you to stop you sinning! It will either be by His Grace within, or His Fire without. It’s your choice! You can either receive and have SALT within yourself, being constrained by the Grace of God, or be salted externally by Fire.  Either way you will not sin in eternity. 

Jesus’ message to believers is in Mark 9:50: “SALT is good, but if the SALT has lost its saltiness, wherewith shall you season it? Have SALT in yourselves, and have peace with one another.” 

When we receive the SALT of God’s Word and Grace within us, we should then be effective witnesses of Christ. Our life will taste good, and be a salty savour to others, restraining corruption in the world around us. “Let your speech always be with GRACE, seasoned with SALT (the TRUTH of God’s Word), that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6). 

But in v50, Jesus is also warning us that if we allow the Word in us to be mixed with worldliness, we will lose our effectiveness as salt, and our witness will be compromised and rejected by men. Therefore, we must be dedicated disciples of Christ, always putting His Word first, and willing to forsake anything that gets in the way.

Luke 14:33-35: “Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavour (saltiness), how shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear (the Word), let him hear (and keep on hearing it)!”

“Have SALT in yourselves, and have peace with one another.” Jesus was telling us to receive the SALT of God’s Word (Truth and Love) within, and then walk in love and peace, rather than in strife, pushing for status. The Salt of God working within us will cleanse us from selfishness and pride, disinfecting our relationships from strife. As we love one another, and share His Word with the world, we will be an effective witness to Christ, a salty savour to others.  

Are you like Lot, a carnal believer, compromising for a peaceful life, losing respect and the effectiveness of his witness, who just escaped the Fire, but ended up with no eternal rewards in Heaven?

Be like blessed Abraham, who put the Lord first, and received a great eternal inheritance and destiny. He trusted God and God looked after him. He had a good life on earth, but his eyes were on the heavenly City whose Maker is God (Hebrews 11:8-12). 

Are you like Lot’s wife, looking like a believer, but when it comes down to it, the Lord is not really in your life? 

Are you an unbeliever, like the people of Sodom, who forget God, ever going deeper into sin, until Judgement was inevitable. Through Fire and Salt, He judged them and stopped their continual sinning!
Remember, everyone in Hell will be SALTED with Fire. They will be SALTED like Lot’s wife, and suffer FIRE and BRIMSTONE like Sodom (Revelation 19:20, 20:10, 21:8).  You need to be in Heaven, not in Hell! Receive the Grace of God into your heart, so that you love God freely, rather than being forced to bow the knee. God can either restrain and overcome your sin internally or externally. Will it be eternal life or eternal death for you? (Romans 6:23). Receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour today, if you want to miss the coming Judgement of Fire: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life”(John 3:16).



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