Escape From Sodom
“The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth and said, ‘My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.’ They said, ‘No; we will spend the night in the town square.’ But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.
“But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.’ Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, ‘I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.’ But they said, ‘Stand back!’ And they said, ‘This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.’ Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down. But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door. And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.
“Then the men said to Lot, ‘Have you anyone else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place. For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it.’ So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, ‘Up! Get out of this place, for the Lord is about to destroy the city.’ But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting.
“As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, ‘Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.’ But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. And as they brought them out, one said, ‘Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.’”
God has promised His people that, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” [1 Corinthians 10:13]. At issue is not whether believers find themselves tempted as result of compromise—they do, but whether the child of God will seek to avoid compromise or whether he will respond with alacrity when God provides a way to escape temptation. To explore this greatly needed instruction, I invite you to join me in reviewing Lot’s actions to the warning to flee for his life delivered by two angels sent by God. The account is found in Genesis 19, and I invite you to turn your minds to review that incident.
A Believer Settled in Sodom — Writing the Corinthian Christians, the Apostle warns, “No one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” [1 Corinthians 3:11-15].
Reading those words, I think of Lot and his family escaping with only their lives when the city was destroyed by God’s judgement. His family imperilled because of his choice to live a life indistinguishable from and fully identified with the inhabitants of Sodom, it was only because of God’s mercies that Lot was spared death when the Sodomites were judged. Lot and his family did escape, but they suffered incredible loss. Lot illustrates the impoverished life of a half-hearted, worldly Christian, and the cost to a Christian who chooses a worldly lifestyle.
Keep in mind that Lot was a believer. There is nothing in the record of his life that would make us think that he was a worshipper of the Living God, but he was Abraham’s nephew and he had witnessed the grace of God at work in Abraham’s life. He was warned by the angels of pending judgement and commanded to flee the city lest he be destroyed along with the inhabitants. It is not until we have almost read all the way through the Bible that we discover that he was truly a believer when Peter, teaching of the Lord’s power to keep His people from experiencing judgement, writes, “If [God] rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man lived among them day-after-day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgement, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority” [2 Peter 2:7-10].
Peter calls him “righteous Lot,” and informs us that he was “distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked.” He is said to have been disturbed—“tormenting his righteous soul” by witnessing what was going on around him. All this is said of him, and yet, he was unwilling to distinguish himself from the wicked, leaving the city and its inhabitants. His relationship to God was apparently not evident to the inhabitants of the city, likely because he had convinced himself that worship was a private matter rather than being a defining characteristic of his life!
Believers seldom jump into sin with eager determination to do evil; rather, they slide gradually into sin. Certainly, that was the case for Lot. When tension between Lot’s herdsmen and those of his uncle escalated, necessitating a separation of the two groups, we are informed that when given the choice of where he would go, “Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar” [Genesis 13:10]. When he “lifted up his eyes and saw,” this was more than a casual glance. The original language draws attention to the looking, indicating that Lot took a good look. In other words, Lot was drawn to Sodom long before he moved to Sodom.
This indicates that Lot was not content to continue living in a tent as he would have to do if he continued travelling with Abraham. Perhaps he justified his longing by saying that everyone deserves to do better in life, and living in the bustling city would be preferable to living in a tent. Perhaps his wife constantly complained about her lack of cultural stimulation and the hardship of keeping a tent clean. Perhaps his children whined that they wanted friends, that they were bored, that they wanted the latest amenities to amuse themselves.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to better oneself. And there is nothing wrong with wanting to live in a city in order to avail oneself of the multiplied cultural opportunities there. However, it is decidedly wrong to advance all such opportunities at the expense of serving God. It is foolish to seek a momentary gain at the expense of one’s spiritual health. Jesus asked, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul” [Matthew 16:26]? Just so, what is the value of superior education or great wealth if you lose your family and your witness? Frankly, I would rather learn my ABCs in heaven than spout astrophysics and ballistics in hell.
Lot was longing for Sodom before he ever parted from his uncle. Shortly after separating from Abraham, we read, “Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom” [Genesis 13:12]. This was in spite of the fact that he apparently knew that “The men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners before the Lord” [Genesis 13:13]. When we next hear of Lot, he is “dwelling in Sodom” [Genesis 14:12]. Finally, he attained some sort of prominence in the city, indicated by the fact that “Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom” [Genesis 19:1]. This is emphasised by the inhabitants of the city when they complained against Lot in Genesis 19:9: “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge!”
The gate is where the elders sat. This was where justice was dispensed. I suppose that had many of our modern church leaders been present at the time Lot was seated in the gate, they would congratulate him for throwing off his fundamentalist past in order to be progressive. Some listeners are perhaps wondering at this point what’s wrong with assuming leadership. Can’t a Christian aspire to a position of leadership in the world? Of course, we should labour to be all that we can be to the glory of God, and we should aspire to glorify God through exercising wise leadership. However, Lot made no difference in the wicked lives of the people of Sodom. He was silent, hoping he could enjoy the benefits of living in Sodom without jeopardising his position by being seen as an unyielding fundamentalist.
Lot had jettisoned reason for emotion. Knowing the outcome of the story, we can see that Lot was not like the godly man described by the Psalmist in the first Psalm. He had so thoroughly identified with the wicked that he had become like them. Now, he walked in the counsel of the wicked. He stood in the way of sinners, and he sat in the seat of scoffers. Consequently, shortly his leaf would wither, his fruit would rot and he would not prosper.
Perhaps there are some who are arguing mentally at this moment as the message is delivered. Perhaps you are thinking that we are, after all, appointed to go “into all the world” [Mark 16:15], even “to the end of the earth” [Acts 1:8]. Perhaps you imagine that Lot went to Sodom as a missionary. There are many Christians who imagine that by “living a good life” in the midst of wicked people, they are missionising. However, it is obvious from the text that Lot was not a missionary; he was a candidate to be missionised!
“But,” some will respond, “didn’t Paul go to Rome? And didn’t Jonah go to Nineveh?” The answer in either instance and in many other cases is, “Yes!” God also placed Joseph in Egypt, Daniel in Babylon and Esther in Persia. However, the difference is that each of these individuals was sent by God to live in the wicked environs for a specific purpose. They were obedient to God, howbeit reluctantly in the case of Jonah. Lot, on the other hand, went to the city for his own purpose and not to advance the cause of the Lord. His motive was to benefit himself by the ungodly way of life rather than working to convert the people. As Dr. Boice says, “Lot’s moving there was like a Christian’s moving into a brothel or into a business run by organised crime. It was no place for a righteous man to be.”
There is a tragic and persistent misconception that enervates God’s people to this day. Contemporary Christians have often misconstrued the Apostle’s words in his First Letter to Corinthian Christians. There, he writes, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some” [1 Corinthians 9:22]. There is a significant difference between taking the message of life to a wicked place and entering into—or even approving of—the wickedness of that place. Unfortunately, many Christians are indistinguishable from the world about them, expressing the same attitude and embracing the identical philosophies of this dying world.
Paul did go to Corinth, a notoriously wicked city at the time he went there. The ancients had a term for someone who was promiscuous and dissipated; to act in such a fashion was “to be a Corinthian,” or “to Corinthianise.” However, even a casual reading of Paul’s letters to Corinthian Christians, or a review of Dr. Luke’s account of that visit [see Acts 18:1-17], will quickly dispel any notion that Paul either adopted the attitudes of the Corinthians or that he approved of the wickedness that defined the city and was tolerated by many of the Corinthians. The same holds true in the case of Jonah. In fact, he was angry that God didn’t waste the city!
One does not need to become a drunkard in order to minister to drunks. No Christians need become a thief to present the Gospel to thieves. Neither need a Christian approve of homosexuality to display Christian love to homosexuals and lesbians. In his justly notable declaration of service to the Corinthian saints, the Apostle simply states that he was not appealing to the privileges conferred by his background to introduce the Gospel, but rather he set these privileges aside in order to bring to faith people from backgrounds that differed from his own. It is nothing less than a practical application of the lifestyle of the Master, who set aside the visible aspects of His deity in order to become man and bring salvation.
This is emphasised in Paul’s letter to the people of God in Philippi when he writes, “Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus,
who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God
as something to be used for His own advantage.
Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave,
taking on the likeness of men.
And when He had come as a man in His external form,
He humbled Himself by becoming obedient
to the point of death—even to death on a cross.”
Perhaps the examples are extreme, but the principle stands. Christians may not necessarily adopt wicked actions to make lost people open to what they have to say, but they do often try to “tone down” the Gospel because they don’t want to make outsiders uncomfortable. Whenever Christians make such statements, they are really saying that they are uncomfortable! They don’t want to obey the command of Christ to make disciples, and so they hope that the outsiders will absorb the message of life through association with Christians.
However, just as a glass of water does not overcome the effect of poison that is dropped into it, but rather is contaminated by the presence of the poison, so the Christian that attempts to tolerate evil will not moderate the wickedness, but will himself or herself be changed by the presence of the evil. We cannot embrace evil for the sake of convenience and expect to honour God or to avoid condemnation.
Two examples will perhaps suffice to demonstrate the danger Christians face. During this previous week, the Episcopal Church in the United States affirmed an open role for homosexual clergy in their churches despite pressure from fellow Anglicans not to do so. Episcopal bishops voted at a national meeting for a statement that says, “God has called and may call” homosexual men and women to ministry. The transition to open defiance of the Word is virtually complete for the Episcopalians, and becoming a reality for much of the Anglican Communion. This transition from biblical fidelity to blatant disregard for the Word of God did not happen overnight. It began with a desire to be relevant to the world and through tolerating just a little bit of sin. With time, this has created a position that is impossible to reconcile with the Bible because it is the antithesis of righteousness and godliness.
In a church I pastored some time ago I had the joy of leading a beautiful young woman to faith in the Risen Son of God. She was moved to explore the Christian faith after she was diagnosed with incurable cancer. Though she lived only a short time after coming to faith, she had a vibrant testimony of God’s grace and lived with obvious joy and excitement. She asked that I preach the Gospel at her funeral, which I would have been inclined to do in any case.
Before I stood to preach, a well-meaning Christian came to me to urge me to avoid a vigorous presentation of the Gospel. “There are a lot of unbelievers here,” he pleaded. “You don’t want to turn them off by telling them about Jesus.” He continued by beseeching me to think about the witness he had to these unbelievers; they might reject his faith if I spoke too plainly. My response didn’t please him. I not only presented a firm statement of the young woman’s experience of grace, but I gave an invitation for people to trust Christ as Master of life.
That man took great pride as a worship leader, but his worship failed to make him obedient to the charge to make disciples. Singing songs and wild gyrations are not worship, if they fail to bring us into a vital relationship to the Living Saviour. What we do in our sacred enclaves on a Sunday morning is really meaningless in the world. It is what we do and what we say when we leave the presence of our fellow Christians that makes an impact for Christ’s sake. Living a godly life is beneficial, if it is connected to a godly witness of why we live as we do.
We are taught in the Word to be “prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks [us] for a reason for the hope that is in [us]” [1 Peter 3:15]. It is true that the assumption is that we will live godly lives—so godly that it is evident that we are different from the world about us. That righteousness will lead sinners to ask why we live as we do, and we are to be prepared to tell them. It is “the foolishness of preaching” that brings people to faith [1 Corinthians 1:21], not the silent witness of our lives—however good those lives may be.
If God directs you to live in an environment that is defined by wickedness, you must obey. However, living in such an environment will require wisdom and the exercise of great care to avoid being contaminated by the filthiness of those who have embraced an evil lifestyle. Be aware that living within a wicked society carries a grave danger of surrendering godly values. The transition from thinking biblically to acceptance of evil as normal will be gradual, but it will be sure if you fail to maintain very close relationship to the Son of God. Should you fail to keep yourself in His grace—walking with the Master, reading His Word and spending time in His presence, you run a grave risk of making a ruin of your own life, sacrificing your marriage to the god of this age, and surrendering your own children to the very evil that you now fear.
The World’s Response to God’s Visit — Jesus was decidedly negative about the reception of the world to the messenger of God. He said, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause’” [John 15:18-25].
In previous messages, I have pointed out that the way in which the Master phrased what He said assumes this to be an actual condition. We could accurately translate what He said with, “Since the world hates you…” or “If, as is actually the case, the world hates you.” Whenever a messenger of God appears, those who have embraced this dying world are stung by the presence of the witness and by his words. This was surely the case when the angels appeared in Sodom. The wickedness of the city becomes evident through the events described.
Lot evidently realised the danger to strangers who would spend the night in the town square, and so he insisted that these two travellers must spend the night with him. His insistence was more than mere eastern courtesy; he was genuinely concerned for the safety of these men. As events unfolded that evening, his concern was more than justified.
Before Lot and his guests could retire (evidently early in the evening), the men of the city—“young and old, all the people to the last man”—surrounded Lot’s house, insisting that he deliver the men to them so they could “know them.” Understand that the men of the city were not seeking to become acquainted with these strangers—homosexual rape was on their mind! This was quite obviously Lot’s understanding, since he offered his virgin daughters for them to abuse as they wished. It is difficult for us to believe that he made such an offer, which only emphasises the degree to which he was compromised by the wickedness that permeated the city. Make no mistake, Sodom was a wicked city; and the sinful proclivity of the men cannot be minimised by saying that their intent to forcibly rape the strangers and not the homosexuality itself was what brought God’s curse on the city. The angels were dispatched to judge the city before ever they were exposed to the danger of homosexual rape.
Unquestionably, the sins of Sodom are multiplied, as is always true of sin; one sin leads to ever-greater sin. In a general sense, Isaiah accuses the Sodomites of sinful self-indulgence [Isaiah 1:9, 10]. He also identifies overweening pride as a multiplier of sin for the Sodomites [Isaiah 3:9]. Jeremiah connects lying and adultery to the sin of Sodom [Jeremiah 23:14]. The Prophet Ezekiel states that the sin of Sodom led the people into even greater sins of pride, indulgence and of self-seeking prosperity that induced them to neglect the poor [Ezekiel 16:49]. Where one of these sins is discovered, each shortly is exposed as accompanying the first.
However, make no mistake, the grave sin that lay at the root of all the other evil was the sin of sexual immorality [see Jude 7], which in turn was an expression of the people’s refusal to acknowledge God as Creator. The sinful behaviour of Sodom evidently began with a desire to exclude God from their knowledge. These benighted and condemned souls refused to be grateful to God or to acknowledge Him as God, and thus began a rapid moral decline that led ultimately to divine condemnation [see Romans 1:18-31].
The Bible is quite clear in stating that homosexuality is sinful. In the Law, Moses says, “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them” [Leviticus 20:13]. This was an iteration of an earlier warning against homosexuality given in the same book [Leviticus 18:22].
Homosexuality is not more sinful than other sins; it does not condemn more greatly that other sins. In the first Corinthian letter, Paul provides a list of the sins that condemn mankind, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” [1 Corinthians 6:9, 10]. Homosexuality is one of multiple sins, any one of which condemns the individual before God. One cannot be a Christian homosexual anymore than one can be a Christian drunkard or a Christian swindler.
This view of sin is stated again in a later letter sent to Timothy, the pastor of Ephesus. “We know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine” [1 Timothy 1:8-10].
Though homosexuality is no greater sin than any other sin, for sin is always against God and His holiness, it is still true that homosexuality and the tolerance of this deviation as normal, is an expression of a moral degeneration that is well advanced in a society that is rapidly nearing judgement. It is essentially an expression of the final stage in cultural decline. This is Paul’s warning in that dark passage found in his letter to Roman Christians. “God gave [the rebellious] up to dishonourable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” [Romans 1:26, 27].
I understand that many people want to quibble, attempting to distinguish between actions and inclination. God condemns the act, implying that each of us is responsible for our choices. We cannot help what we feel, but we durst not imagine that we can act on every impulse to sin with impunity. We cannot excuse our sin by saying that we could not help ourselves or that our sinful tendencies are given by God, and that therefore every impulse is good.
I know quite well that in stating the obvious I stand athwart contemporary views. Contemporary attitudes seek to normalise what is abnormal, and the tendency is to accelerate the effort as time moves toward a final confrontation with God. The spokesman of God who dares consult God rather than the feelings of those whom he addresses places himself against the flow of history. However, society has no better friend than the man who warns against embracing evil and turning from the mercies of God. The angels were not accepted as God’s spokesmen by the citizenry of Sodom, nor will the preacher who dares speak against the unspeakable be welcomed.
A Crisis in Sodom — Had it not been for the intervention of the angels, Lot would have suffered the indignity that was originally intended for the strangers. Undoubtedly, he would have died under the violent assault that was intended. However, the angels did intervene, and we read, “The men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door. And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door” [Genesis 19:10, 11].
You will recall that God sent the angels to Sodom “to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to Me” [Genesis 18:21]. The marginal reading is “to see if they deserve destruction.” The marginal note in the NET Bible states, “Even the Lord, who is well aware of the human capacity to sin, finds it hard to believe that anyone could be as bad as the ‘outcry’ against Sodom and Gomorrah suggests.”
The angels were dead serious when they pressed Lot to flee. They asked him, “Have you anyone else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place. For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it’” [Genesis 19:12, 13].
The blindness that caused the men of the city to grope without finding the door lasted throughout the evening. After the long night, the morning dawned and “The angels urged Lot, saying, ‘Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city’” [Genesis 19:15].
However, Lot lingered. “So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. And as they brought them out, one said, ‘Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away’” [Genesis 19:16, 17].
There are some applications that are essential to our spiritual well-being. First, it should be obvious that God judges wickedness. Though He does not do so according to our schedule or to suit our personal desires, the Righteous Judge holds wicked people accountable for their sin. The Sodomites received “in themselves the due penalty for their error” [cf. Romans 1:26, 27]. If you are flirting with sin, know that the consequences are severe. If you imagine that you can sin just a little bit, you fool no one but yourself and place your soul in eternal danger. You need to know that God is gracious and that He stands ready to forgive your sin; but you must repent of your sin—turn from it and turn to the mercy and grace that is offered in the Son of God.
If you are a believer living in Sodom, you need to know that though Lot gained stature in Sodom, he was never part of that degraded system. No more may you be part of this fallen world, though you attempt to live as the world lives. Perhaps you have exchanged the outspoken faith you once held dear in order for the world to accept you as one who endorses its lifestyle. As a disobedient Christian, not even the devil is bothering you today. However, when God judges Sodom—and He will judge Sodom, your escape will be only through His mercy and you will bring nothing of eternal worth with you.
So long as Lot was silent, appearing to accept the Sodomites, he was acceptable to them. Yet, we know that he was “distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked” and that he was “tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard” [see 2 Peter 2:7, 8]. The moment that he remonstrated with them, even though he did so gently, they were enraged with him and sought to injure him. If you imagine that by quietly tolerating evil and by silently enduring the wickedness of a degenerate world, you deceive yourself. You are not winning Sodom, Sodom is winning you; and you must escape now.
If you are one of the Sodomites, you need to think rationally. If Lot was barely saved, what is your situation? What chance have you? Peter asks,
“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
[1 Peter 4:18]
As one who is fully identified with this dying world, I would hope that you at least know someone who is courageous enough to speak the truth to you, warning you to escape through looking to God for mercy. The words sound stilted and ancient, but they certainly apply to you, “Flee from the wrath to come!”
I trust you will escape to the life that is offered in the Son of God. He died because of sin, even because of your sin. He will set you free from all condemnation and make you pure and holy. When Paul warned the Corinthian Christians against imagining that sinners would be acceptable in God’s heaven, he concluded that dark list of sins that excludes from eternity by saying, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God” [1 Corinthians 9:11]. What you are, and what you were, need not define who you will become. Believe the message of life, receive the grace of God, and your sin will be forgiven and you will be welcomed into the Family of God. Amen.
 Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 James Montgomery Boice, Genesis: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI 1998) 619
 Holman Christian Standard Version (Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, TN 2003)
 “Episcopal Church to affirm ‘gay’ clergy,” Associated Press, 7/14/2009, OneNewsNow.com (http://www.onenewsnow.com/Church/Default.aspx?id=603142), accessed 14 July, 2009
 NET Bible (Biblical Studies Press, 2006)