These are notes on the sermon, Be Like Righteous Abraham, Not Like Righteous Lot, preached by Pastor Joseph Prince on Sunday, 21 November 2021, at The Star Performing Arts Centre, Singapore. We hope these sermon notes will be an encouragement to you!
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All believers are righteous by grace through faith alone as it is impossible to be saved by our own effort.
“What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.”
— Romans 4:1–4 NKJV
“Abraham our father has found according to the flesh” — Abraham received the revelation that righteousness comes by faith.
“if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God” — If Abraham had been made righteous by his own performance, he would have been able to boast about it before everyone except God because God sees everything. Even if our performance is good, if our motive behind it is bad, God knows about it.
“Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness” — Abraham believed God the same way that you and I believe Him today—that Christ Jesus, the Son of God, was sent by God to take away all our sins at the cross. At the cross, God unleashed upon Jesus His righteous wrath against all the lawlessness and sins that He bore for us. Through this, we have transferred our sins to Jesus and He has transferred His righteousness to us.
“Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt” — Your righteousness is a grace gift given to you because of what Jesus has done on the cross for you, and not because you deserve it by your own effort. Righteousness is not a wage which you have earned.
Among all believers who are righteous by faith, there are two types of believers: those who are victorious and those who are defeated.
Abraham was greatly blessed by God. Besides making Abraham righteous, God also blessed him with wealth and health. Abraham lived a very fruitful, full life and died at the age of 175. All that is ours too as we are blessed with the blessings of Abraham (Gal. 3:29, 4:7).
“and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds) —”
— 2 Peter 2:6–8 NKJV
Pastor Prince emphasises that we are not ungodly people. As believers, in God’s eyes we are righteous and godly. However, he believes that this story of Abraham and Lot is an example for us to learn from.
“righteous Lot,” “delivered righteous Lot,” “tormented his righteous soul” — God called Lot “righteous” three times in this scripture. Lot was righteous the same way Abraham was righteous. In those days, the people of God would offer a lamb to God, which was a picture of Jesus Christ, and trust that the lamb took their sins while they took the lamb’s blamelessness and spotlessness. However, though Lot was righteous, he was defeated and in a place where sin was all around him.
Abraham was not a perfect man or righteous by his conduct because he had lied twice in his life, first to Pharoah (Gen. 12:10–20) and then to Abimelech (Gen. 20:1–18), that Sarah was his sister instead of his wife. However, when God bailed him out of both situations, he didn’t stay in his lie or continue living in sin. Instead, he was grateful and appreciated what God had done for him. At times, you may fall into sin, but your righteous soul won’t feel comfortable. You will want to get out of it, and when God delivers you, you will not want to go back to it.
“Then Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, to the South. Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. And he went on his journey from the South as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place of the altar which he had made there at first. And there Abram called on the name of the LORD.”
— Genesis 13:1–4 NKJV
“to the place of the altar which he had made there at first,” “And there Abram called on the name of the LORD” — After God had delivered Abraham and Sarah from the king of Egypt’s clutches, Abraham went up from Egypt, back to the place he had been with God before he fell into sin. He returned to the place of seeking the things of God. Unlike Abraham, we don’t find Lot calling on the name of the Lord or praying anywhere in the Bible.
Pastor Prince shares how having a heart for God is an important trait he looks out for when identifying potential leaders in the church. Though they may have flaws or not be eloquent, he believes that a heart for the Lord is the most important, as the gifts and calling can follow later.
When we compare Jacob and Esau, we see that Esau did not have a heart for the blessings of God. On the other hand, Jacob schemed and manipulated his father in order to receive the blessings. Though his method was wrong, it’s clear he had a heart for the things of God and eventually God blessed him.
Abraham had a relationship where he called on God and had a heart for Him. However, Lot had no heart for God though he was righteous by faith. Instead, he was materialistic and money-minded.
“And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar. Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other.”
— Genesis 13:10–11 NKJV
“And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan” — When it came to choosing a land to occupy, Lot went by his natural sight and chose Sodom and Gomorrah because the lands appeared luscious and bountiful. However, the truth is that just because an investment or decision appears to be good outwardly, it doesn’t mean it truly is good. Beloved, take your time and listen to the Holy Spirit’s leading within when making a decision, especially if you sense unease or people are rushing you.
“Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom.”
— Genesis 13:12 NKJV
“Lot pitched his tent even as far as Sodom” — Lot pitching his tent toward Sodom was the beginning of his downfall.
Parents, are you pitching your family towards Sodom or towards the land of Canaan, the land flowing with milk and honey? What this means is: do you know what your children are reading, watching on television and surfing on the Internet? Pastor Prince recommends that parents of teenage children place their computer in the living room. This is not because parents shouldn’t trust their children, but simply because they shouldn’t trust their children’s flesh or allow any chance of giving way to it.
Similarly, when we are faced with situations that tempt our flesh, choosing not to trust our flesh is our greatest safety. For example, don’t choose to watch R-rated shows or if you are on a date, don’t go to a dark place as these are all putting our trust in our own flesh and ability. When it comes to sexual immorality, the Bible tells us to run and “flee fornication,” (1 Cor. 6:18) not “stand there and fight!”
Pastor Prince shares wisdom on parenting by encouraging parents to put boundaries in place because children need them. In fact, just as God’s correction causes us to feel loved and cared for, implementing discipline and boundaries for our children causes them to feel loved and valued. As a parent, it’s time for you to repossess your marriage, family, and your position of king and a priest in your family. Many people expect the church to do this for them but in fact, you need to be the voice of moral authority in your home.
Beloved, if you fall into sin, know that there is no condemnation for you (Rom. 8:1). But don’t stay there and live in sin. You are called for greater things. You are not called to be down in the lowlands of Sodom and Gomorrah, but instead you are called to living high above, in the mountains and fresh air of faith like Abraham!
Pastor Prince shares about a parent who no longer wanted to send her daughter to the church’s youth ministry as she felt that her daughter spent too much time with friends at church instead of focusing on her studies. In response, Pastor Prince encourages parents to be glad that their children have a heart to worship with other believers and encounter the Lord.
He explains that it is one thing for parents to affirm grace to their children, telling them that they are special, righteous, and highly favored. But there comes a time when to a teenager, their parents’ words are not enough because they will feel that they are saying these things simply because they are their parents. At this point, it is important for them to hear it from someone else they respect, such as a youth leader, as well as to personally experience the reality of God. All these play a part in ensuring children are secure in their identity in Christ and becoming a believer with Abraham’s kind of faith.
“But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD. And the LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: "Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are — northward, southward, eastward, and westward;”
— Genesis 13:13–14 NKJV
“Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are” — Unlike Lot, who chose the land he wanted with his natural eyes, Abraham looked at the land with his spiritual eyes. This is because the land was so vast that it required spiritual vision to see all of it.
Lot had chosen by his natural vision which was limited and he ended up making a bad decision, choosing a land that would soon perish. However, Abraham trusted God as his portion and everything that he saw northward, southward, eastward, and westward was given to him.
Shortly after this, in Genesis 14, Lot went down to Sodom and Gomorrah and together with its population, was taken captive by four kings and their armies. When Abraham heard that Lot had gotten into trouble, he didn’t blame Lot or leave him to fight for himself. Instead, he prayed for Lot and fought for him (Gen. 14:14). Let’s choose to become righteous men and women like Abraham, not judging our fellow believers when they are facing troubles, but praying for and supporting them.
After being delivered by Abraham and his army, the Bible tells us that Lot returned to Sodom and Gomorrah and even became a board member of the city. He had a complacent attitude and chose to return to sin and a city doomed to destruction. This is as opposed to Abraham, who instead of staying in sin, returned to the mountains to seek God and moral excellence.
“Then the LORD appeared to him by the terebinth trees of Mamre, as he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day. So he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing by him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the ground,”
— Genesis 18:1–2 NKJV
“Then the LORD appeared to him” — One of the three men who appeared to Abraham was the Lord Jesus Christ in His pre-incarnate appearance.
The Lord and the angels brought joyful news of a son that Abraham and Sarah could expect the following year (Gen 18:10, 14) and enjoyed fellowship and laughter together with them. However, while Abraham was enjoying fellowship with God, Lot was vexing his righteous soul day by day. If a person is righteous and has a clear conscience, he will be full of life. However, someone living in sin or without a clear conscience is certainly not enjoying life.
Pastor Prince shares about his time serving his National Service in the Navy in his younger days. On one occasion when his ship docked on land, his colleagues were all looking forward to a night out with drinking and women. Instead of joining them, Pastor Prince returned to the ship and read books and fed on the Word. Though he felt alone, he knew that the Lord was with him. On the way back to Singapore, some of his colleagues began to experience symptoms and feared that they may have contracted diseases. However, Pastor Prince never had reason to worry about such things. Truly, it is wonderful to breathe the fresh air of faith and communion, and have a conscious acceptance with God like Abraham did up on the mountain!
Two angels visited Lot but the Lord did not go with them (Gen. 19:1). In fact, Lot invited the angels into his house but they initially chose to stay in the open square as even the angels didn’t feel at home in Lot’s house. This was a contrast from when they had visited Abraham earlier and enjoyed close fellowship together.
“Then the men said to Lot, "Have you anyone else here? Son-in-law, your sons, your daughters, and whomever you have in the city — take them out of this place! For we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it." So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters, and said, "Get up, get out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city!" But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking.”
— Genesis 19:12–14 NKJV
Pastor Prince encourages parents to talk to their spouse and children about the Lord at home so they can learn to feel comfortable doing it. At first, you may feel a little shy praying together or reading the Word to your child. But do start somewhere because if you don’t, when the day finally comes that you want to tell your children about God, you may appear to be joking to them and they may even laugh at you, as Lot’s sons-in-law did. By then, it will be difficult to talk against sin in the place of sin.
Eventually, Lot’s sons-in-law didn’t manage to get out of Sodom and Gomorrah alive. If only they had listened to Lot and the angels, they may have survived.
“Then the men said to Lot, "Have you anyone else here?” “take them out of this place!” — The angels visited Lot to warn him about the impending destruction because God is a kind and gracious God. Even if you get into trouble of your own making, God will come into your situation and bring you out of it personally.
“When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, "Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city." And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife's hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city.”
— Genesis 19:15–16 NKJV
“while he lingered,” “the LORD being merciful to him” — When told by the angels to flee the city, Lot was caught up in all he was leaving behind and lingered. The Lord was merciful to Lot and caused the two angels to drag him and his family to safety. Even if God needs to drag you out of trouble, He will do it because He is merciful and wants to help you.
“So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.””
— Genesis 19:17 NKJV
“Escape to the mountains” — The angels told Lot to escape to the mountains because that was where Abraham had been all this while. The mountains speak of the high place of moral elevation. However, wouldn’t it have been better to have stayed in the mountains all along, instead of fleeing destruction to reach them?
Though Lot was righteous by faith, he lost his wife when she looked back and became a pillar of salt (Gen. 19:26) because he wasn’t where he was supposed to be. This was in spite of God doing everything He could to help him.
We often have the tendency to look back on our past and regret leaving it or feel that it was better than our present. The Israelites did this, looking back on the melons, leeks, and onions (Num. 11:4–6) that they had left behind in Egypt when they experienced some hardship in the wilderness. However, they had forgotten all about the whips, taskmasters, and the fact that they used to be slaves in Egypt.
Sometimes you may feel that before you became a Christian, you could do a lot of things that you can’t do anymore. But don’t forget that those things end up in frustration, defeat, and death. Now, you have joy, peace, conscious acceptance with God, and a sense of divine favor! Don’t forget the bad things you have left behind.
“And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the LORD. Then he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain; and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land which went up like the smoke of a furnace.”
— Genesis 19:27–28 NKJV
“he had stood before the LORD” — While Lot was escaping from Sodom and Gomorrah amid the destruction, Abraham was in a place of safety, communion, and friendship with God, watching all these happening.
“And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot had dwelt.”
— Genesis 19:29 NKJV
“God remembered Abraham” — God remembered Abraham and ensured Lot escaped the destruction because Abraham prayed for him. Beloved, what kind of righteous man or woman do you want to become? Do you want to be the one who uses his position to influence God for the good of others, or the one always being prayed for?
“So Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.”
— Genesis 12:4 NKJV
“and Lot went with him” — Abraham departed because the Lord told him to but Lot merely followed him because he didn’t personally believe that God is a good God. While Abraham followed God, Lot followed Abraham, riding on his faith.
There comes a time when you need to have your own faith before God. It is perfectly fine and right that our children ride on our faith when they are young. We can pray and believe God on their behalf but when they are older, God has to visit them personally and give them their own personal revelation of Himself. They cannot ride on someone else’s faith forever.
Pastor Prince encourages everyone, especially parents, to open up their eyes, listen to godly counsel, and be the king and the priest of their house. It is better to offend your child now and ultimately have the child’s respect than to give in to your child and have him or her end up hating you. After some years have passed, your child will be able to look back and appreciate what you have done for them.
Ultimately, Abraham’s faith was such that even though he was tossed in the storm like a ship, his compass—which was his faith—always pointed him to God. On the other hand, because Lot didn’t have his own personal faith in God and His goodness, he had no moral compass. Hence, the moment he was separated from Abraham, he went astray as he had no foundation to lean on.
“So he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people. And the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley), after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with Him. Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.”
— Genesis 14:16–18 NKJV
“Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine” — This is a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ because Christ is the Priest after the order of Melchizedek. The reason Melchizedek, God’s priest, appeared to Abraham now was because it was at this moment that he needed the ministry of Melchizedek. Melchizedek brought the bread and wine to nourish Abraham because he was weary from the battle.
When many of us are tired and our emotional gauge is empty (like a fuel tank), we become more prone to sin, falling into temptation, short-temperedness, or speaking the wrong thing in anger. This is not because we are bad people, but simply because we are tired. At this moment, Jesus comes with the bread and the wine to fill you up again so that you are ready to face the temptations around you.
“And he blessed him and said: "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand." And he gave him a tithe of all. Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.””
— Genesis 14:19–21 NKJV
“Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth” — The king of Sodom had come to tempt Abraham to give up his people in exchange for the riches he could offer him. However, while blessing Abraham, Melchizedek reminded him that he didn't need the king of Sodom’s wealth as God is the Possessor of heaven and earth and was blessing him.
“And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand." And he gave him a tithe of all. Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.””
— Genesis 14:20–21 NKJV
“And he gave him a tithe of all” — Tithing is not for the entire church. It is for those who, like Abraham, have a revelation of how good God is and that God is the God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth. These people understand that their ten percent is nothing but a declaration that God alone is their source. As Lot did not have the same revelation of God’s goodness that Abraham had, he didn’t partake of the Communion or tithe and eventually lost everything.
This revelation is the reason why Abraham could tell Lot to choose the portion of land he wanted first. Abraham knew that God was the one who would bless him. When he was tempted to believe otherwise, God reminded him, through Melchizedek, that he was a blessed man.
“But Abram said to the king of Sodom, "I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, that I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, 'I have made Abram rich' —”
— Genesis 14:22–23 NKJV
“I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich’” — From here, we can see that Abraham knew he would be very rich eventually. He didn’t want it to be said later on that the king of Sodom, or the world, made him rich. He wanted it to be said that God Almighty made him rich so that all the glory would go to God.
Every terrible sin that you see is a harvest—it began with a root of unbelief in God’s goodness in the person’s heart long before. Perhaps this person thought, “I don’t think I can trust God with finding a man. I must go out there and look around, lower my morals,” or “I need to experience living with my boyfriend for a while because I don’t think I can trust that God has a good life for me in marriage.” The moment that little root that questions God’s goodness drops in your heart and mind, you could end up doubting God’s goodness and being open to anything the devil has.
Today as you choose to live like Abraham, righteous by faith but having a heart for God, moral excellence, and having your family in order, you’ll find that just like Abraham, you’ll enjoy your marriage and family life, live to a good old age, enjoy every blessing of God and never have to vex your soul each day.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;”
— Psalm 23:6a NKJV
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me” — The word “follow” here is the Hebrew word, 'radaph' which means to “pursue, hunt down.” David had a confidence in God’s goodness that it would surely pursue him wherever he was, all the days of his life.
“Heavenly Father, I call upon Your name. Your Word says, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Lord Jesus, I’m calling on your name and I’m saved. Thank You, Father, in Heaven for sending Jesus Christ to die for my sins. Thank You for raising Him from the dead for my justification. Jesus Christ is my Lord and my Savior. Thank You, Father, I’m completely righteous in Your eyes in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
We hope these sermon notes blessed you! If they did, we encourage you to get the sermon and allow the Lord to speak to you personally as you watch or listen to it.
© Copyright JosephPrince.com 2021
These sermon notes were taken by volunteers during the service. They are not a verbatim representation of the sermon.
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