Have you ever noticed how one poor choice often leads to another? We’ve all been there. We take a tentative step toward temptation with what we believe to be adequate justification, such as “I can handle it” or “I deserve it” or “I’ll make something good out of it”.
Before we realise it, we’re sliding down that slippery slope toward sin.
The Bible provides us with ample warnings and examples of how this natural tendency plays out – all recorded for our edification and protection. David and his affair with Bathsheba is perhaps the most often cited case. Although, I think the story of Lot is a more sobering example of this principle because for me it seems closer to home. I don’t know about you, but in my life the slippery slopes I encounter are more subtle than adultery, murder and polygamy.
In Genesis 13 we read that Lot joined his uncle Abraham in his sojourn from Chaldea via Egypt into Canaan. Along the way God blessed both Lot and Abraham greatly. It got to the point where they had to go their separate ways due to a lack of sufficient grazing land for their enormous herds and flocks. Lot was about to step out on his own, away from the relative protection and security of his uncle’s spiritual wisdom and oversight.
Sliding Down the Slope
Abraham graciously gave Lot the first pick of the land. In his pursuit of even greater prosperity, Lot chose the best land in the rich Jordan valley:
“Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom.” (Gen. 13:12)
Lot’s family was so enmeshed in Sodom’s culture that the enemy invaders couldn’t distinguish them from the locals. They were literally swept up by their chosen way of life.
Praise God for His faithfulness! Despite Lot’s unwise choices, God didn’t give up on him. God empowered Uncle Abe to miraculously save Lot, his family and all their possessions from destruction, while simultaneously providing the Sodomites and their allies a chance to repent from their wicked ways. They all heard first hand about the sovereignty and faithfulness of God (Gen. 14:13-24).
Sadly, Lot didn’t learn from this close call and it wasn’t long before he was back in the thick of life in Sodom. In fact, he doubled-down on his personal involvement. By Genesis 19 we find Lot sitting at Sodom’s city gates:
“The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom.” (Gen. 19:1)
His daughter’s fiancées ignored the warnings of divine judgment and chose to stay in Sodom, to their own demise (cf. Gen. 19:14). And having been saved from the fire and brimstone, Lot’s wife couldn’t pull herself away emotionally from Sodom:
“Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven. And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But Lot's wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” (Gen. 19:24-26)
To be clear, her look was not one of simple curiosity. The original language implies a look of longing. That’s how insidious the slippery slope of sin can be. It grabs ahold of our minds until we struggle to discern good from evil. Sometimes it seems to consume us completely, crystallising our hearts against the prompting of God’s Spirit (cf. Rom. 1:21-25; Titus 1:15-16).
But what about Lot’s responsibility in all this? He chose to raise his daughters in the heart of an evil city, was about to marry them off to two of the local pagans and was even willing to sacrifice his girls to a lustful murderous mob in a vain attempt to appease them (Genesis 19:4-8). Not exactly a good parental role model of moral conduct!
The consequence was that the descendants of the incestuous relations between Lot and his daughters became the Moabites and Amorites who were perennial enemies of Israel (Gen. 19:37-38).
Despite God’s strong and direct warnings, Lot hesitated to leave the prosperity, pleasures and power he had enjoyed in Sodom. He literally had to be dragged away kicking and screaming:
“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.” (Gen. 19:15-16).
Again we see God’s grace and long suffering toward Lot. Sometimes that’s what it takes. God dramatically intervenes in our lives to rescue us from our slippery slopes.
Like us, Lot demonstrated questionable character and made poor choices, but God still saw him as righteous (2 Pet. 2:7-8). Like Abraham (cf. Gen. 15:6), despite his many mistakes, Lot’s faith in God was reckoned to him as righteousness.
“... just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” (Rom. 4:6-8; cf. Psa. 32:1-5)
Praise God for His amazing grace! We are all lost without it (cf. Eph. 2:8-9).
Our modern world looks a lot like Sodom. While we are called to be in the world, we are not to be of the world (cf. John 17:13-21). We need to guard our hearts and minds from its allures of prosperity, pleasure and power (cf. Rom. 12:1-2). Every little choice we make matters. There are plenty of ‘slippery slopes’ all around us. In order to see them and avoid them, we need to prayerfully seek God’s guidance through His word every day. And when we do slip-up (which we will!), we know God is always ready to pick us up and restore us to Himself (cf. 1 John 1:9).
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life —is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15-17)