Robert Jeffress - When God's Patience Runs Out - Part 2
Hi, I am Robert Jeffress and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". People today often argue that the Bible is outdated. The values held by Jews and Christians thousands of years ago simply don't apply to the 21st century, they say. But the Bible teaches that God's truth is always relevant no matter what the current culture says or how unpopular God's truth may be. Today I'm going to present a timeless lesson from the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. My message is titled, "When God's Patience Runs Out" on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".
By the way, maybe you've been asked this question, had people ever asked you, "Oh, you've conservative Christians, why do you pick and choose which verses you're going to obey and which verses you aren't"? Well, there are all kind of things you're not supposed to do in the Old Testament. You're not supposed to wear a coat that is made of two kinds of fabric. There are certain kinds of bread and seeds you're not to eat or consume or plant in the ground. Why do you just pick on the sin of homosexuality? Why don't you follow those other regulations? Well, it's real simple. The reason we select homosexuality is because it's repeated in the New Testament as well. The only parts of the Old Testament that we obey today are those parts that are in the New Testament.
There's nothing in the New Testament about not wearing material of two different fabrics. There's no restrictions about what kind of seed you sow. Those were old commandments. That's why it's called the Old Testament. We live under the New Testament, and make no mistake about it. The New Testament has many prohibitions against homosexuality. 1 Corinthians 6, verse 9, 1 Timothy 1, verse 10. By the way, the clearest denunciation in the New Testament is found in Romans 1, verses 26 to 27. Now some of you listening aren't gonna like this, but this is the Word of the Lord, if you believe all scripture is inspired.
Listen to verse 26 of Romans 1. "For this reason God gave them". Who? People who have rejected the truth of God. "For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural". Underline that. "And in the same way also men abandoned their natural function with the woman and burned in their desire toward one another. Men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error". What are those due penalties that people who practice homosexuality receive? Some people think, "Well, it's talking about a physical penalty, certain kinds of illnesses, maybe it's AIDs that Paul has in mind here".
Now, it's true that AIDs is not exclusively reserved for the homosexual community, but it is primarily a homosexual disease. According to the Center for Disease Control, men who have sex with men have an HIV prevalence 60 times higher than the rest of the general population. Matt Foreman, who served as the executive director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said at a homosexual rally quote, "With 70% of people living in this country with HIV being homosexual or bisexual, we cannot deny that HIV is a gay disease".
Now, that's a gay activist himself admitting. He's not saying that 70% of homosexuals have AIDs. He's saying that 70% of those who have aids are homosexual or bisexual. "Indeed, by one estimate, 80% of the serious sexually transmitted diseases in this country occur in the homosexual population". Why is there such a high incidence of disease and sickness among homosexuals? It's very simple because what they do is, the Bible says, unnatural. That word "un" is a prefix that means against. What homosexuals do goes against nature. And perhaps that's what Paul says. There are physical consequences, but I think he may have something else in mind here as well. There are not only physical consequences, there are spiritual consequences as well.
Listen to this. Paul is saying that homosexuality is not only the cause of God's judgment, in some cases it is the result of God's judgment. Look at verse 24 of Romans 1. "Therefore God gave them over in the lust of their hearts to impurity so that their bodies would be dishonored among them". God gave them over because they rejected the knowledge of the true God. Part of their judgment was, God let them go. He let them follow their own desires that resulted in this degradation.
Now, I'm gonna keep saying this for everybody listening. Homosexuality is a grave sin just as adultery and unbiblical divorce and greed and injustice. All sin is sin and there is no sin including homosexuality that is beyond the forgiveness of God. Every sin can be forgiven, but before you can receive God's forgiveness, you have to admit that you need God's forgiveness. Can homosexuals be forgiven? Can adulterers be forgiven? Of course, they can, but to receive God's forgiveness, they first have to admit that what they're doing is wrong and that they need God's forgiveness. Anybody can be forgiven for anything.
What happened here? Lot, horrified that they want to assault these two visitors, offers them an alternative, and this just blows my mind. Lot says, "Don't rape these two men. Instead, I have two daughters, take them and rape them if you would like to, but just don't rape these men". Can you imagine any father doing that with his daughters? That shows you how perverse Lot had become after living in a perverse city for so long that immorality had definitely rubbed off on him. You know what they said? They said, "We don't want your daughters. We want these two men, and in fact, we want you too. We wanna rape you as well".
At this point, the angels have had enough. Verse 11, "They struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great so that they wearied themselves trying to find the doorway". Talk about being touched by an angel. They got the wrong kind of touch from the angel. But that wasn't the limit of God's destruction. They delivered this warning to Lot. Look at verse 12 and 13. "The two men said to Lot, 'Whom else have you here? A son-in-law and your sons and your daughters and whomever else you have in this city, bring them out of the place; for we are about to destroy this place because of their outcry has become so great before the Lord that the Lord has sent us to destroy it'".
The angels announced what they were about to do. How did Lot's family respond? They scoffed at the idea. They laughed at the idea of God's judgment. That's the way unbelievers today respond. Remember what happened in the days of Noah? For over 100 years, Noah preached that a flood was coming and the people scoffed at Noah. And the last days before Jesus returned, 2 Peter 3:3 says, "Know this first of all, that in the last days, mockers, scoffers will come with their mocking, saying, 'Where is the promise of his coming?'" "Oh, you've been talking about this Jesus coming back for 2000 years. He's not here yet. He's not coming back".
What they don't realize Peter says is, is one day with the Lord is as 1000 years and 1000 years is as one day. And what happened here is very, very descriptive. Verse 16 says that when Lot heard that he hesitated. When he heard Sodom was going to be destroyed, he hesitated in fleeing Sodom and he made a deal or tried to with the angels, he said, "Angels, I'll get out of Sodom, but can I live close by just in a neighboring town? I still have a taste for Sodom in my life. I still, am tantalized by the sin here. Can I stay just close to sin without actually being in sin"? He's like so many Christians today. They claim they want a new life in Jesus Christ, but there's some private sin in their life, some habits, some addiction, some relationship.
"Lord, surely you don't mind this little thing in my heart that I hang on to myself. It gives me such happiness, and Lord, you want me to be happy, don't you"? No. No, that's the sign of a fleshly, a carnal believer. And so even though he hesitated. Verse 16 says, "The angels seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his daughters, for the compassion of the Lord, was upon him and they brought him out and put him outside of the city". Look now at Verse 24, "Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven". This is the first mention of fire in the Bible and it's related to God's judgment, fire and brimstone. "And he overthrew those cities and all the valleys and all the inhabitants of the cities, what grew on the ground".
You know, a lot of people speculate how this city, all five of them were destroyed. Some people speculate there may have been a volcanic eruption or perhaps an earthquake that released certain hydrocarbons into the air and lightning came at the right time and caused a combustion and an explosion and fire and brimstone rained down. There's some archeological evidence from that area that that actually happened. But Moses really doesn't tell us to how it happening, but he tells us who. This was not nature, Mother Nature, this was God himself pouring down his promised judgment.
Look at verse 27, "Now Abraham rose early in the morning and went to the place where he had stood before the Lord; and he looked down towards Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and he saw and behold the smoke of the land ascended like the smoke of a furnace". He could see the smoke still rising to the air. That's what the end times are going to be like, by the way. Revelation 18, we read about the destruction of the great center of commerce in the world, the city that will be known as Babylon, and in an hour that city is completely destroyed and the people of the world lament, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the Great".
What is the story of God's destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah have to say to us today? I think this passage is always relevant, but it's especially relevant for us in our country right now. Let me close today with three timeless principles from this story. First one is about "Sin's Influence". Write this down. "Bad company corrupts good morals". Bad company corrupts good morals. Make no mistake about it. Lot was a believer. The Bible refers to him consistently as that righteous man Lot. He was a believer, but he was an immature believer. He was a fleshly believer and because he was immature as a believer, he was easily influenced by others. And you see him pulled into sin over a period of time.
In Genesis 13, we see him living on the outskirts of the city of Sodom. When we get to verse 14, he's now living in the city of Sodom. And by the time we get to chapter 19, we find him as a judge in the city of Sodom. He gets more and more involved in Sodom. You know, Psalm 1 says, "Blessed, happy are those who do not walk in the council of the ungodly, who do not stand in the path of sinners, who do not sit in the seat of the scoffer". And yet Lot did all three. And he became more like the Sodomites instead of the Sodomites becoming more a like righteous Lot.
You know, Chuck Swindoll has a great illustration of this. He says imagine it's raining cats and dogs outside and you decide still to go work in your flower bed and you put on white gloves to work in the mud. What happens to those white gloves? Real simple. They become muddy. Every time, they will become muddy, but never in 1000 years will the mud become glovey. Now the mud impacts the glove. The glove doesn't impact the mud. It's the same with people today and ungodly people. You hang around with an immoral person long enough and guess what? You begin to think and act immorally. Hang around an angry person, Proverbs says you'll become more angry. Hang around somebody who scoffs and mocks at the things of God and you'll become a mocker and a scoffer.
1 Corinthians 15:33, "Bad company corrupts good morals". And that leads to a second truth about a Christian's responsibility. God does want us to impact our culture, and this principle is this. "Believers are to act as preservatives in a corrupt world". One reason God left us here on Earth is to push back against evil, not that we're going to ultimately win. This world is ultimately going to implode. God's going to judge it. The Lord's going to return, but we are to be a preserving influence to push back against evil so that people to have longer to hear the gospel. 2 Thessalonians 2 says, "There is a restrainer of evil in the world today".
Who is that restrainer? He's the Holy Spirit of God. And where is the Holy Spirit of God? He's in the lives of believers. The Holy Spirit through your life and my life acts as a preservative in a corrupt world, to give the world longer to hear the gospel. And that's why it's so important that Christians take public stands against sin. We take public stands against abortion, against injustice, against immorality of every kind. Not that we're going to save the world by doing that, but hopefully we can give the world a little longer to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ and be transformed inwardly.
The third truth here, and this is so important, has to do with God's patience. God eventually says, "Enough". God's patience eventually runs out. You know, there is a fascinating verse to me in Ecclesiastes 8:11. Solomon said, "Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed immediately, the sons of men are fully to give that which is evil". In other words, what Solomon is saying is because people don't get struck down immediately when they sin, people make the mistake of confusing God's tolerance with God's mercy. God is longsuffering, but there's a time when God says, "Enough," don't make the mistake of confusing God's mercy, God's patience with God's tolerance for sin.
Just because consequences don't come immediately doesn't mean they won't come ultimately. We need to hear this as a nation first of all. You know when God was talking to Israel, he used the example of Sodom for them to consider. Listen to Ezekiel 16:49 through 50, "Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom; she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food, careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus, they were haughty and committed abominations before me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it".
Isn't that a great description of America today? Arrogant, prideful, "We've got the greatest military in the world, we've got the greatest economy in the world, we can do whatever we want to. America's number one". Arrogance. We don't realize that in a moment, in an instance, God's judgment can come. Just because it hasn't come for 250 years, the history of our country doesn't mean it's not coming. Don't confuse God's mercy with God's tolerance for sin. America is going to collapse one day. I don't care what any political party tells you, it is going to collapse. That doesn't mean we just give up.
We ought to push back. We ought to pray for revival, but America is going to collapse. I don't know how the collapse is gonna come. It may come from an external invasion from Russia or China. It may be a terrorist attack. It could be a rot from the inside. It could be a pandemic. It could be a financial catastrophe. It could be just a complete breakdown of our government, but it is coming. Like Ruth Graham, the wife of the late evangelist Billy Graham, said, "If God doesn't judge America, he's going to have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah".
What applies to nations, apply to our lives as well. Don't confuse God's mercy in your life with God's tolerance for sin. Don't think because you haven't experienced severe consequences yet you won't experience them at all. If you're living in rebellion against God right now, if you've not asked for his forgiveness, there's only one reason you haven't experienced those consequences. God's giving you another chance, perhaps the last chance to receive his forgiveness.
God said through Ezekiel in Ezekiel 33:11, "As I live, says the Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but I desire that the wicked turn from his wickedness and live. Turn, turn from your wickedness. For why will you die"? It doesn't matter who you are, it doesn't matter what sins you have committed. No sin is beyond the forgiveness of God, and that's what the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ are all about. Turn, turn from your wickedness.