No Looking Back

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, April 29, 2015 0 comments
by Logan Ames

“Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32). Those three words were spoken by Jesus himself in one of the little-known and shortest verses in the Bible. What was he talking about? The word “remember” can mean different things depending on context. In this section, Jesus was speaking to his disciples after addressing one of the Pharisees’ questions about when the kingdom of God would come. To remember someone could mean to make sure you don’t neglect her needs, to commit to memory something great that she did, or to learn from her example. Based on the context of the passage, it’s the latter that Jesus is using here.

If you don’t know who Lot or his wife were, go back and read Genesis 19. It’s the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah via the burning sulfur that the Lord rains down on them. Lot had two angels come to his house and stay with him, and when they urged him to leave the city in a hurry because it was about to be completely destroyed, he obeyed the commands by faith. Rather than test the Lord, his fear of the Lord led him to act quickly. In the midst of the chaos, he and his family were told, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!” (Genesis 19:17) Later in the same chapter, we see that Lot and the rest of his family reached a safe place away from the disaster. “But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt” (19:26). That seems a little harsh, doesn’t it? Not when you consider the fact that she disobeyed a direct command spoken through the angels and the fact that this was not merely a brief glance over the shoulder. Scholars believe her “looking back” connotes that she looked intently and may have even possibly returned back to Sodom.

Now go back and look at the full context of Jesus’ words to his disciples in Luke 17:20-37. He is talking about how quickly the world will be judged when the time comes. Jesus specifically refers to how everyone was going about their business during the time of Noah until the flood destroyed them, and then how everyone in Sodom and Gomorrah who did not fear God and expect his judgment were suddenly destroyed. He tells his followers that when he comes back to judge the world, they won’t be needing to gather their possessions. The judgment will happen before they even have a chance. He warns them to remember the poor example set by Lot’s wife and her resulting judgment, then declares, “Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it” (v. 33).

Jesus knew that the temptation for all of us who are in the world is to dwell on what is lost rather than look forward to what is being gained. While everything we hold near and dear to our hearts right now, including certain relationships, reputations, and legacies, will perish when Jesus returns, we can’t help but get sucked into the desire for things that God may not be giving us. These would include, but are not limited to, fame, money, family, marriage, other relationships, status, education, and material things. God may choose to bless you with them, or he may not. But either way, they are temporary and disappear the moment Christ returns to judge the world. Are you ready to leave them, or will you be caught looking back? If you follow along with the other blog posts on this site, you’re probably wondering at this point what this all has to do with the book of Romans. I submit to you that the temporary gifts from God that we enjoy on this earth aren’t the only things at which we might be caught looking back.

In Romans 6:8-14, Paul explains the difference between where we once were as sinners and where we are now in Christ. We are told, “Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (v. 11). This is because Jesus died to sin on our behalf, but that death did not have power over him because he was raised from the dead. Paul even makes the obvious point that he cannot die again since he has already gained the victory over death. But he didn’t do that for himself. He did it for you and me, for all who would believe in him and follow his example. Because we are now IN Christ, we also have power over sin and death!

The implication for this truth in our lives is found in verses 12 and 13. Paul writes, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness." Paul is one of the best at using the word “therefore." His message here is clear. Because of what Jesus did for us and how he has given us life and victory over sin, we need to stop giving it back! Think about the ways you offer “any part of yourself” to sin. What do you watch on TV or the Internet? What do you read? What do you allow yourself to hear and what senseless arguments trap you? Do you accept gossip and even pass it on, or do you turn it away? Are you living with your partner unmarried while still trying to honor God? Do you let your insecurities run wild rather than fill your mind with the truth and promises of God’s Word? If you have accepted Jesus’ sacrifice as that which has saved you, all of those sins have been defeated and the ONLY way they can still overpower you is if you let them.

Why do we still get caught up in the sins that pestered us before we came into a relationship with Jesus? I believe the answer is remarkably simple. We are too often LOOKING BACK. Satan does a great job of helping us remember the very brief pleasures of our sins while we forget all the pain and suffering they caused. Like Lot’s wife, you may at times lament “the good old days,” which can be another name for your sins before you knew Jesus. If this is something you struggle with, try replacing it with actively looking forward to what you are gaining in Christ. Paul doesn’t just tell us what not to do. He urges us to offer ourselves to God as instruments of righteousness. Make no mistake, you cannot be both at the same time. You are either an instrument of wickedness or an instrument of righteousness. If Christ is in the business of making all things new (Revelation 21:5), that means he isn’t interested in whatever we are leaving behind. As we are in him and know the promises about our future as victors, we have no reason to be caught looking back. I encourage you to focus on what you have gained in him and not what the devil wants to tell you that you’ve lost.

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