I can imagine what happened. She had lived there too long. Over time, she grew increasingly used to the sleaze to the point where the vices probably no longer shocked her. No doubt she and her friends gossiped about the bizarre and strange conduct of the city’s inhabitants. Perhaps she was close to the two men soon to marry her daughters. Even her husband hesitated—unsure about leaving. In the end when the persistent angels grabbed their hands and pulled the four of them outside the city warning them to run and not look back, she didn’t get far before she turned away just once to see what should not be seen. That turning away made her a pillar of salt. (Gen. 19)
Job 28:28—He said to mankind, “Look! The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to turn from evil is understanding.”
Very few people just run up to evil and embrace it. Rather they embark on a campaign of compromise. They rationalize. They color truth to fit their circumstances. They develop questionable habits because they feel entitled. They get angry when people question their motives. They find inconsistency and label it hypocrisy in those they observe while quietly engaging in their own pet sins.
Evil is not a hero we worship but rather a companion we tolerate until he actually grows on us, in us and over us. When we feel pretty good about ourselves, evil pats our back and says, “That’s right, you are pretty good—especially to me.”
There is a cure to evil. It is called the fear of the Lord. It is the essence of wisdom, the nectar of perception. John Bunyannoted, “It is not the knowledge of the will of God, but our sincere complying therewith, that proves we fear the Lord.” When we revere God, we have to turn away from sin—we know it violates His holiness and angers Him.
Six things the LORD hates; in fact, seven are detestable to Him: arrogant eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that plots wicked schemes, feet eager to run to evil, a lying witness who gives false testimony, and one who stirs up trouble among brothers. (Pro. 6:16-19)
Therefore, put to death whatever in you is worldly: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, God's wrath comes on the disobedient. (Col. 3:5-6)
Then He said, “What comes out of a person—that defiles him. For from within, out of people's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immoralities, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, evil actions, deceit, lewdness, stinginess, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a person. (Mark 7:20-23)
God-fearers cannot stomach the thought of hurting their loving Creator. Evil avoidance promotes purity and gives us a vibrant life. Turning away from evil deepens our friendship with our Savior and keeps us on the path He prepared for us.
The next time you are in a theater and the actors swear in God’s name, use filthy language and engage in disgusting conduct, get up and walk out. So you wasted your money—at least you demonstrated understanding. The next time you watch a questionable program on television or visit an unwholesome internet site, turn the channel, escape the web, starve the desire and feed your heart with fear—godly fear.
Our character cracks into numerous fissures when we entertain evil. Forgetting about God’s will and disrespecting Him for sin leads to tragedy. Conversely, our character is strengthened when we honor God’s intent and live so as to be like Him. By rejecting what is wrong we experience great blessing and find heaven’s favor. Surprisingly, we don’t hear much taught about the fear of God and that is particularly sad because it is a major theme that runs from Genesis to Revelation. As Jerry Bridges notes in The Joy of Fearing God, “There are more than 150 references to the fear of God in the Bible.” In the end, turning away is either fatal or favorable; it’s all in what we fear.
The highest reaches of sanctification are realized only in the fear of God.—John Murray
©2011 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)