"The Sin Of Sodom And The Church" (September 2007)
When we think of the sin of Sodom and Gormorrah, we automatically think (and have been taught) that the Lord destroyed these cities because of the sin of homosexuality, but this wasn’t the case although there were homosexual practices taking place in the cities. Before we go any further I do want to clarify that homosexuality is a sin. It’s an abomination to the Lord and unless it is repented of, those who are involved in this practice will not escape God’s judgment. “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13) “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10)
Now that we have clarified this, let’s move on to discover what the real sin of Sodom was. Why did God destroy this city? What was so bad that His anger was kindled against it? What can we learn from this? How does it apply to us today? There definitely is a lesson to be learned because the Bible tells us that all things were written for our example. “Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11) The Bible even speaks specifically of Sodom that the things that happened to it are written as a warning to us. “Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” (Jude 1:7) “And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly.” (2 Peter 2:6)
I believe that we are living in the last days. According to the scriptures, the stage is being set for the return of Christ. When Jesus talked about the time leading up to His return, He used the days of Noah and the days of Lot as a sign so that we would be aware of what was happening and not be taken off guard. Since we are living in that time, we would do well to take heed to what Jesus is saying. He compared the time before His return to the days of Noah- life was going on as usual; people were doing their own thing, living life as they always had. “And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.” (Luke 17:26,27) He also compared it to the days of Lot- business as usual. “Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.” (Luke 17:28-30) But there was something happening in Sodom that wasn’t your “typical” daily routine or business affairs that caused it to be destroyed. This is why it’s important that we know the truth behind the destruction of Sodom because the same thing will be happening in the end time before the return of Christ.
“And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.” (Genesis 18:20,21) As we read the scriptures below we will discover what the “real” sin of Sodom was. “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.“ (Ezekiel 16:49,50) “Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:10-17) “I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness; they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.” (Jeremiah 23:14)
Ezekiel 16:49,50- Pride, fulness of bread, abundance of idleness, neglect of the poor and needy, haughty, and committed abomination.
Isaiah 1:10-17- Improper worship.
Jeremiah 23:14- Adultery, liars, supported evildoers, no remorse or repentance for their wickedness.
I’d like to read you something that was written by Josephus, a Jewish historian in the first century. “The Sodomites, overweeningly proud of their numbers and the extent of their wealth, showed themselves insolent to men and impious to the Divinity, insomuch that they no more remembered the benefits that they had received from him, hated foreigners and declined all intercourse with others. Indignant at this conduct, God accordingly resolved to chastise them for their arrogance...” Josephus, Antiquities I: 194-5
Sodom’s sin was not just immorality- adultery, homosexuality, lesbianism- although it was prevalent. The sins mentioned in the verses above were equally as “abominable” to the Lord. If this is a warning to us, as we have already said, then we need to look more closely at these sins and take time to examine ourselves to make sure that we don’t allow them to enter into our lives.
When you read the story about the destruction of Sodom, you will also find references to her in God’s dealings with Jerusalem. “Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations. And thine elder sister is Samaria, she and her daughters that dwell at thy left hand: and thy younger sister, that dwelleth at thy right hand, is Sodom and her daughters. Yet hast thou not walked after their ways, nor done after their abominations: but, as if that were a very little thing, thou wast corrupted more than they in all thy ways.” (Ezekiel 16:1,2,46,47) You will also find it in Jesus’ teachings. “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.” (Matthew 11:23,24) These sins were not just in Sodom (symbolic of the world), they were also among God’s chosen people (Israel). He warned them that they would be judged also- just like Sodom- if they did not repent and turn from their wicked ways. Not only is this a warning to the world and Israel, it is a warning to the “church” as well. We have been “grafted in” as spiritual Israel, so the warning applies to us.
The Book of Revelation, the “great end time book”, starts with a warning to the seven churches. They are warned to repent of their sins lest they be judged. Jesus had something against five of the seven churches. As you compare the sins of Sodom with the sins that Jesus pointed out in these five churches, you will see that the sins are the same. Ephesis lost their first love. Sodom’s pride pulled them away from God. They made riches and blessings their god. Pergamos compromised and stopped holding up the truth. Sodom supported evildoers- what was good became evil and what was evil became good. Thyatria allowed homosexuality and immorality to remain and had no standard of holiness. Sodom was full of adultery, immorality and committed abomination. Sardis had become religious. We see this in Sodom with their improper worship- they offered to God the sacrifices they wanted Him to have, not what He required. Laodicea was lukewarm. Sodom had a seared conscience that made everything right in their own eyes.
I submit to you, with a heavy heart and out of deep concern, that these same sins are not only prevalent in the world today, but are also in the church. We see the same sins of Sodom. Look again at the sins of Sodom. Time nor paper will permit me to expound on each, so I will just hit the “high points”. “Pride”- we have become full of pride. Everyone wants to have a “title”- pastor so and so, prophetess, minister, etc. There are ministers who won’t go to certain towns because the population is too small- they only go to big crowds. No one wants to humble themselves and reach out to those whom they consider “beneath them”. A “holier than thou” attitude is nothing but pride. “Fulness of bread”- prosperity and materialism. Does that not describe the church in America?! You can’t get anyone to come to your meetings unless you talk about material blessings and money. The predominate gospel that is preached centers around having more and more material things- houses, cars, etc. It’s all about what God can do for you. If you preach about holiness, self-denial or sacrifice a deaf ear is turned on quickly. “Abundance of idleness”- we are so consumed with doing our own thing that we have neglected the work of the Lord. What about the Great Commission to go into all the world and preach the gospel? When was the last time you did something for the Lord- besides go to church? Have you visited the sick, the prisoner, the widow? Do you help the needy? If you see someone who is hungry do you give them something to eat or do you have the mentality that “this is mine” I can’t give them anything? Some how the church developed the attitude that God blesses us so that we can have whatever our heart’s desire. That is not the truth- God blesses us to be a blessing. “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:2) “Adultery”- too often we hear stories of Christians who are living in adultery; sadly even many ministers who are standing in pulpits are having affairs. “Support of evildoers”- sin isn’t called sin any more. The world wants the church to be more “tolerant”, and we have conformed to their demand. We no longer call sin “sin”. We call it acceptable, a disease, an illness, politically correct, character fault, environmental product, situation ethics, and so on. When we “water down” the truth, we deceive people into believing that all is well and they can live anyway that suits them without any fear of judgment. “Liars”- many in the church have become liars in order to get what they want. They will say “yes” to popular opinion in order to advance their position. They have thrown honesty out the door. If it advances your cause, then a little “white lie” is all right. “Improper worship”- this is probably the most widespread. I am not talking about whether your church sings hymns or choruses. I am talking about individual worship as well as corporate worship. Do you bring God the sacrifices that are acceptable to Him, or do you give Him your halfhearted devotion? Do you worship Him in “spirit and in truth”? The highest form of worship is obedience. This is why Abel’s offering was accepted and Cain’s wasn’t. Able brought God an offering that pleased Him; Cain brought an offering just to “appease” Him. Too many people in the church are trying to “appease” God with their religious practices. The sin in Sodom was nothing but mere religious formality- by the way, God hated it. He wants worship that comes from your heart because of a deep seated relationship that you have with Him. Are you a “living sacrifice”, yielded to His will in your life? “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” (Romans 12:1- New Living Translation) Do you give Him your best or what is left over? Is your worship to Him only “lip service”, or does it come from a heart of loving gratitude?
One of the greatest sins that I see in Sodom, and is always the foundation to every other sin, was that of materialism. “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:10) According to the scriptures, the writings of Josephus, and other Jewish texts, Sodom had become wealthy. This wealth became the focus of their lives- they didn’t want to share it and they wanted more. It was what caused them to neglect the poor and needy, not show hospitality to the strangers and travelers that came into their city, it caused them to be idle, to become lazy, it became their “god”. Once something becomes your “god”, other than the true and living God, you start a downward spiral into the pit of sin. This happened to the rich young ruler. He put his wealth before God. He couldn’t depart from it, give it to the poor, or do without it- even to receive eternal life.
The Lord is coming back. He is coming back for a glorious church. “That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:27) We must take heed to the warning and learn a lesson from Sodom, now more than ever, especially since most of the preaching we hear centers around financial prosperity, material gain and monetary blessings. If we aren’t careful, we can get our eyes off of the true prize, we can allow our hearts to be captured by riches that perish and lose eternal riches. Sodom had no remorse for their sins, therefore, they did not turn away in repentance from them. The Bible tells us that judgment first begins at the house of the Lord. “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17) It’s time we begin to judge ourselves and make sure that we have not become like Sodom- turned inward, selfish, self-centered and materialistic. If we will judge ourselves now, then we won’t be judged with the world later. “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” (1 Corinthians 11:31,32) This is the great warning that we learn from Sodom-- we must repent or perish. “So call to mind the lessons you received and heard; continually lay them to heart and obey them, and repent. In case you will not rouse yourselves and keep awake and watch, I will come upon you like a thief, and you will not know or suspect at what hour I will come.” (Revelation 3:3- Amplified Bible)