How could Lot be called righteous in 2 Peter 2:7–8 when he did so many bad things as recorded in Genesis 19? Troy Lacey, AiG–U.S., explains.
In Genesis 13:12 we read that Lot, after departing from Abram (later called Abraham), dwelt in the cities of the plain near Sodom. By the time of Genesis 14:12, Lot had been living in Sodom for some time and was carried away captive but rescued by Abraham. The wicked reputation of the town of Sodom was obviously known to Lot (Genesis 13:13), yet he chose to stay there in spite of this knowledge.
In Genesis 18, Abraham pleaded with God to spare Sodom for the sake of the righteous who dwelt there. Perhaps he hoped that Lot and his family had been a godly influence on the inhabitants and that some had repented and turned to the true God. God agreed to Abraham’s request and promised to spare the city if only ten righteous people could be found.
Genesis 19:1 records that Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom when the angels came, and he invited them to his house. When a mob of men came later that evening to molest Lot’s guests (Genesis 19:8), Lot offered his daughters to the crowd in an attempt to satiate them. Providentially, he was prevented from doing so. The angels pulled Lot back into the house and blinded the mob (Genesis 19:10–11).
Then the angels told Lot to gather his family members and leave Sodom, but his sons-in-law ignored his warnings. By daybreak, Lot was still lingering. The angels brought him out of the city with only his wife and his two daughters who were there. Lot’s positive impact on Sodom had been negligible, and soon his wife was to die looking back (probably in longing) towards Sodom’s destruction (Genesis 19:12–26).
Sometime soon after being in Zoar, Lot began to fear for his life. He took his daughters and moved to the mountains where they lived in a cave (Genesis 19:30). It is here that we read of the incestuous plot by his two daughters where they got him drunk so they could lie with him and become pregnant by him (Genesis 19:31–38).1
Other than a few passing references, such as Christ’s brief mention of him in Luke 17:28–29, Lot fades from the pages of Scripture until 2 Peter 2:7–8. There we read that Lot was considered righteous and that he was vexed living among such wicked people as the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. How can we reconcile this in our minds? Lot, the ineffective leader, the indecisive family man, the comfort-loving hedonist, the drunken dad—how could this man be called righteous?
Perhaps we judge Lot too harshly and forget the words of the Apostle Paul who after going through a long list of sins reminded the Corinthian church that “
such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1Corinthians 6:11).
It is not unreasonable to presume that Lot repented of his sin later in life, and God forgave him as He has promised.
We only know of Lot’s actions during a short period of his life. We are not told of Lot’s final days, but we do know that while living with Abraham he was a witness to Abraham’s humility, kindness, and faithfulness to God (Genesis 12:1–4; 13:8–9). He also saw Abraham make poor decisions and sin, and then saw him repent (Genesis 12:12–20; 13:1–5). So it is not unreasonable to presume that Lot repented of his sin later in life, and God forgave him as He has promised (1 John 1:9).
It is apparent from the text in 2 Peter that Lot was considered righteous. He was weak, and he sinned, but he did love the Lord. He did try to call out the people of Sodom for their sin by reminding them that they were doing wicked deeds (Genesis 19:7), and he tried to protect his angelic visitors. He may have been an ineffective evangelist, but he was burdened and grieved over the sin he saw around him.
What can the lesson of Lot’s life teach us today? Although we live in a sinful world that hates God, we are not to be conformed to this world, but by God’s grace we are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2). Lot, however, had a choice; he could have chosen to live outside the gates of the city, raised his family in a more godly way, and still attempted to have told the people of Sodom about the true and living God. The fact is that he did not do this, and his family was influenced by the wicked culture around them, even as Lot was tormented by it. The point can best be summed up by 1 Corinthians 15:33. “
Do not be deceived: evil company corrupts good habits.”
Lot spent too much time around the creature comforts of life in Sodom, and consequently his testimony was tarnished. Yet even in all of this, God was faithful and did not forget that Lot was His servant. God twice delivered him physically, and through the Holy Spirit He conveyed to us that Lot was righteous, signifying more importantly that He delivered Lot from his sins (Galatians 1:4; 2 Timothy 4:18). Though Lot did not live a very outwardly righteous life, he believed in God by faith, and God counted that faith as righteousness.