It’s easy to fall into the error of viewing the patriarchs or heroes of the Old Testament as having gained God’s favor by being obedient or righteous, but the reality is, they all had pretty serious moral failures. The wealth that this chapter references, Abraham gained in Egypt through the favor he curried by allowing Pharaoh to take Abraham’s wife as his own.
Just as we today are saved not by our works, but by our faith in a savior who paid the full penalty for all of our sins, Abraham was saved not by his works, but by his faith in the God who saves. James 2:22-23 tells us, “You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was made complete, and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called God’s friend.” The actions Abraham took in obedience to God were visible evidences of his faith, but those actions alone could not save him (especially weighed against the balance of his sin).
In the same way, all of the good we do cannot outweigh the sin that dwells in our heart by the power of God to transform our hearts can save as we put our faith in Him.
Sin is always, first, an issue of our hearts. We see that as Abram and Lot discuss splitting up to reduce tension among those caring for their herds. Lot’s heart is set on self — he chooses the land that is evidently more fertile and lush, despite the awareness of corruption.
Verse 12 tells us, Lot “pitched his tents near Sodom.” It’s a vivid picture of how a self-seeking heart will often try to get as close to sin as it can. It says, “How close to the line can I get?” Rather than, “How can I draw closer to God’s desires for me?” For us, it may be, “How far can I bend the rules on paying taxes without getting audited?” or “How fast can I drive without getting a ticket?” or “How little can I do around the house without getting in trouble with my parents?”
Instead of trying to see what we can get away with, what if we set our hearts in the opposite direction of selfishness? In Romans 12:9-11, Paul advises believers, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good. Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lack diligence in zeal; be fervent in the Spirit; serve the Lord.”s. Onl