Lot’s tent was gradually pitched "toward Sodom." What danger did he run into? In Genesis 14:9-12 four kings went to war with five. "And the vale of Siddim was full of slime pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain. And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed" (vv. 10-12). This war was between two forces: five kings were defeated by four kings. Lot and his goods were also captured. Lot was captured because he dwelt in Sodom. The last time we saw him, he was still outside the city; but now he was dwelling in the city. The last time someone saw you, you might have still looked like a Christian; but now you have become a citizen of Sodom. The more sins you commit, the closer you are to Sodom. After a while, you will feel that the country is not as good as the city. As time goes on, you will even feel that the plain is not as good as the city.
Lot’s residing in Sodom was not without God’s warning. When the five kings were defeated by the four kings, Lot was also captured. This was a warning God gave to Lot that Sodom was not the place to be. Today I will ask you most frankly; this is also my word to you. If someone is sick, meets with failures in his business, or has problems in his family, these all are probably warnings from God. The defeat of the five kings by the four kings was God’s warning to Lot not to dwell in Sodom. Lot’s tent was gradually pitched "toward Sodom." Later he even became a citizen of Sodom. The way Lot moved was a little today, a little tomorrow, a little this time, and a little more the next time. After a few moves, he eventually moved into the city. Therefore, God gave Lot a warning. What about us today? Perhaps some experience the death of their spouse or the death of their son, and perhaps some become sick or meet with business failures. God’s warning might be in these happenings. If you are a Christian, yet drawing closer to the world day by day, God will warn you and give you no peace. God gives you His warning so that you will turn back quickly.
It is a pity that many Christians have no feelings; they cannot feel pain. Even though they realize that they are sick, that they have business failures, and that their families have problems, they do not know that these are God’s scourging. As a result, they will not turn back. However, if they do not turn back, greater things will happen to them. There was a brother, who though not yet backsliding, was gradually losing his heart. Another brother advised him one day that he should not go on in that manner anymore. He answered, "It does not matter. Mr. So-and-so was very zealous at first, then he gradually lost his heart. This year at the age of sixty, his oldest son who had just graduated from college died suddenly, and the old man has now become zealous again." The one who advised him then said, "God will most certainly accomplish things according to your wish." He said, "I certainly do not want this." Friends, if you belong to God, and if your feet walk toward the sinful world, God will certainly discipline you. If you are sick, and if you experience family problems or business failure, you should inquire of God. If God says that these things have happened to you because you have forsaken Him, you should turn back. Many times if the love of God cannot draw us, He will scourge us with a whip. If God’s word cannot touch us, He will press us with adversity. If you belong to the Lord and have committed sin or become backslidden, God will most certainly discipline you. He will not let you go. (Fortunately, Lot was rescued by his uncle when he was captured.)
Lot first dwelt outside of the city and was only close to Sodom. A person may still act like a Christian; he may not have moved into the city, but he is touching Sodom, and the boundary line is still very clear. But what happened at the end? He finally moved into the city. I will illustrate by a story. There was a child whose mother gave him six candies and told him to save them and eat them the next day. The child put the candies in front of him. He wanted to eat them but dared not to. Yet he could not bear the thought of not eating them. What did he do? He put each candy on his lip and licked it with his tongue. In this way, he licked all six candies again and again. At first there were six candies. Later they became smaller one by one. After a while one was gone, and five remained. And then two were gone, and four remained. In the end all six were eaten up. This is the way many Christians fall into sins. They disobey their conscience once, twice, until gradually they seek happiness in the world. Brothers and sisters, please realize that one does not stop sinning after the first sin. Once a person commits one sin, an addiction is built up which will cause him to commit sin again next time. Every time a person commits a sin, there are two results: first, it affords one the pleasure of sin; second, it builds up an addiction to commit more sin. Lot moved into the city gradually. Is it possible for you not to go into the city? At the beginning, we think that we will only commit that much sin and not go into the city. But there is no such thing. If you reach the entrance of Sodom, you will certainly go into the city. Either you do not sin or you sin. If you sin, you will not have the power to restrict yourself to that one sin and avoid committing more sins.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 18: Notes on Scriptural Messages (2), Chapter 13, by Watchman Nee)