Joseph Prince Misrepresents The Righteous Lot to Support his ‘Once Righteous Always Righteous’ Doctrine – By Rev George Ong (Dated 24 Nov 2021)
(This article was also sent to Rev Dr Ngoei Foong Nghian, General Secretary, NCCS office, and for the attention of the Executive Committee Members.)
In a weekly sermon aired on 21 November 2021 last Sunday, about 3 days ago, Joseph Prince said the following; please click to view excerpts in the one-minute video,
“And Abraham noticed the eyes of the Lord became quite serious. And he says ‘Lord, shall not the Judge of the earth do right?’ He knew that God was going down to Sodom and Gomorrah to destroy it. And he says ‘Shall not the Judge of the earth do right? Will you destroy the righteous with the wicked?’ Now who was he calling righteous? Who was Abraham calling righteous? His nephew (Lot). Abraham knew his nephew was righteous. Now, for some of us, some believers fall into sin, or they live in sin, we say ‘They are no more righteous.’ God still sees them as righteous. And you better call them righteous.”
“Even you are righteous by faith, but you are messed up, you will still go up. You’d shocked and surprised but you’d still go up. And when you are there, others will be shocked and surprised but you will still be there.”
In this sermon, Joseph Prince compared the life and journey of Abraham and Lot and encouraged his congregation to follow the example of Abraham instead of Lot even though both of them were righteous.
What is sorely wrong was that Prince went on to use, or rather, misuse the righteous Lot to support his ‘Once Righteous Always Righteous’ and his ‘Justification-Only without Sanctification’ salvation doctrine.
Joseph Prince misrepresented Lot to support his view that a Christian can live in sin and still be righteous. However, nowhere does the Bible present Lot as one who had lived in sin. But Prince, in order to exploit the example of Lot to support his case, implied that Lot had lived in sin when he said in the video,
“Who was Abraham calling righteous? His nephew (Lot). Abraham knew his nephew was righteous. Now, for some of us, some believers fall into sin, or they live in sin, we say ‘They are no more righteous.’ God still sees them as righteous. And you better call them righteous.”
The implication by Prince is that just as Lot was righteous (even though he had lived in sin), in the same way, believers, who live in sin, are still righteous as Lot was righteous.
However, the Apostle Peter never presents the righteous Lot as one who had lived in sin. On the contrary, he described Lot as one,
“… who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless 8 (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard) –” (2 Peter 2:7b-8 NIV)
For 3 times in a short span of only 2 verses in 2 Peter 2:7-8, Peter pronounced Lot as a righteous man. Peter provided fresh information that wasn’t recorded in Genesis about Lot being distraught by the wickedness and lawlessness around him while he was in Sodom. That sounds like how a righteous person would respond in that situation.
Even though Lot was far from perfect, Peter clearly made a distinction between the righteous Lot and the wickedness of the people of Sodom. Yes, Lot may have been unwise to choose Sodom as his place of residence but nowhere did Peter ever say that the righteous Lot had participated in the wicked sins of the people of Sodom. On the contrary, Peter stressed that Lot was distressed by their depravity and tormented in his righteous being by their lawlessness.
Peter ought to have the last word as the Holy Spirit had revealed to him new information about what wasn’t known by us about Lot in the Old Testament, lest we form a biased and an overly negative opinion against him.
This was what Joseph Prince had done in this sermon by painting Lot in a negative light – as the ‘bad guy’ (or not to be modelled after guy) vis-a-vis the good guy, Abraham, even though Prince was crafty enough to still posture Lot as a believer for his insidious agenda of using him to support his ‘Once Righteous Always Righteous’ doctrine.
Besides the good words that Peter had spoken about Lot, God Himself had esteemed Lot and had him at heart when he sent 2 angels to save him from the impending destruction of Sodom because God made a distinction between Lot who was a righteous man and wicked people of Sodom.
Even the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, as opposed to Joseph Prince, had painted Lot in a positive light:
Luke 17:26-30 NIV
26 “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 “It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. 29 But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 “It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.
Like Peter, Jesus spoke well of Lot and placed him in the category and company of the upright Noah. Both of them were saved in their time before God destroyed the world and Sodom. Why? Because both Noah and Lot were righteous men as compared to the unrighteousness and wickedness of the people around them.
Yes, Lot may have had his serious weaknesses, but so did Abraham. Abraham lied twice that Sarah wasn’t his wife. To betray one’s wife (Sarah), the one who is dearest and closest to him, twice, by lying in order to save one’s life, is rather degrading for a man of God even by Old Testament standards. If this were to happen today, any wife would have been grievously hurt, and forgiving her husband ‘for selling her out’ instead of protecting her, wouldn’t be an easy thing to do.
Even though both Abraham and Lot had committed serious misdeeds in their life (just as all of us do, too), on the whole and in the eyes of God, they were considered righteous. They were righteous as there wasn’t any record of them in the Bible – that they had lived in sin or that they were unrepentant when they sinned.
For Joseph Prince to say in this sermon that Lot with all his imperfections is still on the whole a believer and that’s why the scriptures called him righteous is not a problem at all. I would have preached it the same way as Prince had done in this sermon.
However, the deceptiveness about Prince’s sermons is that although they contain truths, this sermon, as in most of his other sermons, was also mixed and contaminated with serious error.
The error of Prince in this particular sermon is that he abuses the example of the righteous Lot to support his ‘Once Righteous Always Righteous’ doctrine. He deliberately overplayed the case by casting Lot in a negative light in this sermon (vis-a-vis Abraham) and by implying that Lot had lived in sin (false implication), in order to justify his Grace Theology that once a person is righteous, he will always be righteous as the righteous Lot, even though he is living a lifestyle of sin.
If you think I am slandering Joseph Prince, please view this 30-second video by clicking here,
“Okay, Pastor Prince, I know a friend, used to be a Christian, used to be this, bla bla bla. Number 1, we do not know if he is a professor or possessor. But let’s say he is a possessor, he is saved. He left the Lord and all that. You would be surprised, even though he lived a lifestyle of sin, salvation is more solid than his lifestyle. And maybe he dies young. But in heaven, you’re going to see him. You’re going to see him because salvation is not because of what he did. He will never perish.”
Joseph Prince teaches that even though one might leave the Lord and live a lifestyle of sin, he will still be saved. He also implies that if he dies without repenting from his sinful lifestyle, he will still end up in heaven as he will never perish.
This is nothing more than Prince’s ‘Justification-Only Without Sanctification’ salvation doctrine – that once a believer is justified or declared righteous, it doesn’t matter how he lives. He may live a lifestyle of sin (no sanctification) but he will still be saved (just by justification) as he is ‘Once Righteous Always Righteous.’
Such twisted teachings of Joseph Prince are from the pit of hell! No true Christian doctrine from every theological persuasion that we know ever teaches that. Whether it is the Apostolic, Reformation, Puritan, Evangelical, Wesleyan, Reformed or Pentecostal tradition – none of these will have anything to do with such a hellish teaching.
Does that mean that when we sin, there is no hope? Of course not! We all have sinned and will still sin even after we have become a Christian. That’s what 1 John 1:9 was written for. If we confess, God will forgive us of our sins as God is not a capricious but a forgiving God.
But it is a totally different matter for a ‘so-called true believer’ to be permitted to continue to live a lifestyle of sin and not repent even at the point of death. This is because the same scriptures that call Lot a righteous man, also states categorically in many other passages that even a righteous person can die spiritually and perish in his sins if he chooses to remain unrepentant.
Since Joseph Prince uses Lot in Genesis which belongs to the Old Testament to support his case, I’m using the same Old Testament scriptures in Ezekiel to counter him:
Ezekiel 3:20-21 NIV
20 “Again, when a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before them, they will die. Since you did not warn them, they will die for their sin. The righteous things that person did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 21 But if you do warn the righteous person not to sin and they do not sin, they will surely live because they took warning, and you will have saved yourself.”
This means that even though a person is described as righteous or ‘saved’, he can still die in his sins if he chooses to live in his sins and remain unrepentant.
If you aren’t convinced, let me unveil 4 more passages in Ezekiel with the same message:
Ezekiel 18:24 NIV
“But if a righteous person turns from their righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked person does, will they live? None of the righteous things that person has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness they are guilty of and because of the sins they have committed, they will die.
Ezekiel 18:26 NIV
If a righteous person turns from their righteousness and commits sin, they will die for it; because of the sin they have committed they will die.
Ezekiel 33:13 NIV
If I tell a righteous person that they will surely live, but then they trust in their righteousness and do evil, none of the righteous things that person has done will be remembered; they will die for the evil they have done.
Ezekiel 33:18 NIV
If a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil, they will die for it.
Prophet Ezekiel categorically states that a righteous person can die spiritually because of his sin. This is contrary to the teaching of Joseph Prince that once you are righteous, you will always be righteous even though you are living in sin.
No honest Christian should need to go any further than these verses, to know that a righteous man’s salvation (justification) can be lost if he lives in sins (lack of sanctification), and he cannot remain in sin if he wishes to be remained saved.
If the righteous Lot fell into sin and did not repent, he too, like how Ezekiel had described, will be doomed to destruction. But thank God he didn’t because the Bible didn’t present Lot in that way, as one who had lived in sin, so his salvation was secured.
But Joseph Prince had deceptively capitalized on Lot by falsely implying that he had lived in sin in order to justify that a believer who is living in his sins is still righteous like the righteous Lot and his salvation is not the least affected.
By such a teaching, Prince is giving the people the false hope that one can still live in sin, without affecting one’s salvation. The young in faith and the more carnal believers would reason that the deal offered by Joseph Prince is beyond their wildest dreams. They could enjoy the forbidden earthly pleasures while on earth and still be assured of eternal life in heaven. Such a too-good-to-be-true offer, would result in the multitudes who have embraced his teachings to be led to the lake of fire.
Joseph Prince said in the video,
“Even you are righteous by faith, but you are messed up, you will still go up. You’d shocked and surprised but you’d still go up. And when you are there, others will be shocked and surprised but you will still be there.”
Just as Joseph Prince had said earlier in his video that one can live in sin and still be righteous, I would also assume that when he said here “but you are messed up” means that even though you are living in sin, you will still be in heaven.
Joseph Prince has given false hope to people, that one day, others and you will be positively shocked to find yourself up there in heaven even though you had lived a lifestyle of sin. But Jesus states that the opposite would happen in Matthew 7:21-23:
Matthew 7:21-23 NASB
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”
Jesus states that one day, many will be negatively shocked to find themselves being locked out of His kingdom.
Many people think what Jesus is talking about in Matthew 7:21-23 is the whole unbelieving world here and the small group of Christians over there. No, Jesus is not talking about the people of the world at all in Matthew 7:21-23.
Jesus is saying this – that among the many who call themselves His disciples, only a few will enter His kingdom (Matt 7:13-14). The ‘many’ who will be turned away in judgement in the context of Matthew 7:21-23, are not those outside the church who are openly resistant and hostile to Christ.
Instead, His indicting words are aimed at all who claim to know Him and call Him “Lord, Lord.” He is talking to people who say “Jesus is Lord.” These are people who call themselves ‘Christians’ and whose beliefs may seem to agree with the scriptures that Jesus is referring to.
This is the greatest shock and horror that could happen to anyone of us. The shocking thing is that even among those who boldly declare Jesus to be Lord, many will be condemned on the day of judgement and barred from the kingdom. Why? Because they have committed the sin of lawlessness (Matt 7:23).
Joseph Prince, has indeed, committed such a grave sin as he teaches that there are no more laws to obey for New Covenant believers. And those who have embraced his teachings of lawlessness will, like him, be barred from God’s kingdom.
These grave words of Christ should wake every Christian up from their slumber. Would such a heart-pounding and sweat-inducing scene occur that people who expected to be welcomed into God’s kingdom are shockingly barred from it? Yes, indeed! Such a horrifying scene is not a theoretical construct. Jesus Himself said such a pathetic scenario would take place on the day of judgement.
“The biggest shock with the greatest consequence and the deepest regret is in hearing Christ say those terrifying words, ‘I never knew you!” (Matt 7:23) (George Ong)
So while Joseph Prince says that you and others will be positively shocked and surprised to find yourself up there in heaven even though you had lived in sin, Jesus says the opposite – that many who expected to enter God’s kingdom will be shocked and surprised to be barred from it because they had lived in sin – the sin of lawlessness – the chief sin that Joseph Prince is guilty of because of his heresy of Antinomianism.
Who should you listen to? Joseph Prince or Jesus the Prince of Peace?
At this juncture, some of you may ask, “George, you have unveiled the passages of Ezekiel from the Old Testament to expose Joseph Prince’s heresies. But what about the New Testament? Has the New Testament anything to say about the righteous dying spiritually?”
Yes, of course!
The New Testament warnings to the righteous about them dying spiritually through sin are repeated, especially by Paul, Peter and James. Because of the practical reason of space, I will just deal with 2 passages in James. The familiarity between these 2 passages of James and the Ezekiel passages is evident.
James, too, taught the same truths as Paul, Peter and Ezekiel did. James describes the sinning process, which leads to the spiritual death of the righteous:
James 1:14-16 NIV
14 “but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. 16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.”
James is not speaking to unbelievers but believers. This is why he warned in V16, “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.”
His message is clearly this, “Hey, don’t be deceived that I’m talking about unbelievers, but I’m talking about you, who are my dear brothers and sisters.”
How can anyone claim that James is addressing unbelievers in this passage? It is not referring to unbelievers because sin can’t bring about death in unbelievers (Jas 1:15), because they are already “dead in (their) transgressions and sins” (Eph 2:1) in the first place.
James was unambiguously speaking to Christians as he addressed them as “beloved brethren” or “beloved brothers” (James 1:16, in the NKJV and many other translations). James’ message to the believers is that if sin is not dealt with and allowed to balloon, it can finally lead to spiritual death.
James, then elaborated upon this eternal truth at the very end of his own epistle:
James 5:19-20 NASB
19 “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”
James 5:19-20 NIV
19 “My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”
Unlike NIV, NASB plus at least nine other Bible translations make it explicitly clear what that death refers to: “will save his soul from death”, meaning not physical death but spiritual death.
James refers to his readers as “brethren.” In other words, he is writing to his brothers and sisters in Christ. He is not addressing unbelievers, but he is writing to Christians. He uses the phrase “any among you,” again, describing Christians. He describes a Christian who is “straying from the truth.” No one can “stray from the truth” without knowing the truth in the first place. He is describing a straying and sinning Christian.
Then, James describes another Christian helping this straying Christian. He says, “one turns him back.” James says that the helping Christian would “turn a sinner from the error of his way.” What this means is that the Christian who has strayed from the truth must return to the truth. That straying Christian has become a “sinner” again.
The fact that James called a believer who wandered from the truth a “sinner”, would indicate he was no longer a believer but one who had to be brought back through repentance to a saving faith – for the simple reason that believers in the scriptures are called saints, not sinners.
James says that “turning from the error of his way” will “save” the straying Christian’s soul from death. In other words, the erring Christian will not suffer spiritual death and be lost eternally if he returns to God and the truth. But if he doesn’t repent and return to God, he will die a spiritual death and be lost eternally.
This is one of those passages in scripture, which makes it crystal clear that Joseph Prince’s ‘You are forever saved or righteous’ doctrine isn’t true – that you, as a believer, can wander and stray away to such a point that your soul dies. And unless you repent, your spiritual death will lead you to hell.
So the message of both James 1:14-16 and James 5:19-20 is the same – that besetting sins must be dealt with by believers, or they will result in their spiritual and eternal death.
The Bible is consistent in both the Old and the New Testament. A righteous person, whether it is in the Old Testament or the New, can die spiritually. The righteous who sins in the Old Testament without repenting in Ezekiel will die a spiritual death. It is the same with the New as postured by James.
This clearly shows that those who blindly follow Joseph Prince’s teachings that there are no present and future sins to repent from because believers are ‘Once Righteous Always Righteous’, will certainly die a spiritual death and hell is where they may end up in. If Prince’s teachings can lead people to hell, how can he not be a heretic?
Finally, let me come back to where I have begun. I began by stating that Joseph Prince had misrepresented the righteous Lot to support his ‘Once Righteous Always Righteous’ doctrine.
As I’ve shown, the Bible presents Abraham and Lot as righteous even though both had made serious errors and even sinned against God. But both Abraham and Lot were never presented in the scriptures as having lived and remained in sin or that they were unrepentant when they sinned.
But what is deadly is that Joseph Prince falsely teaches in this particular sermon that there are 2 kinds of believers. The first kind is the devoted kind – represented by Abraham, and the second, the carnal kind, who can live in sin and still be considered righteous – as represented by Lot.
To say that Lot is righteous even though he had committed many blunders and had even sinned against God is one thing. But to imply that Lot is righteous even though he had remained in his sins – and using that to apply to every believer that they are still righteous as the righteous Lot and will make it to heaven even though they had lived a lifestyle of sin, is what is repulsive.
The first statement is true, while the second, which was preached in this particular sermon, and many of his other sermons, by Joseph Prince, is biblically and patently false.
Rev George Ong