Compromise and Conformity

Scripture: 2 Chronicles 18:3-34, Ezra 4:1-5
Date: 02/04/2006 
The devil is constantly working to make Christians make compromises on truth and principles.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

When I choose a subject to share with you I want to make sure it’s something that resonates in my own heart otherwise it’s hard to relate. And the subject that we’re going to talk about this morning is something I think that we all struggle with. It’s the issue of compromise and conformity. We’re under constant pressure and there is a constant attack that is going on at all times where the devil is chipping away at our resolve, our values, our principles; and where he might not attempt an all out assault he does it by virtue of corrosion and erosion where we’re little by little being conformed and pressured to compromise. Now compromise in and of itself is not a bad thing. Matter of fact, there are some areas where compromise is a wonderful thing. A lot of unity can be achieved by virtue of compromise whereas if somebody else is being pigheaded, dogmatic, it’s not a good spirit. But Christians should never for the sake of peace compromise truth or principles. And this is the area that I’m worried about is when the devil is filing away at us all the time to make little concessions and then a little more and a little more until pretty soon you’ve surrendered all of your real estate and he becomes the primary owner. So we’re going to look at some of these issues and I’ll start as I often do with an illustration based on a parable by Aesop. Kids, you listening? There is a story that was told by this ancient Greek story teller who loved children about how it is that bats came, you know bats?

How they came to live in the dark and in the caves. There was a war between the animals and the birds, and when the birds were winning the war the bats would fly around and say, “I’m a bird! I’m a bird! Look at me fly. I’m a bird.” But then during the war between the beasts and the birds pretty soon the beasts began to win and the bat dropped down on the ground, he began to crawl around and say, “I’m with you. I’m a beast. That’s me. I’m a beast.” And pretty soon both the birds and the beasts became fed up with the hypocrisy of the bat trying to play both sides of the war and because of that he was banished to live in caves and only came out in the dark. In wanting to make everybody happy, he made nobody happy. It’s like this man who lived during the civil war on a border of the north and the south and he thought, “Well I don’t want to offend anybody,” so rather than wear the gray uniform of the South or the blue uniform of the North he thought he’d compromise and he wore the blue shirt and the gray pants. But it backfired. When the South saw him they shot at the blue and when the North saw him they shot at his pants. And so he got shot up by both sides. In the battle between good and evil you can’t play both sides and to try to find peace by compromising with the devil and with the world it’s an impossibility. You will be above all people most miserable. You’re better off being with him or against him rather than being deceived into thinking you can serve two masters. You can’t. Now there are a lot of ways that this compromise can be seen all around us and some of these things I’m going to share. I struggled to know what would be a proper order and I don’t know if I came up with that, but…

Let’s start out with some examples in the Bible of compromises of principle that went wrong. You’ve got the apostate alliance. Those who try to achieve peace by compromising with those who are somewhat in the world and somewhat in the church. II Chronicles 18:3 King Ahab. Here’s a test. Good king or bad king? Bad king. You should all know that right away. That’s Old Testament 101. Wicked King Ahab, I mean at least you know Moby Dick, don’t you? He was a wicked king, none like him. And he said to Jehoshaphat. Here’s a test. Jehoshaphat, good king or bad king? Good king, but he had a weakness. Jehoshaphat was prone to try to, at the expense of principle try to get peace through compromising with the wicked and look how it played out for him. Ahab said to Jehoshaphat king of Judah, “Will you go up with me against Ramoth Gilead?” And he thought well, you know we’ve been at war. Up until the time of Jehoshaphat Judah, Jehoshaphat was king of Judah, and the northern kingdom where Ahab was king they’d been at war for generations. Now Ahab is offering a little garland of peace.

He’s saying, “Will you go to war with me against the Syrians to get back our territory that we lost to the Syrians?” Well, the reason they lost the territory is because Ahab had forsaken the Lord. He was an apostate. And Jehoshaphat should have said, “I know why you lost Ramoth Gilead and I’m not going to go to battle with you.” For one thing, two cannot walk together except they be agreed. But he thought oh, you know, peace is so important. If this is what I’ve got to do to get peace with them… oh, yeah. And then he said, yes, but then his conscience started bothering him. As they were having a rally getting ready for the war Jehoshaphat was a little nervous because Ahab had all of his prophets parading in front of him, prophets of Baal, “Go to war with the Syrians! You’ll be victorious! God is with you!” And Jehoshaphat is noticing that there were no prophets of Jehovah in the group. He kind of nudged Ahab and he said, (they were on two thrones side by side) and he said, “Do you have any prophets of Jehovah here?” And Ahab said, “Well, yeah, there’s one, but I don’t like him.” “Why not?” “Oh, he’s Micaiah. He never says anything good about me.” “Well, let’s hear him out. Just bring him along.” So they brought Micaiah the prophet and they tried to get Micaiah to compromise. And as the messenger is bringing Micaiah to the war rally the messenger says, “Now you realize all the prophets of Baal are saying nothing but good. They’re saying go to Ramoth Gilead and you’re going to be victorious.

Fight against the Syrians and win, win, win!” And Micaiah says, “As the Lord lives I’m going to say what God tells me to say.” There is a man of principle. So he said that. He basically said, “I see in vision Israel on the mountain like sheep without a shepherd. Why? Because the shepherd has been smitten.” And Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, “I told you he never says anything good! He’s saying that I’m going to be smitten.” And so even after Jehoshaphat knew what the messenger of God said, he knew what the word of God said, Ahab said, “Well, isn’t unity important? Doesn’t God want unity?” and Ahab prevailed and got Jehoshaphat to go with him into battle. But that sinister king, you know what he did? He knew the Syrians were going to go after him so he dresses up like a common soldier and all the Syrians started chasing after Jehoshaphat to execute him. Cut off the head and you kill the whole animal. And just as they were about to fire upon him they said, “He’s not the king of Israel!” and they let him go and they began to look for the king of Israel. Well it turns out that a stray arrow hit Ahab, he died in the battle, Jehoshaphat nearly died, but he still hadn’t learned his lesson. Trying to make peace with an apostate.

Christians need to be very careful about compromising with the world. There are a lot of ways that that manifests itself. It could be in the way you spend your time. It could be in the way that you dress. You don’t want to look too old fashioned and so you do things that Christians never used to do and wear things they never used to wear and talk the way they never used to talk because you want to fit in because we want acceptance and we make these compromises and little by little we begin to conform to the world. But the Bible scripture that Rachel read a minute ago, “Do not be conformed,” be transformed is the goal and the devil is trying to get us to compromise. II Chronicles 19:2, 3 “And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer” the prophet “went out to meet” Jehoshaphat, and he “said to King Jehoshaphat, ‘Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Therefore the wrath of the Lord is upon you.’” Even though he was a good king, because he compromised and was making alliances with an apostate king he said, “The wrath of God is upon you.” Don’t love those that hate Me. That should be pretty basic for the Christian.

Another example of how this plays itself out, a brief story. I bet most of you don’t remember this. When they were building the temple, this is the temple that Jesus came to, during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah the king of Assyria gave them permission to rebuild the temple of Jerusalem and you can read in Ezra 4:1 “Now when the adversaries…” Who is an adversary? A friend or a foe? “When the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the descendants of the captivity were building the temple of the Lord God… they came to Zerubbabel and to the heads of the fathers’ houses, and said,” We want to “build with you, for we seek” the “God” of your fathers like “you do.” We’ve got things in common. Yeah, we do mix up a little pagan worship, but we also believe in your God along with our gods. So let’s all build the temple together. And notice what it says here. “Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the fathers’ house… said to them, ‘You may do nothing with us to build a house for our God; but we alone will build to the Lord God of Israel… Then the people of the land,” the same ones who said we’re on your side, they tried to discourage the people of Judah and “they troubled them in building.” They became their enemies. Now that’s a principle there. If you stand up for what’s right and if you do not get involved in these alliances with apostates you’ll be persecuted for it. First the devil’s approach will be, “Let’s just work together. Let’s all just love each other. Compromise a little on your convictions, we’ll compromise a little on our convictions and then we’ll be united because unity is so important!” But if you don’t fall for that trap and you take a stand and say, “Look, we can’t sacrifice principles of truth in the name of unity,” they will become your worst enemies which tells you where they were in the first place.

You know I thought there was an interesting example of this. Now this goes back about six years. Some of you remember. We should not compromise truth. October 31, 1999 Martin Luther would have been doing gymnastic maneuvers in his grave if he only knew what happened when in the interest of unity the Lutherans and the Catholics signed a joint declaration of doctrine on justification. It was on the day that Martin Luther, the four hundred and thirtieth anniversary of when Martin Luther had nailed his ninety-five theses to the Wittenberg church door. They shook hands, they put aside their differences, they said, “We can merge.” You know what the word merge really means? It means one entity is taken over and absorbed by another in the name of unity. How do churches merge? Why are there different denominations? Well, because there are distinctive teachings. I had lunch this last week with a gentleman who owns a prominent newspaper here in town, nice man, actually has come to church here a couple of times. He was asking about our specific beliefs. What makes us different from other Christians? Well it didn’t take me long to explain that because I know what they are. There are differences. I’m not ashamed of those differences. If the differences didn’t matter then it wouldn’t matter where I was pastor, would it? It wouldn’t matter where you went. And there are differences between (at least there used to be) between the Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church, between the Episcopals and the Lutherans, between these different denominations. And the idea that all the religious leaders can get together and have a meeting and say, “In the interest of unity I’ll tell you what we’ll do. I’ll trade you one eternal torment if you are willing to sacrifice the trinity, and if you’ll give me one punishment of the wicked I’ll give you one predestination. And if you’ll give up your…” and it’s like they’re playing this game of cosmic UNO.

We’ll just put aside these very important doctrines and make these concessions for the sake of unity. Well you’re sacrificing truth when you do that. I thought it was interesting in the article that talked about this and other concessions that are being made it specifically said there used to be canyons that divided these churches and they’re becoming more and more nonexistent. You know what a canyon is? It’s a gulf and these gulfs are now being bridged in the interest of unity which means somebody is giving up their beliefs in order to… or the other thing that happens is take the ingredients off the box, make it generic. It’s like if you go to the store I’ve noticed you’ll have corn flakes and then you’ll have corn flakes, and then you’ll have the store brand of corn flakes. There are about ten different kinds of corn flakes. If I’m going to buy corn flakes I turn the box on its side. I don’t buy the cereal based upon the cartoon on the cover though you hope they have a nice picture because you have to look at it for about a week. But I look on the spine and I start reading the ingredients and some of them say first ingredients whole organic corn and that sounds good to me. the other ones first thing it says is sugar, fructose, some chemicals I can’t pronounce, but I’m really worried when I turn to the spine of the box and it’s blank and you’re just supposed to trust the headline that somewhere in there amongst everything else is some corn flakes. There are a new breed of churches that really have a very nebulous doctrinal statement.

What does your church believe? We believe the Bible. Okay, we all say that. Let’s be more specific. We believe we ought to love God and love each other. That’s good too, but there’s more to it than that. And you’ll notice that more and more churches are shying away from specifics as though doctrines are dirty, doctrines divide. You’ll hear that. Doctrines divide! And so we need to compromise our pet doctrines in the name of unity. But really Jesus sat down and the people were amazed at His doctrine when he talked to them. Doctrine is a teaching and what happens to the church when we become ashamed of or compromise doctrine for the sake of unity? Jesus died in defense of truth against error. His whole ministry was about clearing up what is the truth and defining it because there was so much confusion and so much doctrinal error, but you’re going to see more and more compromise of truth.

Compromise in business. You see it happening among Christians. There is a possibility of great profit and so we might get into alliances with others in the business world that Christians should not be in alliance with, get into relationships that are inappropriate because there is the hope of some financial gain. Going back to Jehoshaphat II Chronicles 20:35-27, “After this Jehoshaphat king Judah allied himself with Ahaziah…” (the son of Ahab) “king of Israel, who acted very wickedly.” He allied himself with the son of Ahab who acted wickedly. Was that a good move? What do you think the Bible is telling us? “And he allied himself with him to make ships…” They went into a business deal. Look, let’s do this shipping together “to go to Tarshish, and they made ships in Ezlon Geber. But Eliezer the son of Dodavah of Mareshah prophesied against” them. God sent the word of God to say you’re not supposed to do this. “…saying, ‘Because you have allied yourself with Ahaziah, the Lord has destroyed your works.’ Then the ships were wrecked, so that they were not able to go to Tarshish.” A storm came along, his business enterprise went bankrupt. Why? God could have blessed it if he had kept the wicked out of it, but he got into an unholy alliance and some Christians get into business ventures and they say, “No, I would never do this. I’m just a one third partner and that’s why we sell these forbidden articles or that’s why we are open on Sabbaths. Yes, I have joined with some unbelievers.”

These alliances the Bible says we should not be in. And you wonder sometimes why God is not blessing our endeavors it’s because we’re involved in business arrangements that are not appropriate. Matthew chapter 7, verse 13, “Enter in by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.” But straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life. The straight, narrow gate is not necessarily the easiest way. God has not called us to go the easiest way. The churches in the world today are saying accept Jesus and wear a cross. Put one on your church. Just go to a church that has a Bible and a cross on top. That’s not the kind of cross that Jesus was talking about. He never said to wear it; He never said to pin it to your building or your lapel. He said bear the cross not wear the cross. There’s a difference, right? Taking up your cross means self-denial. It’s going to be a tough road. You know I used to go to a New York military academy which was the elementary part of West Point. In West Point every Sunday in the chapel they recite a prayer called the Cadet’s Prayer, and it talks about the harder right or the most difficult right way. Here’s what the prayer says, “Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half truth when the whole truth can be won. Endow us with courage that is born of loyalty to all that is noble and worthy, that scorns to compromise with vice and injustice and knows no fear when truth and right are in jeopardy.” That kind of nobility of standing for the right even though it’s the harder right you scarcely hear about that anymore. It’s believed virtuous to compromise truth in the name of unity, but not according to the Bible.

Because of this there are compromises that are made in marriage. Now let me hasten to say if you’re smart and if you’re spiritual you will learn that compromise is a good word in marriage. Compromise is not a dirty word. Everyone understand that? Some compromise is very good. If you are having a face-off between Mexican food and Chinese food then say alright, we go to the Thai restaurant. That’s okay. There’s no moral dilemma there, you can do that. Or if it’s time to buy the new family car and he says Ford and she says German, what would you say Honda? We’ll get Korean then. So you find something that is in between. Is there any moral problem with that? Are you sacrificing truth? Is it smart sometimes if you can find agreement on some neutral compromise in those areas? Yes, as long as you’re not sacrificing… you might feel like you’re sacrificing something. If you get a Ford instead of a German car there may be a sacrifice involved, but you may need to be willing to make some of those sacrifices in marital bliss if you want some harmony. Nothing wrong with that. Whether it’s oatmeal raison or chocolate chip you might need to compromise. Oatmeal raison chocolate chip. Does anyone make those? They’re really good! Bring them to me. I love that. You can find those in the store. But what kind of compromise are we talking about that’s wrong? First of all, marrying unbelievers. “Do not be unequally yoked together,” this is II Corinthians 6:14-17, you know this. “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.

For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial?” He’s talking about believer/unbeliever, light/darkness, the devil/Christ. Is there a difference between Christians and non-Christians? But you know what I’ll often hear? And this is what gets people. A Christian young lady marries a supposed Christian young man, he turns into a hypocrite in the marriage and he’s a monster. So they get divorced. Maybe they’ve even got biblical grounds. So when she starts thinking about remarriage again, meets the nicest guy in the world. He’s a pagan, but he’s the nicest pagan in the world, and when her friends start to chastise her and say, “Now he’s not a believer.” “Well, I married a believer before and look how that turned out! At least he’s nice!” and so then they go out of the frying pan into the fire because they think that, “Well, I married a hypocrite and so I’m not going to marry anyone in the church or it doesn’t really matter.” Don’t fall for that. I’d appreciate at least one amen for that.

It was a truth and I’m going to share it whether you like it or not because I’ve got the support here. Take it up with the One who wrote the Bible. Or they say, “I’m going to convert them afterward.” You know God is good and sometimes it works out that way. Sometimes it doesn’t, and you can’t shake your fist at God when you marry someone who is not a believer. Be careful if you sense they could be getting married just for the wedding. Or they get baptized just to facilitate the wedding. I’ve seen that happen before. People come in and say, “I want Bible studies.” I say, “Great! What brought you here?” “I’m getting married and my wife says she won’t marry me unless I get baptized so what do I gotta do?” I worry about those Bible study sessions because it’s like, “Alright. Yeah, yeah, I believe it. Where do I sign?” They don’t often last. It’s not a heartfelt conversion. Sometimes I’ve seen people come along and you praise God for those situations where God saves us from our bad choices. God is good and sometimes He spares us from some bad decisions, but it still never justifies going against the word of God that says, “Do not be unequally yoked together.” Amen? It’s a Bible principle. Look at how it plays itself out. Genesis 16:2, “Sarai said to Abram, ‘See now, the Lord has kept me from having children. Please, go to my handmaid,” you know this pagan Egyptian Hagar? She looks healthy. Now I might be a worshiper of the true God and your wife, but at least she’s a healthy pagan. She could probably spawn some children.

Was that God’s plan? How much trouble is in the world today because of that compromise that Abraham made with his wife? You know the problems with the Palestinians and Hamas and Israel today, all of that can be traced back to this compromise regarding being unequally yoked and doubting the word of God. We’re just making a compromise. Abraham needs a son, they’re calling him Abraham father of a multitude, he has no kids, they’re laughing at him. This will solve everything. Did it solve it? Ultimately Hagar and Ishmael were kicked out of the house and God finally kept His word and did give Sarah and Abraham a child. Wait on the Lord. Sometimes we’re tempted to compromise because we become impatient. We want what we want now and we think that here’s an opportunity, I better seize it now. You wait on God. Don’t compromise your convictions and you’ll see, He’ll come through for you. Trust the Lord. Solomon made a treaty with pharaoh. Part of the treaty in that pagan world was intermarriage for the sake of peace so he took pharaoh’s daughter instead of taking a good Jewish girl. Not only did he take pharaoh’s daughter but he began to marry all these other pagan women for political alliance. He had seven hundred concubines, three hundred wives; most of his wives were not Jewish girls except the Shunammite that you heard me talk about last week, but he married for political power. What happened? For it was so when Solomon was old, didn’t happen right away, his morals got weak, his wives turned his heart after other gods. Sometimes we think, “Dad, Mom, I’m going to marry her. Don’t worry I’m going to bring her around. I’m going to convert her.” But it often works the other way. She might convert you. And so that’s another danger in these areas of compromise.

Don’t compromise with sin. That’s very simple. While we’re talking about the issue of marriage, probably a good place to remind you of the integrity of Joseph when Potiphar’s wife was tempting him day after day. It doesn’t say she was ugly, might have been an attractive woman. Potiphar was off fighting battles for the pharaoh. Everything in the house was under Joseph’s control. There’s lots of pay increases that could probably come along if he’d sacrifice a little bit and give her what she wants. She wanted him to violate his principles. She also had the power to make life very difficult for him. It must have been a powerful temptation for Joseph, single, healthy young man all the whisperings of the devil and the advantages, but he knew it was wrong and he wouldn’t compromise and so not only does it say that he would not do it, it says she spoke to him day by day and that’s how the devil does. He tries to work us down day by day. He did not heed her to lie with her or to even be with her. He tried to keep his distance. When you’re being tempted by someone to compromise your convictions, stay away from them. Don’t let them work on you. If you know you’re not buying then don’t listen to the sales pitch, right? Some of us, we hang around for the sales pitch. How did Eve compromise her convictions?

She engaged the devil and stood around for the sales pitch. As soon as she saw that tree and a snake talking she should have run. How did Adam get in trouble? He compromised. He said, “Well, I listen a little to God, a little to my wife, a little to the snake and make everyone happy.” Did it work that way? It’s not very popular when you preach against sin. You’ll be called uncompromising by the world; you’ll be called fanatical. Count on it. Make a note. If you stand up for your convictions you will be accused of fanaticism. The Bible says, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ,” Romans 13:14, “make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” You’re invited to a wedding, you’re a Christian. Not everybody at the wedding is. That happens frequently. Someone takes out the champagne, they pour a little cup and they say, “Let’s toast the bride and groom,” and they hand you your cup. And you say, “But I don’t drink.” They say, “We don’t ask you to drink. We’re just going to toast. Don’t you want to give your best wishes and toast the bride and groom? Don’t you care about? Just a little sip.” It’s happened to me before. I know people do this. I just heard the devil talking through this person, and I said, “You don’t understand, I don’t drink at all.” And you’ve got, “Just this once. Little sin.

I mean, after all, don’t you make… you’re a fanatic. Any compromise?” Just say no! People will respect you more if you stand for something. If you don’t stand firmly for something, as you’ve heard me say, that means you’ll fall for anything. The devil is constantly at work little by little to nibble away and corrode through compromise our convictions. There was a Methodist preacher who often spoke on the subject of sin and it began to irritate some of the sophisticated people in his congregation. He referred to it as that abominable thing that God hates that killed the Son of God. And a leader in the church came to him one day and said, “Would you please stop using such an ugly word? Sin. Keep talking about it and it’s going to tempt the young people to do it.” There’s reverse logic. He said, “Can’t you call it something like an inhibition or a fault or an error or a mistake or a weakness in our nature? Why always sin?” And the minister said, “If you had skin cancer do you want me to call it a rash?” He brought over a bottle of strychnine that said poison on it. He said, “Shall I re-label this and call it peppermint?” And that’s really the idea of how to achieve peace that some are supporting.

No compromise on worship. Now this will be a special test in the last days. Who your God is will be demonstrated by how you worship Him and you will rise no higher than the model of God you portray. That’s why God is so offended by idolatry because idols will always take living creatures and turn them into stone. You are made in the image of God; you start worshipping plastic things and idols and images and icons and it lowers your concept of the exalted awesome nature of God. You’re better off having it described through the word than plastic figurines. Some people worship these things. It’ll lower your concept. Worship is very important. The Bible began over a dispute regarding true worship and because Abel would not compromise with Cain he killed his brother over worship. In Revelation it tells us there is a dispute over worship. Those who do not worship the way the beast prescribes and they have the seal of God instead of the Mark of the Beast will be persecuted ultimately a death decree because they’re not worshipping the way they’re being told. And can I tell you right now, in case you haven’t figured this out, we’re going to be asked to all make compromises so that we can worship together. Together sounds so good. Unity. And all the arguments are going to be extremely clever.

I can see it now when the music played and everyone bowed down to the golden image on the Plane of Dura there in Babylon there were a lot of people that were probably tugging on the hems of the robes of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and they were saying things like this, “Do you want to get us all killed? This could make the king mad. He might not only kill you; he might kill us. Kneel down! Just this once. Maybe you could kneel down and pray to your God. You don’t have to pray to the image. Compromise. Look! your moccasin is untied. Get down there and tie it now and just stay for a while.” You can hear all the clever rationalizations that those around Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would have had to bow down. But they were fanatics. They stood up. They said, “We will not worship your gods that you have made.” Isn’t that what they told Nebuchadnezzar? “We will worship our God. You can worship your god your day your way; we’re going to worship our God our way, our day and we’re not going to compromise because He’s commanded us to do it His way and He’s the real God and your god isn’t.” So why would you compromise with a false god? It’s like when someone is trying to sell you something they don’t own. Why would you buy it from them? Why would you compromise with the devil? What’s he going to give you? There’s nothing he can offer you. Why compromise with him? He’s not in a position to negotiate. Oh, yeah, he’ll have a fit. Daniel 6 he would not compromise his worship. He would not pray, he wouldn’t shut his windows, he would not pray secretly. He was going to let the whole world know what he believed. He knelt on his knees, took on a posture of prayer, opened his windows, prayed out loud. He would not compromise his worship.

Don’t compromise your time with God. Do you have a personal prayer time? This is something I’m chipping away at all through this new year. I hope you’re reading your Bibles. I hope you’re having quality time in personal devotions. If you have others in your house I hope you’re having family worship. Don’t compromise your worship. If you start doing it in the little things you can learn to lose pennies and then later learn to lose dollars then you can learn to lose thousands. You’ve known people and if they can’t manage their dollars, then they can’t manage their hundreds. It just works that way. If you’re not being faithful in personal worship what will happen when the big test is worship. Do you know why a river is crooked? It follows the path of least resistance. The straight way that God is calling us to you may have the water going against you, but it’s a direct line. Who is our example as Christians? Jesus. Was Jesus a fanatic? Yeah! By today’s standards He was a fanatic. He wouldn’t compromise. It’s fanatical to love your enemies. It’s a fanatic that tells someone if you have two of something to give one away. That’s fanatical. His teachings were revolutionary and fanatical, but He wouldn’t compromise. I’m so thankful too. Where would you and I be? The devil said, “Look, Jesus, you’re here to save the world? Let’s make a deal. If you’ll bow down and worship me, I’m the prince of this world right now,” Satan said, “I’ll give it to you. You don’t have to die on the cross.

You’d get what you want, I’d get what I want and everybody is happy. Let’s compromise.” What did Jesus say? This was the third in a series of three temptations. And Jesus answered, Luke 4:8, “Get thee behind Me, Satan!” Matter of fact, that’d be a good thing for you to remember when you’re tempted to compromise principle or conviction. “Get thee behind me, Satan!” When the devil spoke through the apostle Peter and said, “Jesus, you don’t really need to die on the cross.” What did Jesus say to Peter? “Get thee behind Me, Satan.” Now don’t use this on your spouse. If you do, think it, but don’t say it! Sometimes the devil does work through those close to us, but when you’re tempted to compromise Christian principles and convictions we need to learn how to recognize the devil’s sales talk and say, “Get thee behind me, Satan. I am not going to do it.” Joe Cruz wrote a great book. It’s called The Power of a Positive No. That’s a good title. A positive no, kind of a paradox. The Power of a Positive No sometimes you should not have an open mind. Know you’ll be chastised for not being open minded. Open minded? I don’t have to be open minded about everything. I mean, if someone says, “Doug, how do you know that licking that garbage can is going to make you sick? It might not make you sick. Be open minded. Try it.” I don’t have to be open minded. “Pornography might be good. There could be some good benefits.” And if you say, “Absolutely not!” “Well, how do you know? Check it out. You should be open minded.

Freedom of speech.” Have you heard these kind of bizarre arguments before? There are some things you should not be open minded about and you should learn “Get thee behind me, Satan!” No, you just don’t compromise. Nebuchadnezzar said to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, “Let me get this straight, you didn’t bow down? Tell you what, I don’t want to lose you, you’re good workers. I’ll play the music again more slowly. Maybe you didn’t like the music. You want a different song? We’ll play a different song. But when you hear the sound you need to…” and you know what they said? “You don’t need to waste your time playing that again because the answer is a positive no. We’re not going to worship your gods.” They didn’t negotiate. Do you notice the devil tried to engage them. The devil would rather have you die after you’ve disobeyed than die a martyr and victorious. Get thee behind me, Satan. I’m so glad that Jesus did not negotiate. Where would we be if He had?

Don’t compromise truth. I want to talk about Pontius Pilate for a moment. At the trial of Christ you can see that compromise is what crucified Jesus. Did you ever think of it that way? Pilate interviewed Jesus and he asked this interesting question. Jesus was talking about the truth and Pilate said, “Truth? Is there any real truth?” He was in the Roman Empire where everybody debated everything. Matter of fact, I understand there was a philosopher in Rome that almost tore the empire apart and he encouraged everybody to debate both sides of anything. He said, “After you argue on this side then I want you to jump over the line and now argue this side. It’ll broaden your mind.” And Augustus about that time had him evicted from the kingdom because they said, “This philosopher is eroding our morals because pretty soon nobody stands for anything. They think you can argue both sides of everything.” Like the bat, you want to be a beast when the beasts are winning, you want to be a bird when the birds are winning. There was a statement here. I don’t want to miss this.

William Jennings Bryan, “Never be afraid to stand with a minority that is right, for the minority which is right will someday be the majority. Always be afraid to stand with the majority that is wrong, for the majority that is wrong will someday be the minority.” I thought that was brilliant. It’s very simple, but I thought that was brilliant. Pontius Pilate he finally said to Jesus, “What is truth?” And then he said, I know what I’ll do. He brought Him before the crowd. Luke 23:14 Pilate said to the crowd, “You have brought to me this Man, as one who misleads the people. And indeed, having examined Him in your presence, I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things that you accuse Him of; no, neither did Herod…” I’ve found him a hundred percent innocent based on the evidence of two trials. Who sent Him back to me, “and indeed He did nothing deserving of death. I will therefore chastise Him.” Why? He just declared Him innocent. He said well we’ll work a compromise. You want Him crucified but He’s innocent and you’re shouting for His blood. I’ll give you a little bit of his blood. I’ll whip him and maybe after you see Him flogged thirty-nine times you’ll say that’s good enough. We don’t get a crucifixion but we get a good flogging. We don’t get all His blood but we get some of it.

It’s a compromise. Pilate as soon as he started down the road to compromise Jesus was doomed, because if the devil can get you to start making compromises with him it’s a merger. It’s not two entities coexisting. You merge and sacrifice your beliefs and absorb his. And so the people began to cry out, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” They said, “Ah! We’ve got him to start negotiating. That’s where we wanted him.” Don’t negotiate. Then Pilate thinks he’s very shrewd. Alright, alright you want someone crucified. I hear you. You want someone crucified. This man is innocent. Here’s what we’ll do. I’m going to let one of you go because it’s the Passover. Do you want Barabbas, this ugly guilty criminal? He’d been caught red-handed and he just looked like he ought to be crucified. Hold him up in front of the people exhibit A of a criminal and then Jesus had the dignified bearing of a king and he thinks, “I’ve got them now. I’ll offer them a compromise and they’ll obviously pick Jesus.” He never dreamed they’d pick Barabbas to be released instead of Jesus. Compromising is what crucified Jesus. Finally Pilate got to the place where it was out of his hands. And he brought out a basin of water and he said, “Look, I don’t want to be responsible for this innocent man’s blood. I’m washing my hands.”

Could he ever really wash that blood off his hands? No, but you know even the people called out, “His blood be upon us and our children.” That should make you shudder if you think about it. By the way, that’s all of us. Once you start going down the road of compromise remember what Pilate did. Ultimately it’s what crucified Christ. Jesus died because of conforming compromise. Now when you are faced with moral decisions I’ve got a little list here I thought I’d share with you that maybe can be helpful. I might be able to post this on our website later since I didn’t make copies today. Ask yourself some questions. It might be some specific choice you’re faced with. Here are some tests you can apply as a Christian. 1) What effect will it have on me? Will it contribute to your spiritual and physical life? 2) What effect will it have on others? Will what you are doing help or hinder the spiritual walk of others? 3) What effect will it have on the cause of Christ? What is it going to do to the church? And you can also make this into three tests. The test of secrecy: Would you be embarrassed if others knew what you’re involved in? Would you welcome Jesus to sit beside you and view what it is you’re viewing and do what it is you’re doing? The test of universality: Would you encourage everyone to do what you’re doing? Is it so good you wish everybody would do it? Or what effect would it have if the community and the church participated? The test of prayer: Can you pray over this practice or thinking and expect God to bless it? Then there are three sources of light that you can apply as a test. Does it produce light from within? Do you feel guilty or uneasy about the activity you’re involved in?

God does work though our conscience sometimes. Light from without. You can get Christian counsel. In the multitude of counselors there is safety. Do Christian counselors that you trust tell you that this practice, this thinking or behavior is something that God can bless? And three, light from above. Does God through His Spirit and more prominently from His word support this decision? Once you know, once you apply these factors and you know what God says on a subject don’t ever compromise those things. Some things are not negotiable and you need to just say, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” When it comes to the things that are not essential we need to learn how to compromise with each other. Amen? There is nothing wrong with that, but not if it involves sacrificing a principle of truth or a conviction or a moral value. This is what is going to happen in the last days and I think the devil is setting up the church through the world. Little by little he’s softening up our resolve making little concessions and compromises so that when that big test comes he has us where he wants us.

We need to be faithful in that which is least, friends. I want to be, don’t you? And Jesus died because He would not compromise. Jesus died because Pilate did compromise. I want to be on christ’s side, don’t you? I thought a good song for us to sing would be Stand up! Stand up for Jesus! Number 618, let’s turn in our hymnals. 618, let’s stand together as we sing that.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross; Lift high His royal banner, it must not suffer loss. From victory unto victory His army shall He lead, Till every foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed.

Some subjects that we study together lend themselves more to a decision than others and I think this morning we’ve talked about something where it may be appropriate for us to make some decisions, to make some commitments. If the Holy Spirit has been troubling you during our study this morning, and there may be some area or areas in your life where you have been tempted to or given in to compromising your convictions and you’d like to ask the Lord to give you that resolute faithfulness of Jesus like Daniel, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and many of the other witnesses that we have in the Bible who said, Get thee behind me, Satan. I’m going to stand for the right though the heavens fall. I’m not going to take the easier wrong, I’m going to take the harder right. If you’d like to bring that to the Lord and have a U-turn in your behavior and be more consistent and faithful, why don’t you come? we’re going to sing verse three together and pray that God will teach us how to stand up for Christ and be faithful. Come, and we’ll pray for that conviction that we do not compromise truth. Verse three.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, stand in His strength alone; The arm of flesh will fail you, ye dare not trust your own. Put on the Gospel armor, each piece put on with prayer; Where duty calls or danger, be never wanting there.

I’d like to invite you all to just bow your heads with me and please close your eyes and just see if you could insulate yourself from anybody or sounds that you might have around you and just you and the Lord who is in this place. If the Holy Spirit has spoken to you and He did what only He can do because God can see the heart and you know that there is some area in your life (there might be more than one) where you’ve been making some compromises that you know God cannot bless and you want to pray for both strength to be consistent and faithful and you might need wisdom to know how to reverse some of these decisions. If you want to lift your hand before the Lord and say, “Lord, help me be faithful,” do that now. I’m in this with you, friends.

Father in heaven, please help us to be real Christians, followers of Jesus and His example. We know sometimes that the right way is the straight way, it’s the harder way, but we’d rather be with the minority that’s right because someday it will be the majority. I pray, Lord, that You’ll give us the fortitude, the tenacity, to stand for the right though the heavens fall, to be willing to compromise in those unimportant issues but to never negotiate in the eternal issues and the principles of truth, the morals, the values of Your word. Help us, Lord, to have that kind of understanding and wisdom. Bless these people, your children, bless those who might be watching that are struggling with these issues and help us to have the faith of Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and Elijah and this cloud of witnesses that we see in Your word who were faithful. Help us to be that people today because You’re looking for them. We thank you for hearing this prayer, Lord. Go with us from this place and help us live out our convictions we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

God bless you. Happy Sabbath.

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