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The Path to Destruction

Saturday, November 14, 2009

“No one will ever know.”
“One time won’t hurt.”
“Everyone else does it.”

Sound familiar? I’m not surprised if it does. Every one of us has faced the temptation to compromise. Now, I’m not talking about the healthy give-and-take that is a vital part of any close relationship.

I’m referring to the kind of compromise that causes us to abandon God’s laws and principles. It leaves us morally and spiritually bankrupt. After this kind of compromise, our attitude of obedience gives way to dangerous independence from God.

When we’re faced with the temptation to make dangerous choices, we are wise to consider those who have suffered as a result of compromise.

Consider King Solomon. He had more wisdom and riches than any other king (1 Kings 10:23-24). Yet, he deliberately disobeyed God’s warning in Deuteronomy 7:3 about intermarriage with people of other religions. He took “seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines” (1 Kings 11:3). Eventually, “when Solomon was old … his wives turned his heart away after other gods” (1 Kings 11:4).

Solomon’s descent to sin started with a single thought. That’s where compromise always begins. What began as a thought in Solomon’s mind exploded into tragedy. It began with a look here, a gaze there—and before long, he was trapped. Eventually, he abandoned himself completely to disobedience.

It didn’t happen overnight. Compromise is usually subtle at first, and each step of the way the process becomes easier, not more difficult as we might assume. One day, we forget where we began.

It’s impossible to compromise without giving up something. But what I receive may not be equal to what I give up. The question is, “What do we need to compromise?” Purity? Honesty? Integrity? Our belief in the Word of God? Satan will whisper, as he did to Solomon, “Come on, no one’s perfect. Everyone has to give up on something to make it in this life.”

No one doubts that we are called upon to give up certain things in life. Satan’s implication is that there are no boundaries. That whatever he prods us to give up will ultimately lead to greater happiness. That’s not true.

What do you think Solomon would say to us if he could assess the process he went through? I think he would say two things are certain.

First, compromise is costly. When you compromise, it’s an admission that you’re willing to surrender what’s valuable to you.

I have seen friends compromise what they would have once died to uphold. I’ve watched politicians promise one thing and vote differently once they were in office. In each instance, a price was paid. My friends who compromised their values to gain popularity, win influence, or obtain finances sacrificed their self-respect and the trust of their peers. Politicians who forfeited their principles to gain political power find success fickle when once-loyal friends become aware of their actions.

The high cost of compromise is apparent from the days of Solomon to the morning headlines of today’s newspaper. Satan hasn’t changed. In some cases, the price has escalated dramatically. I think of young men and women who compromise their sexual purity. The price for such decisions has always been too high, with millions of babies being born out of wedlock. Today there is an added cost of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. What once resulted in a pregnancy, lost dreams, and broken lives can kill a person today. That’s a pretty high price for compromise.

Second, not only is compromise costly, but compromise also corrupts. King Solomon went from worshipping the one true God to worshipping idols. The goddess Ashtoreth had worshippers who practiced animal and human sacrifices. As part of their rituals, they threw babies into the fire. They engaged in male and female prostitution. Solomon knew better. He became so corrupted that God began diminishing his wisdom. Ultimately, God told Solomon:

“I will surely tear the kingdom from you” (1 Kings 11:11). He said he would rip the kingdom right out of Solomon’s hands because of his compromising. He knew how to get the king’s attention.

Compromise is costly. It corrupts. It brings collapse.

Have you been flirting with compromise? Perhaps you’ve crossed the line and are beyond flirting. You’ve jumped headfirst into whatever you’ve been admiring. It’s never too late to turn back to the Father.

As long as you live in a fallen world, there will be temptations. If Satan can get you to give up what is important to you, he has begun a process that could cost you dearly. That is a guarantee. Is it really worth the cost? Your hope lies in the fact that you serve the God who created all that is good. His limitless power is your only defense against the Enemy’s schemes. Hold to the truth, stand strong against compromise, and you will escape its destructive force.

Adapted from Charles Stanley’s Handbook for Christian Living, 1996, pp. 61-65.

(c) In Touch Ministries

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