Bible-believing Christians, like Jewish believers in the Old Testament, are aware that they are at odds with the world’s culture. In fact Christian Theologians often speak of “the world, the flesh, and the devil.” There are many ways in which Christians can fall into religious self-deception about their righteousness but the Bible often shows compromise as being more subtly dangerous to believers than straight-up apostasy. Examples and illustrations abound in Scripture and they are intended to warn Believers from the many false paths that a believer can fall into.
For instance, Jude 11 states: “For they follow in the footsteps of Cain, who killed his brother. Like Balaam, they deceive people for money. And like Korah, they perish in their rebellion.”
Isaac 65:2-5 states:
I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts;
“A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick; Which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine’s flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels; Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day.” Isaiah 65: 4, 5
The Bible depicts many people who had a relationship or covenant with God but who compromised when faced with the world, the flesh, and the devil. The temptations often include the desire for power, status, wealth, and belonging to a larger community. Or, of the temptations are from the “flesh” they might include emotional sins, sins of immoderation, gluttony, and other physical sins. Compromisers often want to serve two masters. They wish to serve God, but they also want to serve themselves.
Jesus declared, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:24
The apostles warn against compromises in business, food, marriage, and false idols.
“Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the devild? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God.” — 2 Corinthians 6:14-16
Among the Compromisers in the Bible who sought to serve God and “another” master there are several worth noting:
Balaam was a non-Israelite prophet who saw visions of heaven and who spoke to God. However, he loved money. When faced with temptation, he decided he could not disobey God outright but he could indulge in subtle disobedience. He could not curse Israel but he could teach Israel’s enemies how to make Israel sin. This kind of compromise is the kind that betrays God by observing the “letter of the law” while subtly avoiding the true intent of the law.
Another kind of compromiser is Jezebel of Rev 2:20: “But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.” While it is not specifically stated why Jezebel would teach those in the church of Thyatira to compromise, one can perhaps deduce that she wanted the people in her church to fit into the larger culture. Thyatira was a center of commerce and perhaps the finances of church-members was affected because they did not attend the many local feasts and festivals. It is possible that Jezebel taught a Christianity tainted by gnosticism — the belief that the spirit is untainted by what the body does. (The belief that the body can do anything without tainting the spirit also affected the Corinthians and Paul had to rebuke them for being proud that a man would have sex with his father’s wife.) Jezebel could aso have taught that grace enabled the believer to do whatever he wanted. For instance: Does the blood of Jesus have no power over sacrifices?
The Holy Spirit of God will open the heart of all Christians to show them their self-deceptions. Whether the compromise is small (such as following horoscopes) are larger (such as going to psychics as King Saul did), all compromises affect the believer’s life and spiritual growth. Solomon compromised because he loved many women from different religions. Sexuality has a great power to make people give up their belief. People who fall in love with the wrong person will usually indulge in Scripture twisting. In our times, this is often how the issue that most compromising Christians falter on. But there are many other stumbling blocks that Christians stumble over. As Christians read their Bible and study others who compromised — such as Lot, Aaron, King Saul, Abraham, King David and many others– they should ask themselves if they are compromising in any areas of their lives.
The Bible does not say that compromising Believers will surely be cast out of God’s presence. But believers are called to aim high.