The short answer is that it most certainly is not acceptable for a true Christian to compromise his or her Christian beliefs for any reason whatsoever.
What is compromise? A compromise is an agreement (or proposed agreement) to accept a situation in which the parties get variations from what they originally sought, to achieve a compatible outcome. It can also be defined as an amicable agreement between parties in controversy, to settle their differences by mutual concession.
Actually, to reach such an agreement can be acceptable if this applies to decisions that don’t apply to God, His Word and His Way of Life, and that do not require the violation of our standards, conscience or conviction. For example, a married couple may want to spend a particular day together but with different pursuits. Therefore, a mutual agreement has to be reached between the two parties. But coming to a consensus in such a case is not a problem because God’s Law and His Way are not violated—quite to the contrary, we read that we should not look only at our needs and desires, but also at the desires and needs of others, and that we should treat others better than ourselves. In addition, in Romans 12:18 we read the following: “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” That may mean giving in, at times, in order to get along, without having to violate any of God’s standards or our own convictions.
On the other hand, politicians can spend much of their time compromising and horse-trading in order to get as near as possible to their particular objectives. When they thereby violate what they truly believe in, as they often do, then such compromise is unacceptable. Sadly, many politicians today do not even have strong convictions to begin with, and so they are willing to flip-flop when it serves their purposes.
There is one Person in the universe with whom we cannot compromise. God Almighty will never allow compromise with His Will and His Way, and His followers must do neither. Good intentions are no substitute for correct and Godly behaviour! No compromise must be the watchword when it comes to Godly and righteous behaviour.
Although Uzzah was well intentioned, he lost his life because what he did was not in accordance with God’s instructions (2 Samuel 6:7).
After Solomon became accustomed to foreign gods (1 Kings 11:1-9), they found public acceptance when he built high places for Chemosh and Molech, and for all the other gods of his foreign wives. One commentary states that “these shrines were stationed on the hill (possibly the Mount of Olives) that is before Jerusalem, the city where Solomon had built the house for Jehovah.” In spite of subsequent reformations of Asa and Hezekiah, these high places were permitted to stand approximately three hundred years until the reign of Josiah. The effects of Solomon’s compromise were seen for about 300 years.
Aaron made the golden calf upon the insistence of the children of Israel, when he should have held fast against their wrong desires. We read in Exodus 32:35: “So the LORD plagued the people because of what they had done with the calf which Aaron made.” Again, Aaron’s compromise produced disastrous results.
Saul also compromised and was rejected as king when he offered a burnt offering instead of waiting for Samuel as he was instructed (1 Samuel 13). He also failed to utterly destroy the Amalekites as instructed (1 Samuel 15); and to make matters worse, he consulted a medium – the witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28)–which he knew was wrong. He engaged in compromise after compromise after compromise, and so it is no wonder that he was rejected by God!
But because concession and compromise can begin in small, insignificant ways, it is easy to underestimate the potential for damage. These lessons from the Old Testament are there for our admonition (1 Corinthians 10:11).
Some compromise their standards because of peer pressure or simply to get ahead in the workplace—they may seek profit, a business promotion, or a larger salary. There are men and women who concede inappropriately because of doubt or spiritual weakness; they lack the necessary faith in God’s power and support, or maybe they are too impatient to wait for God’s perfect timing. Some may yield because they are discouraged; others, because they are proud. Any form of sin or weakness makes us more susceptible to compromise.
Lowering our standards weakens our character; reduces the effectiveness of our personal example; and can hinder our prayer life. Compromise will also corrupt our thinking. While we may believe we are making accommodations in just one area, every aspect of our life can be affected.
If we have compromised on a principle that should have been non-negotiable, we may cease to think in terms of right and wrong. Then we can easily grow defensive about concessions we have made in our faith and behavior. This may result in us distancing ourselves from God, becoming out of touch with Him, His Word and our calling, and it can produce fruit not in keeping with the life of a true Christian. In the end, people may well regard us as untrustworthy. Compromisers eventually destroy themselves.
One of the great problems with early “Christianity” was the problem of syncretism. Syncretism has been defined as the attempt to reconcile disparate, even opposing, beliefs and to meld practices of various schools of thought. If you look at mainstream Christianity, unfortunately, it is full of compromises. It celebrates days that are not biblical, but pagan in origin, such as Christmas, Easter, New Year’s Day and Halloween. At the same time, it ignores God’s annual Feast days. Compromise is evident everywhere, and we must not be involved in such practices. The celebrations of Christmas and Easter are classic examples of the early church accommodating other beliefs in order to attract followers. They compromised by accommodating paganism. They ignored clear biblical teaching which resulted in compromise. They reduced the three days and three nights during which Jesus Christ was dead in the grave, to half that amount of time which, again, was compromise in order to attract pagans who believed that their “savior” had been killed on a Friday and brought back to life on a Sunday.
What about us today? Do we compromise on tithing, for example? Do we eat unclean foods so that we do not “offend” others? Do we compromise by doing things on the weekly Sabbath that are not appropriate? Do we compromise to please family, friends or our employers? If we do, in any of those or other areas, we could be on a slippery path because we usually excuse ourselves for doing so. And having done it once, next time it gets that bit easier. Compromise, in the wrong areas, can be a deadly problem. God expects us to be non-compromisers with His Truth and His Word–something that worldly religion simply doesn’t understand.
In Revelation 2:12-17 we read a few verses about “the Compromising Church” – the church at Pergamos. They had compromised with idol sacrifice and sexual immorality – and they were told to repent. On the other hand, there are many fine examples of non-compromise, including Joseph (Genesis 39) and Daniel (Daniel 1) where we see good outcomes to non-compromise, because they stayed true to their convictions which were based on the Law of God.
What characterizes the Christian who stands firm? The committed believer has strong convictions about the Bible and a sturdy faith in God’s promises. His discerning spirit helps him to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong and unacceptable–and he has the courage to remain steadfast and secure with the truth that he has learned, and in his relationship with God. The non-compromiser has a clear sense of direction in life and is governed by principle rather than preference. He shuns compromise because he is motivated by receiving approval from God, rather than the applause from men.
One tiny concession, on the face of it, may appear insignificant. But as any soldier knows (and we are soldiers of Jesus Christ, compare 2 Timothy 2:3), the slightest move in the wrong direction can be fatal. Compromising Godly principles is no small matter for the believer. It is a spiritual error that can pull us further and further from God until we are in over our heads and too weak to struggle. Holding firm to God’s Truth can require tremendous resolution. All true Christians are called upon, sooner or later, to stand up for their beliefs or to fall for Satan’s deceptions.
Andrew Carnegie, the 19th century Scottish-born American Industrialist and Philanthropist, said: “Compromise is but the sacrifice of one right or good in the hope of retaining another – too often ending in the loss of both.”
In Revelation 3:7-13, we read the message to the church at Philadelphia. We are told in verse 11 to “Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.” We can’t hold fast if we compromise. Those who compromise will fall short of what is required of them, and those who compromise with God’s Law and His Way of Life will not inherit the promise of eternal life.
Christ was uncompromising in every area of His life. We, as members of Christ’s spiritual Body—of God’s true Church–and as followers of the Messiah, must be exactly the same, making sure that no compromise is entertained when it comes to our Christian life, the keeping of God’s Commandments and doing exactly what we are instructed to do!
Lead Writer: Brian Gale (United Kingdom)