Text: II Corinthians 6:14-7:1
I. Disagreeing parties are often urged to reach a compromised position.
A. After all, Christians are told to live peaceably - Romans 12:18
B. We are to pursue the things that make for peace - Romans 14:19
C. Without such a pursuit of peace, we cannot see God - Hebrews 12:14
D. But, is compromise a legitimate way to seek peace?
1. In other words, does God want us to gain peace through compromise?
2. You see, the verses cited mention the need for pursuing peace, but they did not mention how it was to be done.
3. Those advocating compromise are making the assumption that compromise actually brings peace and that God accepts compromise.
II. Does compromise work?
A. Definition: “A settlement by arbitration or by mutual consent reached by concession on both sides: a reciprocal abatement of extreme demands or rights, resulting in agreement. A committal to something objectionable ... a surrender; as a compromise of character or right.”
1. In other words, to compromise is the willingness to adjust one’s beliefs to accommodate those who differ. It means that a person is willing to settle for less than one’s convictions.
2. Most of us I think clearly see that such would lead to difficulties. How does a Christian compromise with an atheist?
a. A compromise would require both to give up something they believe is a right and commit to something that both might see as objectionable.
b. In the end, truth is no longer absolute.
3. Compromise can be done by giving up a position, by accepting a position, or even by agreeing not to talk about a position.
B. The problem is that compromise forces a division of loyalty
1. The primary command is to love God - Matthew 23:37-39
2. When we allow something else to also guide us, there is bound to be a conflict - Matthew 6:24
3. Many compromises are done in the hopes of softening Christianity so that it becomes more acceptable to non-Christians.
a. But when we make friends of the world we make God our enemy - James 4:4.
C. It leads the weak astray
1. We are always protective of children. They can easily be damaged.
2. New Christians are like children - Matthew 18:3-6
a. To damage a new born Christian is a serious matter.
3. Consider what Peter did by going along with some Jewish Christians - Galatians 2:11-13
a. Because one compromised, others followed.
b. What Peter did made him more acceptable to some Jewish Christians, but at what cost?
c. Here even some of the strong were led astray
4. Compromise often causes action without full faith - Romans 14:22-23
D. It causes people to join in the sins of others
1. For example, one person doesn’t feel the need to always tell the truth; another sees all lying as a sin. Can they compromise and say that sometimes lying is necessary?
a. But notice that the truthful person has accepted lying, while the liar continues to tell some truth.
b. Herein is the problem of compromising on any issue regarding sin
2. Truth can have no fellowship with darkness - Ephesians 5:11
3. There can be no joining of right and wrong - II Corinthians 6:14-7:1
4. This is why we are not to even show approval to those in error - II John 9-11.
5. Many years ago, J. W. McGarvey was faced with a church dividing over issues such as the use of instrumental music. He thought he could stem the tide by accepting meeting invitations at congregations that had accepted instruments. Here is what he told some young preachers late in his life: “You are on the right road, and whatever you do, don’t let anyone persuade you that you can successfully combat error by fellowshipping it and going along with it. I have tried. I believed at the start that was the only way to do it. I’ve never held membership in a congregation that used instrumental music. I have, however, accepted invitations to preach with distinctions between churches that used it and churches that didn’t. I’ve gone along with their papers and magazines and things of that sort. During all these years I have taught the truth as the New Testament teaches it to every young preacher who passed through the College of the Bible. Yet, I do not know of more than six of them who are preaching the truth today. It won’t work.”
6. By associating with those teaching wrong, we lend credence to their doctrine, even while speaking against it.
III. What motivates compromises?
A. Compromise approaches problems from a selfish view point.
1. A person desires approval, but does not want to completely give up his own position.
2. James 4:1-8 - Conflicts originate from selfishness – people wanting to please themselves.
3. Notice the description of the falling away - II Timothy 3:1-5
a. Lovers of self
b. Lovers of money
c. Lovers of pleasure
d. But not lovers of God
B. Material gain
1. Many people are willing to compromise the truth to gain greater numbers, to increase the contribution, or to have a greater status in the eyes of men.
2. There are always those willing to teach whatever for money - I Timothy 6:3-5
3. We cannot love the world - I John 2:15-17
C. Family ties
1. Have you noticed that “truth” has a tendency to change when a member of the family is in sin?
a. I’ve known a lot of false teachings on divorce and remarriage that originated with a preacher who had a family member in an unacceptable marriage.
b. It is family ties that often keep people in denominations.
(1) “Why if I change, I would be condemning what my mother believed in.”
2. Must love God more - Matthew 10:34-38
3. Luke 14:26 - We cannot be Christ’s disciple
1. Fear manifests itself in several ways
a. A fear of losing friendships drive some to compromise positions to appear friendly.
b. A fear of receiving a negative reaction causes some to keep silent about opposition, which is a compromised position.
2. Fear of men should never be a motivator
a. The cowardly will be in Hell - Revelation 21:8
b. Only God should be feared - Luke 12 4-5
c. Only God has our eternal life in his hand - Hebrews 10:31
E. Some just don’t like confrontations, so they will avoid it at almost any cost.
1. Hence they think they have created unity by avoiding differences, but it is an artificial unity.
2. Yet, our forefathers did not avoid confrontation
a. Jesus - Luke 23:5
b. Paul - Acts 17:6-7
c. Elijah - I Kings 18:17
3. “But aren’t we suppose to love each other?” - John 13:34-35
a. Do you love your children if never confront them over their mistakes?
b. Matthew 12:30 - If you are not with Jesus, you are opposing him.
c. II John 10-11 - We cannot leave the impression that we approve of error.
F. A lack of faith
1. This is why some attempt to blend evolution with creation. They have more confidence in science of men than in what God has said.
2. This is why people add entertainment to the worship. They don’t trust that God’s way of drawing people will work by itself.
3. We need to have faith
a. Hebrews 11:6 - We cannot please God without it.
b. Hebrews 3:12 - Unbelief will pull us away from God.
IV. Examples of the failure of compromise
A. Reuben - Genesis 37:18, 21-22
1. Reuben couldn’t go along with murder, so he settled for something less than what was right
2. He allowed a lesser harm with the hopes of repairing the damage later.
3. The problem was that he never had full control of the situation. He didn’t have a second opportunity to correct matters
4. This is what McGarvey had hoped to do in the quote I gave earlier. He hoped to compromise now (allowing fellowship) would allow him to make corrections later (teach), yet it didn’t work.
B. Solomon - I Kings 11:1-8
1. Solomon turned from God to appease his wives. He even went so far was worshiping with them and building worship places for their false gods.
2. There is no compromise between God and idols.
3. You cannot partially violate God’s laws - James 2:10-11
V. Keeping the unity of faith without compromise
A. Unity comes with the knowledge that there is just one truth - Ephesians 4:1-6
B. Unity is obtained as we each strive to mold ourselves to that single target - Ephesians 4:11-13
C. God has given us only one way - Jeremiah 32:38-39
D. That way is Christ - John 14:6
E. United in one purpose - Philippians 2:1-2