The Danger of Compromise
Ill. – Not winning the County Fair talent show in the 5th grade – lesson – I’m not going to please everyone.
What’s more important to you? Living your life to please the One who gave His all for you or living your life to please finicky people?
Always wanting to please people will always lead you to compromise. God desires us to ground our lives on His truth, but instead we ground our lives on the opinions of others. This was the issue with Pergamum. Instead of living for what they knew was true they lived to be accepted by people. Three dangers of compromise from this text.
“The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.” Two-edged sword = judgment. This isn’t going to be good.
· Pergamum – a tough city for Christians. Over the years, 3 temples built to emperors. Roman gods worshipped – Athena, Dionysus – a medical center built in honor of Asklepios (rod of Asklepios). On the highest point of the city – the largest altar in the world to Zeus. You can understand why this city was called the place where Satan dwells.
· Religious diversity celebrated - a way of life - you embraced every god for its unique purpose or specialty. A city known for spirituality.
· This church had been faithful to hold to the exclusivity of the Gospel – One God – a message that flew in the face of their culture. It even cost the life of one of their church members, Antipas. Imagine the shock – one of your own martyred – what if one of our own was martyred? How would it affect us? The question: “Is Jesus worth it? Maybe we’re taking our faith too seriously.” Jesus calls Antipas “my faithful witness.” Same phrase used to describe Jesus in Revelation 1:5.
· Problem: Begin to compromise their faith. Such massive pagan influence – difficult to remain faithful. Church began to soften its message. They began to move away from the conviction that Jesus is always right and doing what He says is always best for you.
· Teaching of Balaam and the Nicolaitans. Balaam: Numbers 22-24. King Balak of Moabs hired pagan prophet Balaam to curse the Israelites. On four occasions Balaam tried, but God wouldn’t let him. You can’t curse God’s people. Balaam came up with a plan. “Balak, seduce the Israelites with your women. They’ll turn from God and worship your gods.” Essentially – let’s get the Israelites to compromise – a recipe for spiritual disaster.
· In Church at Pergamum – teaching of Balaam/Nicolatians. Seduction to sin. “It’s ok to participate in the festivals, feasts, and sexual practices of culture.”
· Why would these false teachers teach this? Why would the church allow it? Nobody wants to be hated, and nobody wants to suffer what Antipas did. It would be a whole lot easier to not be so serious about their faith – to bend a bit – to not be so closeminded about their faith in a pluralistic culture.
· Pagan worship central to society. Business transactions, politics, social gatherings all took place at these pagan temples.
· Two aspects of pagan worship: Meat sacrificed to idols – consumed showing dependency on idol – communion. Sexual immorality – way of asking god for fertility in business, agriculture, etc.
· To not participate was to cut yourself off from society. Some in the church began to compromise.
· This is the tension. We say we believe and we say we want to live for Jesus, but we also want other people to accept us. We don’t want to look weird or be labeled as a radical because of what we believe, so we commit to Christ while at the same time trying to please people even if that means compromising what we believe or how we live. We want acceptance by society more than faithfulness to God.
· Ill. Fraternity days – Wanted acceptance – in bars on Friday nights – not drinking – these people need Jesus! Jesus hung out with sinners. But, my desire was acceptance not sharing the Gospel. “It’s not that big a deal.” It’s a compromise…
1. Compromise poisons your witness.
· If you go to modern day Pergamum no evangelical presence. A compromised church is a dying church. A compromised church doesn’t really stand for anything. There’s no conviction – no desire to live out the truth of God’s Word.
· No one takes a compromising Christian seriously! If you are drinking with your buddies they aren’t going to take you seriously when you talk about living for Christ. When you compromise your speech by talking crudely at work or gossiping to others you’re not going to be taken seriously when you talk about Christ. When we compromise the Bible, “Well, I know the Bible says… But…” Compromise always causes unbelievers not to take us seriously when we say we have the greatest message in the world.
· You can’t honestly say to people, “Jesus changes everything,” when your life demonstrates that you haven’t let Jesus hasn’t change very much about you.
· For some of us, our lives demonstrate that we’re the same as we were before Christ.
o Little attempt to live different (no holiness).
o Little attempt to live devoted (no intimacy).
o Little attempt to live as a disciple (no intentionality).
· Our compromise is damaging the cause of Christ; not helping the cause of Christ.
2. Compromise poisons your heart.
· Notice vs. 12 – sharp two edged sword – same in vs. 16. Jesus coming to the church to judge. Why would Jesus judge His church?
· You are either going to live as a people pleaser or a God pleaser. If you live your life as a people pleaser you poison your relationship with God.
· Some of you are much more concerned about what others think of you – how you are perceived, how you can get ahead with people, etc. than you are about honoring God. You care more about what people think of you than what God thinks of you.
· At minimum, your compromise will hinder your spiritual growth, but if you live in a continued state of compromise and there is no repentance of your compromise it could demonstrate that you don’t know Jesus at all. These Nicolatians lived in a state of unrepentance. They didn’t know the power of the Gospel!
· A serious question: What is the evidence of your faith? What does the evidence of your life say about your faith? (Ill. – Luke and Chewbacca – His life gives evidence to the truth about him – he’s a kid…) (James 2:19) That you love Christ or that you love the world? (Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 1 John 2:15)
3. Compromise poisons our fellowship.
· The reputation and ministry of the entire church at Pergamum was being compromised by a few compromisers. Your compromise doesn’t just affect you it affects the whole body.
· Why don’t we see more people come to Jesus? Why don’t we see more in our community embracing the Gospel? The reason why we may be ineffective in reaching people with the Gospel is because of our own sin problem.
· I know what we can accomplish for the Kingdom. I know our potential, but we will never reach our potential until we choose to live by the conviction that Jesus is always right and what He tells us to do is always best for us. We will never reach our potential until we unify our church around the mission and until we as a body are convinced that it’s far more important to please God than to please people.
· Question to answer: How is my compromise hindering or hurting what God wants to do in the life of Northwood?
· Hidden Manna – Manna preserved in Ark of Covenant – In Jewish literature we read that Jews believed that when the Messiah came they would eat manna with the Messiah. If the church was faithful to Christ they would eat of manna when He returned. Manna = provision. Jesus is saying: “Look to me. I will provide your needs. Don’t look to all these other people. Don’t worry about opportunities you’ll miss out on because you don’t conform to society. Look to me.” After all, Jesus is the bread of life (John 6:35).
· White stone – Could mean several things. Context – white stone used as a ticket for feasts and festivals. Jesus, “I’ve given you a white stone – it belongs to you – it has your name on it – the name I know. You belong to me. You might not be known by anyone else in this world – but you are known by me.” Have you received the white stone? Have you responded to Jesus’ invitation to receive life in Him by trusting in His death and resurrection? Today, you can be known by Him.
· Three challenges for the believer:
o Ground your life in the truth. – You can waste your life running from the truth or you can ground your life in what will give you life.
o Live to please One. – No one else can give you what you have been given in Jesus. Why live for the honor of others? Live for the honor of the One who saved you.
o Embrace being different. – That’s the call – to live contrary to this world because you don’t belong here.