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Usually a combination of contrasting values, practices or persons incurring God’s disapproval, but it can also be a positive way to achieve a greater good.

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God forbids compromising associations

Israel was not to associate with paganism

Exodus 20:3 NASB95
“You shall have no other gods before Me.
See also Ex 23:32–33; Ex 34:12–16; Dt 7:2–4; 1 Ki 18:21

Christians must not compromise their allegiance

James 4:4 NASB95
You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
See also Mt 6:24; Ro 13:14; 2 Co 6:14–16; Ga 1:6–9; Jas 4:8

Israel’s compromises with paganism

In worship

1 Ki 12:28–30 The Lord’s action in bringing Israel up out of Egypt is here attributed to the golden calves representing Baal.
See also Ex 32:2–6; Jdg 2:11–12; Jdg 8:27; 2 Ki 1:2–3; 2 Ki 16:10–16; 2 Ki 17:32–33; 2 Ki 17:41; 2 Ch 28:22; Re 2:20–23

In foreign alliances

Isaiah 30:1–2 NASB95
“Woe to the rebellious children,” declares the LORD, “Who execute a plan, but not Mine, And make an alliance, but not of My Spirit, In order to add sin to sin; Who proceed down to Egypt Without consulting Me, To take refuge in the safety of Pharaoh And to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt!
See also 2 Ch 19:2; 2 Ch 20:35–37; 2 Ch 28:16–21; Is 31:1; Ho 5:13; Ho 7:8–9; Ho 7:11

In marriage

1 Kings 11:1–11 NASB95
Now King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the sons of Israel, “You shall not associate with them, nor shall they associate with you, for they will surely turn your heart away after their gods.” Solomon held fast to these in love. He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart away. For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians and after Milcom the detestable idol of the Ammonites. Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and did not follow the LORD fully, as David his father had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable idol of Moab, on the mountain which is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the detestable idol of the sons of Ammon. Thus also he did for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods. Now the LORD was angry with Solomon because his heart was turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not observe what the LORD had commanded. So the LORD said to Solomon, “Because you have done this, and you have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant.
See also 1 Ki 16:31; 2 Ch 18:1; Ezr 9:2; Ne 13:23; Ne 13:25–26

Motives for compromise


Genesis 26:7–9 NASB95
When the men of the place asked about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” for he was afraid to say, “my wife,” thinking, “the men of the place might kill me on account of Rebekah, for she is beautiful.” It came about, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out through a window, and saw, and behold, Isaac was caressing his wife Rebekah. Then Abimelech called Isaac and said, “Behold, certainly she is your wife! How then did you say, ‘She is my sister’?” And Isaac said to him, “Because I said, ‘I might die on account of her.’ ”
See also Ge 12:11–13; Ge 12:18–19; Ge 19:18–20; Ge 20:2; Ge 20:11; Ga 2:12–13

Lack of faith

Genesis 16:1–2 NASB95
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “Now behold, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I will obtain children through her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.
See also Ge 15:2–3; 1 Ki 12:26–33

Desire for material things

Joshua 7:21 NASB95
when I saw among the spoil a beautiful mantle from Shinar and two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold fifty shekels in weight, then I coveted them and took them; and behold, they are concealed in the earth inside my tent with the silver underneath it.”
See also Hag 1:2–4; Mt 13:22; Ac 5:1–4; 2 Ti 4:10

Examples of those who refused to compromise

Esther 3:4 NASB95
Now it was when they had spoken daily to him and he would not listen to them, that they told Haman to see whether Mordecai’s reason would stand; for he had told them that he was a Jew.
See also Ge 39:7–12; 1 Ki 22:13–14; Da 3:18; Da 6:7–10; 2 Co 4:2

Compromise as a mutually acceptable solution

For the sake of the gospel

1 Corinthians 9:19–23 NASB95
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.
See also Ac 15:19–20; Ac 15:28–29; Ac 21:20–26; Ro 14:19–22; Ro 15:1–2

As an act of wisdom

1 Ki 3:24–25; 1 Ki 12:6–7; Je 40:9–10

As a means to peace

Ge 13:8–9; Ge 26:19–22; Ge 37:26–27; Pr 25:8; Mt 5:25
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