Compromise can be good or bad, depending on the situation. It can be good when trying to make a decision that will satisfy everyone. For example, if your wife wants to spend three hours at the zoo and you want to spend only one hour there, you can compromise and spend two hours at the zoo. That way you will both be disappointed and miserable, but at least you will be equally disappointed and miserable. Compromise can be good when a buyer and a seller are haggling over the price of an item. If the seller wants $300 but the buyer only wants to pay $100, they can compromise and settle for a price of $200. That way they will both feel like they were deprived of $100.
So compromise can sometimes be a good thing. However, when God makes strong, sure demands—“Thou shalt" or "Thou shalt not"—compromise is out of the question. When Yahweh said to Pharaoh, "Let My people go," there was to be no compromise, no haggling over the details of this demand. Yet haggling is exactly what Pharaoh tried to do. Four times he tried to get Moses and Aaron to compromise the LORD's demand. When we look at the way Pharaoh tried to pressure Moses and Aaron to compromise, we can see a picture of how the world, the flesh, and the devil pressure us to compromise our faith and conform to the world.
The story of the Exodus is a story about a redeemer, Moses, taking God's people out of Egyptian slavery. It is a prophetic picture of the Gospel, which is the story about the Redeemer, Yeshua, taking God's people out of slavery to sin. Yahweh's demand to Pharaoh was "Let My people go, that they may serve Me." Because of our Redeemer's finished work of Redemption, His demand to Satan is "Let My people go, that they may no longer be conformed to the world, but transformed by the renewing of their minds."
Satan does not want to let God's people go, just as Pharaoh did not want to let God's people go. After Moses and Aaron's first demand for freedom, Pharaoh responded, "Who is Yahweh, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not Yahweh, neither will I let Israel go" (Ex. 5:2). But after four plagues—blood, frogs, lice, flies—Pharaoh was ready to talk. However, Pharaoh thought he could haggle with Moses and Aaron over the details and work out some sort of a compromise.
"STAY IN EGYPT"
"Go ye, sacrifice to your God," Pharaoh said, but then immediately added, "in the land," i.e., in the land of Egypt (Ex. 8:25). This is the same tactic Satan uses on God's people today.
"So," Satan says, "you wanna be religious, huh? Okay, you can be religious. But stay in the world; don't stop being worldly. Don't let yourself be different from the Egyptians around you. If you want to be religious, we'll accommodate you. We'll create a compartment for your religious life. We'll call it 'The Religious Compartment.' You can go to church once or twice a week and get your religious itch scratched. Since you're a religion addict, you can go to church and get your religious fix. Just don't let your faith affect how you live at other times, outside of church. Keep your faith inside the four walls of the church. Stay in Egypt and be like the worldlings around you when you are outside of church."
The sad truth is that many church people are just religion addicts, and they do this very thing. As a result, they remain enslaved to Egypt. They are the lukewarm, worldly churchgoers who make Jesus puke. (See Revelation 3:16.)
"DON'T GO VERY FAR"
Moses and Aaron refused Pharaoh's attempt to get them to stay and serve Yahweh in Egypt. So Pharaoh offered a second suggestion. "I will let you go, that ye may sacrifice to Yahweh your God in the wilderness," Pharaoh said, "only ye shall not go very far away" (Ex. 8:28).
If you are determined to not be conformed to the world, Satan resorts to this same "Don't go too far" tactic. "Okay," Satan says, "so you don't want to be just a lukewarm, worldly churchling, or a churchly worldling. You're determined to leave Egypt and not be conformed to the world. Okay, be a non-conformist if you must, but don't go very far. Stay close to Egypt. Don't be very different from the worldlings around you. If people think you're just a little bit different because of a few external religious eccentricities, that's okay; just so long as they know that underneath it all you're pretty much like them, just one of the good ol' boys."
Those believers who agree to be pretty much like the worldlings around them are pretty much still enslaved to Egypt. They have refused to conform to the world in a few areas, but they are not aware (or they simply do not care) that they are still in bondage to the world in many other areas.
"YE THAT ARE MEN"
After a few more plagues—murrain, boils, hail—Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron. "Go, serve Yahweh your God," Pharaoh said, "but who are they that shall go?"
Moses and Aaron said that all the Israelites were going, even the women and children.
"Not so," Pharaoh replied. "Go now ye that are men, and serve Yahweh" (Ex. 10:11).
Like Pharaoh, Satan tries to persuade men to leave their wives and children in Egypt. "Okay, men," Satan says, "so you want to be religious fanatics. Okay, man, go ahead and make a fool of yourself. But for cryin' out loud, don't take your wife and kids down this path of non-conformity. If you're not gonna be conformed to the world, at least let them live like worldlings. Let them enjoy the carnal, worldly pleasures of Egypt. Don't deprive your wife and kids of fun because of your personal religious convictions. You don't have to participate in their worldly, pagan activities. You can just go in the next room and read your Bible while they decorate their Winter Solstice Nimrod Tree."
This is perhaps the most difficult compromise for men to resist. What loving husband and father wants to deprive his wife and children of fun activities? Sometimes certain fun activities are not kosher for believers, though. If an opportunity for a fun activity requires you or your wife or children to profane the Sabbath or to violate some other commandment of God, then that activity is not kosher, at least not at that time and under those circumstances.
A man who compromises his faith to please his wife and children is in effect agreeing to Pharaoh's demand to keep the women and children in Egypt. By allowing his wife and children to be conformed to the world, he is keeping his wife and children enslaved.
A man does not need to be (and should not be) a harsh, unsympathetic tyrant when dealing with world-conformity in his family. Sometimes certain individuals need to be gradually weaned away from worldliness, especially when long-held habits and customs are involved. A man should be as gentle as possible but as firm as necessary.
Sometimes a man will have personal convictions which his wife and children do not share. How does the Lord expect the wife and children to respond to the wishes of the man of the house if they do not hold to those same convictions? This can be a difficult question to answer, because every case has details which are unique to that specific case. How strong is the man's conviction? How important is it to him? Is he willing to wait for his wife and children to come to the same conviction, or is it so important that they must conform to his wishes even if they do not yet share his conviction? How old are the children? How spiritually mature and spiritually receptive are the wife and children? Are the man's wishes for his family based on clear commandments written in the Scriptures, or does he expect his family to do things that the Bible does not specifically require?
In regards to that last question, I suspect that most people would say it is unrealistic for a man to expect his family to conform to his convictions if his convictions are not based on a Scriptural mandate. In other words, if a man forbids his family to do certain things, they should be things which God has forbidden in the Scriptures. If a man forbids things which God has not forbidden, he is expecting too much from his family. Or is he?
If you feel that way, I suggest you read about the Rechabites in Jeremiah 35. The Rechabites were a tribe of people descended from a man named Jonadab the son of Rechab. Jonadab commanded his sons, saying, "Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever; neither shall ye build house, nor sow seed, nor plant vineyard, nor have any: but all your days ye shall dwell in tents" (Jer. 35:6f).
Five significant things about the Rechabites. First, Jonadab's personal convictions were not based on Scriptural commandments. Nowehere in the Torah does God forbid wine, houses, or farming, and He does not command us to dwell in tents all our days. Second, Jonadab commanded his sons to conform to his personal convictions. Third, he expected not only his own immediate sons but also his sons' sons "for ever" to live according to his convictions. Fourth, the Rechabites obeyed Jonadab: "Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab our father in all that he hath charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, nor our daughters; nor to build houses for us to dwell in; neither have we vineyard, nor field, nor seed. But we have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed, and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us" (Jer. 35:8-10). Fifth, and perhaps most significant, God commended and blessed the Rechabites for following their eccentric ancestor's unusual wishes: "And Jeremiah said unto the house of the Rechabites, Thus saith Yahweh of hosts, the God of Israel: Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath commanded you: Therefore thus saith Yahweh of hosts, the God of Israel: Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want [lack] a man to stand before Me for ever" (Jer. 35:18f).
So if a wife and/or children do not have the same convictions that the leader of the family has, they might want to consider the story of the Rechabites.
"WITHOUT YOUR FLOCKS AND HERDS"
After two more plagues—locusts and darkness—Pharaoh agreed to let the people go, even the women and children. "Only let your flocks and herds be stayed," Pharaoh said (Ex. 10:24). Moses and Aaron said no. They insisted that their flocks and herds go out of Egypt with them.
What is the spiritual parallel to this part of the story? What does this teach us about not conforming to the world? As a pastor, I can see the spiritual parallel to Pharaoh's suggested compromise. A pastor is a shepherd. So when I hear Pharaoh saying, "Go out of Egypt without your flocks and herds," I hear Satan saying, "Be a non-conformist if you want; go out of Egypt if you must, but don't take your flock, your local congregation, with you."
Just as Satan says to men, "Don't take your wife and kids down this path of non-conformity," he says to shepherds, "Don't take your flock down this path of non-conformity. Take your own wife and children with you if you must, but don't expect the other men in your congregation to drag their families down this path."
My response is the same as Moses' response to Pharaoh: "Our cattle also shall go with us; there shall not an hoof be left behind" (Ex. 10:26). In other words, No child left behind!
THE REASON FOR SUGGESTING COMPROMISE
Moses was a man filled with and led by the Holy Spirit of God to bring freedom from Egyptian bondage. Pharaoh was a man filled with and led by the unholy spirit of Satan to keep God's people enslaved to Egypt. Your adversary the Devil wants to keep you enslaved to sin and conformed to the world. Your adversary uses the same tactics that he used when he spoke through Pharaoh. He tries to get you to compromise and conform to the world, because world-conformity will prevent your transformation into the likeness an image of the Son of God.
The story of the Exodus describes the showdown between Yahweh and the gods of Egypt. A spiritual battle was raging in the heavens when Pharaoh tried to get Moses and Aaron to compromise. Now think for a moment about compromise in the context of war. When a war is going on or is about to erupt, if the leader of one of the armies wants to work out a compromise with his enemy, he wants to do so for one of two reasons. Either it's because he's compassionate and kind and wants to avoid unnecessary bloodshed and the loss of innocent lives, or it's because he knows he's no match for his opponent.
For which reason do you suppose Pharaoh wanted to work out a compromise? It certainly wasn't because he was a kind and compassionate guy! It was because he knew he was too weak to win the battle. Now think about your adversary the Devil. Why does Satan tempt you to compromise? Why is he willing to let you "be religious" provided you stay in Egypt, or at least close to Egypt, or, if you are determined to leave, at least go without your family or your flock? It's not because he's kind and compassionate. Satan tempts you to compromise for the same reason Pharaoh tempted Moses and Aaron to compromise, because he knows he is too weak to win the war. Satan knows he is no match for the Messiah who is in you, transforming you from glory to glory.
Moses and Aaron didn't need to even consider compromise as a possible option. Egypt was being sorely plagued, so there was no need to even consider compromise. Why agree to compromise when the enemy is on the run? Moses and Aaron knew they had Pharaoh on the run. I've got good news. Satan has been on the run ever since the Resurrection of Yeshua. Satan knows he is done for. So the next time Satan tempts you to compromise your faith, remind him (and yourself) that compromise is an act of desperation for losers, and not an option for an army that has its enemy on the run.
This article was adapted from an 8-part teaching series by Daniel Botkin, Transformation or World-Conformity, now available on CD. Click here to go to see all his teachings
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