The Fungus of Spiritual Compromise | February 2nd, 2023
Staying inside at home for the past three days due to several layers of ice on the roads has made me really appreciate movement! I have missed my daily walks around the neighborhood and am looking forward to getting back to my exercise routine the moment all of this stubborn ice melts.
My favorite kind of vacation is one where Michael and I can be active outdoors. We love any opportunity to hike, taking in the peaceful surroundings of nature. It was on one such hike that we noticed a fallen tree covered with shelf mushrooms. They can be cut off, but they’ll just regrow. Eventually they will hollow out the tree they are attached to, making it prone to falling, especially in high wind. Perhaps that’s why this particular tree was down.
Once a tree has developed shelf fungi, there is no way to eradicate it. The fungus has already built a network of infection inside and is in the process of consuming the tree from within. It attacks the structural integrity which causes heart decay. Healthy trees will begin to rot at the heart of the trunk.
Spiritual compromise is so much like this unstoppable fungus. It’s a slow weakening of God’s standards in the life of a follower of Christ – a network of infection that grows with continued compromise to the point of heart decay and perhaps even a full departure from the Truth.
Spiritual compromise can be defined as: accepting a lower moral standard to live by that lessens or deadens your spiritual effectiveness
We can see this happening in the church today. Satan veils compromise as “progress.” He deceives people, getting them to believe that without it you are too rigid, non-inclusive, old-fashioned, and refuse to grow.
Leaders in the church become steeped in pride, deciding in their own mind what is right and wrong. This opens them up to trying out popular new methods that are not grounded in God’s Word, our life manual. Everything must be carefully compared with Scripture before implementing. Otherwise, the trusting flock who relies on their shepherd for protection could be led straight over a cliff toward dangerous teachings that violate God’s Word.
We all have been born with a sin nature, so our natural drift is toward compromise. Author and research professor of New Testament, D.A. Carson, describes this drift in his book For the Love of God, Volume 2:
People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, and obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord.
We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.
What Influences You?
One area where many Christians often give in to spiritual compromise is with the media…music, television, social media, and movies filled with promoting every form of sin. Immoral acts are on display for all to see, even in the advertisements. Being entertained with the world’s idea of “fun” that clearly goes against God’s Word is compromise. He has charged us with a duty to live by His Word. If we refuse, the network of the things in this world that cause spiritual infection will end up taking precedence over God’s divine perspective, controlling the way we live our life.
Evangelist D.L. Moody once said, “Christians should live in the world, but not be filled with it. A ship lives in the water; but if the water gets into the ship, she goes to the bottom. So Christians may live in the world; but if the world gets into them, they sink.”
Jesus taught about this and gave a serious warning:
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14
If destruction is assured, why would a follower of Christ ever want to compromise with the world? Here are a few reasons…
Fear of rejection or criticism: “My whole family is going to this movie and I don’t want to be left out.”
The need to be seen as tolerant: “What’s the big deal? It’s the world we live in!”
A desire for pleasure: “I deserve it. I work hard and need to be entertained.”
Lack of discernment: “Looks good to me!”
Laziness: “I don’t care about fighting for what God calls righteous. It takes way too much effort.”
A rebellious spirit: “I’ll do whatever I want to do and not feel guilty about it!”
It is so important to guard our heart by being selective about what we hear and watch, aligning it all to God’s standards. Otherwise, our way of thinking can change over time and influence our decisions to compromise in other areas which is guaranteed to lead to destruction.
The psalmist David experienced this to be true in his own life with devastating consequences (2 Samuel 11-12) and made a profession of godliness, wanting nothing more to do with that which God despised:
I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part in it. Psalm 101:3
Who Influences You?
The people who influence you will also impact your decisions toward spiritual compromise. The feet of compromisers walk the same path.
Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so? Amos 3:3
Who do you learn from or listen to? Is it someone who categorizes the principles of holiness as “gray areas?” Do they like to expand the list of things that they think God doesn’t really care about?
A pastor shared this story about one of his church members…
Some years ago, a faithful church member came to me after a sermon about holiness in the Christian life and said that the message was legalism. The member had never used that term in the years that I knew them. I replied, “You know that’s a term that means adding works to salvation, but the liberals use it to criticize people like us who believe in personal standards of righteousness. Who have you been listening to?”
Over time, listening to unbiblical instruction will cause you to compromise spiritually and turn from the Truth.
Stop listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge. Proverbs 19:27
When we actively pursue a deeper relationship with God, grow to love Him with our whole heart, and desire to be obedient to Him, we are a lot less likely to compromise. We want to please Him! As we spend time in His Word, we can more easily recognize those things that are seeking to pull us away from God.
How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:9-11
Be Holy in All You Do
God gives us everything we need in His Word to live a godly life and resist compromise. We have no excuse for ignorance or for conforming to the pattern of this sinful world when we belong to Him. We are set apart to be used for His glory (what an honor!) and are to be holy in all we do.
As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-16
That sounds like an impossible command. We are far from holy! Yet, God tells us to be holy as He is holy. So, how does this work? As we mature spiritually, aspiring to be more like Christ, we cultivate a lifestyle of holiness, making decisions that honor Him. It is the mark of every true follower of Jesus.
Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. 2 Timothy 2:21
God’s holiness is the pattern for us to live by, from the smallest things to the big things. Isn’t it the small compromises we may think are meaningless that often lead to the greatest destruction in life? If we can imitate God in the little things we do, we will have a greater chance of imitating Him in purity and holiness with the bigger things. There is no action too small to mirror the holiness of God!
Alexander Maclaren (expository Baptist preacher; 1826-1910) wrote this about being holy as God is holy…
If our likeness to God does not show itself in trifles, what in the name of common sense is there left for it to show itself in? For our lives are all made up of trifles. The great things come three or four of them in the seventy years; the little ones come every time the clock ticks.
So, dear brother, this motto is to be written over every portal through which you and I go; and whatsoever we can put our hands to, in it we may magnify and manifest the holiness of God.
When we are in an active relationship with God, we learn about who He is and the magnitude of His holiness. We can’t possibly fathom it! Even catching a brief glimpse of it makes us instantly aware of how corrupt and sinful we are. Apart from His grace, we could never be in a relationship with Him.
Spiritual compromise hurts us greatly as it leads to sin and creates a barrier between us and a holy God, keeping us from experiencing intimacy with Him. God has never condoned compromise in the past and He never will!
So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Deuteronomy 5:32
Compromising God’s standards is a way for the enemy to steal, kill, and destroy our relationship with God and he knows it. If we are to recognize and prevent deception that leads to spiritual compromise, we must be reading the Word – the light for our path. It is only when we live according to God’s Word and His ways that we experience abundant life. The world is incapable of offering this kind of abundance… the kind of joy, peace, hope, and goodness that only Jesus Christ can offer.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10
Spiritual compromise is an infection that begins in the heart and attacks our integrity. When we see mushrooms growing on a living tree, it’s a warning sign that all is not well with that tree and heart decay will soon set in, attacking its structural integrity.
Just as prevention from infection is the best way to keep a tree from being destroyed by fungi, knowing God’s Word is our best method of prevention from being destroyed by spiritual compromise. We will flourish and grow when we follow God’s perfect, righteous standards which is only possible through a loving relationship with a holy God.
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