By Paul R. Blake
It is an old fable often told. The hunter raised his rifle and took careful aim at a large black bear. Just before he pulled the trigger, the bear spoke to him in a soft, soothing rumble, "Is it not better to talk than to shoot? What is it that you want? Let us negotiate the matter."
Slowly lowering his rifle, the hunter replied, "I want a fur coat.”
"Good," said the bear, "that is certainly negotiable. I only want a full stomach, so let us work out a compromise."
So, they sat down together to negotiate, and after a time the bear walked away alone. The negotiation was successful; the bear had a full stomach, and the hunter had a fur coat. He was inside the bear.
The Adversary wants Christians to negotiate moral issues with him. Sadly, many Christians are willing to come to his bargaining table and exchange their character and integrity in this life and their soul in the life to come for temporary ownership of Satan’s cheap baubles and a quick sampling of his fleeting pleasures. They foolishly choose to forget the warning: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1Peter 5:8).
Why do many who profess Christ attempt to negotiate with the Devil? Because they want what they are not supposed to have. God made clear the boundaries of moral conduct in His word (2Tim. 3:16-17; 1John 3:3). Rather than consulting His word and being content with the Lord’s code of character, some see how far they can go in compromise with the world without appearing to be engaged in obvious sin.
Two desires are at war within humankind. On one side is the spiritual man that wants to do what is right, and on the other side is the carnal being that wants to indulge in material and worldly excesses (Gal. 5:16-25). The spiritual being is motivated by knowledge of godliness and truth. The carnal being is motivated by interest in base desires and passions. The spiritual being wants to go to heaven; the carnal being wants to fit in with the world so that he isn't embarrassed over moral conduct. It troubles the carnal side of man that worldly minded people think he is strange (1Peter 4:1-4). The spiritual being wants to learn more about the word of God, but the carnal side of man wants to sleep late on Sunday morning. The spiritual being wants to give of his means sacrificially, but the flesh wants to obligate his money for material things. They fight back and forth within a man until his will chooses a solution.
The compromising Christian has moral issues that will cause him to lose his soul. He is cultivating a character problem that will prevent him from influencing his children for good. He sets a poor example for the young and weak in faith in the local congregation of which he is a member. As the number of compromising Christians increase in the local church, the church loses influence and effectiveness not only with its own members but also among the lost in the community. (1Cor. 5:1-13)
There is a causal relationship between the compromise of one’s morals and the decay of his character. He will lose his soul. And there is a direct correlation between the decay of individual Christians’ characters and deterioration in the local church. When local churches begin tolerating immorality and negotiating doctrine, they will lose their candlestick.
By Mike Palm
"As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving." (Col. 2:6-7) "...Yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles." (Matt. 13:21)
"I was taking with a farmer about his soybean and corn crops. Rain had been abundant, and the results were evident. Thus, his comment surprised me: "My crops are especially vulnerable. Even a short drought could have a devastating effect." "Why?" I asked. He explained, "Though we see the frequent rains as a benefit, during that time the plants are not required to push roots deeper in search of water. The roots remain near the surface. A drought would find the plants unprepared and quickly kill them." (By Neal Orchard)
Likewise, some Christians receive abundant blessings, fellowship, and teaching; however, when hardship, tribulation, or persecution enters their lives, they suddenly quit the Lord. Their roots have never pushed below the surface. Only those who are deeply rooted and grounded in the Lord will endure when tribulation and persecution comes.