Compromise, Don’t !
Text: Genesis 19
Proposition: Compromise is rarely an act of accident or mistake, it is usually a deliberate course that seeks to find life on our terms.
Introduction: When it comes to politics, counseling, marriages, raising children and settling disputes between people whether they are friends or complete strangers, compromise is a useful tool. Compromise says that neither party gets what they want, both give something in order to advance what is in the best interests of all. That’s the positive experience of compromise, but there is also a destructive way that we experience compromise. It’s when we know what the truth is and we mix it with lesser issues, desires or causes. Compromise can be tricky because it can offer what is genuinely good but in exchange it demands you give up what is best. It’s been said that compromise is like a self inflicted wound that doesn’t stop bleeding until you are spiritually empty. This morning we are going to look at a story that details the hard costs of compromise. Consider Genesis 19.
I. Compromise Begins With a Longing Look, Its’ End Is You At Its Gate.
The first time Lot saw Sodom it was set in the lush green Jordan valley with five cities at its southern edge. Lot was wealthy and the camels and sheep that made up that wealth would really prosper in this kind of green. So Lot the shepherd boss moved his tents to the plains of Sodom. It was but a short while later when the first warning bell rang, Lot and his family and all his goods were taken captive along with the wealth and people of the five cities. Genesis 14 describes how Abram mounted a rescue effort that recovered the prisoners and their wealth and then released them. But Lot returned to the plains of Sodom. I wonder if compromise isn’t like that, even when we know its cost us, we still choose to go towards it. From Genesis 14 to 19 we see Lot move from living in tents to living in the city, to sitting at the city’s gate as its defender magistrate. At some point didn’t Lot see the moral ruin of a city that was so great that the very thought of two men coming into the town square with the thought of staying there for the night was prohibitively dangerous. So what is there about compromise that gets the better of our judgment when it is obvious that to go this way will lead to no good? Three things come to mind: 1. We compromise when we want to gain the favorable opinion of others;
2. We compromise when we think that it will prevent loss or increase gain of wealth; 3. We compromise in order to avoid persecution. Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25 say exactly the same thing, perhaps for emphasis, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Compromise seems right, but its outcome is the way of death, a shutting down of balance and ability. Lot sat at the city gate, a defender of the city whose end is the way of death.
II. Compromise Begins With an Acceptable Level But Becomes Contagious.
In 2 Peter 2:7 the apostle Peter describes Lot as a righteous man, oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked. Lot had been in Sodom for more than 13 years, from the very first the men there were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD, that’s the testimony of Genesis 13:13. So at some point there was an acceptable level of compromise for Lot that he would stay for 13 years. He might have said, “I’m not like them, I can handle this.” He might have said, “I’ve been here this long why leave.” He might even have said, “I’m the only righteous person here, they need me to stay if they are going to repent.” Compromise always begins at an acceptable level, whether that’s a compromise with alcohol, with sex, with money, with power. But what quickly occurs is compromise becomes contagious. Do you think it was just a few of the men of Sodom who compromised when they were enticed with homosexuality? Look at the description in 19:4, “the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people from every quarter…”. Consider Lot’s own family, his wife, his daughters, they too succumbed to the pull of compromise to stay there and even to long after it’s corruption. Know that what you may consider an acceptable level of compromise will be a gate through which others follow you.
III. Compromise Ruins Good Judgment.
Maybe it’s because compromise is like a spiritual glaucoma, it slowly covers our perception, our ability to discern truth, until we become blind to our own foolishness. As much as we are offended by the lurid actions of the men of Sodom, it is the response of Lot in offering his daughters to this mob that is sickening. Lot says that his responsibility to offer hospitality trumps that of caring for his own family. I wonder what his two daughters thought as they heard their father offer this bargaining chip to an out of control mob. In all that ensues we see example after example of a ruined ability to do what is best. He talks to his sons in law and pleads with them to leave Sodom, they mock his warnings and do nothing. It’s now morning and Lot is still in his house, the two angels are more and more insistent. It would be like a friend coming into your house to tell you it was on fire. Verse 16 tells us that Lot lingered, even to the point that the angels had to grab their hands and pull them out of the place. Compromise ruins good judgment.
IV. Compromise Treads On Grace.
Standing at the edge of Sodom, the angels tell Lot to run for his life, head to the mountains to take shelter, don’t look back nor stay anywhere in the plain. Lot’s response is that it’s kind of dangerous up in those hills and there is this little town just a couple of miles away, one of the five cities that were about to be destroyed. If it was okay he’d really prefer to go there instead. By grace Lot is given permission to go to the city of Bela, whose name is now changed to Zoar. Though the city of Zoar is spared because of Lot being there, Lot’s wife dies as they go to this city. The compromise of doing what Lot wanted in front of what God wanted left temptation in her way and she was overcome by the judgment that fell on Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim. The consequence of treading on grace is that we tend to step outside of its protection, like stepping out from under an umbrella and we are hit. Compromise treads on grace.
V. The Call of Christ Is to Overcome This Temptation and Its Consequence.
The epilogue in Genesis 19 sees Lot hiding out in a mountain cave, all his possessions gone. It sees his two daughters using wine to intoxicate their father in order to have him impregnate each of them. Compromise caused the sin of incest to occur, a last ditch effort on their part to ensure their family line would not perish. From these unions came the two baby boys who were the fathers of the Moabites and the Ammonites. Ammon is that area which is modern day Jordan, the capital of which bears this same root name, Amman. The Moabites and Ammonites were enemies of Israel for years when Moses and Joshua led Israel into the land. Compromise has lasting consequence, it comes from the sin of unbelief and is an expression of disobedience to the desire of God for us.
When Jesus faced Herod and then Pilate during His arrest and trial there was a great temptation to compromise. In Gethsemane, “Father let this cup of suffering pass from Me, yet not My will but Thy will be done.” Before Caiaphas the question was, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Most High?” His answer was, “I Am.” Before Pilate, when asked, “Are You a king then.”, Jesus replied, “You are right in saying that I am a king, for this cause I was born.” When the crowd cried out, “He saved others but He cannot save Himself.”, Jesus remained silent, like a sheep before its shearers is silent. His cry to God was, “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” Jesus did not compromise. He did not succumb to temptation, He perfectly obeyed what God the Father asked of Him.
The call of Christ to us today is to recognize that though we have a sin nature we are no longer to consider ourselves unable to resist it. When He died on the cross He paid the price of our sin in full and now invites us to accept that payment, to stand in that payment by faith. Our old man has been crucified with Christ, it no longer is my master. We feel the pull of the flesh and of the world and of Satan upon our sin nature, but it is no longer our master. In Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we now know the truth of Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man, but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape that you may be able to bear it.” In Him we have overcome the world… that includes the call of Christ to stand against any compromise that speaks less of Christ.