THE INDICATORS OF COMPROMISE
by: Allen Domelle
“How did I not see it?” That is the question I’m often asked when someone finally comes to the realization that they can’t follow someone anymore. They question why they did not foresee someone’s demise. I have watched preachers and good Christian laypeople beat themselves up over their lack regarding insight to someone’s compromise. Let me simply say, you can’t cry over spilt milk, but you can sure learn from how the milk was spilt.
I may be in my mid 40’s, but I’m not a new kid on the block when it comes to the independent, fundamental Baptist movement. God blessed me by allowing me to grow up in an independent Baptist preacher’s home. Not only did God bless me with being born in an independent Baptist preacher’s home, but He also allowed me to be a member of many great independent Baptist churches. I was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, while my dad attended the Highland Park Baptist Church under the leadership of Dr. Lee Roberson. Though I was too young to realize Dr. Roberson’s leadership, I was able to befriend him in the latter years of his life, and his influence guided my parent’s belief system. God also allowed me to be under the leadership of Dr. Jack Hyles. Bro. Hyles was my pastor for close to thirteen years of my life. Those thirteen years covered, childhood, college days and also several years of ministry. These associations allowed me to be influenced by men who were the greatest opponents of compromise in their day. These men had great discernment in showing us the pathway to compromise.
In addition to being under these great independent, fundamental Baptist leaders, God allowed me and continues to allow me to be around an older generation who fought and continue to fight for Scriptural positions in the independent, fundamental Baptist movement. It has been my privilege to personally know men like Dr. Lee Roberson, Dr. Jack Hyles, Dr. Tom Malone, men who fought compromise and are now in Heaven. God’s has allowed me to be around men who are still alive whom I would consider great independent Baptist leaders. Men like, Dr. Bob Gray Sr., Dr. B.G. Buchanan, Dr. Jack Trieber, Dr. Larry May and many others. Though some of these men I have known on a small scale, others of these men I’ve known on a very personal level. I could go on, but that is not needed. God has been very good to allow me to have my discernment influenced by some great men.
Throughout the years, I have watched and studied good men who’ve compromised. From my childhood through today, I’ve watched men who I once looked up to become men with whom I could no longer associate. Compromise sets in, and their works and messages have become the very examples of what they used to preach against.
I think of a man whom I heard preach in Pastor’s School in Hammond, Indiana, as a young man. This man pastored an up and coming church in the 70’s. He had the ear of many fundamental Baptist, had a nationwide television program that replayed his Sunday morning services and was an example of God’s blessings on a church. Every Sunday morning my father and I watched his services and listened to him preach. I remember the Sunday when he announced that he wanted his college to become the Notre Dame of the Baptist. Great desire! The problem was what he did to get that to happen. Today, though this man is in Heaven, he led his church and many other men into compromise. If you were to walk on his college campus today, you would not know it was a Christian university.
I can think of a well-known evangelist from years ago who God used in a mighty way. In the early years of this man’s ministry he was known as a strong independent, fundamental Baptist evangelist. This evangelist became enamored with big crowds, and that desire to become big led to him yoking up with men of different faiths. His compromise continued to the point where towards the end of his public ministry he even said he didn’t know if there really was a literal Hell. Though this man saw scores of people saved, he turned many people into converts for liberal churches who won’t take a stand for the faith.
Today, there are men who are my contemporaries and older who have the ear of many young preachers, Christians and churches alike, who are compromising for the sake of crowds. These men are wordsmiths. They know how to word things in such a way that you will miss their compromising viewpoints unless you have a discerning ear. They are swaying many people into compromising ways, and are justifying their movements for the sake of unity and souls being saved.
If you are not careful, you will miss the indicators of compromise because of a lack of discernment. Though compromise is a problem, the biggest problem is a lack of discernment. There are several areas in which there is a discernment problem that should sound the alarm of compromise. What I’ve learned from men who had discernment and from those who have compromised is that there is a lack of discernment in six key areas.
First, there is a discernment problem in the area of music. Music is often one of the first areas a person changes when they start down the road of compromise. Ephesians 5:19 says, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;” The destination of music is the heart. When the heart begins to change, their music will change. It’s not that a person immediately goes to the contemporary Christian music arena, but the sound and the spirit of their music changes. Many times you won’t be able to put your finger on it, but you will know something is different. No, their music may not be sinful, but it has changed for the worse. Now, the sound of their music is more sensual than it used to be. Now, most of their music, if not all of it, comes from modern day CCM artists. When music begins to change, you would be wise to pay attention and see what else is changing.
Second, there is a discernment problem in dress standards. It always amazes me how dress standards always become an issue when compromise sets in. Those who compromise almost always want to call people legalists whose standards are tighter than theirs. When the standards are getting looser, it should alert you to watch for compromise. Why is it when a person leaves a good church that one of the first things they do is change their dress standards? The reason is because their compromising heart comes out. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” When a person changes their dress standards, they are simply showing that their heart has changed.
Third, there is a discernment problem in the use of terminology. Terminology identifies a person’s direction as much, if not more, than music and dress standards. When the children of Israel were in a civil war, their terminology determined what side they were on. Judges 12:6 says, “Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan:…” When a ministry’s terminology sounds more like the progressive church movement than an independent Baptist, they are changing.
Fourth, there is a discernment problem in determining direction. Many people lack the discernment of a person’s direction. Bro. Hyles told me over and over again that I need to determine a person’s direction to determine whether I should associate with them. If they are going the same direction I’m going, then associating with them is a good thing. On the other hand, if their direction is the opposite of mine even if they are positionally the same, I should not associate with them because their direction is different.
Fifth, there is a discernment problem in the perception of interpreting the Bible. The Bible has always been the source of every division. It all goes back to the Garden of Eden when Satan said, “Yea, hath God said,…” When people change their stance to look at the Scriptures from a critical standpoint instead of an authoritative standpoint, then you can be sure they are headed towards compromise.
Sixth, there is a discernment problem in a person’s associations. Amos 3:3 says, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” If a person is willing to associate with evangelicals and liberals in their name dropping and book recommendations, then you can be assured they are headed towards compromise. When people are willing to get advice from liberals and take pictures with them to post on their social networking sites, then you can be assured they are headed towards compromise. Associations are a great indicator of where a person is going.
HOW TO AVOID BEING BLINDSIDED BY COMPROMISE
1. A good study from the past will reveal the directions of today.
One of the biggest reasons people have no discernment is because they don’t study the paths of those who compromised in the past. Studying the past will help you to have discernment of a person’s direction today. If someone from the past walked down a certain pathway, then you can be assured if a person today is doing the same that they will end up in the same place. Ecclesiastes 11:3 says, “If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.” If you study the direction the spiritual trees from the past fell, then you will know when someone is headed towards compromise when they start leaning the same way.
2. Loyalty, friendship and trust will blind the movements of compromise.
Your loyalty to an institution will blind you to their comprise. When you have been friends with someone and you trust them, then when they start saying certain things you know don’t sound right you will tend to give them a break in hopes that they will change what they said. Be careful! Don’t let your loyalty, friendship and trust blind you from wrong. If a person is wrong, then they are wrong. God says that “love covereth all sins.” (Proverbs 10:12) Don’t let your love for someone blind you from the movements of compromise that they are making.
3. Don’t confuse evaluation with criticism.
People often won’t see compromise because they say they won’t listen to criticism. Let me make this clear, just because someone is evaluating a person’s stance does not mean they are being critical. Criticism is a personal attack, but evaluation is assessing their movements and stances. When a coach evaluates his players, he is not criticizing them. He is showing them their errors so they can correct them. If you don’t learn to evaluate people and what they are saying and doing, then you will succumb to compromise. Don’t let the liberals shame you into not evaluating them by accusing you of having a critical spirit.
4. Don’t lose what your true focus.
One of the biggest culprits of compromise is a wrong focus. God shows us what our focus should be upon in Jude 1:3 when He says, “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Notice, the focus is on the faith. Many fall into compromise because they make the Gospel the focus and not the faith. When the Gospel is the focus, then they will say it doesn’t matter what we do to get people saved as long as they get saved. That is not true! God is concerned with the vehicle of truth. If you focus on the faith, then you don’t have to worry about getting the Gospel to people for the Gospel is part of the faith. If you will contend for the faith, then you will contend for the Gospel. Furthermore, don’t make size your focus. The size of a church should never indicate success, for we know that God is the One Who gives the increase. (1 Corinthians 3:7)
5. Don’t mistake apparent success for blessing.
Many a man has ridden the momentum of his past and we mistook it as present blessing. A man’s demise may take place while his ministry seems to be on the rise. Just because the carcass on the side of the road is growing doesn’t mean it’s a blessing; it could mean that it is dying. You must always remember that what a man is reaping today is because of yesterday’s work and stand. Where a man stands today will only be revealed in the future. Instead of looking at their church growth, you should look at where he stands. Listen to what he is saying. Don’t be so enamored with his apparent success that you forget to look at where he stands.
Compromise is not a new thing. Throughout the history of the world there have been good people who have compromised. The biggest reason people succumb to compromise is because they have a lack of discernment to identify the indicators of compromise. Work on the areas of discernment we discussed in this article, and you will find you have a better chance of avoiding the spilt milk of being lured into someone’s compromising ways.
Allen Domelle is the editor of the Old Paths Journal which is more than just a Christian’s publication. It is an excellent place to learn how today’s headlines will forge tomorrow’s laws and statutes. Keep yourself in tune with what is happening around the world, as well as in your own backyard with our daily updates and devotionals.