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妥协、迎合,亦或刚强壮胆?

作者:道格·巴契勒 牧师日期:2013-10-11 4:3:0浏览数:44247
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奇妙真相:热带榕树以“绞杀榕”著称,因其生长习性异乎寻常。它的种子往往通过鸟粪粘附在另一棵树的叶片上,生命就此萌发,渐而长成参天大树。绞杀榕的气生根沿着寄主树的枝干向下,寻找土壤。一旦扎根,榕根会迅速变得粗壮,发荣滋长。它们盘根错节,交结成网格状盘绕寄主树的主干,劫掠阳光、水和养分,从而阻止寄主树生长,将其渐渐“饿死”。最终,绞杀榕恩将仇报,使自己赖以生存的大树“窒息”而亡,枯萎腐烂。它却占据寄主树的位置,傲然挺立。[注:气生根:指由植物茎上发生的,生长在地面以上的、暴露在空气中的不定根。]

同样,妥协的种子也以类似的方式成功潜入余民教会,企图“绞杀”信徒的灵命,榨干圣灵的果子。

选定立场

蝙蝠何以生活在黑暗之中?古希腊寓言家伊索曾以一个有趣的故事解明这一“奥秘”。话说鸟兽双方交战,鸟胜。蝙蝠飞至鸟堡道:“我是鸟,我是鸟,快看,我会飞!”后鸟兽再战,兽胜。蝙蝠飞至兽营道:“我是兽,我是兽,快看,我会爬!”不久,蝙蝠两面三刀、苟且偷生的行径令鸟兽双方鄙夷、厌憎。于是,双方将蝙蝠驱至洞穴,只容夜间出没。本欲博众爱,终惹人人厌。

人们就像这只蝙蝠,渴望被接纳。但对于虔诚的基督徒而言,世界的接纳与天父的赞许不可能兼得。耶稣说:“一个仆人不能侍奉两个主,”(路16:13)雅各这样写道:“岂不知与世俗为友就是与上帝为敌吗?所以凡想要与世俗为友的,就是与上帝为敌了。”(雅4:4)这样看来,基督徒不可能既被世界接纳、享受一切罪中之乐,又享有因耶稣之救赎而来的平安与保证。“二人若不同心,岂能同行呢?”(摩3:3)

可悲的是,无数自命为基督徒的人,试图寻找一种解决方案:既能取悦众人,又可妥协信仰与恶世为友。我特别关注这一问题,因在与主同行的路上,自己也常与曲意逢迎那阴险、隐伏、潜移默化的影响角力。我们正处在“顺应世俗”的无情压力之下,为使人在价值观和原则上做出让步,魔鬼不断蛊惑我们与其交涉。他鲜有不遗余力的正面攻击,而多是凭借内在的、逐步的侵蚀来迫使我们在信仰上一点一点地妥协。

向魔鬼妥协足以置灵命于死地,且永不会获得任何持久的满足。主曾明令我们不可保持中立。“不与我相合的,就是敌我的;”(太12:30)中国有句古话:“脚踏两船休想过河。”其实,你不可能与魔鬼达成真正意义上的妥协(事实上,魔鬼并未作出丝毫的让步,而是我们单方面的退让),任何向撒但妥协的尝试终将沦为彻底的屈服。唯独不断靠赖上帝并时刻警醒,我们才能砍断这一巨兽的触须(译者注:魔鬼用妥协的触须捆绑我们)。

妥协分好坏

当然,妥协一词并非脏话。很多时候,它是一种美妙的原则,有助于提供并维护各种关系的和洽。婚姻中的让步有助于家庭和睦。记得那是严冬里的一天,我想把空调调到24度,但出于节约考虑,妻子凯伦希望调至20度。于是,我们各让一步,调到一个折中的温度——22度,丝毫不伤和气。此类在“非本质”问题上的妥协,体现了一种温柔、谦恭的精神。

然而,基督徒若为求和睦而开始妥协部分的真理,牺牲圣经的道德准则,其后果可能就是永远的灭亡。马丁路德曾说:“若是能行,当竭力与人和睦;但为了真理,应不惜一切代价。”

一点点地消磨信徒的决心,使你不断退让。这里一小步,那里一小步,还没意识到究竟发生了什么,你坚定的信仰已被他的伦理观所取代,且整个过程就像温水煮青蛙一样浑然不觉,这便是撒但的首要计划,亦是锋芒所向。

写这篇文章时,我很想发动一场“道德闪电战”,抨击教会在各方面的妥协。为得世界的接纳,众多基督徒的标准已被献于妥协之坛。我本可一一列举,并写出以下事物的危害:世俗音乐与“现代”的敬拜方式;泛滥的物质主义与接踵而至的债务;巴比伦饮食(译者注:不良饮食)与卫生习惯;奇装异服与令人想入非非的着装、饰品;还有令人眼花缭乱、麻痹信徒灵性与心灵的大众娱乐。我亦可指出最为可怕的行径:为迎合众人而大打折扣的教义:该教义从不呼吁信徒舍己或背十字架。以上的妥协行为业已剥夺了信徒内心的平安,削弱了福音的效能,“绞杀”了教会的成长。

可惜,有限的篇幅容不得我逐一盘点。下面,我将引你关注导致妥协或迎合的问题所在,以及如何抵挡试探,拒绝顺应撒但。

一码通吃

机场便利店虽不是购物的好去处,但前不久,我却在那里买了一顶棒球帽,因为我的忘带了。货架上所有的棒球帽都标有“均码”的字眼。我偏不信这一通用尺码标准能适合我的大脑袋。然而令我惊讶的是,它还真的合适!因其设计初衷就为顺应大小不一的脑袋。

我发现多数基督徒都想寻找一种教义,一种能使其罪行合法化的神学理论。然而,莫想罪恶的生活能成为一顶“万能帽”,“戴进”与上帝的关系之中。(译者注:有罪之人希望上帝改变原则,以便自己活在罪中的同时,依然能与上帝保持关系。但主不接纳这等生活。)难道上帝要调整祂的旨意,顺应我们的愿望吗?抑或福音要改变我们的生活,使之符合上帝的旨意呢?对此,保罗提供了答案:“不要顺应这个世界,只要心意更新而变化,叫你们察验何为上帝的善良、纯全、可喜悦的旨意。”(罗12:2 KJV直译)可见,上帝不要我们“顺应”世界,而是“心意更新而变化”。

勿与罪恶妥协

约瑟的故事是一个振奋人心的实例,说明如何能免于信仰的妥协。一次,法老的内臣,护卫长波提乏因公出差,他那水性杨花的妻子企图趁机勾引约瑟——波提乏最信得过的仆人。虽知此种不当的关系万万不可,但约瑟不免会考虑它的“好处”——或许他会做更少的工,领更高的薪水,并在主家享有更高的声望,同时还有一个狡猾的情人站在自己一边(保护他、替他说话、并向波提乏隐瞒奸情)。看来,他至少能免去拒绝求爱而惹来的牢狱之灾。

对于一个健康的单身青年来讲,为了地位和享乐而妥协原则实为猛烈的试探。尽管魔鬼不住地耳语、蛊惑,但约瑟清楚这是恶事,他断然拒绝了。对于这“大恶”他甚至想都不想。

“后来她天天和约瑟说,约瑟却不听从她,不与她同寝,也不和她在一处。”(创39:10)或许你未曾注意到,约瑟不但拒绝通奸,而且远离试探。 喷气飞机都配有强劲的涡轮机,在启动时,地面工作人员知道应远离其进气口。几名好奇、大意的工人徘徊在某大型引擎的“魔口”附近,强大的气流将他们从地面吸了进去,瞬间“粉身碎骨”。同样,你若在禁地附近张望徘徊,罪的致命涡流会像五级龙卷风(译者注:龙卷风最高为六级)一般,将你吸起、卷走、继而毁灭。

无论何事何人诱惑你妥协信仰,都当竭力远离罪恶的边缘。切勿容罪在你心中动工,来削弱自己的决心。夏娃就是个反面教材,她离禁树太近了,等着听撒但使罪恶正当化的理由。一看到禁树,一听到蛇在质疑上帝的真理,夏娃本当速速离开,而她却选择了周旋。难怪圣经指教我们当“逃避”试探。(提前6:11)

一点点而已

今天,公然抨击罪恶,尤其是教会中普遍存在的罪行,已不大受欢迎了。那些敢于“直指罪名而无所忌惮的人”(《教育论》第7章 怀特•艾伦 著),无疑会被称为顽梗不化和律法主义者。我怎么知道?因为经历地多了。举个例子,一次,我去参赴一名基督徒的婚宴,有人擅自为我斟了杯香槟。惊讶之余,我婉言谢绝。

但新郎的父亲向我保证:“这种香槟的酒精含量仅有八度,喝不醉的。”

“不过,我真的不喝酒,”我坚定地回答。东道主显然有些不悦地说:“我们在庆祝婚礼,难道你不愿意举杯,向这对新人致以最美的祝愿吗?”他甚至建议我把酒杯举到唇边,假装一下。这仿佛是魔鬼亲自对我说:“毕竟,大家都这么做,难道你不在乎他们?就喝这一次,千万不要盲信。”在做出让步之前,常能听到这类熟悉的辩解之词,但我们必须一口回绝。“不要为肉体安排,去放纵私欲。”(罗13:14)为避免饮酒之嫌,我甚至拒绝去碰那酒杯。(帖前5:22)

“平衡”,另一个熟悉的托辞,为赞同与世俗妥协之人所钟爱。常有人找上门来,劝我要“更加平衡”,这类事情已经屡见不鲜了。然而,细细评估之后,他们对平衡的定义通常如下:基督徒的标准要顺应世俗的价值观。这好比是说:“偶尔在安息日带家人去看球赛也是可以的。你得寻个平衡。”换句话说,这是在建议我们不要“死守”圣洁的标准,莫因一点“小罪”而失了平衡。看来,对他们而言,效法基督会失去平衡。

好心的让步?

另一个让妥协合理化的借口:降低基督徒标准会使基督教对世人更具吸引力。这恰是君士坦丁时期某些教会领袖所采用的手段。

罗马和希腊的异教徒十分迷恋偶像。无疑,第二条诫命(禁拜偶像)便成了他们的绊脚石,使得无数异教徒(若非放弃崇拜偶像的习惯)便难以皈依基督教。对于这些虔诚且迷信之人来讲,捣毁他们珍爱的偶像意味着剧烈的挣扎。

因此,为了福音工作的“益处”,某些教会领袖建议:“何不准许他们将偶像改为基督教伟人或圣徒的名字(例如:将宙斯改名为彼得)。待其加入教会之后,我们再逐步教化他们丢弃偶像。”故事的结局众所周知,教会非但没能改变这些异教徒,反而被对方同化了。这类事情往往以此收场。“勿让异教徒在皈依基督教的事上如此苦恼,”每当教会以此为托词,企图妥协基督徒标准时,世界便同化了教会,使罪恶变得更加“秀色可餐”。

要么妥协,要么战斗

在以斯拉和尼希米的时代,犹大人着手重建尼布甲尼撒摧毁的圣殿。圣经记载:“犹大和便雅悯的敌人,听说被掳归回的人为耶和华以色列的上帝建造殿宇,……(他们)对他们说:‘请容我们与你们一同建造,因为我们寻求你们的上帝,与你们一样。……我们常祭祀上帝。’”(拉4:1,2)但犹大人很清楚,这些邻邦将亚述神明的崇拜仪式掺进了真神上帝的敬拜之中。

犹大人做何答复?他们“对他们说:‘我们建造上帝的殿与你们无干,我们自己为耶和华以色列的上帝协力建造,’”(3节)这是正确的选择。在建殿过程中,他们拒绝受到未悔改之异教徒的影响或左右。请留意接下来发生的事情:“于是那地的民,”(KLV直译)就是先前愿意提供帮助的人,“扰乱他们。”(4节)眨眼的工夫,这些“友好”的邻邦便露出了真面目,成了频繁侵扰他们的敌人。

请勿错过这一重要事实:你若捍卫正义,拒绝与叛党同流合污,逼迫就会接踵而至。开始时,魔鬼会凑上前来说:“咱们合作吧!愿我们彼此相爱!既然你我都有坚定的信仰,不如各让一小步,这样就能联合一致了,毕竟合一很重要。”你若不上当,反而坚守真理的立场,对方会在转瞬间成为你最可怕的敌人,暴露其初衷。

鉴于我们正步入末时,这一教训就显得尤为重要,因为世上一切的宗教终必做出让步,形成一个宗教大联盟,促成拜兽一事。今日,若为了和平的幻想,渐而养成牺牲信仰的习惯,我们便是为拜兽做铺垫。(译者注:请参考 启13:11-15)“凡业已逐步屈从世俗的要求以致依附世俗习惯的人,必要向这些权势屈服,而不愿忍受嘲笑、侮辱、监禁、或死亡的威胁。”(《先知与君王》第14章 怀特•艾伦 著)

唯恐冒犯他人

曾否听过这样的段子?某牧师不愿冒犯台下富有的信徒,讲到:“亲爱的弟兄们,除非你们考虑悔改,我是说,嗯,部分的悔改,做出一点点改变,否则,我不得不遗憾地告诉你,可以说你将会,嗯,我是说可能会,嗯,丧亡,当然不是彻底灭亡,而是在某种程度上的失丧。”

事实上,由于谁都不想冒犯别人,大量妥协和迎合的现象已潜入生活与教会之中。我们早年受教为人要礼貌、体谅——依从他人的要求,不做任何令人不安的事情。但耶稣教导我们,在传福音的过程中,难免会冒犯人。(加5:11)

假设你患了恶性皮肤癌,但皮肤专家怕你难过,于是称那只是一小片毒性皮疹。这样做算是朋友吗?使人醒悟己罪是福音的本质之一,此种特质会变为耀眼的光芒,照进人的内心,穿透层层虚伪的面纱,暴露你我自私的动机与污秽的念头。

一天,约翰•卫斯理(十八世纪英国著名基督教牧师、布道士、神学家)骑马出行,他突然想到在过去的三天,自己并未遭受哪怕一丝的逼迫。整整三天,没有任何人朝他扔砖头或鸡蛋,也没有人侮辱他。惊恐之余,卫斯理停下马大喊:“莫非因我犯了罪,走下坡路了?”

于是,这位布道士纵身下马,双膝跪地,求主向他显明自己是否有什么错行。恰逢此时,在树篱的另一端,一个粗鲁的家伙听到了他的祷告。透过树篱,他认出了这位与传统牧师不同的人物。“我得教训教训这个布道士,”那人说。于是他拾起一块砖头,从树篱那头儿投了过来。砖头并未击中目标,而是落在了卫斯理身旁。激动不已的约翰牧师一跃而起,高声欢呼:“感谢上帝,看来一切安好,祂依然与我同在。”

众使徒为了信仰的缘故或被杀,或囚禁,皆因所传的信息冒犯了某些人。“凡立志在基督耶稣里敬虔度日的,也都要受逼迫。”(提后3:12)我认为,今日北美教会之所以没有较为严峻的逼迫,原因之一就是对世界做出了太大的让步,及至福音令人反感的一面已被大大稀释、淡化了。

不偏左右

卡什河是世界上最逶迤曲折的溪流之一。它完全不能作为航海之用,因为虽蜿蜒290公里,但其直线距离仅为56公里,大致80%的距离浪费在数不清的弯转上了。卡什河之所以能形成这千回百转的一道道弯,是因为它仅沿着阻力最小的路径潺湲,这恰是基督徒变为“弯曲”的原因。我们的道路更应该像一条绷紧的绳索,刚直不阿,而非迂回的小路。

摩西临终前对以色列百姓说:“所以你们要照耶和华你们上帝所吩咐的谨守遵行,不可偏离左右。耶和华你们上帝所吩咐你们行的,你们都要去行,使你们可以存活得福,并使你们的日子在所要承受的地上得以长久。”(申5:32,33)

路加福音4章记载了魔鬼恐怖的企图,他力图让基督妥协。“魔鬼又领祂上了高山,霎时间把天下的万国都指给祂看,……‘这一切权柄、荣华我都要给袮,……袮若在我面前下拜,这都要归袮。”(5-7节)魔鬼想与耶稣做一笔交易。他希望基督考虑这个选择,商定一个终止善恶之争的条约。撒但暗示,只要向他下拜,耶稣就可以统治全世界,而且不必走十字架的道路。从此之后,大家都可其乐融融。

但耶稣做何答复呢?“撒但,退我后面去吧,因为经上记着说:‘当拜主你的上帝,单要侍奉祂。’”(8节,KJV直译)耶稣不假思索地打退了魔鬼。当彼得建议主不要走十字架的道路时,基督回以相同的答复。有时为了达到目的,魔鬼甚至利用与我们至亲至近之人。但当受诱去妥协基督徒原则和信念时,我们要学会说:“撒但,退我后面去吧,我决不从你。”

妥协害死了基督

透过基督受审的一系列事件,我们看出妥协是害死救主的元凶。耶稣在接受彼拉多审讯时说:“我特为给真理作见证;凡属真理的人就听我的声音。”(约18:37节,KJV直译)巡抚答:“真理是什么呢?”(38节)这体现了彼拉多——优柔寡断的巡抚——对于绝对真理的讽刺态度。

在罗马帝国,人们事事都要质疑、争辩。(今天的美国也不例外,对吗?)罗马城中曾有一位哲学家,他鼓励人凡事都要从两方面辩证,希望借此拓展市民的思维。但最后,奥古斯都将那人驱逐出境,因为受其哲学的影响,市民最终认为真理是飘忽不定或是相对的——无人拥护任何清晰、明确的真理,也没有人坚守立场,因为各种见解都会受到看似合理的反驳。

在耶稣一案中,真相已显露无遗了,彼拉多甚至当众宣布耶稣无罪。“(彼拉多)又出来到犹太人那里,对他们说:‘我查不出祂有什么罪来。’”(38节)然而,他不但没有忠于真相,将耶稣无罪释放;反而为了赢得称赞,力图妥协自己对真理的信念。此举历来在政界猖獗、泛滥。

为安抚大众,彼拉多下令鞭打基督,而后再释放。既然耶稣是无罪的,为何要上刑呢?答案很简单,一旦踏上妥协之途,不论在哪一处停下,魔鬼都会催逼你走完余下的路程。你已向撒但表明自己的弱点:只要有足够的好处,你愿意向错谬妥协。从那时起,就像试着攀爬一堵高大而光滑的玻璃墙,一旦你开始牺牲自己的原则,就很容易“坠毁”。

由于嗅到了彼拉多的弱点,撒但利用群众给这个优柔寡断的巡抚施压,直至定耶稣死罪。彼拉多踏上了向罪恶妥协的道路,这正中魔鬼的下怀。那也是为什么彼拉多以退为进,企图智胜撒但,却事与愿违。为了迎合群众,他释放了巴拉巴,而非耶稣。

彼拉多吩咐人将那名冷血杀手押上来,站在群众面前。相形之下,一个是纯洁无瑕的救主,一个是罪不容诛的巴拉巴。巡抚当时心里一定是想:“这些人不过是想看看十字架的酷刑,我不如稍作让步。他们肯定会要求释放耶稣。”但他万万没有想到,这些暴徒竟然强烈要求释放巴拉巴。

终于,彼拉多一小步的妥协使得事态彻底失控。“彼拉多见说也无济于事,反要生乱,就拿水在众人面前洗手,说:‘流这义人的血,罪不在我,你们承当吧!’”(太27:24)但他真的清白吗?既已宣布救主无罪,为何又迫于压力向群众妥协,定耶稣死罪呢?

同样,若踏上妥协真理之路,我们的行动终必失控,后果注定不堪设想。到那时,谁也无法辩解自己当初并不晓得真理。这样看来,一旦你考虑踏上妥协之路,请以彼拉多为前车之鉴。想想耶稣为何会被害死?因为有人以为可以妥协真理。这一点当切记,谨记!

刚强壮胆

多年前,我在纽约一所军校就读时,学生们要在礼拜堂背诵祷文:“正义虽难,错谬虽易,但请帮助我们弃易择难。若能获取完整的真理,就绝不以真假掺半而满足。有一种勇气,它源于对一切高尚与可敬之事的忠诚;它蔑视向邪恶和不公妥协;并且当真理与正义处于险境之时也无所畏惧;求上天赐我们这样的勇气。”你几乎再也听不到这般高尚的誓言了。很多人不以圣经为基础,打着合一的幌子妥协真理,而这竟被多人视为善行。

拒绝屈从妥协的压力需要属天的勇气。耶和华晓谕约书亚说:“只要刚强,大大壮胆,谨守遵行我仆人摩西所吩咐你的一切律法,不可偏离左右,使你无论往哪里去,都可以顺利。”(书1:7)

只要诚挚地懊悔并转离妥协之途,我们便无需担心上帝是否会赦免。但若继续犯罪,陷入错谬之中,便是训练自己重蹈覆辙。上帝可以赐你一颗新心,但切勿认为自己可以继续妥协,且能免于收获其苦果。不断让步会麻痹你的良知,直至成为迎合世俗的必然产物。

向迎合关闭心门

当论及上帝的真道之时,我们无需对新奇的道理敞开心扉。由于不接受世俗的标准,你将被称为保守的极端分子。但切勿因被指控为“思想守旧、顽梗不化”而害怕。就上帝的诫命而言,这样有益无害。我与妻子订立了婚姻誓约——对于任何毁坏这一许诺的事物,我都要封闭自己的思想。

末后,魔鬼诱骗教会宣讲一种信息:通过妥协而联合一致。他逐步削弱我们的决心,蛊惑信徒做出些许让步,及至当大的考验来临时,我们的表现便令撒但如愿以偿了。

阅读但以理书3章,请容许我用自己的话讲给大家。尼布甲尼撒对沙得拉、米煞、亚伯尼歌说:“听说你们没有下拜,真有此事?说实话,你们是我的爱臣,我可不想失去你们。莫非是想换个曲子听听?没关系,我再给你们一次机会,乐队会再次奏乐,这一次再听到乐声,务必要下拜。”

但这三名希伯来青年心意已决,于是奉劝国王不必在他们身上枉费工夫。“尼布甲尼撒啊,这件事我们不必回答你。即便如此,我们所侍奉的上帝,能将我们从烈火的窑中救出来。王啊,祂也必救我们脱离你的手;即或不然,王啊,你当知道我们决不侍奉你的神,也不敬拜你所立的金像!”(但3:16-18)魔鬼企图试探他们,但这些青年刚直不阿,决不妥协。撒但希望你在违命中死去,而不是死得其所——成为殉道英雄或得胜的榜样。如若你为持守真道而死,来世必享永生。因此,今日的你我要在最小的事上忠心。我们或许会认为,现今小小的考验并非生死攸关的大事。但在小事上不忠心,他日逢遇大事岂能忠心?今天,并没有人将刀剑架于你我的脖颈,我们若在小事上妥协、顺应,来日被囚禁或死亡恐吓之时又会如何呢?

坚立!

当年,以色列人来到红海边,身后有埃及的奴隶主火速追赶,企图俘获并再次奴役他们。前有红海,后又追兵,如临绝境。但摩西对百姓说:“不要惧怕,只管站住!看耶和华今天向你们所要施行的救恩。”(出14:13)

一旦明白上帝的旨意,我们就有义务选定立场。上帝要为坚守真理之人施行大事。如今,主正寻找信靠祂的代表。“耶和华的眼目遍察全地,要显大能帮助向祂心存诚实的人。”(代下16:9)

若在真理上站立得稳,你的生活将成为拯救的见证,给家人、朋友、邻舍、甚至天上的使者观看。上帝要俯瞰全地说:“你曾用心察看我的仆人约伯没有?地上再没有人像他完全正直,敬畏上帝,远离恶事。”(伯1:8)

但基督并未撇下我们孤身奋战,而将自己的军装赐我们护身。“要穿戴上帝所赐的全副军装,就能抵挡魔鬼的诡计。……所以,要拿起上帝所赐的全副军装,好在磨难的日子抵挡仇敌,并且成就了一切,还能站立得住。”(弗6:11,13)切记穿戴上帝军装之人的正确姿势——坚立!

威廉•詹宁斯•布莱恩(美国政治家、律师)曾说:“莫怕与正义的少数同列,因它终将变为多数。当怕与错谬的多数同列,因它终将变为少数。”怀爱伦是我最喜爱的基督教作家之一,她曾在《教育论》一书中这样写道:“世界最大的需要是需要人——就是不能被贿买也不能被出卖的人;忠心正直而又诚实的人;直指罪名而无所忌惮的人;良心忠于职责犹如磁针之指向磁极的人;虽然诸天倾覆而仍能坚持正义的人。”(《教育论》第7章 怀特•艾伦著)

在上帝凡事都能,祂足以扶持你我不至随从世俗,并杜绝在迎合与妥协中度日。此时此刻,请倚赖主的恩惠而立定心志,坚立在磐石之上,抵挡妥协的大浪,因这一股狂澜正奔腾嚎啸,欲图阻止上帝的儿女登上救恩的彼岸。当始终牢记:一旦选定立场,你便不再孤立无援,而有耶稣与你一同站立。

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英文:

Compromise Conformity and Courage

By Doug Batchelor

 

An Amazing Fact:Because of its unusual growth habits, the tropical Banyan tree is known as a “strangler fig.” These large trees usually start life when their seed is deposited by a bird high in the foliage of another tree. The Banyan’s roots descend over the trunk of the host tree seeking out the soil below. Once they have rooted themselves, the roots of the strangler fig rapidly thicken and lengthen. Where the fig roots cross each other they fuse, thus creating a lattice around the host tree’s trunk. Gradually they starve the host tree and prevent it from growing by robbing all its light, water, and nutrients. Eventually the Banyan tree chokes the host until it dies and rots away, leaving the strangler fig standing in its place.

In a similar manner, as the seeds of creeping compromise are tolerated in God’s remnant church, spiritual life and fruit are being sapped away.

Taking a Stand


The ancient Greek storyteller Aesop provided a colorful fable explaining how bats came to live in the dark. There was a war between the beasts of the field and the birds, and when the birds were winning the war, the bat would fly around and say, “I’m a bird. Look at me fly! I’m a bird.” But later, the beasts began to win, so the bat dropped to the ground and said, “I’m a beast. See me crawl! I’m a beast.” Pretty soon, both the birds and the beasts got disgusted with the bat trying to play both sides of the war. Together they banished his kind to live in caves and only come out in the dark. In wanting to make everybody happy, he ultimately made nobody happy.

Everyone, like this bat, yearns to be accepted. But for the dedicated Christian, it is impossible to have both the acceptance of the world and the approval of our heavenly Father. Jesus said, “No servant can serve two masters” (Luke 16:13). And James put it this way: “Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). Thus according to God’s Word, it is impossible for a Christian to enjoy the acceptance of the world and all its sinful pleasures while simultaneously enjoying the peace and assurance that come from a saving relationship with Jesus. “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3).

But the sad truth is that millions of professing Christians around the world are searching for a way to strike a comfortable compromise between their convictions and the wicked world in which we live. I feel passionate about this issue because I also struggle with the insidious yet gradual influence of compromise and conformity in my own walk with the Lord. We are under relentless pressure to conform to the world. The devil is always offering to negotiate our values and principles. He rarely uses an all-out frontal assault, but rather by virtue of internal erosion where, little by little, we are pressured to compromise our beliefs in small increments.

Compromising with the devil is deadly to the spirit and always fails in bringing any lasting satisfaction. Our Lord clearly told us we cannot play the middle. “He that is not with me is against me” (Matthew 12:30). And as the Chinese say, “You cannot cross the river with your feet in different boats.” In reality, it is impossible to truly compromise with the devil, because any attempt to compromise with Satan will ultimately become total capitulation. Only by constant dependence on God and personal vigilance can we hack off the tentacles of this monster.

Good and Bad Compromise


Now compromise is not a dirty word. Many times it is a wonderful principle that helps provide and maintain peace and unity within relationships. Compromise in a marriage encourages domestic tranquility. On frigid days in the winter, I like setting the thermostat to 75 degrees, but my wife Karen prefers a more economical 68 degrees. So we compromise at 72 degrees and get along well. This kind of compromise on “nonessential” issues shows a meek and humble spirit.

But when Christians begin to compromise elements of truth, sacrificing biblical moral principles, for the sake of achieving peace, it can be eternally fatal. In the words of Martin Luther; “Peace if possible, truth at all cost.”

Satan’s primary goal for believers is to, little by little, buff down your resolve, getting you to concede an inch here and an inch there, until before you realize what has happened, your convictions have been displaced by his ethics and the proverbial frog has been boiled.

Even in a short book like this, it is tempting to launch a moral Blitzkrieg targeting multiple areas where the church is compromising. I could parade a list of Christian standards that have been sacrificed on the altar of compromise to gain acceptance with the world. I could write about the dangerous inroads of worldly music and “contemporary” worship styles, unchecked materialism and the subsequent debt, the Babylonian diet and health practices, absurd and suggestive dress and adornment, and the blizzard of popular entertainment that is spiritually numbing the minds of professed believers. I could even take on the most dangerous of all conformity: the watered-down, generic theology in which believers are never called to deny self and take up their crosses. Each one of these compromises have neutralized peace in the hearts of believers, diluted the potency of the gospel, and strangled church growth.

Alas, the limited space will not permit me to unpack each of these issues in detail. So instead I will direct your attention to the broader principles that lead to compromise and conformity and how we can resist the temptation to fall in line with the devil.

One Size Fits All


I recently bought a baseball cap at an airport convenience store. It’s not the cheapest place to do your shopping, but I forgot to pack mine. (A baseball cap is a necessity for my bald head on airplanes!) All the baseball caps hanging on the rack said, “one size fits all.” I was doubtful this generic sizing system would accommodate my large noggin. But to my astonishment, it fit! It was designed to conform to anybody’s head.

I have discovered that most Christians want a theology that will comfortably accommodate the sins in their life. But a fallen man’s sinful life is not a one-size-fits-all relationship with God. Is God to conform His will to suit our desires, or is the gospel supposed to transform our lives to fit God’s will? Paul gives us the answer; “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1, 2). We should not be conformed but transformed.

Don’t Compromise With Sin


The story of Joseph provides an inspiring example of how we can successfully avoid compromising our convictions. While the Egyptian captain Potiphar was away on business, his two-timing wife attempted to seduce Joseph, his most trusted servant. Joseph was probably tempted to consider the benefits of that forbidden relationship—perhaps he could have earned higher wages with less work and enjoyed more prestige in his household with a manipulating lover on his side. In the least, it seems he would have avoided jail time for spurning her advances.

Thus it must have been a powerful temptation for a single, healthy young man to compromise his principles for power and pleasure. Yet even with all the whisperings of the devil, Joseph knew it was wrong and refused to even consider the evil deed.

“So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her (Genesis 39:10 NKJV). If you didn’t notice, not only did Joseph refuse to commit adultery, he also stayed away from the temptation.

When a jet aircraft starts its engines at the gate, the ground crew knows to stay far away from the intake of that powerful turbine. A few curious but careless workers lingering near the maw of one of these large engines have been literally vacuumed off the asphalt and vaporized. It is also true that if you compromise near forbidden boundaries, the deadly vortex of sin will suck you in like a category five tornado.

When you are being tempted by someone or something to compromise your convictions, steer as far away as you can from the edge of the evil. Don’t let sin work on you, whittling down your resolve. Eve wandered too close to the forbidden tree and then waited to hear Satan’s rationalizations. As soon as she saw that tree and heard the serpent question God’s truth, she should have run for cover. The Word of God commands us to flee from temptation (1 Timothy 6:11).

Just a Little


It’s not very popular today to speak out against sin, especially those that have been generally accepted by the church. Those who do speak out can count on being called uncompromising and legalistic. I know, because it has happened to me many times. As just a small example, I once attended a Christian wedding reception where someone poured champagne in the glass at my seat even though I didn’t ask for it. A little surprised, I politely protested, saying, “No thank you. I don’t drink.”

The host assured me, “This champagne is only eight-percent alcohol. It won’t get you drunk.”

“But I don’t drink any alcohol,” I affirmed. Obviously annoyed, the host answered, “We’re just celebrating a wedding tradition. Don’t you want to offer your best wishes and toast the bride and groom?” He even suggested that I put the glass to my lips and pretend to drink. It was as if the devil himself was saying, “After all, everyone else is doing it.”

“Don’t you care about them?” “Just do it this once.” “Don’t be a fanatic.” These familiar rationalizations often precede a compromise. But we have to say no. “Make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:14). Wanting to avoid even the appearance of evil, I refused to even hold a glass of alcohol in my hand (1 Thessalonians 5:22).

Another familiar mantra of those who endorse worldly compromise is “balance.” I can’t count how many times I have been approached and told I need “more balance.” But when it is carefully evaluated, their definition of balance is usually to conform our Christian standards to worldly values. It sounds something like this: “It’s okay to take the family to the football game on Sabbath once in a while. You need to have balance.” In other words, they are recommending that we balance our holiness with a little sin. It appears that to them, being Christ-like is being out of balance.

Compassionate Compromise?


Another popular rationalization used for compromising Christian standards is ostensibly to make Christianity more attractive to the world. This was the approach taken by some church leaders in the days of Constantine.

The Roman and Greek pagans loved their idols. The second commandment regarding idolatry was a real stumbling block that prevented countless pagans from easily embracing Christianity. The thought of defacing or destroying their precious idols represented a tremendous struggle for these devout but superstitious pagans.

So in the interest of evangelism, some church leaders suggested, “Why not allow them to rename their idols after Christian heroes and saints? Then after they come into the church, we will gradually educate them to abandon their idols.” But you know the rest of the story—instead of the church converting the pagans, the pagans converted the church. It is how things like this typically work. Whenever the church attempts to compromise a Christian standard under the pretense of making conversion less traumatic, the world converts the church by making sin much more palatable.

Compromise or Combat


In the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, the Jews began to rebuild the temple that had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. In Ezra 4, the Bible records, “Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple … they said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him.” But the Jews knew these neighboring nations commingled the worship of the true God with Assyrian pagan gods.

How did Israel respond? They “said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the Lord.” They made the right choice, refusing to let an unconverted pagan influence to define in any way how they built the Lord’s holy temple. But then catch this: “Then the people of the land,” that is those who just offered to help, “troubled them in building.” Suddenly, their peace-offering neighbors showed their true colors and became their harassing enemies.

Don’t miss this important reality. If you stand up for what’s right and do not get involved in apostate alliances, you’ll be persecuted for it. First the devil’s approach will be, “Let’s just work together. Let’s all love each other. Compromise a little on your convictions; we’ll compromise a little on ours, and then we’ll be united. After all, unity is so important!” If you don’t fall for that trap and take a stand for truth, they will become your worst enemy, which really tells you where their hearts were in the first place.

This is a vitally important lesson as we head into the last days, because eventually all the world’s religions will make concessions to form a united religious front that will ultimately promote the worship of the beast power. If we are developing a pattern now of sacrificing our convictions for the illusion of peace, we are paving the way in preparation to worship the beast. “Those who have yielded step by step to worldly demands, and conformed to worldly customs, will then yield to the powers that be, rather than subject themselves to derision, insult, threatened imprisonment, and death” (Prophets and Kings, p. 188).

A Fear of Offending


Have you ever heard about the pastor who did not want to offend his wealthy congregation? He said, “Dear brethren, unless you consider repenting, in a measure, and be a bit converted, as it were, you will possibly, I regret to say, be damned to some extent.”

In reality a great percentage of compromise and conformity worms its way into our lives and the church because nobody wants to offend anybody. We are trained from our earliest years to be polite and considerate—to comply with people’s requests and not do anything that might upset somebody. But Jesus taught that it is not possible to preach the gospel without causing some offense (Galatians 5:11).

Suppose you should develop a small spot of malignant skin cancer, but the dermatologist, not wanting to upset you, told you it was poison ivy. Would he or she be your friend? By its very nature, the convicting essence of the gospel turns a blazing light on our hearts to peel back our layers of hypocrisy and expose our selfish motives and impure thoughts.

John Wesley was apparently riding along a road one day when it dawned on him that in the past three days, he had not suffered the slightest persecution. Not a single brick, egg, or verbal insult had been thrown at him for three entire days. Alarmed, he stopped his horse and exclaimed, “Can it be that I have sinned and am backslidden?”

Slipping from his horse, Wesley went down on his knees and began pleading with God to show him where, if any, there had been a fault he committed. At that exact moment, a rough fellow on the other side of the hedge, hearing the prayer, looked across and recognized the unconventional pastor. “I’ll fix that preacher,” he said, picking up a brick and tossing it over the hedge. Although the brick missed its mark and fell harmlessly beside Wesley, the thrilled preacher leapt to his feet joyfully exclaiming, “Thank God, all is well. I still have His presence.”

The apostles were all slain or imprisoned for their faith because their message offended somebody. “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). I believe one reason we do not see more severe persecution of Christians in North America today is because we have compromised so much with the world that the offense of the gospel has been greatly diluted.

A Straight Path


Cache River is among the most serpentine streams in the world. It is useless for navigation because it winds 180 miles while only covering a distance of 35 miles, basically wasting 140 miles in bends and turns. The reason a river becomes crooked is because it follows the path of least resistance, the same reason that Christians become crooked. But the path of the Christian should be more like a tight rope than a meandering trail.

Moses told the children of Israel just before his death, “Therefore you shall be careful to do as the LORD your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. You shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you” (Deuteronomy 5:32, 33).

Luke 4 records the devil’s chilling attempt to get Christ to compromise. “And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. … All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them. … If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine” (vs. 5–7). The devil wanted to make a deal. He wanted Christ to consider the option, to negotiate a treaty to end the great controversy between good and evil. Satan implied Jesus could avoid the cross and rule the world if He would only give Satan worship. Everybody could live happily ever after.

But what did Jesus say? “Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (vs. 8). Jesus would not even consider it. This was the same answer Christ gave Peter when the disciple suggested Jesus shouldn’t go to the cross. Sometimes the devil even works through those closest to us, but when we’re tempted to compromise Christian principles and convictions, we need to learn how to say, “Get thee behind me, Satan. I am not going to do it.”

Compromise Killed Christ


In the events surrounding the trial of Christ, we can see that compromise ultimately crucified the Lord. In John 18, while being interviewed by Pontius Pilate, Jesus says, “I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice” (vs. 37). Pilate’s response, “What is truth?”, is a telling indicator of the vacillating ruler’s cynical attitude about absolute truth.

In the Roman Empire, everybody debated everything. (It’s not much different in America today, is it?) One philosopher in Rome encouraged every person to debate both sides of every issue, hoping to broaden the minds of the citizenry. But Augustus eventually evicted the man because the people ended up thinking of truth as something fluid and relative—nobody would stand up for any clear definite truth. No one would take a stand, because every position had some rationalizing argument against it.

In this case, the truth was very clear and Pilate openly admitted that Jesus was innocent. “He went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all” (vs. 38). Yet instead of taking a stand for truth and releasing Jesus as innocent, Pilate sought to compromise his conviction of truth to win approval, a behavior that frequently plagues politicians.

Wanting to appease the majority, Pilate explains that he will have Christ beaten and then released. Yet if Jesus is innocent, why have Him beaten? The answer is once you begin to walk down the road of compromise, no matter where you stop, the devil will pick you up and complete the walk for you. You have already signaled your weakness to him by displaying a willingness to negotiate with wrong if the price is right. From then on it is like trying to climb a flagpole made of ice. Once you begin sacrificing your convictions, it is very easy to slide down into ruin.

Sensing Pilate’s weakness, Satan used the crowd to press the vacillating ruler all the way for crucifixion. Pilate started down the road of negotiating with evil, and that’s where the devil wanted him. That’s why when Pilate attempted to outsmart the devil, it backfired. He offered them Barabbas as a compromise instead of Jesus. Pilate paraded the cold-blooded killer in front of the throngs as an example of real evil to contrast with the example of a sinless Christ. He must have thought to himself, “They just want to see a crucifixion so I’ll offer them a compromise, and they’ll obviously pick Jesus.” He never dreamed they would ask him to release Barabbas, but that’s exactly what they did.

Finally, Pilate’s little concession of compromise got to the place where it was completely out of his hands. In vain, “When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it” (Matthew 27:24). But was he really clean? He had declared the Savior just but conformed his sentence to the pressure of the crowd.

Likewise, when we begin to compromise with truth, and our actions finally get out of hand and the consequences come full and hard, we won’t be able to claim innocence either. So once you start thinking of going down the road of compromise, remember Pilate. Remember that Jesus died because someone thought they could compromise truth.

Be Courageous!

When I attended a New York military academy, the students would recite the Cadet’s Prayer in chapel: “Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half truth when the whole truth can be won. Endow us with courage that is born of loyalty to all that is noble and worthy, that scorns to compromise with vice and injustice and knows no fear when truth and right are in jeopardy.” That kind of noble resolve is something you scarcely hear about anymore. It’s believed by many to be virtuous to compromise truth in the name of unity, but not according to the Bible.

Refusing to buckle to the pressure of compromise requires divine courage. The Lord told Joshua, “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest” (Joshua 1:7).

We don’t need to worry that God won’t forgive us if we sincerely repent of our compromise and turn the other way. But when we sin, when we stumble into error, we train ourselves to go down that road again. God can give you a new heart, but don’t think you can continue to compromise and not reap the consequences. Continued compromise can numb your conscience, until it is the fruit of conformity with the world.

Close Your Mind to Conformity


When it comes to compromising the Word of God, don’t have an open mind. You’re going to be called a conservative extremist for not accepting the standards of world. But don’t be intimidated when you are accused of being “close-minded.” It is good to be closed minded regarding the commandments of God. I have a wife with whom I have covenanted—I am not open-minded about anything else that would destroy that promise.

The devil is setting up the church in the last days by preaching a message of unity through compromise. Little by little, he’s softening up our resolve, encouraging us to make little concessions and compromises so that when that big test comes, he has us where he wants us.

Read Daniel 3 and bear with my loose paraphrase. Nebuchadnezzar said to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, “So you didn’t bow down? I’ll tell you what: I don’t want to lose you; you’re good workers. I’ll give you another chance and have the band play the music one more time. Perhaps you just want a little different song? But when you hear the sound, you need to bow down.”

But the three young Hebrews resolutely told the king he need not waste his time on them. “O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (Daniel 3:16–19). They didn’t negotiate, even when the devil tried to engage them. The devil would rather have you die after you’ve disobeyed than die a martyr and be a victorious example. But if you die in this world upholding the Word, you will live in the next. So today we need to be faithful in that which is least. We may not think the little tests we face now are a matter of life and death, but if we can’t learn arithmetic with pennies, we will never understand it with dollars. If we compromise and conform now in the little things with no death threat hanging over our heads, what are we likely to do when we are threatened with imprisonment or death?

Stand!


When the children of Israel reached the borders of the Red Sea and their Egyptian masters were riding hard on their heels to capture and re-enslave them, the situation looked bleak. But Moses told the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today” (Exodus 14:13).

Once we know that something is right according to God’s Word, our responsibility is to take our stand. God will do great things for those who stand up for Him. He is looking for representatives who will trust Him. “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).

When you stand firm for truth, your life will be a saving witness to your family, your friends, your neighbors, and even the heavenly agencies. God will look down from heaven and say, “Have you considered My servant, that there is none like that on the earth, one who fears me and shuns evil?” (See Job 1:8.)

But Christ has not left us to do this alone. He has provided His own armor to protect us. “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. … Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:11, 13). Just remember that the correct posture for those wearing the armor of God is to stand!

William Jennings Bryan said, “Never be afraid to stand with a minority that is right, for the minority which is right will someday be the majority. Always be afraid to stand with the majority that is wrong, for the majority that is wrong will someday be the minority.” Ellen White, one of my favorite Christian authors, said it like this: “The greatest want of the world is the want of men—men who will not be bought or sold; men who in their inmost souls are true and honest; men who do not fear to call sin by its right name; men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole; men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall” (Education, p. 57).

With God all things are possible, including living a life without worldly conformity and compromise. Resolve now by His grace to stand on the Rock and resist the waves of compromise that are sweeping God’s children from the shores of salvation. And always remember that when you take your stand, you do not stand alone. Jesus stands with you.