Saturday, April 28, 2007

Saturday Sermon: Compromised Christianity

2 Chronicles 17-22

The fourth hurdle on the Highway to Holiness is Compromised Christianity; a lack of discernment of purity that leads to making wrong alliances with the enemies of God, or with those who are wanting to be friends of God but who want to do things that would advance their agenda first. They are against God’s will or out of order, while they feel they are advancing the kingdom of God. They compromise their position and they have to go the other way, not the other going God’s way. They are influenced more than they influence and they are forced to do what they might not have done otherwise, because they are now in a compromised position.

Careless Christianitylooking for an opportunity outside the will of God leads to idolatry while you think it is the favor of God – they get taken from, taken away, taken over, and taken out. They lack a desire for purity. You’ve got to care about it.

Crisis Christianityrebellion against the authority of God leads to false repentance while you think it is loyalty to God – they lose their place and they die after the altar or even at the altar. They lack a devotion to purity. You’ve got to be committed to it.

Compulsive Christianitymisusing the power of God leads to an immature and impatient faith while you think it is victory and vigor – they lose their strength, lose their witness, lose their leadership, and die with the enemy. They lack a discipline to purity. You’ve got to cultivate it.

Now we will look at another OT type that shows us believers who may be saved but they aren’t sold out. We saw that Careless Christians are not really walking in any fullness. Crisis Christians have achieved some things but they let other things rob them of God’s fullness in their lives. Compulsive Christians have seemingly great victories but they have to because they unnecessarily put themselves in harms way. They are in and out of God’s fullness. Compromised Christians are believers who actually do have a heart for God and do many good things. Their personal life is usually straight and narrow, but they forfeit the fullness because of their alliances with others. It is not that we cannot partner with people at all, but that we must separate when we know they want to do things outside of God’s will.

Compromised Christianityaligning with people away from God leads to assuming that we can help others we shouldn’t and that we can survive and thrive by strengthening ourselves in the flesh. We do bad to do good; we are lead away from God and havoc happens to others around us. They lack a discernment of purity. You’ve got to be cautious about it.

We have moved higher on the highway to holiness, to a place where many think that they are right where they need to be, but they really aren’t as far as they think they are. They have a real concern about living their personal life God’s way, they aren’t careless. They aren’t falsely repenting, and they aren’t always in crisis. They have learned to rule over their ungodly or misdirected desires; they aren’t compulsive. These Christians have come a long way in their walk with God, but they haven’t gotten to the point of losing it all for Christ. They are almost sold out, but there is enough of self left that situations arise where they place relationships with others ahead of their relationship with God. They do it in the name of God, not spitefully or maliciously, but ignorantly, not innocently, but not understanding that it isn’t their business to help everyone out if they won’t follow God. They backslide because they join the backsliders. They think they are helping the backslider come back to God, but the backslider is only interested in their own agenda. Or it manifests itself as those who partner with the world for seemingly good intentions, but they lose out and miss God in it all.

They aren’t like careless Christians; they’re not trying to do it wrong or not caring about it. However, they are deceived into thinking that just because their own lives are okay that they can do whatever they want as far as situations, circumstances, and partnerships go and God will just make everything all right. Well, He will protect you to an extent, but it will cost you something, and it will cost others more. They do many right things, and seek God, but in some things they strengthen themselves by the arm of the flesh instead of doing it God’s way. They create conflict in their own lives and especially for those who follow them and follow after them by aligning with those in conflict with God, or by avoiding controversy by capitulating to outsiders.

Our main character, although we will look at several, is Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. Jehoshaphat's was a seeker after God (see 17:4, 19:3, 20:3), but sometimes he sought God second, after he had already made ill-advised plans and alliances first (18:4-6 / 2 Kings 3:11).

Marriage alliance – his son in marriage with Ahab’s daughter (2 Chronicles 18:1, 21:3-6)
Military alliance with Ahab (2 Chronicles 18:3)
Shipping alliance with Ahab’s son (2 Chronicles 20:35-37 / 1 Kings 22:48-49)
Military Alliance with two other kings (2 Kings 3:7-14)

2 Jehoram’s (Joram is Israel’s, son of Ahab) / 2 Ahaziah’s (Jehoahaz is Judah’s, son of Jehoram) Additional development and details in 1 Kings 22 / 2 Kings 3

17:1-3 – Jehoshaphat strengthens his borders against Israel
17:4-6 – Jehoshaphat follows after God and not after Israel’s ways
17:7-9 – Jehoshaphat sends out Levites to teach Judah the ways of God
17:10-11 – Jehoshaphat becomes very influential over his neighbors
17:12-19 – Jehoshaphat becomes great

18:1 – Jehoshaphat joins with Ahab, allowing his son to marry Ahab’s daughter Athaliah – this union brought the idolatry of Athaliah’s mother Jezebel into Judah
18:2-3 – Ahab throws Jehoshaphat a feast, and Jehoshaphat consents to go with him to battle. The world will never give anything to a child of God without making large demands in return. Jehoshaphat should have known not to do evil that good might come. If we join with the world in its schemes, we must expect to be identified with it in its spasms. Now it was seemingly good because the city was a city of refuge that Israel had lost, but the devil doesn’t usually tempt us with outright evil he loves to get us to do much evil by doing some good. Jehoshaphat did not only fall into the snare himself, but he led others in also. How often do we hear Christians say, "How can such-and-such things be wrong, when we see so and so in connection with them, or engaging in them?" Such reasoning is utterly false; it is beginning at the wrong end. We are responsible to God to act upon principle, let others do as they may. We should be able, through grace, humbly, yet decidedly, to render a sound and intelligent reason for whatever course of action we may adopt, without any reference to the conduct of others. Moreover, we know full well that good men go astray, and do wrong things.
18:4-11 – The false prophets promise them success, but Micaiah foretells the death of Ahab. Even though Jehoshaphat called for a true prophet, and rebuked Ahab for saying that he hated that prophet, he failed to protect or even protest, when this servant of the Lord was abused. Instead of guidance, we may get a lying spirit (Ezekiel 14:1-4).
18:28-32 – I am as thou art – Jehoshaphat barely escapes after calling on God. Making the wrong alliances causes us to not seek God first; indeed that is why we made the alliance in the first place, because we thought of its benefit before we considered what God thinks of it. God honored Jehoshaphat’s cry for help in spite of Jehoshaphat’s sin.
18:33-34 – Ahab is slain, and Micaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled to the letter

19:1-3 – Jehoshaphat reproved by Jehu the prophet (not Jehu the king of Israel, but the son of Hanani, whom Asa, Jehoshaphat’s father dealt with harshly – 2 Chronicles 16:7-13 – Asa also sought the Lord fervently – 2 Chronicles 15:8-15 – but made wrong choices and alliances)
19:4 – Jehoshaphat brings reform to the kingdom
19:5-7 – He sets up court system and instructs the judges (no taking of gifts, lesson learned?)
19:8-11 – He sets up a supreme court at Jerusalem

20:1-13 – The land under invasion, Jehoshaphat & the people seek God by fasting and prayer
20:14-19 – They receive the promise of victory by prophecy, and worship with thanksgiving
20:20-25 – The enemies are overthrown, as they praise God, and the spoil is abundant
20:26-30 – They give thanks for the deliverance and for the blessings, and there is peace
Vs.22 – this was not the power of praise it was the power of God predicated upon the repentance we saw beginning in 19:4. It was not because they began to sing and praise but at the same time that they began to sing and praise. They turned to the Lord in repentance, and then they received word that God was going to deliver them, and they praised as God did His deliverance. It wasn’t that they’d never thought of praise, and that then God gave them some revelation about praise warfare, and that now we can all enjoy the blessing of that. It is not as if praise is the answer to all our problems. No, this wasn’t a revelation of praise warfare, as if we can just sing our way out of sin, without any reference to regard for or repentance from sin. This wasn’t some magic formula given that we now apply universally to all our situations. Indeed praise is a weapon of sorts, it is definitely part of the process, but it must be the outflow of an understanding of grace, and a natural consequence of having turned to the Lord in repentance. Otherwise praise IS NOT the answer to all your problems, and you cannot simply sing your way out of sin. They turned to the Lord in repentance, and then they received the message, and the message was about the fact God was going to deliver them, not about how praise was going to deliver them. The message God may give to you may be of a different sort, but then we praise as an outcome of that. We must also turn to the Lord in repentance first, and then receive the message of victory and then we can praise as God does His work. The thing to notice in this passage is not that praise won them the victory but that they turned to God and praised because He was going to deliver them.
20:31-34 – The conclusion of his reign (it ended in decline and was followed by disorder) 2 Chronicles 17:6, 19:3, 20:33 – he apparently slacked off on reforms (the people were responsible for the latter) (possible that he removed the pagan high places but not the ones dedicated to God, which were still bad, though – 1 Kings 3:2-4 / 2 Kings 17:32,41, 18:4 / 2 Chronicles 32:12, 33:17 – Good intentions do not always mean right actions).
20:35-37 – The ill-conceived shipping alliance. So determined is he to restore the unity of the nation that he keeps returning to it (2 Kings 3:7 – the alliance with the other kings)

21:1-3 – Jehoram (son who married Ahab’s daughter Athaliah) succeeds Jehoshaphat
21:4-7 – Jehoram is very wicked, kills his brothers, and practices idolatry
21:8-11 – Edom and Libnah revolt and Jehoram is still more wicked, causing Judah to sin
21:12-15 – Elijah prophesies against him
21:16-17 – His enemies plunder him
21:18-20 – His sickness and death – the Scriptures say he died with no one's regret.

22:1-4 – Jehoram’s youngest son (the only one left) Ahaziah reigns wickedly
22:5-9 – He allies with Israel and is killed by Jehu
22:10-12 – Athaliah (Jehoram’s wife) destroys the royal line (save Joash), usurps the kingdom. She introduced all of her idolatry and her wicked practices and attempts to murderously end the Davidic line. Eventually she was overthrown and Joash again established Judah in righteousness. Jehoshaphat’s reign was a successful one in the sense that he remained faithful to God throughout, but all that Jehoshaphat gained for Judah in prosperity, peace, and revival would be undone within a few years of his death because he tried to fellowship with idolaters.

There are several lessons to be learned here. Jehoshaphat went from teaming up with God’s enemy to fight other common enemies, to having no one to help but God, and he finds out that he doesn’t need others God will fight for him. When you are backed into a corner God will come out fighting for you, if you will let Him, and not form an alliance with the enemy. He went from surrounding others and losing to being surrounded and winning.

The story demonstrates that even the most ardent follower of God is not immune from backsliding. We cannot live in sin and expect not to have any consequences. The road to spiritual decline is often paved with success. Consider Solomon; his kingdom was on the incline while his spiritual life was on the decline. We must seek Him with our whole heart, and continually (Deuteronomy 4:29 / Psalm 119:2 / Psalm 145:18 / Jeremiah 29:13). You don’t have to make bad alliances to make your walk with God stronger you need to stay with God stronger and not make bad alliances. 2 Chronicles 15:2: For the Christian, He forsakes in the sense of not providing any power, victory, or ability to walk. The New Testament teaches that God is fully available to you if you are prepared to be fully available to him. If you are in a compromised situation you will have compromised your power. Luke 14:26 / James 4:4 – When someone’s character is not clear to you, look at his friends. Not only are we judged by the company we keep, but we also tend to take on as our own the characteristics of our friends (2 Corinthians 6:14 / Proverbs 13:20 / 1 Corinthians 15:33 / 1 John 4:5). Are your friends the friends of God?

Jehoshaphat allied himself: in a marriage, in a cause, and in a business venture, three areas where Christians are tempted to form contractual relationships with unbelievers. How frequently we stray from the truth, because we are linked in some kind of relationship from which we cannot remove ourselves. God is not saying that we cannot have business dealings with non-Christians, or that we cannot associate with them. But we are not to be bound together in a relationship from which we cannot remove ourselves. To be so means that we have to go their way and adopt their philosophy, and it always results in terrible distress and unhappiness and misery in our lives.

Beware of the call for the “unity” that promotes a compromise of one’s position rather than a godly unity. We must ask ourselves why Jehoshaphat ever thought of doing such a thing when his service and devotion to God had already achieved peace. We should safeguard against doing the very same thing in our own lives. The answer to this is not, "I cannot go with you because I am holier than you;" but, "I cannot not go with you because God is holy." This is the true principle. It is based upon what God is (not what we are) that we separate from known evil, and it is why we question questionable people. "Be ye holy, for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:16).

We must pursue peace (Hebrews 12:14 / Romans 12:18), and do good, especially to those of the household of faith (Galatians 6:10). We must aim to restore our fallen brethren in a spirit of meekness (Galatians 6:1). However, when someone has slid back, and especially when they have openly rebelled against God and the body of Christ, and continue to do so, reconciliation is only possible with repentance. You cannot restore those who won’t do it God’s way. You have to help them the way God wants to help them or you are hurting them and you are hurting others and you are hurting yourself. Good intentions do not always mean right actions. Desiring fellowship without desiring fellow faithfulness is a formula for future frustration, and it keeps you from experiencing the fullness of God.


Even So... said...

To all our friends who have been keeping up with this series, please realize that we are traveling someplace, not a place where we are just looking at negative examples, and having to try harder...I realize that some of these last four messages may seem like simple moral exhortation, but this isn't the end point of all this, it is to show what types of things we look to instead of Christ, and we must do the long task of legwork first...

Especially next week you will begin to see a passion for the glory of Christ played out through circumstance, where we will see Christ in and through situations, increasingly learning to be catching a vision of Christ and so thereby being conformed to His image (2 Corinthians 3:18)...please stay with us, and may God be glorified in all we do here, and in our lives...

Even So... said...

Jesus doesn't have us jump through hoops to get to Him, we are the ones whom put the hurdles up...

Anonymous said...

Is it possible to have all 4 examples going on in your life?(crisis, compulsive, etc...)Which one do you tackle first?What if your not repentence minded yet?Sometimes, but not all the time? You've mentioned about hating the sin your in? How do you get there? Truly, how do you learn or make yourself HATE the very thing you think you need and have grown to love in a sense? And finally, what if your not in your word because , I don't want to say it, but not that you don't want to, but, you feel( you know what I mean) like you can't because of ? I'm not sure what's stopping me? Lack of discipline? I think it goes beyond that. Maybe? God Bless YOU for your continued love and obedience to bring forth His word to us.

Marcian said...

If you are in a compromised situation you will have compromised your power.

AMEN! Unfortunately, it is only afterward when I notice this. Now, looking forward and staying alert, sober, will keep me within that guarded place under God's protection.

These are great, such a blessing. Keep them coming!!!

donsands said...

Brother, you truly have the gift of teaching. Thanks for teaching.
Keep on my brother.
His Word is a lamp and a light.

ann said...

Haven't you considered making a podcast? Would be great to listen to you, as well...

Even So... said...

Thank you all, yes, Anne, I just am not very bright about that sort of stuff, and need to be led by the hand so as to know what to do...

BTW, my latest book should be on Amazon within two weeks, it is posts you see here together in book form, I'll let you know, but of course, you can just see the stuff here everyday...