Sometimes I talk to young believers who feel distressed by the number of spiritual battles and temptations they face. They think they are doing something wrong. I love to reassure them that this is more the result of doing something right than doing something wrong.
If you are truly following the Lord as you ought to, then you are a threat to the kingdom of Satan, and you will face opposition. Satan's goal is to keep believers from moving forward spiritually, and hence, the spiritual battle begins (Ephesians 6:12). He knows that he cannot overpower God. Therefore, he must draw believers out by their own free will. Throughout Scripture, we see that one of the most effective strategies he utilizes is compromise.
The biblical account of Moses and his confrontation with Pharaoh illustrates this struggle well. God made it clear to Moses that he was to go to Pharaoh and demand the complete release of the Israelites, their children, their livestock, and their possessions. There were to be no concessions, no compromises. This was the plan. God also told Moses that He would confirm His word with dramatic miracles to prove to Pharaoh that Moses was indeed sent by God.
However, Moses' first meeting with Pharaoh was a disaster. Not only did he refuse Moses' demand, but he actually made the Israelites' burdens even worse than they had been before. In the same way, there are times when things are not going so well, but you are in the very will of God. That's when you must simply persist. You must get up and try again. That is what Moses did.
On Moses and Aaron's next visit to the court of Pharaoh, Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and his servants, and the rod became a serpent. Pharaoh called the wise men and sorcerers, who imitated the miracle. But Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods, and Pharaoh's heart grew hard.
God then brought a series of ten plagues, or judgments, on Egypt and Pharaoh to bring him to his senses. Each one gained in intensity as Pharaoh's heart grew harder. In fact, the more Pharaoh saw, the harder his heart became.
Eventually, Pharaoh called for Moses and said they could worship their God and sacrifice, but they were to stay in Egypt. Moses refused. Okay, Pharaoh countered, but if you have to go, then don't go very far away.
Here is the anatomy of a compromise. Satan wants you to make a small concession. If you look at any time in your life when you have fallen into sin, I will guarantee that in every instance, if you retrace your steps, you will find that it started with a little bit of compromise.
"Go ahead, but don't go too far." See how subtle it is? It is not a complete denial of what you know is right, but it is a compromise.
With plague after plague, Pharaoh begins to wear down. He tries yet another concession, and Moses again refuses. Realizing he doesn't have any cards left to play, Pharaoh tells Moses to go and worship the Lord, but to leave the flocks and herds behind.
Put yourself in Moses' sandals for a moment. Pharaoh was softening and giving in. Don't you think at that point you would be tempted to say, "Who cares about the animals? Let's go. We are out of here. Pharaoh has released us."
But I love what Moses says: "Not a hoof shall be left behind" (Exodus 10:26). The point is, don't make deals with the devil. Whatever that deal is, it will ultimately lead to your undoing. When the devil comes and says, "You can believe in Jesus and go to church and read the Bible, but let me have this one little area of your life," don't let him have even one little thing. Like Moses, you must say, "You get zero, zip, nada. I have seen your agenda. I won't give you anything."
Maybe you are in a compromised state right now. If so, it's time to repent and make a clean break. And in the future, don't make any more deals with the devil. No more compromises. No more small concessions. Beware of the dangers of the compromised life.
The story of Johnny Cash’s life and spiritual struggles offers hope to anyone who has had trouble staying on the straight and narrow path—and reminds us that God redeems broken lives and makes them whole again. My new book, Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon is a fascinating look at a unique and talented musician and follower of Christ!