Have you ever heard the story of the guy who could not decide what side he wanted to fight for during the Civil War? He put on the coat of the North and the trousers of the South, and guess what? He got shot at from both sides! This is what happens to the compromiser, the person who tries to live in two worlds. It's one miserable place to be.

Sadly, there are many in the church today that live a compromised life.

The great British preacher, G. Campbell Morgan, once said, "It is a remarkable thing that the church of Christ persecuted has been the church of Christ pure. On the other hand, the church of Christ patronized has been the church of Christ impure."

The Bible gives us an example in Revelation 2 of such a church: it was Pergamos, located in Pergamum, the capital of Asia Minor. Known for its rampant idolatry, Pergamum housed the altar of Zeus and was the center of Caesar worship. Idolatry, wickedness, and sexual immorality were commonplace. The sin of Pergamum was its toleration of evil, a sort of have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too philosophy.

Sadly, this is how most people want it today. They want to go to church — when they get around to it. They certainly want to go to heaven, but they still want to live in sin. They want to party and sin and commit immorality, lie when necessary, cheat if they have to, steal if it suits them, and hate and get revenge when someone crosses them.

It is the idea of sinning to your heart's content, telling yourself God will understand. If you think you can sin to your heart's content without repercussions, and if you think you can go out and break the commandments of God over and over because you're an exception to the rule, then you are deceiving yourself.

I am not suggesting that a Christian will not sin. The Bible clearly says, "If we say we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8). But there is a big difference between the person who sins, is sorry for it, and doesn't want to keep doing it, and the person who continually, willfully, habitually sins over and over again and then says, "It is okay. God will forgive me."

The Bible says, "Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" (Romans 6:1, NIV). The devil introduced compromise into the church of Pergamos and he will introduce it into the lives of people today.

If you look at the times in your life when you have fallen into sin, you could probably trace it back to a series of missteps — small compromises you made that led to the big compromise that led to your fall. And as compromise finds its way into the church, it weakens us. The church of Christ patronized is the church of Christ impure. We lose our effectiveness in this world. We lose our effectiveness as individuals as well.

I am not suggesting that we be holier-than-thou hypocrites. Instead, we should live in such a way that unbelievers could look at us and say, "There is something different about that person. Something that is desirable, something admirable." They may laugh at you at times, but deep in their hearts they may deeply respect you. The compromising person, on the other hand, reaches no one.

Compromise begins with leaving your first love for Jesus Christ, which leads to compromise, which leads ultimately to immorality, idolatry, and other sins.

Show me a person who is not living in close fellowship with God and I will show you a person who is on the way to bigger problems. It is only a matter of time. The best antidote to the allurements and temptations of this world is a passionate love relationship with Jesus Christ.

If there is a breakdown in your relationship with God, it is only a matter of time until compromises start making their way into your life, until you start lowering your standards here and there. Keep your guard up. Stay close to Jesus, let the fire of the first love burn brightly, and you will be strong. I can't promise that you will be sin-free. But you will have the power and resolve you need to live a life that pleases God.