By Mike Thomas
A man decides to leave his wife after years of marriage. "I know my behavior is wrong, but I can’t take the misery any longer. Besides, doesn’t God want me to be happy?"
A woman decides to follow her husband into denominational error. "I know there are things being done that are unscriptural, but I will lose my marriage if I don’t give in to my husband’s demands. Certainly God doesn’t want me to sacrifice my marriage over a few differences in religion, does He? Besides, isn’t there a little error in all churches?"
A young person knows how God does not condone alcohol and sexual immorality, but experiments with them anyway. "I know God says we can’t go to heaven doing these things, but I can’t have a meaningful relationship with anyone if I don’t do these every now and then. Certainly God doesn’t want me to be unhappy, does He?"
I wish I could say this type of reasoning is only found in novels, but unfortunately this is one of the ploys used by Satan in persuading Christians to depart from God. There are brethren who have justified a compromise of God’s word by convincing themselves that God would rather they sin than to be unhappy. As a result, they can live with themselves as they remain in an adulterous marriage or as they participate in unethical practices at work. They can go to churches that teach false plans of salvation and have a corrupt pattern for the church. They can drink their alcohol and abuse their drugs because God is on their side. Thus, they dismiss the idea of being condemned on judgment day and have mistaken their seared conscience for the peace of God.
Does God want us to be happy? Absolutely. Probably more so than we! But let us not misinterpret His desire for us to be happy as permission to do whatever it takes to be free of misery. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Wisdom is first pure
God wants us as His people to have peace among ourselves, but only after we are "first pure" (Jas. 5:17). If having a harmonious relationship demands a compromise of truth, then we are having "Peace, Peace! when there is no peace." We must first be united in God’s truth before we can be pleasing to Him (Eph. 4:1-6). Therefore, the church that decides to fellowship a couple in adultery may have "union" as a group, but they are not united in God. They must first follow after that which is pure before they strive to have peace (1 Cor. 5:1-6).
The Cross is a burden
Jesus said He did not come "to bring peace but a sword" (Matt. 10:34). How is this so if He is considered The Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6; 2 Thes. 3:16)? Because there will be times when His word will be in conflict with the opinions of men, and cause a disruption in the Christian’s relationship with those who disobey God, especially among family (vv. 35-36). The Christian’s decision to obey God will be interpreted as a loss of love and allegiance for others ("You’re no longer one of us"). When this schism occurs, Christ does not tell His people to sacrifice His will to make others happy by endorsing false doctrines and immorality. Instead, His will for the rejected Christian is to "take up your cross and follow after Me" (v 38). The idea of compromising the truth to be happy is foreign to God. To Him, as long as we are right with Him, what does it matter if men are against us?
Good people can be deceived by sin
The Bible is filled with warnings for Christians to not be deceived by sin. "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit," says Paul (Col. 2:8). The person who thinks God is with him as he willingly follows his friends and family into religious error has been cheated by the opinions of men. The church that aligns itself with an eldership to endorse immorality has been mislead by empty deceit. Righteous people are right — but only as they continue in God’s word. Thus, John says, "Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous" (1 John 3:7).
Our feelings can trick us when it comes to sin. The world and our conscience are not reliable counselors because when we are determined to violate God’s will, they will often tell us what we want to hear—"God doesn’t condemn you. He wants you to be happy." As a result, there are Christians who feel justified as they enter into marriages they have no right to; or as they worship God in ways contrary to the apostles’ teachings; or as they continue in a moral compromise they know to be wrong. "And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2 Thes. 2:11-12).
Come out from the world and be separate, says the Lord, and He will receive you into a family that is continually blessed with His care and security. This path may not always be pleasant in life (and will sometimes make you unhappy), but he who endures unto the end will receive a crown of life from God. Why compromise this crown for the approval of men or for the passing pleasures of sin? Why exchange the truth for a lie? Even if you should gain a lasting favor from this world, what have you gained in losing your own soul? Is eternal pain worth the trade?
"Rejoice in the Lord always. And again I will say, rejoice!"
Trust in Him, for He cares for you.
Presented by the Cape Rd Church.