I just recently heard another one of those stories of a man who left his wife and two children, and has a new girlfriend. He was going to church and claimed to be a Christian. I always say to myself, "How did this happen?" It happens because of compromise and fudging.

When we think of the term compromise, we often think of it in a positive light. It often means that two people agree to be flexible, meet each other in the middle of some issue, and live with their differences. I'm using the word "compromise" differently. To compromise your convictions means that you let down your guard and do things that you know you shouldn't. A friend of mine years ago said, "Compromise begins in inches and ends in disaster."

The apostle Paul describes the fruit of the Holy Spirit's presence to Christians in Galatia (Galatians 5:22-23). One of the evidences of the Spirit's fruit is "self discipline." We need this to do things God's way, to follow the lifestyle the Bible describes, and pursue the character God wants to form in us. If we fudge (make exceptions) or compromise (let go of our convictions), then we are asking for trouble ... trouble for ourselves and also those in our lives.

The devil is really good at tempting us to do this. It's like the garden of Eden, with Adam and Eve, all over again (Genesis 3:1-7). The devil whispers to us, "God's not really telling you the truth." He helps us see how this temptation gets us something we desire. He also says, "You won't die, you'll just be wiser in the ways of the world." In others words, the evil one is saying that a little fudging or compromise won't hurt us. He's suggesting that God and our spiritual friends just don't want us to experience life. And at first, a little compromise doesn't seem to hurt us. In the early stages, we get away with it while suffering only minor consequences. The awful payday (Romans 6:23), however, comes later. And it will come. And when it does arrive, it's awful!

The devil subtly tells us that we "aren't happy" and that we "deserve to be ... happy!"

But, we know to watch out for the evil one's tricks.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). For we are not unaware of his schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11).

You deserve to be happy, don't you?
We shouldn't be ignorant of his desire to destroy us (Genesis 4:7)!

In the end, realize that the self discipline the Holy Spirit is working to develop in you is a good thing. Doing things God's way is for our good, for our protection, and for our blessing. He really does know what is best for us. The next time you think about compromising your convictions and fudging, don't! Instead, "... submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).