The Landmine of Compromise

InTouch Ministries

Most of the time, compromise is acceptable. When it comes to our spiritual principles, however, such flexibility becomes sin. Dictionary.com defines this sort of compromise as “a dishonorable or shameful concession.”

King Saul made a seemingly minor adjustment to one of God’s commands and ended up forfeiting his divine right to be ruler. His story can teach us several truths about this kind of disobedience. Begin by reading 1 Samuel 15.

A. Compromise starts when we think we know better than God does.

God commanded the Israelites to completely destroy the Amalekites — men, women, children and livestock (v. 2-3).

  • What had the Amalekites done that deserved punishment? (Deut. 25:17-19)
  • Dr. Stanley often says, “Partial obedience is disobedience.” Why do you think Saul compromised God’s instructions?
B. Compromise goes hand-in-hand with a refusal to take responsibility.

  • What does Saul do when Samuel asks him about the sounds of sheep and oxen? (v. 13-15, 21)
  • Are you currently blaming a compromise or shortcoming of yours on another person? If so, what is it?
  • In order for you to find freedom, you must first admit that the root of the problem has to do with you. Take a moment to do that in prayer.
C. Compromise can masquerade as righteousness.

Read verses 17-19. Samuel says it is God who made Saul great.

  • What do you think is Samuel’s point?
  • Saul says he saved the choicest sheep and oxen to sacrifice to God (v. 21). What’s wrong with his reasoning?
Notice that Saul’s disobedience must have looked religious to his people. Modern believers in God have the same temptation. For instance, a man might agree to take on a leadership role at church, even though he senses that God wants him to focus on his family for a season instead. Or, a woman might listen sympathetically — time after time — to a friend who is making bad choices, rather than confronting her in love.

  • Have you ever done something that appeared spiritual but was, in reality, disobeying what you sensed God wanted you to do? If so, describe it. Why do you think you compromised your principles?
D. Compromise is as serious as the sin of witchcraft.

"To obey is better than sacrifice" (v. 22). The Ryrie Study Bible states that the ritual sacrifices were an essential part of a righteous Israelite’s life, but Samuel told Saul that this religious practice was meaningless unless it was accompanied by an obedient heart.

  • Why do you think Christians have a difficult time accepting that wholehearted obedience to God is more important than following conventional religious practices?
Samuel makes the startling statement that rebellion is similar to divination (v. 23), something the Israelites were forbidden to practice (Deut. 18:10-12). According to dictionary.com, divination means “the practice of attempting to foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge by occult or supernatural means.”

  • What similarity do you see between disobedience to God and divination?
  • Why is insubordination to the Lord similar to the sin of idolatry (v. 23)?
  • Think of a time when you were openly or secretly rebellious against God or against human authority. How was 1 Samuel 15:23 true in your situation?
E. Compromise blocks our spiritual potential.

David, Saul’s successor, also sinned against God.

  • Describe how David responded when the prophet Nathan confronted him (Psalm 51).
  • Contrast that with Saul’s reaction when he’s confronted (1 Sam. 15: 24-25). Do you think his repentance and sorrow were sincere?
The Ryrie Study Bible says that though Saul had many attributes of a capable leader, his strong self-will prevented the fulfillment of his potential, and God rejected him as king (v. 26). God refused to tolerate disobedience in a leader.

As Christians, we always have the chance to repent and return to serving God. However, the Lord limits our usefulness when we refuse to cleanse ourselves from sin (2 Tim. 2:19-21).

  • How does compromise hinder you from becoming all God wants you to be?
When it was clear to Saul that God wasn’t going to change His mind, the king asked Samuel to honor him in front of the people by staying for the sacrifice (v. 30).

  • What do you think motivated Saul’s request?
  • Why is it appropriate that Samuel was the one to execute Agag (v. 32-33)?
Closing: Saul’s compromise cost him and his descendants the throne of Israel. Our disobedience is no less dangerous, preventing us from reaching our full potential in God’s kingdom.

Prayer: Dear Lord, forgive me for thinking I can improve Your commands or instructions. I repent of my disobedience. Give me the grace to make choices that honor You and are true to Your Word. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.