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CHRISTIANITY - LANDMINES IN THE PATH OF THE BELIEVER - PART ONE

LANDMINES IN THE PATH OF THE BELIEVER - PART ONE
1 Kings 9:4-5, 8; Proverbs 6:6; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5;
Matthew 25:26

Everyone has principles--we call them our core values. But which ones are negotiable and which should never be set aside, regardless of the situation? Unfortunately, when Christians compromise their godly principles, they walk dangerously close to a deadly landmine.

The normal definition of landmine is a bomb buried just below the surface of the ground that explodes under the weight of vehicles or troops passing over it.
•    Landmines of various types have been used since the 1500s.
•    Used since World War II, the Claymore mine was an electrically fired land mine containing steel fragments discharged in a predetermined direction.
•    In our current wars, enemies use the IED, or Improvised Explosive Device, makeshift devices assembled by insurgent or terrorist groups. Our military uses dogs to find these landmines. They have a strong sense of smell which is more than capable of detecting a land mine, and they can differentiate between other metal objects and landmines.

Cynthia and I met one of these dogs. Jackson, nationally famous because of the number of lives he saved, was the subject of a movie, training posters, and a book on heroism. When he retired from military duties, he was returned to his handler, the son of a member of the Nixa American Legion. Our pet dog which guards our back door is a lifesize resin replica of Jackson.

Why use the term landmines relating to the Christian life? The dictionary lists other more common words meaning the same as landmine: booby trap, pitfall, hazard, peril, risk, surprise, decoy, lure, snare, and trap. God uses snare and trap referring to anything that would deceive believers and cause them to sin. I won’t read all of them, but here are several Biblical thoughts on landmines.

Ecclesiastes 9:12; Luke 21:34;1 Timothy 6:9; 1 Timothy 3:7

The account of King Solomon in chapters 10 and 11 of 1 Kings reveals one of the greatest compromises in Biblical history.
•    God warned the young ruler against alliances with certain nations, including Egypt.
•    But Solomon wanted some horses from that country, so he bypassed the Lord's instruction.-------like a fool
•    Next, he desired chariots and, as a result, found himself agreeing to an alliance with Egypt.---------foolish again
•    Once he crossed that line, he took wives who worshiped pagan gods, an unwise compromise.
•    The result was that "when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God" (1 Kings 11:4).
•    Consequently, the nation of Israel became weaker until it was torn apart due to compromise.

Satan's deadliest attacks are usually subtle. In John 8:44, Jesus described Satan’s role in deceit.

The deceptive power of compromise is among the greatest threats to any believer. Compromise can be beneficial when it promotes cooperation without sacrificing moral values. Solomon rejected God's instruction for his life and leadership and chose the path of disobedience which the Bible says,     left Israel a heap of ruin.

We learn from Scripture what to expect when we wrongly lower our standards.
•    Cain presented a gift from the soil instead of the  blood sacrifice, that would have pleased God (Genesis 4:3-5).
•    Abraham lied about his wife's identity, and Lot tried to solve a difficult problem-by offering his daughters to wicked men (Genesis 12:10-13; 19:140).
•    David had an affair with Bathsheba and then tried to cover it up (2 Samuel 11).
•    Pontius Pilate knew the truth about Jesus but allowed the crucifixion for political reasons (Matthew 27:22-24).
In every case, Scripture records personal and public devastation as a result. No good can result when people settle for less than what they know is right and honorable to God.

Because choosing to disobey God begins in small, insignificant ways, it is easy to underestimate the potential for damage.
•    Solomon wanted only a few horses.
•    Pilate wanted a peaceful evening.
Compromise isn't usually a giant leap. More often, it starts as a minor slip in our thinking or behavior. The slope becomes slippery, and each subsequent compromise is easier to rationalize. Every little slip weakens our conscience and makes it more difficult to reverse the downhill trend. Conceding in one area opens us to sinning elsewhere. And compromise always leads to defeat. Any area of life have the temptation to compromise.

Far too many people go back on their moral convictions and seek sexual relationships outside of marriage. The Bible teaches us a basic truth: Sinful activity carries serious consequences, and sexual sin is no exception. No matter what the world may want us to believe, God's Word is clear that we are to live in purity of mind and body. Sexual sin is a devastating landmine. This earthly vessel, our human body, is not our own. We are commanded to flee immorality because our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. God has purchased our redemption with the precious blood of His own Son. We must use our bodies to glorify Him. Remaining sexually pure is a testimony to the world that we serve a holy God. Refusing to do so is rebellion against the Lord Himself. The mental, physical, and spiritual consequences are inescapable, causing real problems in our lives.

Church life is also a common area of compromise.
•    Some people start by taking a Sunday or two "off" and end up not attending anymore.
•    Others cut back on the amount of their offering until they stop giving altogether.
•    Regarding doctrine, Christians sometimes waver and give up on their belief in the bodily resurrection of Christ, His virgin birth, or the truth of God's Word.


Other areas include,
•    Child rearing: Parents may find it easier to permit lower standards of dress and conduct than to enforce stricter rules.
•    Entertainment: Some believers patronize movies, television, or music performances that they know are unpleasing to God.
•    Conversation: Followers of Christ too frequently engage in gossip, use foul language, or listen to jokes that are offensive, despite the explicit scriptural instruction to the contrary (Ephesians 4:29).
•    Honesty: Children of God are tempted every day to lower their standard of truthfulness, whether they are filling out tax forms or conversing with friends.

People have different reasons for compromise.
•    Sometimes people sacrifice their principles because of fear.
•    Other times, compromise may be a way to avoid conflict.
•    Individuals also give in to get attention, acceptance, or popularity because of peer pressure.
•    Some compromise their standards simply to get ahead in the workplace. They may seek profit, a business promotion, or a larger salary.
•    Another reason people compromise is doubt or spiritual weakness.  They lack steadfast faith in God's providence or perhaps are too impatient to wait for His perfect timing. Perhaps they are discouraged or are proud. Any form of sin or weakness makes us more susceptible to compromise.

Christians need to realize that compromise has consequences. Lowering our standards weakens our character, hurts our personal testimony, and hinders our prayer life. Compromise will also corrupt our thinking. While we may believe we are making accommodations in just one area, every aspect of our life can be affected.
•    Once honesty has been breached in some form, it becomes easy to stop upholding the truth elsewhere.

•    If we have compromised on a principle that should have been non-negotiable, we may cease to think in terms of right and wrong.
•    We can easily grow defensive about concessions we have made in our faith and behavior expecting everyone to be tolerant of our errors.
•    Finally, we distance ourselves from the Lord, becoming totally depraved and out of touch with God, His Word, and the sustaining principles that define a victorious life. In the end, people will regard us as untrustworthy. Compromisers eventually destroy themselves.

What characterizes Christians who stand firm? Committed believers shun compromise because they are motivated by the approval of God rather than the applause of others. Committed believers have
•    strong convictions about the Bible       and
•    a sturdy faith in God's promises.

When misunderstood or persecuted, they have
•    the courage to remain steadfast and secure in their relationship with the Lord
•    discernment through the Holy Spirit to help know right from what is unacceptable
•    a clear sense of direction in life    and
•    they are is governed by principle rather than preference.


Sooner or later Christians will have to choose between standing for their beliefs or falling for the Devil’s deceptions. God wants genuine peace joy, and contentment to replace all the enslavement, frustration, and anxiety that go along with trying to please a lost and foolish world. When His children refuse compromise and choose Christ instead, they will experience victory.

Some people go about their work with energy, giving their best effort to every detail. Others do as little as they can, as slowly as they can, as indifferently as they can. The truth is that the quality of your work reflects the quality of your character. Work is not a curse but a gift from God, who wants us to enjoy ourselves and express our uniqueness and creativity through all that we accomplish. What about that worker who never seems to show effort, energy, or enthusiasm? He is known in the Word of God as a sluggard, and his approach to life is known as slothfulness. The quality of our work is a point of great urgency for every individual, particularly for the believer in Jesus Christ. Slothfulness or laziness is yet another landmine with the potential to destroy all that we are and all that we seek to accomplish in this world.

The apostle Paul wrote a letter to a church that was suffering from an outbreak of laziness. Many believers were refusing to do their part, yet they expected the church to take care of all their needs. Paul offered instruction in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 and added a comment in 2 Thessalonians 3:11. This church had people who were contributing nothing but divisiveness to the fellowship. In Matthew 25:26, when Jesus told a story about unproductive servants, He used the words “wickedness” and “slothfulness” in the same breath. In so doing, He identifies laziness as a terrible evil.

The slothful individual is not difficult to recognize. The book of Proverbs presents many examples of the lazy lifestyle.
•    This type of person is prone to procrastinate, finding excuses whenever and wherever possible (Proverbs 20:4).
•    He would be the last person you would count onto get the job done (Proverbs 10:26; Proverbs 19:24).
•    He also thinks he has all the answers (Proverbs 26:16).

How, then, does God see such a person?
•    God condemns laziness (Jeremiah 48:10).
•    He regards laziness as rebellion against Him, since He commands us to be fruitful and diligent (Colossians 3:23; Ephesians 2:10).
•    God also views a lazy performance as an act of selfishness (Philippians 2:3-4).
•    Because Jesus gives us the simple command to be fruitful, God sees our inactivity and lack of enthusiasm in our local church as gross disobedience. It’s funny how laborious it can be to read a chapter in the Bible but how easy it is to read a 300-page novel!

We reap what we sow.
•    The lazy individual will suffer penalties, some now and some in the future.
•    The committed believer works with joy and resolve, even when conditions seem discouraging.
The truth is that when we have done our best wherever we are, in whatever we are doing, God Himself assumes responsibility for the future and the results. This realization motivates the believer to carry out every task with zeal.

What would be some of the causes of a negative approach to life?
•    People often remark that the mere thought of their responsibilities discourages them.
•    Present circumstances and childhood environment are two other elements that people blame when accounting for their lack of energy.
•    Another person might point the finger of blame at poor self-esteem.
•    A particularly honest individual would admit that a negative attitude is behind his sluggish work habits,
•    Someone else may shrug and complain that he lacks a sense of direction.
All of these can be causes of laziness, yet none are valid excuses.

How can a sluggish believer find the way to a new and more productive lifestyle?
•    The immediate answer could not be any simpler. First, get up as Proverbs 6:6 advises. The ant works, prepares, and provides.
•    Then, as Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 3:10,             be willing to work if you are wanting to eat.
•    The final prescription for laziness is to work diligently. Paul expressed the correct spirit when he described the right-minded worker in Romans 12:11.

Nothing—not circumstances, place, time, or project—make any real difference. We work hard, for in all that we do, but it is the Lord Himself we are serving. God has given us so many resources, so many privileges. We need to repay Him with our endeavors and our own attitudes. Laziness produces a legacy of despair, but productivity brings every pleasing reward, both now and in the future. Let us not compromise in our Christian duty.

THE INVITATION
★    You can't depend on your own goodness to get to Heaven. We've all sinned  (Romans 3:23). Jesus paid the penalty for your sins with His death on the cross and His resurrection (John 3:16).
★    To be forgiven and be guaranteed a place in Heaven, you need to repent of sin, confess that you are a sinner, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in your heart (Acts 2:21).
★    You can use the following prayer or your own words, but you must actually believe in your heart that your prayer is real:
                        Lord Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God. I confess that I have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed. Please forgive all my wrongdoing and let me live in relationship with You from now on.
                        I receive You as my Savior and recognize that the work You accomplished once and for all on the cross was done on my behalf.
                     Thank You for saving me. Help me to live a life that is pleasing to You.
                In Your name I pray, Amen.