“I’m just not convicted like that.” I recently heard this honest statement following a message on holiness.
The text for the message was 2 Corinthians 6:15, “And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial?” Belial is the epitome of evil. Paul explicitly states that believers should not compromise their convictions, nor their lifestyle—“what communion has light with darkness?”
Murray J. Harris, commenting on the Greek text, states, “In this verse Paul continues to emphasize the radical difference between Christianity and heathendom; they stand diametrically opposed to each other, lacking the common ground that would permit any association.”
As noted in previous articles, “Light and darkness, right and wrong, good and evil, truth and error are incompatibles…when they compromise it is the light, the right, the good, and the truth that are damaged” (W. Graham Scroggie). When we compromise in these areas, not only is our testimony damaged, but our relationship with the Lord suffers because of disobedience. I Timothy 4:12 exhorts us to be examples of purity and decency so we can be filled with the Spirit of God—so we can affect the world rather than being infected by it.
Holiness and being filled with the Spirit cannot come from a polluted mind, or a compromised lifestyle. If you doubt that the church is in dire need of conviction, just peruse the postings on facebook of those claiming to be Christians. What would Paul say about this in light of 2 Corinthians 6:15? Sadly, conviction is often replaced with compromise.
The lukewarm church disdains the heat of conviction. Church history bears this out—people get upset when compromised lifestyles are challenged. Instead of repenting and returning to God, messengers are labeled legalistic, rigid, arrogant, extreme, fanatical, judgmental, and so on. A deeper call to holiness and seeking God is not legalistic, it’s biblical; it’s not optional, it’s vital: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).
Additionally, many Christians (including pastors, youth leaders, etc.) want Christianity to be cool and fashionable, but Christianity is not cool nor is it fashionable. Exposing sin is not fun, pointing to the cross is not pleasant, and calling us to repentance is not comfortable.
My hope is that this article is not misunderstood, or taken to extremes. I’m not suggesting that Christians only interact with other Christians. We are called to minister to others in all areas of life. We cannot totally separate from the culture. What good is salt if it’s left in the shaker? But if relationships and lifestyle choices are pulling us in the wrong direction, or sending mixed messages to others, then it’s time to re-evaluate. This is my focus here.
An example of compromise can be seen in this scenario: “I love going to Vegas with Vince and Laughlin with Larry—they can party like no one I know.” Paul would consider this “fellowship with darkness” because it pulls the believer in the wrong direction. Excuses, however, would be numerous: “But I’m witnessing to them. I’m relating to them. I’m winning them to Christ.” But what are we winning them to?
A.W. Tozer adds clarity here, “Any objection to the carrying on of our present gold-calf [lukewarm] Christianity is met with the triumphant reply, ‘But we are winning them!’ And winning them to what? To true discipleship? To cross-carrying? To self-denial? To separation from the world? To crucifixion of the flesh? To holy living? To nobility of character? To a despising of the world’s treasures? To hard self-discipline? To love for God? To total committal to Christ? Of course the answer to all these questions is…No.”
Poolside in Vegas, quoting scripture to Vince while sipping margaritas in a crowd of g-string bikinis is not ministry—its compromise. We need to start calling it what it is; it’s a lack of conviction and holiness…not ministry. “What fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?”
Ministry would be meeting with Vince and Larry in settings that do not compromise our standards—the darkness is being pulled into the light, not visa versa. Granted, I often minister to people in many different settings and circumstances, but we must be on our guard and not compromise in areas that can quench and grieve the Spirit of God.
If you find yourself saying, “I’m just not convicted about those things,” it may be time for self-evaluation. If one is offended by a call to holiness, it may be a good indication that they need to seek repentance, conviction, and holiness again.
In a recent radio broadcast, Pastor James MacDonald told his audience, “The reason you’re not convicted is because your face is not buried in the Word of God truly seeking Him.” He is absolutely correct. Holiness is a mark of conviction and a surrendered life. Holiness is not an option like a choice in a buffet line. Holiness is the mark of someone who has truly been converted and who is genuinely filled with the Spirit of God. Without holiness no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).
WATCH THE ACCOMPANYING BRIEF VIDEO ON HOLINESS HERE: https://vimeo.com/41602207