Are We Negotiators,
or Are We Steadfast?
The propriety of negotiating with terrorists has been debated over the years. Its proponents argue that not negotiating would result in dire and needless tragedy. It’s opponents, on the other hand, argue that negotiations legitimize terrorists’ grievances, not to mention their demands and methods. It’s opponents also argue that giving in to such terrorist demands almost certainly ensures the likelihood of further terrorist activities.
While some would have us believe that the argument regarding whether to engage in terrorist negotiations is complicated, the question over whether to negotiate with Satan is simple. The answer is a resounding, “No!” Why, then, do people act in ways that suggest they feel they can negotiate with Satan? Is it because:
- People think they can reason with Satan. The world thought it could reason with Hitler, and we know how that turned out.
- People believe that they can cut a deal by which they won’t have to give up anything. That defies the very definition of negotiation. When two people are at an impasse, each will have to give something in order to get something.
- People believe that they are experienced negotiators. They’ve negotiated with their bosses, their spouses and even their children. For how long? Ten years? Twenty? Fifty? If you think that experience will give you the upper hand with Satan, think again. Satan has been negotiating with mankind not a hundred, not a thousand, but six thousand years (nearly all of mankind’s existence upon this earth). He negotiated with Adam and Eve, with Noah, with Abraham, with Isaac, with Jacob, with Moses, with David and with every other living soul. Sooner or later, he’s beaten them all, including you and me.
“But I would never negotiate with Satan,” you say. Ah, but it’s so easy to, and many times we don’t even realize we’ve done it until we’re faced with the consequences. The negotiation isn’t focused so much on the activity itself (we already want to participate in the activity, so the only roadblock is in justifying it) as it is the degree, or the frequency, or the setting of the activity.
- With regard to the degree of the activity, what if we told just a little white lie? What would it hurt, right? After all, we wouldn’t want to hurt our Christian brother’s feelings over his song leading ability or our Christian sister’s feelings over her cooking.
- With regard to the frequency of the activity, what if we missed Sunday evening worship service just this once? What would it hurt, right? After all, the Super Bowl only happens once a year.
- With regard to the setting of the activity, what if we cursed just when we were alone or just when we were at home? What would it hurt, right? After all, if no one else is even privy to it, it might as well have never happened.
Do you see a pattern here? All of these conditions include the word “just,” as if that makes the proposed deed more acceptable and less offensive.
- Is God pleased with us when we allow just a little leaven into our figurative lump? Of course not, regardless of the degree, because no matter how small the hindrance to our Christianity, it will (if left unchecked) eventually grow large enough to overwhelm us. Paul easily explained this in Galatians 5:9 when he wrote, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.”
- Was God pleased with the nation of Israel when it worshipped just a few idols? Of course not, regardless of the frequency, because eventually it would consume them to the point that they would forget that they were once God’s chosen people. Today, as Christians, we are God’s chosen people, and Paul warned us against forsaking our citizenship in Heaven when he wrote in Ephesians 5:3, “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints.”
- Is God pleased with the shameful things referenced in Ephesians 5:12, even if they are done just in private? Of course not, regardless of the setting, because those things done in private will eventually embolden those who do them to perform them first publicly and then widespread. Paul advised Timothy (and all future generations of Christians) in 2 Timothy 3:13, “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.”
On these occasions, the word “just” should have been added to that infamous list of other four-letter vulgarities.
I’m not a fan of the phrase, “What would Jesus do?” It calls for speculation, and there’s not a person alive with enough wisdom to know the mind of God. Rather, I prefer the phrase, “What did Jesus do?” We see clearly in Matthew 4 what Jesus did when Satan tempted Him. He did not yield to Satan’s challenges to any degree, for any length of time or under any condition. Imagine Satan’s rejoicing if Jesus had turned just a few of those stones into bread, or his glee if Jesus had allowed Himself to fall just a little from the pinnacle of the Temple. Imagine Satan’s celebration had Jesus bowed His knee to worship Satan just once.
The Bible’s view toward error is clear. Error (Who are we kidding? Let’s call it what it is – SIN.) deserves no compromise. It deserves no conditions. It deserves no consideration. Satan is unrelenting, and so remember what 1 Corinthians 15:58 says. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” Satan is watchful. Therefore, remember what 1 Peter 5:8 says. “Be sober, be vigilant: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” Satan is crafty, even to the point of changing how he looks. Hence, remember what 1 Thessalonians 5:22 says. “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” Don’t be a negotiator when it comes to sin.
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