By Dr. Audrey Davidheiser, Crosswalk.com
I felt borderline bad.
But I slid cash from my clients straight into my satchel anyway.
It’s not like you don’t pay taxes. You already fork over so much to Caesar.
Others do this too.
You’ll tithe this cash, so you won’t be swindling God on this income.
Have you ever battled over whether your decision grieved God? This question plagued me.
I refused to deliberately displease the Holy Spirit.
What you’ve just read is my spiritual conviction. The voice of my conscience. My behavior, however, looked radically different. When another week brought with it another client paying in cash, I slipped every bill into my wallet, skipping my books again.
The days that followed tortured my conscience. Cracking open the Word conveyed the same conclusion again and again—don’t compromise. A friend chatted about a Christian she knew who never reported his cash income and buried bundles of Benjamins in his freezer as a result.
Another pinprick of conviction.
Is underreporting your income a sin? Yes and no vacillated back and forth.
My story is just one of the many ways we’re tempted to cave in to compromise. Maybe you can’t relate to my struggle. For you, the urge to concede may take the form of ingesting substances you know you should avoid. Or lying. Or watching shows with filthy values. Cavorting with someone when deep down inside, a still small voice advises against it.
Pursuing integrity may feel challenging if you’re used to compromising, but here are 5 reasons why cleansing your conscience is crucial:
1. Compromise Clogs Spiritual Senses
The first time you’re tempted to fudge your convictions, it might take a while before you decide to do it.
But once you compromise—and see no immediate consequence—human nature dictates it’ll make the second and subsequent compromises easier to commit.
Part of the reason has to do with the impact of sin on our conscience. Once we usher in sin, it hardens our hearts and dulls our spiritual sensitivity.
Then he “saw a prostitute [at Gaza] and had relations with her” (Judges 16:1, NASB). Notice how fast things escalated? Samson spotted a scantily clad flirt and wham, his impulse prevailed. No hemming or hawing was required as he completed compromise #2.
When Samson ogled yet another non-Jew, Delilah, his enemies plotted to snare him this way. They hired her as a snitch (Judges 16:4-5). The shrew nagged and nagged until he exposed the secret of his superhuman strength.
But why did Samson keep indulging her when every time he did, enemy combatants materialized from nowhere (Judges 16:6-14)? Shouldn’t he have been able to spot her true colors and skedaddle?
Not really. Samson kept giving into sin, which hardened his heart, which kept him from sensing Delilah’s ulterior motive—which then led to his ultimate downfall.
2. Destiny Awaits
Before we get to Samson’s end, let’s begin with the unusual backstory prefacing his birth. An angel informed his mom: “Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean. You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines” (Judges 13:4-5).
When the woman relayed this news to her husband, she added a tiny detail: “But he said to me, ‘You will become pregnant and have a son. Now then, drink no wine or other fermented drink and do not eat anything unclean, because the boy will be a Nazirite of God from the womb until the day of his death’” (Judges 13:7, emphasis added).
Compare her words with the angel’s announcement and you’ll see how God did not specify Samson’s ending.
This principle is worth highlighting. God started us off by giving us life—but what we choose to do with it will help determine our ending. Like Samson, it’s possible to forfeit a divine destiny by embracing a lifestyle of compromise.
3. Judgment Is Coming
The gruesome conclusion of Samson’s saga still unnerves me even though I’ve read it countless times. Suffice it to say, Samson suffered many different deaths (Judges 16:15-31).
Just because we don’t drop dead at the moment of compromise doesn’t mean we’ve beat the system and successfully fend off a reckoning. According to 1 Timothy 5:24, “The sins of some men are obvious, going ahead of them to judgment; but the sins of others do not surface until later” (BSB). Indeed, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23)—from allegorical, like the demise of dreams and desires; to relational, like marriage and friendships; to financial; to the literal end of life.
Whether judgment happens here on earth or later in eternity, God “stands ready to judge everyone, both the living and the dead” (1 Peter 4:5, NLT).
Our sins will find us out (Numbers 32:23). Might as well stop compromising.
4. Dragging Others Down
Romans 5:19 describes how Adam’s sin trickled down to us: “through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners.” This verse reveals sin’s sticky nature. Just like wet paint, once you slog around in sin, the lives you touch will also be smeared by its ugly imprint.
Your decision to oppose God’s ways probably won’t drag the rest of the world down. At the same time, you don’t need to be a social media influencer to exert influence over others.
God takes our ability to affect one another seriously. Jesus warned us, “Stumbling blocks [temptations and traps set to lure one to sin] are sure to come, but woe (judgment is coming) to him through whom they come!” (Luke 17:1, AMP).
I prefer never having to discover the kind of judgment reserved for those who sway others to sin. Don’t you?
5. Times Are Hard
One way compromise cheats us out of our tomorrow is by killing us today.
We find the stark illustration in Joshua 7. The children of Israel were grieving the 36 soldiers their enemy had butchered. Joshua moped to the Lord about it and learned that their defeat had to do with a guy in their midst who’d hidden stolen goods. “There is an accursed thing in your midst, O Israel; you cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the accursed thing from among you” (Joshua 7:13, NKJV).
Likewise, it’s impossible to tolerate sin and stand against the pressures of our day both. God can’t protect us when we cuddle up with compromise.
If it weren’t for what I’m about to share, I wouldn’t have been qualified to finish this article.
Awareness pried open my eyes as I squinted at the clock. 3:13 am.
I woke up for no apparent reason.
God had used numbers to message me before, so I sleuthed if 313 symbolized something. Perhaps I was supposed to check out book #3 in the Bible, chapter 3, verse 13.
So, I inspected the third book of the Old Testament.
Here’s what the New King James translation says: “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.”
And this is how it sounded to me: Audrey, that cash isn’t for you.
That same week I took the exact amount I had previously pilfered from my business account and returned it all.
I don’t know where you are in the process of cleaning up your conscience, but the Lord knows your heart. If you’re still unsure about what to do, invite Him to lead you into all truth (John 16:13). Ask Him for mercy and grace (Hebrews 4:16) to pursue a clean heart (Psalm 51:10).
God may or may not respond by rousing you with a specific verse, but don’t give up until you’ve made things right. The featherlight feel of a pure conscience makes every effort worth it.
Take it from someone who’s just scrubbed her own.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Memedozaslan
Audrey Davidheiser, PhD is a California licensed psychologist, certified Internal Family Systems therapist, and author of Surviving Difficult People: When Your Faith and Feelings Clash. She founded and directed a counseling center for the Los Angeles Dream Center, supervised graduate students, and has treated close to 2,200 clients. Dr. Audrey devotes her California practice to survivors of psychological trauma. Visit her on www.aimforbreakthrough.com and Instagram @DrAudreyD.