And he said to him, “All these (kingdoms) will I give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”
Matthew 4:9 ESV
In his book, Orthodoxy, G.K.Chesterton writes, “They said that I should lose my ideals and begin to believe in the methods of practical politicians. Now, I have not lost my ideals in the least; my faith in fundamentals is exactly what it always was. What I have lost is my childlike faith in practical politics.”
Chesterton came to the right conclusion regarding idealism. Fundamentals are solidly idealistic and must never be compromised, while the practical nature of politics requires compromise. But what did he mean when he said his faith in fundamentals remained steadfast, while his child-like faith in politics was lost? What did Chesterton discover?
When we come to the Gospel message, compromise is certain death. To water down the message of sin, redemption and the cross is poison to our faith. The gospel must remain pure. That was Chesterton’s point. Compromise is the life-blood of practical politics but death to the gospel. The ideal of Christian truth must be guarded at all costs. How many dead flies do you want in your sweet tea? The third temptation of Christ in the wilderness involved compromising Christ’s ideals in order to gain the world.
Let’s review the first two temptations. When Satan tempted Christ to make bread out of desert stones he tried to get Him to offer a selfish gospel to men. Meet their physical needs and they will flock to you. The second temptation was to propagate a sensational gospel of signs and wonders. Amaze them by jumping off the pinnacle of the temple and they will worship you. This third temptation was the most diabolical of all.
When Satan offered Jesus the kingdoms of the world if He would worship him, he was asking Christ to view the world from his perspective. Compromise the ideals of the gospel and adopt a worldly mentality. Pander to the culture in order to reach the culture. Sin is not anarchy, it is a disease. Men are not in rebellion against God, they just need to know how much You love them. Win them with love; not a cross. Don’t insist that men must be born-again, they just need You to help them a bit. Abandon the cross and all this talk of redemption and the kingdoms of the world will be Yours for the taking. Offer them a socialistic gospel where social justice is the theme with little mention of men needing to be saved from sin.
Ray was an Iowa farmer who heard voices in his cornfield. They said, “If you build it, they will come.” Ray built a ball field and they came, led by Shoeless Joe Jackson. Satan whispers in the ears of the false prophets of our day, “If you preach it, they will come.” Preach a message of selfish indulgence and they will come. Tell them they can prophesy their destiny with their own words and they will come. Turn a blind eye to sin and they will come. But success in the eyes of men is often failure in the courts of Heaven. Wood, hay, and stubble, my friend, wood, hay, and stubble.