Introduction: What is capitulation? Capitulation: To cease to resist an opponent or an unwelcome demand. To cave, buckle, submission to an enemy. To Surrender. There are many Christians who are holding fast to biblical truth in this culture, but it seems that there are also some who are way too willing to be submissive to the demands of the unsaved world.
Sometimes, capitulation can be good. For example, in Luke 18 there was a widow who needed justice—justice that only the unjust judge could give her. When the woman was relentless toward the unjust judge, he finally capitulated and gave her justice. The point of the parable was that since God is just, He also will respond to the faithful praying of the disciples.
Other times, capitulation can be a bad thing. We will look for the next few minutes at some bad examples of capitulation. We will also look to the good example of a godly king as well as some modern-day examples of Christians that took a stand.
In doing so, may God help us to learn that though the unsaved world can be relentless in their pressure on us to capitulate to the ever-changing societal whims of the spiritually dead, we can and must stand strong so that we can effectively influence our nation toward genuine faith.
I. The Example of Solomon.
Solomon loved God and God loved Solomon. “So she (Bathsheba) bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. Now the Lord loved him,” (2 Samuel 12:24, NKJV). “And Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David . . ..” (1 Kings 3:3, NKJV). He requested wisdom, and the Lord gave it to him abundantly. He built the house of the Lord. The nation of Israel entered its greatest days of glory during his reign.
“The Lord appeared to Solomon the second time, as He had appeared to him at Gibeon. And the Lord said to him: “I have heard your prayer and your supplication that you have made before Me. . .Now if you walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and My judgments, then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever, as I promised David. (1 Kings 9:1–7, NKJV)
“But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: . . .from the nations of whom the Lord had said to the children of Israel, “You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David” (1 Kings 11:1–4, NKJV).
Solomon loved the Lord, but he capitulated to his many wives by loving them more than God. In doing this, he committed spiritual adultery against the Lord. Would to God we (in our day) would understand that there is still such a thing as right and wrong. When we want to sit down and dialogue with liberals, try to find common ground with the unsaved, we deny the power of God to convict and draw His elect.
Whenever we crave the acceptance and approval of the world then we show how much in love with it we still are. I have seen Christians use saved celebrities almost to try and justify the faith. It is like a crutch that is used to uphold a tottering faith. As Christians, we enjoy the comfort and protection of God, but we flirt with His enemies.
The text says that Solomon clung to those women in love. He wanted the best of both worlds. He was ruled by his heart instead of ruling his own heart and he forgot that “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9, NKJV).
God would remind us all today that He loves us and He wants us to love Him faithfully. Part of that is being jealous for Him and making sure that we are loyal. “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9, NKJV). Is there something or someone that you’re capitulating to? A love rival?
II. The Example of Eli. Eli was a man of God who served as the priest in charge of the Tabernacle of the Lord. He knew the Lord but his sons did not. “Now the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the Lord.
They abused the offering of the Lord for selfish gain. When questioned by the ones who brought the sacrifice, Eli’s sons would respond, “No, but you must give it now; and if not, I will take it by force.” Therefore the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for men abhorred the offering of the Lord” (1 Samuel 2:12–18, NKJV). God sent a prophet to confront Eli concerning this because Eli knew everything but did nothing to stop it.
“Then a man of God came to Eli and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: ‘. . . Why do you kick at My sacrifice and My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling place, and honor your sons more than Me, to make yourselves fat with the best of all the offerings of Israel My people?’ Therefore the Lord God of Israel says: ‘I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever.’ But now the Lord says: ‘Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.” (1 Samuel 2:27–30, NKJV).
He capitulated by neglect. The day of judgment finally came for Eli because he neglected God’s honor and command. Sometimes, it is easier to do nothing than to face conflict. Who in their right mind enjoys confrontation? Many Christians will be judged by God because in times of testing, they checked the wind and chose not to speak out for the honor of God.
Where are the Christians that choose to take a stand in love? We stand back and watch an ever-changing world and shake our heads and give ground. Where are the believers that in humility burn red hot with convictions that are stronger than life and death?
I am concerned by Christians today, especially younger ones that apparently don’t understand conservative Christianity. I want you to get what’s at stake here. Many want to cry legalism when we are not talking about legalism—we’re talking about biblical Christianity.
We are not called to make Christianity palatable to the unsaved. Of course, we shouldn’t be intentionally offensive, but neither should we apologize for what the Bible clearly teaches.
The danger in Christians capitulating, buckling, surrendering to the unsaved is that with every capitulation, it adds another layer to the blanket of lukewarm Christianity of the last days. Neglect of conviction is leading the way.
III. The Example of Pilate.
Pontius Pilate was not a believer but he was faced with a choice, release Jesus or crucify Him. He had been handed by a letter from his wife warning him not to harm Jesus. He freely admitted that Jesus was innocent.
“So Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowd, ‘I find no fault in this Man (at all)’” (Luke 23:4, NKJV). He wanted to free Him. “Pilate, therefore, wishing to release Jesus, again called out to them” (Luke 23:20, NKJV).
Fear kept Pilate from doing the right thing. “Therefore, when Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid,” (John 19:8, NKJV). There are many believers today that are afraid. They fear the judgment of this world.
Can you not see how doctrine, standards, music, everything, is something less than what it once was—what it is supposed to be? “The fear of man brings a snare.” In the Pilgrims Progress, Christian and Faithful passed through Vanity Fair (the world) and the people wanted them to buy of their delicacies. They refused and as Faithful explained why they said no to the world, the world put Faithful on trial and killed him.
First they scourged him, then they buffeted him, then they lanced his flesh with knives; after that they stoned him with stones, then pricked him with their swords, and last of all, they burned him to ashes at the stake. Thus came Faithful to his end. Now, I saw that there stood behind the multitude a chariot and a couple of horses waiting for Faithful, who (so soon as his adversaries had killed him) was taken up into it, and straightway was carried up through the clouds the nearest way to the Celestial Gate with the sound of trumpet.
Was Faithful a heretic, as the jury decided, or was he a devoted Christ-follower? It all depends on your perspective. Faithful could have saved his life by becoming friends once again with the world (fear could have justified it), but he understood that “friendship with the world is enmity against God.”
Pilate understood none of this. “So Pilate, wanting to gratify the crowd, released Barabbas to them; and he delivered Jesus, after he had scourged Him, to be crucified.” (Mark 15:15, NKJV)
We could point out that Peter also understood fear. As a Christ-follower, he gave in to (it to his shame) and denied with curses that he even knew Jesus. When Christians capitulate, we deny Jesus and the true, pure faith (out of fear) and the desire to gratify the crowd.
We could go on and demonstrate how Jehoshaphat capitulated by accommodation to King Ahab. Achan capitulated to greed, Sampson capitulated to lust, Lot was well aware of the utter depravity of Sodom, but he chose to expose himself and his own family to the moral insanity of that region—to the ruin of them all. But, I want to close with the godly example of King Hezekiah who refused to capitulate.
IV. Hezekiah Refused to Capitulate.
“And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done. He trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor who were before him.” “And he rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.”
Then something happened, in the 14th year of Hezekiah’s reign; the King of Assyria took the fortified cities of Judah and Hezekiah began to capitulate. He agreed to pay tribute to the Assyrians. But God had a plan.
Sennacherib was not satisfied with the tribute. He wanted to humble Hezekiah. He then demanded total capitulation. God allowed this because He wanted to teach Hezekiah not to compromise. Compromise lessens the glory of God.
Sennacherib, King of Assyria said, “But do not listen to Hezekiah, lest he persuade you, saying, “The Lord will deliver us.” 33 Has any of the gods of the nations at all delivered its land from the hand of the king of Assyria?”
After this, Hezekiah sent word to Isaiah the prophet asking him to pray. “And Isaiah said to them, ‘Thus you shall say to your master, ‘Thus says the Lord: ‘Do not be afraid of the words which you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me. 7 Surely I will send a spirit upon him, and he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.’”
Sennacherib sent a threatening letter to Hezekiah, filled with blasphemies. “Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. 15 Then Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said: “O Lord God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Incline Your ear, O Lord, and hear; open Your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. 17 . . . Now therefore, O Lord our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord God, You alone.”
After this, an angel of the Lord killed 185,000 soldiers in the camp of the Assyrians. They returned home to Nineveh and Sennacherib’s own sons murdered him in the temple of his false god.
Application: What does the Lord want us to see today about capitulation? It means to stop resisting an opponent or an unwelcome demand. To cave, buckle, submission to an enemy. To Surrender. I see such compromise today.
The justification of this compromise is that believers need to relate to the unsaved world. So, we soften our stands, our language, our convictions in order not to offend. We skew the image of Jesus and attempt to repackage Him. The legalists hated Him because He exposed their hypocrisy. The liberals hated Him because He was a Biblicist!
Pastor Steve, where do you supposedly see this capitulation today? I see some of our SBC leaders using soft language when describing sin. Christian leaders have been heavily influenced by feminism. I see Christian businesses possibly softening in areas where they should remain consistent.
Why? Some because they are too in love with the world, some out of neglect, others out of fear. Praise God there are others who stand! Remember the Phillips case? The Christian bakers who (in humility) refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple.
Hobby Lobby refused to sponsor abortion within their company because it violated their Christian beliefs. These individuals and companies wanted to remain loyal to Christ even though it cost them—even though they received bad publicity. Even though they were labeled by the unsaved world.
The Early Church refused to worship the Roman Emperor. This meant that it rejected the state as a god to be worshiped. The Church could not stomach the idea of God’s glory being shared with a man or with a human institution.
“Christians were hated, imprisoned, banished to isolated islands, condemned to work as slaves in the mines, cast to the lions as a public spectacle, and executed by the sword.” In our day, the secularization of America is happening now and is almost complete. Secular Humanism—the Church is reeling with it, like a drunk man staggering around.
Christianity is criticized and the hipster Christians are shouting, “Hey, we ‘re not that bad.” All of this contributes to the weakness and luke-warmness of our present day. I am convinced that much of what is called Christian today makes my Lord Jesus want to throw up.
Why would anyone want a pale, anemic, white-washed reflection of the world? But yet, we’re convinced that we need to help God make our faith more acceptable. Yet, God commands all men everywhere to repent. He demands that a person realize their own utter depravity and complete lostness.
He opens up their hearts and minds to see that He is holy and they are in desperate need of salvation through Jesus. What people want and what they need are totally different. When Jesus confronted the woman at the well, she wanted unlimited physical water, Jesus offered her living water.
She seemed to be content with living in sin, Jesus exposed her sin, then offered her complete transformation. Love is not synonymous with tolerance. We want to make people like Christianity by diluting it, when all we must do is preach the truth in love and allow the Holy Spirit to summon His own to Himself-with no compromises. Only revival fire that spreads, will burn away this dross.
“I fear that in the end, this weakened brand of Christianity—half Christianity ends up deceiving many people. It asks for a faith commitment but no life-change. It offers a neutered gospel, with no call to transformation.. . This Christianity seems good, and it sounds appealing, but it has been robbed of its otherworldliness.” –Owen Strachan
May our faith be untainted by legalism and undiluted by liberalism. May God help us to live out our faith in such a way that we are humble, loving, patient, yet so uncompromising that we refuse to violate the Scriptures on a single point. No capitulation.
If Jesus tarries, then even the more fashionable presentations of Warehouse Christianity will become unfashionable. More and more compromises will be made until the salt has completely lost its savor.
Rod Dreher said, “Given how much Americans have come to rely on middle-class comfort, freedom, and stability, Christians will be sorely tempted to say or do anything asked of us to hold onto what we have. That is the way of spiritual death.” But, God will always have His elect and they will shine as lights in a dark world until Jesus calls us home.
Polycarp served as bishop of Smyrna. His persistent devotion to Christ for decades had made him a highly visible local figure. When an unruly mob looked for Christians to humiliate, they called for Polycarp. A police squad went to get the aged Christian leader. The captain, probably wanting to spare Polycarp from the coming hardship, said, “What harm is there in saying that Caesar is Lord? Swear loyalty to Caesar and save yourself.” Polycarp refused the captain’s request, and they hauled him to the city arena. There the proconsul of Asia renewed the plea and said to him, “Consider your age. Swear by the divinity of Caesar. The proconsul still insisted, “Take the oath of loyalty to Caesar, and I will let you go. Revile Christ.” Then Polycarp made a noble confession: “Eighty-six years have I served Him, and He has done me no wrong; how then can I blaspheme my Saviour and King?” Further argument with Polycarp proved useless, and they sent him to the stake. Polycarp’s martyrdom did two things. It produced a temporary revulsion against martyrdoms among the pagan population. The pagan crowd had no stomach for burning old men at the stake. It also gave Christians a high level of credibility before their pagan neighbors. If Christianity could produce people like Polycarp, then even pagan people were interested in their source of conviction and commitment. Christianity produces people who both live well and die well.
Challenge: It is dangerous for Christians to capitulate. By God’s grace, let us determine not to do so.