Daniel 1:3-5, 8-13, 17-19
William Harrell, interim pastor
First Baptist Church, Wrens
The danger of assimilation
The story of Daniel and his friends gives us a perfect picture of how God will bless those who are totally dedicated to Him. Our God is still on the same throne that He has always occupied and He isn’t going to move aside or change his opinions on how things are in the twenty-first century.
The world tries to convince God’s people that they should assimilate into this society and not trouble it with God’s standards. If Christians don’t do this, then they are treated with contempt and expected not to bring up what God says on an issue.
King Nebuchadnezzar was a powerful man. He could demand anything he desired and the consequences of not meeting his demands were severe. His desire to have some of the Hebrew young men to be taught the language and traditions of his realm put them in a position of taking a stand that many people today would not take.
We should notice how Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were given an honor and selected to be groomed three years and then stand before the king. With most people, this would have appealed to their ego and they would have eagerly accepted all the king wanted to do. It would have set them apart as someone special.
After being selected, Daniel and his friends sought to do what was expected of them. They even allowed the changing of their names and learned the language. But, this is a perfect example of how the world “sneaks up on our blind side.” It comes on as helpful and harmless. It convinces people that they are going to be made better and that they will receive high honor.
Slowly and almost imperceptibly the thinking of the world becomes part of the mental process and rationalization becomes very easy. God’s people get to the point that they see nothing wrong because they have become assimilated.
It all looks harmless in the beginning but Satan knows something people don’t see: It is only the first step.
Drawing the line
We all remember the story of how Daniel and his friends drew a line in the sand. It was a point at which they would not compromise. His whole life was marked by this kind of commitment to God. They would not eat the king’s food or drink his wine. Instead they stated what they would do that would honor the Lord no matter the consequences.
They were not belligerent about their refusal to meet the demands made of them. Most people would have done anything to please the king, especially when they were made to feel very special by being selected. It is a tribute to the way Daniel and his friends were brought up by their Jewish parents when, even though honored, they would not compromise their godly upbringing. When one is committed to God and His Word, then it is much easier to draw a line in the sand and not cross it.
A truly committed Christian will not consider doing something they believe God would not like. They have drawn their line. They have made their commitment and their actions are not up for debate.
True convictions are a firewall against all that the world wants to throw at us. Those convictions are the very best defense that we have. We must realize that if we compromise our convictions then we have turned them into nothing more than an opinion. Opinions can change; convictions do not.
The biblical standards are our guide. This worldly environment in which we live will make something seem like it contains so much common sense that anyone would agree with it and go along.
When the Holy Spirit comes into us as He was in Daniel and his friends, then He is our guide and He tells us on a moment-to-moment basis when the world’s ideas violate God’s Word.
Acts 5:29 gives us a perfect example of where we should stand. When the apostles had been imprisoned and then miraculously released by God, the authorities told them not to preach in the name of Jesus.
But Peter was bold in his beliefs and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.” That is where Daniel stood and where Christians should also stand. If something violates God’s Word, we should so with what God says on the issue.
One cannot compromise God’s Word and live victoriously. Many try but their complicity with the world is obvious and they make a mockery out of their confession of faith in Christ. When this world says something is right then we need to investigate it thoroughly.
Remember, because something is legal does not make it right. Abortion is legal, but not right. Same sex marriage is legal, but a violation of God’s plan. It’s legal to drink alcohol, but not right. Anything we do destructive toward us isn’t God’s plan, and therefore not right.
When confronted with a situation, we must, as God’s children in Christ, stand with God and not allow ourselves to be assimilated into the world, convinced that when we do as the world desires we are all right.
Daniel and his companions were better off for having been consistent with God’s desires. God rewarded them for being committed in their godly beliefs.
We should live victoriously by consistently doing as God says. It’s the only way to truly live.