Summary: To whom does a Christian owe the greatest allegiance? To the Lord God or to the government?
CERTIFYING OUR CONVICTIONS
INTRO: To whom does a Christian owe the greatest allegiance? To the Lord God or to the government? Ideally, there is no conflict between the two since God ordained human governments (Romans 13:1-7) and commands believers to be submissive to their temporal rulers (1 Peter 2:13-14). However, historically believers have had to make a choice between loyalty to God or government. This was true for Daniel.
I. THE FOOLISH DECREE.
King Darius declared a moratorium on petitions. The reason behind this foolish decree was the jealousy of little men. The decree was suggested by government officials who were envious of Daniel’s position. The results of this decree were far-reaching.
The decree created a crisis for Daniel. He was a man of faith who faithfully practiced his faith in God. Would he obey king or conscience?
Daniel’s reputation was not only well known to others, but his enemies knew he was for real. The idea behind the decree was not to see what Daniel would do — that they already knew — but to have a basis on which to bring a charge against Daniel. Are our confessions confirmed by conduct to the extent that others know in advance how we will act in a crisis?
II. THE FAITHFUL DEVOTION.
Daniel continued to do as was his custom. He certified his convictions by his conduct (v. 10). Even though he was loyal to the king, he owed a greater loyalty to God.
Daniel’s conduct was not an act of arrogance by allegiance.
It wasn’t a matter of being contentious but conscientious. What he did was not done privately but publicly. Daniel had convictions and he refused to compromise them. For him devotion to God took precedence over everything else.
III. THE FAVORABLE DELIVERANCE.
As a result of his stand, Daniel was sentenced to the lion’s den. Ironically, the king who sentenced him also petitioned the Lord to save him (v. 16b). The next morning, Daniel was found safe and unharmed because the Lord had protected him (v. 22).
The Lord is able to deliver in the difficult times of life. Christians in America are not faced with governmental edicts which threaten religious freedom or confront us with life-and-death decisions, but we do have our personal crises. No matter how hopeless the situation seems, God is able to deliver.
CONC: On the morning of December 10, 1941, Buenaventura Bello was working at his desk in the dean̓s office of a little school on Luzon in the Philippines. He had heard that a war had begun in the Pacific, but that war seemed a world away. Suddenly, Japanese soldiers burst into his office. Bello sat, frozen in fear. The officer in charge issued a command in Japanese which Bello didn’t understand. The officer repeated the command, pointing to the wall behind the desk. Bello understood that he was being told to tear down the American and Filipino flags. He responded: “If you want the flags down, you will do it yourself! Not me!” The officer didn’t understand the words, but he did understand the defiance. Taking out his pistol and aiming it at Bello, the officer repeated the command, The dean again refused, saying, “These hands are made to defend those flags, not to pull them down.” The officer fired and Bello was seriously injured. Because Bello survived, we know what he thought as he faced his life-or-death decision. “There are moments when in the lives of men they are impelled to certify to seal — with their actions what they believe and what they teach. Such a moment has now arrived in my life. I shall so certify.