Summary: While it is true that God fulfills his purpose despite and through our failures, we are not excused from being responsible and accountable with our actions and decisions.
Theme: Daniel’s Resolution to Purity
Text: Daniel 1:8-21
a. Last message: God is sovereign. Everything is under the control of His mighty hand. Nothing will ever take place outside His plans. Events are always in line to God’s purpose. They always fulfill His best intentions for us.
b. However, God’s Sovereignty does not excuse us from being responsible of our actions and decisions. We are accountable of everything we do. When we say, “God controls everything”, it means that God overrules any situation. He should not be accused of instigating evil because there’s no evil in Him.
c. Daniel understood this truth. He didn’t blame God for the destruction of their nation. He knew that God is working out His plan. No matter how perplexing the events, everything would end up fulfilling God’s purpose. That was his conviction. Nevertheless, Daniel knew that along the process, he is responsible of his decision and action. So that in the passage we have this morning, we find that Daniel made up his mind to keep himself pure before God despite the pressures around.
T.S. The story of this passage we have this morning has three divisions.
A. DANIEL’S RESOLUTION TO KEEP HIMSELF PURE (v.8-13).
Daniel displayed four wonderful characteristics as he kept himself pure before God:
1. Daniel displayed his constant commitment to God.
v He made up his mind not to defile himself. To defile means, “to make impure”. We don’t know what foods are served to Daniel and his friends. But to them, eating the foods would make them religiously and spiritually impure. It was just a trifling thing, we would say, but that’s how committed Daniel really is. He is constant in his commitment to God, that even in small, insignificant thing, he dared not to mar himself. On the other side of it, the temptation is very appealing. Remember they were prisoners. They had been deprived from good meals. Now, they were given food right from the table of the king. Imagine how tempting to gorge yourself on it. But Daniel did not lose his spiritual perspective. To him and his friends, their relationship with God is the most important thing that they had. They held it with great value. They would die famished than defile themselves.
Today, we have a Christianity of spiritual weaklings. A lot of people in our churches concede easily to temptations. Perhaps, they just do not realize the value of their relationship with God. Friends, our relationship with God is the only thing we have that will last for all eternity. Every other thing in this life is transitory and fleeting. Therefore every decision or everything we do should be in line and should be within the context of our relationship with God.
2. Daniel displayed his undying devotion to God.
v Of course, Daniel’s heart was pained about the destruction of his nation and his people. He lost his country and his family, and now his captors tried to take from him his identity. From human point of view, Daniel had every reason to be embittered with God. But he never harbored anything against his Lord. Despite the painful experiences they had, his heart was still blazing with devotion to God. He had not kept bitterness or ill feeling with God.
Unlike Daniel, many of us are so apt to become embittered and blamed God when life gets tough. We tend to question His love and wisdom. Our devotion to Him is waning when things went wrong to our eyes. But these are improper reactions. God does not in any way instigate evil of any kind. He’s perfectly good and loving. His love to us is infinite. A great Christian writer says, “The greatest greatness of God is His love!” This assures us that God is interested only of our well-being. He therefore deserves our undying devotion.
3. Daniel displayed his enduring confidence in God.
v Daniel, being a prisoner, does not have the right to refuse anything offered to them. The only logical thing to do of a prisoner is “give in or follow order and instruction.” But look at Daniel. He sought the permission of the commander that he should not eat the foods served to them lest he defiles himself (v.8). He was not afraid to declare his conviction and commitment. He did not hesitate to say no to something that would defile himself even if it would cost him his very life (v.11-13). This is complete confidence. He was not afraid to risk his life just to preserve his purity before God.
In this example of Daniel we can see that confidence in God is having the courage to insist on what is right and pure in the sight of God. It is doing the right thing even others did not. “Dancing-with-the-music” together with this adulterous world is an act of cowardice. Confident Christians dare to be different. They are not afraid to stand and declare their conviction and commitment.