Summary: How to be "in" the world, but not "of" the world.
How to Live in Sin City
1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.
2 And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god.
3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility--
4 young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.
5 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.
6 Among these were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.
7 The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.
8 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.
9 Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel,
10 but the official told Daniel, "I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you."
11 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah,
12 "Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink.
13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see."
14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.
16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
18 At the end of the time set by the king to bring them in, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar.
19 The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service.
20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.
21 And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.
I found the perfect illustration for the theme of this message at the grocery store. It was on the side of a half-gallon carton of milk. The words were, Grade A, Pasteurized, Homogenized Milk.
Pasteurization has to do with heating the milk to a certain temperature and holding it there until certain harmful bacteria are killed. Homogenization is the process of mixing up the milk until it has a uniform consistency. We might say it is “fully blended.” You can always recognize non-homogenized milk because the cream separates and rises to the top. My mother would always take in the milk from the porch and skim the cream off and make whipped cream with it!
It occurred to me that homogenization is exactly what the world wants to do with Christians. The world wants to shake us up and blend us so effectively that there is no longer any difference between us and them. The cream no longer comes to the top. Phillips paraphrase of Rom.12:2: “Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold.”
DANIEL LIVED AND FUNCTIONED IN A PAGAN SOCIETY, where he was a statesman and politician. Today we say it is impossible to be both a believer and a politician—but Daniel was both of these.
His life wasn’t lived with man of the blessings that you and I enjoy—a family, nice surroundings, a free society. He was yanked from this kind of pleasant environment and taken to another nation and culture. In the beginning he lived as a slave. Yet here was a man full of integrity.
He lived in Sin City, but he didn’t become part of it!