Summary: Daniel and his three Hebrew friends were thrust into the pagan environment of Babylon. How they served God in this pagan land is an example of how we can serve God in our secular culture.
LIVING FOR GOD IN A SECULAR WORLD
Introduction: Recent Supreme Court Rulings
• List of Supreme Court Rulings
• We live in a world driven by public opinion and public opinion does not always line up with what God’s word to us.
Question: How do we hold biblical values, and live them out in the public square, while working for companies or individuals who are pressured to position themselves as a ‘tolerant’ in the current politically correct climate?
• We have all heard the phrase that says Christians are to be in the world but not of it.
• This belief is drawn from Jesus prayer in John 17.
I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.
• Believers in Jesus Christ are simply in the world—physically present—but not of it, not part of its values.
Transition: Living for God in a secular world is not always easy.
• However, no matter how difficult our environment God has promised to help us.
• Let’s look at a person in the Bible who determined to live for God in a hostile environment.
Scripture: Daniel 1:1-8
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 into the king’s service 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 those who were chosen 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.
I. DANIEL’S ENVIRONMENT WAS HOSTILE TO HIS FAITH. (DANIEL 1:3-5)
1 Let’s take a look at Daniel’s story
• Daniel had been forcibly removed from Israel and taken to Babylon to serve the king of Babylon.
• Daniel had it better than most Israelites. He was given an opportunity for a new life in Babylon.
• If he kept his head down and worked hard Daniel had the opportunity to serve in the government of the King who had brought him to Babylon.
2 Danger in the midst of opportunity.
• Daniel was isolated from the people and worship of God.
• Daniel was being indoctrinated into a new way of thinking.
• Daniel was tempted with the riches of the new life in order to make separation from his old life less painful.
• Daniel was confused about his real purpose and identity in life
Transition: The way we think determines the way we live!
II. DANIEL DETERMINED NOT TO BECOME ABSORBED INTO HIS NEW ENVIRONMENT.
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.
1 Daniel decided in his heart to follow God
But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
• We must decide early to follow God – Don’t wait until later to decide.
• Daniel’s decision would serve him well through the administrations of 2 world empires in good and bad times
2 Daniel in the lion’s Den
• Even Daniel, whose work ethic and service could not be questioned, was a target for those who could only find fault in his faith.
“At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, ‘We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God’”