Summary: This passage gives us three aspects of integrity that we need to see in order to avoid the danger of compromising our stand for God.

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Daniel 1:1-20

Over the next several weeks, I will be delivering a series of messages from the book of Daniel on this thought, “Staying Godly in an Ungodly World.” I believe that will all of the snares and temptations placed before the believer today, that is certainly one of the greatest challenges facing the church. It seems like everyday, that one hears of someone who fails to stay godly and falls into the grasp of the devil. There is no question that the world we live in is ungodly. There are several different Greek words used in the New Testament that are translated world. Two of the more prominent ones are first, kosmos which means “an apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution, order, government”. In other words, the entire world system. Notice what Jesus said of the kosmos and His disciples. John 17:16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. In John 12:31 and in John 14:30, the devil is called the “prince of this world”, or of the kosmos. The other Greek word that occurs often in the New Testament is the word aion {ahee-ohn’}which represents “a period of time, or age”. One of the more famous verses containing this word is Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Again the emphasis is that this world is ungodly, and if the child of God is not careful, he/she will be pulled down by it. Therefore there is the challenge for the believer to stay godly in an ungodly world, and I believe the key to that is something called integrity.

One of the things that was so valued among westerners was a man’s word. So much so that there is an interesting story about a man named Andrew Garcia. Part of the unspoken code among the settlers of the American West was that a man always kept his word. That explains why Andrew Garcia made a 1,300-mile trek in 1879 to pay a debt. In September of the previous year he had bought supplies in Bozeman, Montana, to hunt buffalo. The 10 pack-mules, ammunition, food, and gear cost him $300 more than he had, so a merchant loaned him the rest. He promised to pay it back by January 1.

The winter snows came early that year, however, and Garcia couldn’t get back to Bozeman. His travels took him through Colorado and down into New Mexico. Finally, a year later, he headed back to Bozeman. "Don’t bother," his buddies told him. But Garcia believed in keeping his word, so he returned and paid the debt. Andrew Garcia was known in the west as a man of integrity.

What exactly is integrity? The old Webster’s dictionary defined it as “Purity; genuine, unadulterated, unimpaired state; as the integrity of language.” Someone else said that integrity is being real. In other words, you are what you are, where ever you are. You’re righteous not only on Sunday morning in church, but on your job, at the store, filing tax returns, the real you is clearly seen. If there is one thing that we are facing a shortage of in our world today, and even in our churches, it is integrity. Noted editor and author Brux Austin, the editor of Texas Business magazine, has written rather despairingly: "What is going on in North America?. . .We have no built-in beliefs, no ethical boundaries. `Cheat on your taxes, just don’t get caught. Cheat on your wife, just don’t get AIDS.’ Our high-tech society," he writes, "has given us everything - everything but a conscience," & integrity is a mangled casualty of our times.” Remember that integrity is being real, or genuine. Are you real? Are you the same at work on Monday morning as you are in church on Sunday morning? That’s integrity.

I believe that God wants to speak to His people from the book of Daniel on this subject of integrity. If ever there was a dark period of history, it had to be in the time of Daniel. The people of God were taken captive by an ungodly, pagan nation, their temple destroyed and their priesthood held hostage. It looked very much as if God was defeated by Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon. The book of Daniel opens with Nebuchadnezzar carrying away captive the people of Jerusalem. One of the orders that he gives is that a search be made among the youth of Israel, and the brightest and most intelligent of the captive youth be set aside. These youths were to be indoctrinated in the arts and sciences of Babylon, they were cut off from their families, their church, and they would be fed a steady diet of Babylon’s humanistic teachings. Nebuchadnezzar wanted all traces of their past lives cut off to make it easier for them to adopt Babylonian culture, so even their diet was to be changed. They were to be fed from off of the king’s table. Nebuchadnezzar understood the importance of the battle of the mind and it must always begin with the youth. Hitler understood this and used it well. Before he gained control of Germany, he began a youth program to indoctrinate the youth of Germany through his “Nazi Youth Corps” and they helped in paving the way for his rise to power. The Communists had used this as well. However, no one understands it as well as the devil, for he knows that to capture a generation, you must begin with the youth. It is not a coincidence that youth today are unruly with a lack of disrespect, and skeptical of God. Satan is working.

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