Summary: It does not take long for Daniel’s faith to be tested in Babylon, that test deals with the area of worldliness, the test to just fit in.
Standing strong in the midst of Worldliness
One the final night of Jesus’ life, Jesus prayed while he walked on the way to the Garden of Gethsemane the words found in John 17. His heart heavy with the events that he knew were coming, He paused to pray for us. Verse 20 makes it clear that Jesus was praying for anyone who would believe on the testimony of Jesus through the teaching of the disciples. What is it that Jesus prays for? What is so important that Jesus lift up his prayer to the Father right before he enter the garden. Listen to his world…
John 17:14-17 - I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Jesus prays that we would not be overtaken by the world influences. This is not the first time Jesus alluded to this important subject. Jesus speaks about the utter uselessness of a candle that is hidden and salt that has become so diluted that it has lost its saltiness.
The Apostle Paul also spoke about this important subject in
Romans 12:1-2 - I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 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.
God knew that there would be a draw for people to confirm to the world instead of follow his law, therefore he has given us his word and godly examples to remind us to stand strong it midst of worldliness. Let’s go back to the story that we started last week with Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
Last week we noted that their entire life was turned upside down when the kingdom of Judah surrendered to the Babylonian empire and these young men were taken captive to serve in the Kings court. These three men received three years of training in the Babylonian culture which was an attempt to re-indoctrinate them to the Babylonian lifestyle. Their names were even changed to Babylonian names as a way to show depth of the re-programming efforts.
But in spite of the Babylonian effort to cause the men to forsake their God and follow whole heartedly after the Babylonian lifestyle, these men stood strong. They could have gone along with the old saying, “when in Babylon, does as the Babylonians do!” They could have said that God has forgotten them and turned their back on God. They could have said, “no one will know if we forsake our upbringing.”
But instead, they chose to believe the sovereignty of God. They chose to stand strong on what they believed. They chose to follow God and walk in faith. But it did not take long for their faith to be tested. And what was the test? It was the test of worldliness? The test of just fitting in!
As we examine this test, I want you to see three things. First, I want you to notice the definition of Worldliness. Second I want you to see how Daniel defeated worldliness. And then I want you to see the benefit of staying true to one’s faith.
Daniel 1:5-8 - And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king. Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abed-nego. But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
But before we go any further, I think we need to define what worldliness is.
The entire three year period of time for Daniel and his friends is a test of faith in the area of worldliness. Daniel and his friend were to forget about their heritage, upbringing and faith and become Babylonians. That was the entire purpose of this period of time. The Babylonians believed that this would help them keep the secure their kingdom. It would also secure future generation because they took the best of the best from the nations they had conquered. Pretty smart, don’t you think. If we can change the thinking of the young generation, then the next generation will be ours. And there is where we see the full extent of the enemies plan.