The book of Daniel has much to teach us about how to bear up under unjust circumstances, and how to conduct ourselves with faith and holiness even when we are surrounded by temptations and persecutions.
One thing that becomes very clear while reading this book is that Daniel and his friends are very intentional about remaining true to their God. Rather than dabbling in the sins of the Babylonians or making concessions here and there to water down their faith, they are decisive and stand their ground in every situation.
Consider for instance what we read about Daniel in chapter 1 verse, verse 8: “Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank.” Other translations say that he “resolved,” “determined,” or “purposed in his heart” not to defile himself. All of these phrases are intended to convey intentionality. He drew a line in the sand that he was determined not to cross, come what may. This explains why Daniel insisted on this course of action even when his superiors tried to dissuade him.
Consider also when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are standing before the king in the third chapter of this book. They have enraged the king by refusing to bow down to the golden idol that he has made, and so in verse 15, king Nebuchadnezzar decides to give them another chance to bow down and worship the idol:
“Now if you are ready, at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery and bagpipe and all kinds of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, very well. But if you do not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?”
It certainly would be tempting to bow down to a pagan idol today, in order to prolong my life so that I could serve the LORD again tomorrow. Do these three friends consider the king’s offer? Maybe it is best to keep peace with the king by simply bowing down just this once…
Instead, they respond: “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
These godly men did not even need to answer the king because they had already taken their stand and they would not be moved. You may have heard the phrase, “we do not negotiate with terrorists.” This is essentially what these men tell the king. “We do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter.” Save your breath. Our minds have been made up.
What if we took this attitude and applied it to the temptations in our life? There are times when we are tempted to sin, and we resist… but a part of us still considers the sin, turning it over in our mind to make sure we really want to give it up. It is as if the devil is telling us, “I am going to give you another opportunity to bow down to the golden idol. Think it over.”
May we all have the resolve to respond like Hananiah, Mishael and Azaria, “there is no need for further consideration. I have chosen to serve the LORD, and that is final.”
James 4:7 says “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” There is much that a powerful king can take away from you, but he cannot take away your freedom to choose how you will respond. Will you give an ultimatum to the sin in your life? Take your stand in faithfulness and holiness.