A Christian in a Non-Christian World - Part 4
the reason – God gave them an unequaled wisdom. The word “wisdom” is a derivative of a Hebrew word that means, “to act wisely, to prudence in secular affairs, skills in the arts, moral sensitivity, and experience in the ways of the Lord.” This wisdom is not found in man’s speculations. God alone must provide this wisdom for man’s guidance with the expectation that those who know Him will exhibit His character in the many practical areas of life. This wisdom, unequaled by the merely humanly educated, is the perfect blend of the revealed will of a Holy God with practical human experience in life issues. It is based upon revealed principles of right and wrong to be lived out in daily life with practical application. This “wisdom of understanding” (verse 20), is given not only to make one humanly wise but also to lead one to fear the Lord for this is the beginning of all wisdom (Job 28:28). True wisdom involves knowing the Holy God, the God of biblical revelation not the god of human imagination. Thus, we are to listen to the wisdom of God with attentive ears (Prov. 2:2). Inner happiness only comes when one attains this wisdom (Prov.3: 13) but it does require a strenuous search and effort, which in reality is a search for God Himself (Prov. 2:4-5). Skeptics will never find this wisdom and will never know the full meaning of life (Prov. 14:6). The wisdom God is pleased to give us is unequaled in this world and is designed to give us the practical understanding of how to respond in such a manner that will influence the world around us. The essence of Godly wisdom is that before we begin to act at all, or attempt to please God, we should discover what God has to say about the matter. Those whose lives are daily being conformed to the Word and purposes of God will be given the ability to see issues more clearly. As we see in Daniel’s later life, that certainly was the case (verse 17 later illustrated by numerous examples). Finally, the wisdom that God gives is defined in a very practical manner as trusting God and the avoidance of sin (Job 28:28).
A Christian in a Non-Christian World
Daniel 1 – Part 4
Introduction: In our last message in our study of Daniel’s life in an un-godly environment, I concluded by saying that consequences and usefulness are nothing to us and that duty and right are to be our guides when making decisions. Of course we are concerned about consequences but the point I want to make is that God is the one who produces the results and we need to be motivated by our desire to be more holy and not make decisions based upon what we want to accomplish. We may propose something but God disposes everything. God is sovereign. God’s cause is never in danger; what He has begun in a soul or in the world He will see it to completion. I want us to explore the consequences of a separated life, the consequences of living out our calling in a hostile environment as evidenced by the consequences in Daniel’s life.
The Consequences of a Separated Life: An Unashamed Boldness (v.8-20). Notice, as a result of his having an uncompromising spirit and an unhindered sanctification Daniel possessed an unashamed boldness (v.8). He didn’t “hem or hah around” but told the King’s chief official that the King’s food would defile him. Daniel knew the commands from Leviticus 11 where God gave strict prohibitions on what a Jew could eat or drink. They were forbidden to eat food offered to idols, an activity performed before the food was given to the King. Daniel was not afraid to speak the truth of a commitment to the Lord’s word. Just think how many times we give a non-spiritual answer or reason for a spiritual issue. A barometer of whether or not we have an uncompromising life is whether or not we have an unashamed boldness to take a stand on God’s word. To be a Christian in an un-Christian world may mean that we will not be politically correct but biblically correct. Some believers can be totally obnoxious when “taking a stand” for their faith. Daniel, however, was respectful, and sensitive. He did not demand, but “asked permission.” He recognized the validity of the official’s concern that allowing Daniel to change his diet might put the official himself in jeopardy. We can “put God first” and still show due respect for and sensitivity to those around us. Let’s not assume that all non-Christians are enemies. There really are “good pagans” around us. When we show respect, God may very well cause our officials “to show favor and sympathy to” us too and that is what we see next.
An Unearthly Protection (v.9): Daniel purposed in his heart in verse 8 and God acted in verse 9. God even worked in the life of the heathen official. Daniel had an unearthly protection, the second consequence of a holy life. People of the world have some degree of respect for a person of conviction, even though they may not agree with the conviction. But we have something more going on here; we see God in His powerful sovereignty producing compassion on the part of the commander of the officials for Daniel and his friends. God even uses non-believers for His intended purposes to bring glory to Himself. If you and I live an uncompromising life, we will have an unearthly protection. This willingness of Ashpenaz, the commander of the officials, was the effect of divine grace.
We normally compromise so we won’t get into trouble; but in reality when we don’t compromise God will be our protection in the midst of trouble. When we compromise His standards we forfeit that unearthly protection and we then are on our own having to defend ourselves. Then, one compromise leads to another and another and another, and finally when we do tell the truth or be the truth, people will realize we have been a phony all along. Some of you may say, “I’ll lose my job or he or she won’t want to date me anymore; I’ll be alone.” My question to you would be, “whom do you want on your side, your boss, your heart throb, or God?” There isn’t a boss in the world that can let you go until God allows it (Psalm 106:46 and Prov.16: 7). If you want to get somewhere in God’s Kingdom, you don’t have to compromise to get there - let God put you there.
An Uncommon Standard (v.12): When we possess an unashamed boldness coupled with an unearthly protection, we, like Daniel, set an uncommon standard (verse 12). He not only said no to the food but also took a stand for total abstinence of any of the food, not just the meat and wine. Wine was a very common drink in those days, probably diluted much more than our wine today. Daniel said no to any wine, not just the King’s wine that would have been the very best in the land. He made it a matter of choice to live for God at a higher standard because it is probable that he knew the repercussions of Proverbs 31:4-5, referring to the implications of drunkenness.
Yes, there are consequences to what we do but the consequences that are most pleasing to our Father are the ones brought about by our not compromising His truth, trusting Him for the results, and resting in His providential care. But there is more, as we continue the study of Daniel’s life. Not only do we see an unashamed boldness, an unearthly protection and an uncommon standard but also an unequaled wisdom and an unusual impact.
An Unequaled wisdom (v.17-20). As we have seen so far, there are unique consequences to living a separated life, of being a detectable disciple. Not only do we acquire an unashamed boldness, an unearthly protection and an uncommon standard but also we will possess an unequaled wisdom and generate an unusual impact.
We are told in verse 17, that God did something very unique. “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.” And in verse 20, when compared to the other supposedly learned, Daniel and his 3 companions were found to be “ten times” wiser. But notice
Conclusion: The final consequence of living a separated life – an unusual impact – will be covered in the next message of this series. Because of its unique significance in world history and the implications for us as believers, I believe it deserves its own explanation. Until then, May God give us His grace to be more like Daniel.