PRINCIPLES OF PRESERVATION IN DIFFICULT TIMES
No. 8, RIGHTEOUS LIVING-DANIEL'S EXAMPLE!
How did Daniel escape God's judgment? He was delivered because of his righteousness (Ezekiel 14:12-20). What was the righteousness Daniel exemplified that delivered him from judgment?
1. Daniel purposed in his heart to do righteousness.
Daniel 1:8 says, "Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself..." The heart is the seat of our affections and desires. It governs the center of our being. It is the place where we determine our deepest convictions and from where our character stems. It is the place where God's Spirit dwells. Psalm 51:10 says, "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me."
Daniel's righteousness flowed out of a heart that was purposed to please God in every situation, even in adverse circumstances. The reason why Daniel made righteous decisions was because his heart was steadfastly resolute to do righteousness. Proverbs 4:23 says, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." Our hearts need God more than any other part of our being. It is the heart that needs to be converted. If our heart is right toward God, everything else in our lives will be right.
2. Daniel purposed to keep pure.
Daniel 1:8 says, "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, or with the wine which he drank." How easy it would have been for Daniel to have compromised his convictions about food and wine. To many of his contemporaries his standard would have appeared fanatical, legalistic and illogical. I am sure that others of the captivity were envious of Daniel and his companions for having access to such a bountiful provision from the king's own table. They may have regarded this provision as from the Lord! But Daniel would not be defiled. Defilement meant uncleanness and a guilty conscience. Defilement would have hindered his fellowship with God. Daniel knew that his God was a Holy God and uses clean vessels.
What an impact we would have upon the world if today's church would have the same righteous commitment to purity as Daniel. No wonder God used Daniel mightily to challenge and change the lives of some of the world's most powerful kings. Because of his non-compromising commitment to righteousness and purity, Daniel influenced much of the then known world, as many nations were under the control of Babylon at that time.
2 Timothy 2:21 says, "If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto ever good work."
Pulse and water sounds a boring diet to me! But the alternative diet, though sumptuous, meant defilement because...
a) Daniel did not want to break any dietary laws that would offend God.
b) Daniel understood that the king served heathen idols and a portion of the wine and food was customarily first offered to their gods.
c) Daniel realized that he and his friends were not only the captives of the King of Babylon but they were primarily God's captives and under His discipline. It was not appropriate conduct to break God's laws and compromise His standards. This was not a time to "eat, drink and be merry" but to walk humbly before the Lord. Daniel's diet was a form of fasting and humility. Pulse and water is the food of repentance. John the Baptist ate locusts and wild honey, hardly the food of the careless and worldly, but the food of the prophet preaching repentance.
The pulse and water extremist was favored by God to interpret dreams of kings! Amazing!
3. Daniel refused to take glory to himself.
Daniel 2:30 says, "But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living." The righteousness of humility is a strong doctrine throughout the pages of the Bible. Daniel could have easily allowed himself to get puffed up with pride because God chose him to receive the interpretation of the king's dream. He did not have to confess these words of self-depreciation as they did not concern King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel was careful to speak humbly because He knew God was mercifully using him for His glory-and for his preservation and that of his friends.
4. Daniel promoted others.
Daniel 2:49, "Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon." Daniel used his promotion to promote his righteous friends into influential positions of leadership, thereby increasing the affects of righteousness in the nation and protecting the Jewish captivity in Babylon. True righteousness is not self-seeking. Instead, it seeks to promote godliness, goodness and blessing wherever it finds opportunity.
For the sake of Christ, the Apostle Paul was bound in chains in order to silence his righteous influence of boldly proclaiming the saving grace of Christ. However, not even chains could stop Paul's righteous influence upon the guards, jailers, leaders and kings (Philippians 1:12-13). 2 Timothy 2:9 says, "I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point or chains; but the word of God is not chained."
5. Daniel did not give in to fear.
Daniel's righteousness enabled him to conquer fear. After God gave Daniel the interpretation to the dream, he was horrified for one hour! Daniel realized that sharing such bad news to a proud and sinful king could seriously jeopardize his life. The king was aware of Daniel's plight and encouraged him to not hold back. This made it even more difficult because if he refused to speak he could have been killed-and if he told the interpretation he could have been killed. (Daniel 4:19b).
True righteousness comes from God. It is God-breathed. Because of this Daniel was able to overcome fear and faithfully tell the king the interpretation as well as counsel the king to "break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor." Such bold counsel was dangerous ground coming from a captive, but he put his neck on the line and righteous boldness prevailed. Righteousness is coupled with fearlessness. Proverbs 28:1 says, "The righteous are as bold as a lion."
In the same sense, "perfect love casts our fear" (1 John 4:18). Love is a form of righteousness and perfect love will often take one into very dangerous places in order to reach another sinner for Christ.
In our next message, we will discover five more points about Daniel's righteousness.
Colin is the husband of Nancy Campbell, Editor of Above Rubies www.aboverubies.org
Colin can be contacted at 615 948 5958 for speaking engagements.
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