When you're faced with a moral dilemma, do you stand strong in your beliefs or compromise under pressure? In this message, we learn from Daniel 1 what it looks like to stand firm for your faith.
Welcome, everybody in the room, everybody joining us online. I want to welcome, specifically, Porch Boise, Idaho; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Des Moines; Cincinnati…all of the Porch.Live locations. We are kicking off a brand-new series tonight, On God, looking at lessons from the life and stories contained in the book of Daniel…standing firm in a fallen world. I'm going to read the text we're going to be in tonight. It comes from Daniel, chapter 1. I'm going to read all of the verses we're going to walk through, which is 20 of them, so if you didn't have a quiet time, you're about to get one in right now. Let me start in verse 1.
"During the third year of King Jehoiakim's reign in Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it [invaded]. The Lord gave him victory over King Jehoiakim of Judah and permitted [the king of Babylon] to take some of the sacred objects from the Temple of God. So Nebuchadnezzar took them back to the land of Babylonia and placed them in the treasure-house [temple] of his god. Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, his chief of staff, to bring to the palace some of the young men of Judah's royal family and other noble families…"
So, he brings some of the royalty of the people of Israel. "…who had been brought to Babylon as captives. 'Select only strong, healthy, and good-looking young men,' he said." In other words, the candidates for The Bachelor, if you will. "Make sure they are well versed in every branch of learning, are gifted with knowledge and good judgment, and are suited to serve in the royal palace. Train these young men in the language and literature of Babylon." "I want you to enter into an education program with these royal families or these royal men from Judah."
"The king assigned them a daily ration of food and wine from his own kitchens. They were to be trained for three years, and then they would enter the royal service. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were four of the young men chosen, all from the tribe of Judah. The chief of staff renamed them with these Babylonian names: Daniel was called Belteshazzar. Hananiah was called Shadrach. Mishael was called Meshach. Azariah was called Abednego.
But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods. Now God had given the chief of staff both respect and affection for Daniel. But he responded, 'I am afraid of my lord the king, who has ordered that you eat this food and wine. If you become pale and thin compared to the other youths your age, I am afraid the king will have me beheaded.'
Daniel spoke with the attendant who had been appointed by the chief of staff to look after Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 'Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water,' Daniel said. 'At the end of the ten days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating the king's food. Then make your decision in light of what you see.' The attendant agreed to Daniel's suggestion and tested them for ten days.
At the end of the ten days, Daniel and his three friends looked healthier and better nourished than the young men who had been eating the food assigned by the king. So after that, the attendant fed them only vegetables instead of the food and wine provided for the others. God gave these four young men an unusual aptitude for understanding every aspect of literature and wisdom. And God gave Daniel the special ability to interpret the meanings of visions and dreams.
When the training period [was over, after three years, they were taken] to King Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with [all of the men in the program], and no one impressed him as much as Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. So they entered the royal service. Whenever the king consulted them in any matter requiring wisdom and balanced judgment, he found them ten times more capable than any of the magicians and enchanters in his entire kingdom."
As I said, we're kicking off a look at the book of Daniel, and it's a book that contains what it looks like for the people of God to stand firm for their faith in a world that is fallen. In 2019, in June, because Texas weather is always crazy, we had this storm pop up that was, like, eight minutes long but decimated this area of Dallas. Here's what I mean by that. Here's a video I actually took of the storm happening. It was a Sunday. This is from my house in our living room.
It was, like, an eight-minute-long storm. I'd just gotten home. It was Sunday afternoon. I'd been gone on a retreat with some of our volunteers. I came back in, and I was like, "Honey, I've got the kids. You go shopping or go do what you want. I've got the kids." She goes, and very shortly after, that storm happened. It was so short that I called her, and I was like, "Where are you? Armageddon has happened." She was like, "Oh, what are you talking about?"
She had been in the changing room of one of the mall stores. She was like, "I have no idea what you're even talking about." I was like, "You have to come home." I go outside, and here's what I see in our front yard. Those are the trees on the street my car is parked on. I walk outside, and I look, and then I look down the street, and here's what I see. There were trees everywhere that had just toppled and fallen.
Now, it's very simple. You probably are all aware… How does a tree fall when wind or storm happens, and what keeps a tree from falling? Well, it's about the root system. If the roots are strong enough and deep enough, then when the wind and pressure from the world around it hits, it's not going to fall, but if those roots are not deep, it's going to fall.
Through this book, we're going to look at what it looks like for you and me to have faith that stands firm in a world that is pushing against us. When the storms of life, when pressure from the outside, when pressure from culture around us… How do we be people who stand firm? That's the entire point of the book of Daniel.
It's a message that maybe has never been more relevant, because today, holding to a biblical faith will get you canceled. Speaking about sexuality or God's definition of marriage will get you attacked and called hateful. Being someone who decides to date the way the principles of the Bible inform you to may end the relationship you're in. In other words, it has never been more important for us to know how, in a world that is constantly pushing against the people of God, we can be those who stand firm when the storms and chaos and turmoil of life hit.
So, we're going to look at the story of Daniel. Now, to go into Daniel, we need to set up… There are really four main players and an additional kind of villain, if you will. When I think of Daniel and who he is (we're just going to play along; this is kind of how my mind works when I read the Bible), I think of Zac Efron. He's a young, good-looking guy. He's in the king's palace. So there's Zac.
Then you have the three amigos who are Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. We tried to think of a trio, and this is probably as good as it's going to get. Then you have to go, "Who's Nebuchadnezzar?" As you're going to discover, Nebuchadnezzar is not a great guy. He's the villain of the story, if you will, as we'll see throughout the next weeks. When I think of him, I think of Joaquin Phoenix from Gladiator, the ultimate villain.
So, Nebuchadnezzar shows up. To recap the story we just talked about, he goes and attacks Jerusalem. He runs what's called the Babylonian Empire. Here's all you have to know: the Babylonian Empire at the time this was written, which is about 600 years before Jesus, was the world's only superpower. It would show up, and it would conquer lands. No one could stand against the Babylonian Empire.
Nebuchadnezzar was a brilliant conqueror. He formed a kingdom that was enormous that spread all throughout where the Middle East is, all the way toward Arabia and eastern and Asia. He would show up and conquer a land. Most people, when they would conquer, would just go in and set fire to everything, kill the men, and take the women and children, but Nebuchadnezzar was much more crafty or intelligent.
He would conquer a land, and then he would say, "I want you to round up the top 10 percent in this group. I want the prettiest. I want the smartest. I want the most talented. I want the most gifted young men, and I'm going to bring them with me back to Babylon. I'm going to take all of the people who are the top 10 percent in your society, and they are coming with me. I'm going to retrain them and reeducate them and attempt to transform or conform them to be Babylonians."
That's exactly what he's doing with Daniel and these men. He does so in a really interesting way. You see his strategy for causing someone who's one of the people of God to conform to the world, which Babylon represents, involves, first, isolation. Daniel had grown up his entire life… He had only ever known Jerusalem. He had only ever known Israel. One day, he's ripped away from his family. He'll never see his parents again, never see his siblings again. He's dragged 600 miles to the king's palace. He's isolated.
Then he's indoctrinated. We're told that he's educated. "I want you to teach them the language of the Babylonians. I want you to teach them the literature of the Babylonians. I want you to put them in a program (Babylon University, if you will) where they are going to become and think like Babylonians." Then he gives a new identification. "We're going to isolate them, we are going to indoctrinate them, and then we're going to give a new identification to them. I'm going to take away even their names and give them new Babylonian names."
The name Daniel had means God is my judge, and the name he's given is Baal Protects the King. Hananiah's name means God is gracious, and the name he's given is Under the Command of Aku, the moon god. Mishael means there's no one like God or Yahweh. Meshach means there's no one like Aku. Azariah means God has helped me. Abednego is the name he's given, which means servant of Nabu.
Then, on top of all that, and perhaps most powerfully or convincingly, we're going to get them to submit not through punishment but through gratification. So, isolation, indoctrination, new identification, and then gratification. "We're going to give these men the finest of the finest when it comes to food. They're going to be pampered. They're going to experience the king's private chef. He's going to be the one who's feeding these men, and very quickly, they're going to see, 'Wow! Life in Babylon is amazing. I'm going to be willing to conform to the standards of the Babylonian king.'"
Before we launch in and see how Daniel was able to resist those temptations, what the king does is really how the world still attempts to conform the people of God to itself today. What do I mean? It still works through the same pattern…isolation. One of the ways people end up having the relationship with God and relationship with God's people involves isolation happening in their life. You start dating some guy, and all of a sudden, you're no longer around other believers who are consistently speaking into your life. It's just the two of you.
Then the people you are around… You begin to be reindoctrinated, if you will, and all of a sudden, sex in the context of dating… "It's not that big of a deal. Everybody is doing it." Indoctrination. Then you begin to believe new identifications about what defines you and what your value is in, because the world is constantly saying, "This is what your identification is." Maybe it's your past. Maybe it's a sin struggle in your present. Maybe it's a sexual orientation you wrestle with. "This is what identifies you."
Then gratification. Perhaps Satan's greatest offensive strategy is to get people to pursue pleasure, what feels good. "Do what makes you feel right." In Rome, 500 years later, there was a saying called "Bread and circuses." It's a saying that in Latin was panem et circenses. It basically just meant bread and circuses. What does that mean? The Roman leadership, or the leadership of the country of Rome (basically, those who were in power), said, "The best way for us to secure power and take away the rights of people is we will guarantee them grain and games in exchange for their right to vote."
In other words, "Anybody who says, 'Hey, I will give over my right to elect somebody' can have an unlimited supply or a monthly supply of grain, and you can watch gladiator games anytime you want." They saw that the people, because of their desire for comfort and pleasure, were willing to hand over their freedom, hand over their purpose in exchange. It's the same strategy Satan does today. He's trying to convince you to live a life that just pursues being comfortable, having pleasure, experiencing gratification. That was the offense of the king of Babylon.
Before I dive into Babylon, here's what you need to know. Babylon today is about 50 miles south of Baghdad, which is in Iraq. I don't know about you, but when I think about Baghdad or I think about Iraq, I think about images of just dusty desert and some of the soldiers who were part of the Iraq war. Here's what you need to know about Babylon: Babylon was closer to Miami than it was to whatever you're thinking of just a desert.
It was an incredible city. It was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. You can still see some of the ruins today. This was constructed hundreds of years before Jesus walked the earth. Nebuchadnezzar was a master builder. Here's one of the temples of Babylon. Here's one of the lions of Babylon that Nebuchadnezzar had constructed.
There was a gate called the Ishtar Gate, which is the gate of the gods. It was the primary gate of the city of Babylon. It was beautiful. It was majestic. It was 75 feet tall. So, Daniel walks into this city that is nothing like anything he has ever seen, with all the pressure to conform, and he's going to give us what is required to stand firm for your faith in a fallen world. So, I want to walk back through two things quickly that we see from the example of the life of Daniel.
Daniel was Jewish, and he had grown up being instructed in the law of God. He knew there were certain foods Jewish people were to eat and certain ones they weren't, certain foods that were kosher. There were also foods a king of a foreign country would eat that were sacrificed to foreign idols or foreign gods. God commanded that you were to not eat of any food that had been sacrificed to foreign gods, which is why he says it's unacceptable.
How did Daniel know in the moment to say, "Look. You can give me a new house. You can give me a new salary or job. You can change my name. You can change where I live, but I am not going to let you push me across the line if it violates what the Bible teaches"? Daniel was under the old covenant. Food is not applicable to us anymore. To us it would look differently.
But he knew the Bible, and he knew the instructions of God, and he had made up his mind. "Hey, you can take my name. You can take a lot of things, but I will not do that. When it comes down to it, no matter what it costs me, I am making the decision I will not eat that food. I will not violate the law of God." How did he know it violated the law of God? It's pretty simple. He had to know the law of God.
Daniel had spent time familiarizing himself with the law of God, so he was able to detect, "Hey, I'm okay with this. God doesn't say anything about changing names. That's fine. I won't eat that." He was familiar with the instructions of God, and he decided, "No matter what it costs me, no matter if they kill me, I am taking a stand," which required him to know the Bible, to know the instructions of God, to know what was prohibited and what wasn't.
When you go to the airport, you walk through, basically, security checkpoints and the TSA, and there are certain lists the TSA has. If you haven't been to an airport in a while… Hopefully everybody in here has. You go through a security checkpoint, and if you have something that's on the prohibited list, they will either ask you to remove it or not allow you to continue to pass through.
A couple of years ago, I was traveling with a friend, and he had accidentally brought a pocketknife along with him that they quickly through the security in the x-ray identified. "Hey, this is on the prohibited list, so you have a choice. We're either going to throw it away or you can go put it in your car, but you're actually at risk of a significant fine for even having it in here." Why? Because it's on the list of prohibited things.
Daniel had known the Scriptures enough to know, "Hey, this is on the list of what is prohibited." Part of the decision you're going to have to make if you want to stand firm… I don't just mean today. I mean for the rest of your life. I mean when you're raising children. I mean when you are living with your spouse. I mean just in general in society.
How are you doing at preparing and knowing what God teaches, where you're not making the decision on how far you're going to go sexually when the two of you are lying in the back of her truck bed and looking at the stars at night, wondering, "How far should we go? Where is the line? I haven't really wondered this before." You know beforehand, "Hey, we're not sleeping together."
"I made the decision. I know beforehand, based on what the Bible teaches about being honest even if it costs me, that when I find myself in a position where my director or my boss or my direct report is asking me to do something that is not true or is cheating or is fraud… If I don't get the promotion, it's not worth me compromising, because I'm not called to conform to the world of Babylon or the world of Dallas or the world of America. I'm called to conform to the Scriptures."
For that to happen, you have to know and be prepared by studying and deciding "What is God's Word?" You decide, "Hey, I'm not going to compromise when it comes to whether I'm going to be part of a church." This happens so often. Young adults, many in this room… I'm not trying to pick on you. I'm saying it's going on.
You make the decision of "You know what? Eventually, when I get to the point in my career where things slow down a little bit… I just don't have that much time. God says I'm supposed to be connected to a local church, but I have a lot going on right now, and I'm still trying to feel it out." You've made the decision, "No. When I move to that city, whether or not I feel like I've had enough runway, God commands that I be connected to a local church, so I'm not going to compromise and convince myself it's not that big of a deal or it's not really that important. No. I am making the decision. I'm going to get connected."
"When somebody asks me to participate, and I'm in the medical field…" Maybe you're in some sort of field where you're being asked to violate standards of what God says is where life begins, and you have to make the decision beforehand, "I'm not just hearing it from the preacher on stage. I know exactly in the Bible where it teaches life begins in the womb at conception. So, if I'm being asked to violate that, I'm being asked to violate God, and I am not standing for it."
Maybe you're a teacher, and you're being asked to hide something from parents or to teach something you don't believe; in fact, that contradicts the Bible. The way you stand firm is by knowing, "Hey, if I am asked to do that and I know what the Scripture teaches, I would rather forfeit my job than compromise on my faith." This is where Daniel was. He was deciding, "I'm going to take a stand even if it costs me."
Do you know what he got to see because he was willing to do that, and do you know what anybody who's willing to do that gets to see? What happened in verse 9, where it says, "Now God…" Daniel made the decision before he knew God was going to show up. Most of us want to know God is going to show up, and then we'll make the decision. Daniel said, "I'm making the decision regardless of if he shows up."
Because he did that, he got to see that now God is causing favor on his behalf. I wonder how much of life I have missed seeing, how much of God showing up you have missed seeing because of an unwillingness to stand. Daniel, despite all of the reasons he could have convinced himself, "It's not that big of a deal. I'm 600 miles from home. The king is asking me to eat the food," says, "I will not compromise on my faith." What you have to know is that the current of culture is eventually going to push against you.
My kids… Every summer we go to Hilton Anatole hotel, which is a hotel here in Dallas. It basically has a water park. My kids love it. For a few days, we'll go there, and we'll basically hang out and go through the lazy river. What's a lazy river? In case you've never been to a water park (the same people who have never been to an airport), a lazy river is basically a stream that goes around in a circle and kind of takes some turns, and it's water that is pushing in one direction.
In order for you to move in the direction of the current of a lazy river, you don't have to do anything other than lift your legs. You lean on the tube, you lift your legs, it's going to push you. Whether or not you want to go with the direction it is pushing, if you don't have your feet on the ground, it is going to push you, but if you will stand up and stand firm, you can move against the current.
Daniel knew, "I'm going to have to make the decision. If I don't proactively decide I am going to stand for what God says in his Word, which means I have to know it, which means I have to sit down and say, 'I will not cross over these things…'" "If I'm asked to cross a line and violate my conscience at a happy hour, at a strip club, in my work environment, I am leaving. There's not a paycheck big enough in the world for a seared conscience." Daniel had made that decision, but without standing up, you'll just be pushed along with the current of culture.
They'd made the decision, and then they acted out and decided to eat differently. Your translation may have that they were fatter than the other men, which, to me, just says God is all over this, because this is the only time in the world somebody eats vegetables and water and gains weight, but at that time it was a positive thing, because they wanted people to have weight on. That would be a sign that they were being well cared for in the society.
Daniel makes a decision. "I'm not going to eat that, and I will eat this." In other words, "I'm going to do something different. As a reflection of my faith and to not violate God's Word, I am going to live differently and eat differently than the rest of these other men." He models the second portion of standing firm. It doesn't just require preparation and knowing when the moment comes. It requires application.
He decides, "I'm going to eat differently than these other men," as well as Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. "We're going to live differently." They lived out their faith, and they put it into action. This is true today. If you want to make a difference in the world, you have to live differently than the world. If you want to make a difference for Jesus in your life, you have to live differently because of Jesus through your life.
They took that faith and put it into action. "I'm going to live differently." For us, it's not eating differently, but it is living differently, dating differently, serving differently, giving differently, out of an application of our faith. Do you know what's interesting? Faith that's not applied doesn't make a difference. I'm not saying you're not going to heaven. I'm saying it doesn't make any difference on how you live, and it doesn't make a difference in the world around us.
Faith is like paint. That's kind of a weird segue, but what I mean by that… This is a can of spray paint. It's black spray paint. Inside of the can it's really making no difference. The only way that paint makes any difference is whenever it's applied. In other words, paint that has not had an application is not fulfilling its purpose, and it makes no difference. Faith that is not applied makes no difference.
It's one thing to say, "I believe God's way as it relates to how I'm supposed to date, how I'm supposed to give, how I'm supposed to live, how I'm supposed to serve, how I'm supposed to use my time, how I'm supposed to not gossip. I believe all of those things." But when you don't apply it, it makes no difference. Daniel and these guys knew, "If I'm going to make a difference in the world, it means I need to live differently than the world."
For them, that looked like eating. For you, it looks like dating differently. "I'm going to make the decision I'm not going to date like the world dates." How many of us in the room…? If the world was to compare your dating relationships with some random person who has no faith in God at all, would they see the difference in how you treated the other person you were dating, how you pursued purity together with that person, or would they just say, "They must believe the same thing"?
You can believe all of the things in the world, but just like a paint can that never sprays on, someone who believes things about love, sex, dating, and marriage who doesn't actually apply it makes no difference. Some of us, when it comes to dating differently from the world… You have been so conditioned and brainwashed by Babylon that when a godly guy treats you in an honoring way, it's almost distasteful to you.
You've been so conditioned by the world on how to think about love and dating, you like the game. You don't want a guy who actually texts you back when he says, "I will text you or call you" or actually honors you, which is why you ghost people and why you feel like, "Oh man. I can't text her back too soon, because then she's going to think I'm desperate over here." You've bought the lie, and you have been brainwashed by Babylon. You may not believe me, but that is the truth.
Even the fact that you're somewhat resistant… "I'm uncomfortable, and this is kind of bizarre. He didn't actually try to put his hands up my clothes." It is bizarre to you, because Babylon's brainwashing worked. If you're in that place, God loves you. He wants to continue to transform your mind, not conform you to the world around you, Romans 12 says. It starts with you acknowledging, "There is something where I have conformed to the way society tells me to think." For you to take a step of application, it takes a step of identification and identifying.
Another way we're called to be different is to work differently, which we do see an example of Daniel and these other three men modeling out. Daniel, we're told in verse 19, was the best of the best workers the king had. Christians are called to be excellent in the work environment.
You are called… If your boss were to come up here and talk onstage about you, they would say, "He or she is one of the hardest workers we have. They show up early. They're polite. They don't participate in office gossip. They seem to bring steadiness to rooms they walk into. They work really hard. They're humble. Entitled generation? They're not a part of it. They're not the selfish generation, the self-obsessed generation." You're to stand out in the way you work.
Colossians, chapter 3, says Christians… Paul writing 500 years later would say, "Whatever you do, you are to work at it with all of your heart, as you're working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as your reward for how you work. It is Christ the Lord you are serving." You should stand out in the workplace. You should be excellent in the workplace.
Christians do so not by believing they should but letting that belief drive their behavior. Maybe the most God-honoring thing some of you guys can do is go to your boss and ask for forgiveness because today you spent three hours on Facebook, social media, and blogs. The strongest witness you may have tomorrow is by saying, "That's not who I want to be" and owning it.
Daniel models we're to look different from the world. Do you know what's going to happen when you begin to do this, when you begin to live differently for your faith? I just want to prepare you. You're going to be misunderstood. Your old friends are going to come around you and be like, "Oh man. You're, uh… Wow. Sorry I said that cussword. I know you're big on God now and the whole religious thing. Let me put out my cigarette here real quick. I'm sorry; I didn't want to do that in front of you." You're going to be like, "Bro, chill. Why are you being so weird?"
You're going to be misunderstood, and you're going to come across like you're judging people when you don't want to. You're probably doing it right, because when you stand firm for your faith, you're going to be misunderstood. You're going to come across in a way that, hopefully, is loving and caring and not trying to be misunderstood, but people are going to see you holding to the values that God says and God has, holding to what he says about the definition of male and female, and they're going to attack you for it.
You're going to have family members who think, "Oh, you're just so different and so weird now." You have to know it's coming. Jesus said, "When the world hates you or when people oppose you, when people push against you, you should know they did it with me." If you blend in with the world, if that's not happening, you should be concerned that maybe the brainwashing of Babylon is happening.
These men lived out and modeled and were a light in the darkness of the city of Babylon. They did what Jesus 500 years later on a hillside would look in the eyes of a crowd like this and say, "As the people of God, you are the salt of the earth." Salt to us is kind of a weird thing, where it's a flavor. "What do you mean by that?" Salt in Jesus' day was for preservation. In other words, there were no refrigerators. In order to preserve meat, you would put salt on it, and it would extend the life of that meat.
He's saying your presence in Deloitte's offices, your presence in the school district you're a part of, you living in apartment 301 in Uptown, you being a part of that police force or part of that organization or part of that nonprofit or in that hospital… You being there is like it's slowing down the decay of what would happen without you there. You are a part of the preserver of the world.
You don't think it's a big deal, and you don't think anybody cares, and you don't think anybody notices. No, no, no. Jesus would say salt always makes a difference. By you speaking like a follower of Jesus, loving like a follower of Jesus, being kind like a follower of Jesus, modeling dating well like a follower of Jesus, you are making an eternal difference, and the world decays faster without you.
Then he says something really brilliant that also we see in Daniel and these men who just shine brightly. He says, "You are the light of the world. You take away my people, those who live according to my instructions, and the world gets darker. People don't light a lamp and put it under a bowl." No, no, no. Nobody does that. Nobody is like, "Oh, let me turn on a candle and cover it up." In the same way, God doesn't put a light in a random place. They place it very intentionally so that it gives light to everyone in the house.
"In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." Translation: God doesn't put lights in random places. You are in an environment right now… There are some of you who are going to wake up tomorrow, and you're going to go to a mission field that's one of the least reached mission opportunities in the world.
It's not that you're going to get on a plane and go to Venezuela or get on a plane and go to Africa. It's that you're going to go to the ninth floor of a building, and you're going to have clearance to get in there, and you're going to report to different men and women of corporate American positions that most of the room will never have an opportunity to model a light for.
Some of you are going to go to classrooms, and you're going to teach kids of all kinds of ethnic backgrounds. You're going to look them in the eyes, and you're going to treat them differently than other teachers, because you are the salt of the earth. Salt always makes a difference when it stands firm. In conclusion, the way we stand firm is by preparation beforehand and then by application in the moment.
Daniel, as we're going to see over and over, models this idea of standing firm. The Bible tells us the ultimate example of standing firm in the face of when it costs you, in the face of when people attack you for it, was not Daniel; it was Jesus. Peter would write 500 years later. He writes to men and women who were being attacked for their faith, attacked for their beliefs in Christ. He says, "Remember your example." This is 1 Peter, chapter 2.
"If you suffer for good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving an example, that you would follow in his footsteps. 'He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.' When they hurled insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. 'He himself bore our sins' in his body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live for righteousness; 'by his wounds you have been healed.'"
Peter says you follow in the footsteps of your Savior who, in the face of a world that misunderstood him, that attacked him and called him insulting names for what he had done, stood and eventually was crucified for you, for me, and for anyone who would accept and believe in him. This is what the gospel and this is what Christianity teaches. The only way we stand firm at any point is by first accepting that we are unwilling and unable to stand before a perfect God who came in the form of Jesus and gave his life on a cross for you and died for everything in your past, everything in your present, and everything in your future.
Anyone who accepts him as payment for their sin…"You died for me, God. You lived. You were crucified, and you came back alive, and I believe that. I believe I'll have eternal life, not because of how good I am or how steadfast I am at work or how nice I am, but because of what you have done for me"…has eternal life and the means by which they can have the Spirit of God strengthen their ability to, in this life, stand firm in a fallen world. That God was the God of Daniel, and he's the God we worship, and he's the God who gave his life for you, for me, and for all who would receive him. Let me pray.
Father, I thank you for the men and women in this room who have accepted that free gift and have allowed the truths and the conviction from your Spirit to continue to move them in the direction of living in accordance with your Word and your way. I pray that you would give them favor. I pray that tomorrow at work men and women would honor you in the way they speak, interact, work hard, work humbly.
I pray that dating relationships would not be conformed to the pattern of this world but would be transformed by the renewing of your mind and they would showcase to a watching world there is something different. Would you strengthen us, God? There is so much attack, so much persecution, so much noise in the world around us that is trying to get Christians to not be courageous, trying to get Christians to compromise, trying to get Christians to not look like Christ. Would you help us, God? We worship you now in song, amen.