“Daniel was determined not to defile himself ….”
Daniel 1:8a (NLT)
Staying pure in an impure world isn’t easy. In fact, it’s countercultural! You will have to stand alone. It feels like swimming against the tide and the pressure to conform can be overwhelming at times. Daniel must have felt that way. As difficult as it is for Christ followers today, I can’t begin to imagine how Daniel must have felt. Consider his situation before you give in to the pressure you’re facing. He was taken away from his home as a youth by a pagan King whose armies literally destroyed his home and his country. He was exiled to a foreign country with an idolatrous state religion. He was educated in a pagan culture, required to learn a new language and given a pagan name. His Hebrew name, Daniel, meant “God is my judge”. In order to assimilate him into Babylonian culture, his name was changed to “Belteshazzar, meaning “Bel, protect his life!” Bel, also called Marduk, was the chief Babylonian god. On top of all this, his new assignment was to serve the very King that had destroyed everyone and everything he had ever known growing up. Despite all that was against him, Daniel knew that God was for him. As a result, Daniel made a proactive decision. Knowing that he couldn’t change or control his environment or his circumstances the Bible tells us that “Daniel determined not to defile himself.” Daniel 1:8a (NLT) Daniel was determined to be devoted to God and be committed to God’s ways no matter what. When Daniel made up his mind as to what his convictions would be, he was being true to a lifelong determination to do what was right and not to give in to the pressures around him. As we face the pressures to compromise God’s standards in our lives and live more like the world around us we can learn from what Daniel did that kept him pure in an impure world. Merely desiring God’s best isn’t enough. It’s easy to give lip service, but good intentions will not be enough to stand against the onslaught of temptation. Like Daniel, we must resolve to obey God. It’s easier to resist temptation if you have thought through your convictions before the temptation comes. A plan for purity protects you from being burned in the heat of passion. You’ll either live by your plans or your glands. What are the non-negotiables in your life? Your life will either be shaped by the world or by the Word of God. The Psalmist put it like this, “How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word.” Psalms 119:9 (NLT) Resolve to obey God’s Word. It will keep you pure in an impure world.