What’s Your Level of Commitment?

September 14, 2018 at 12:14 PM 2 comments

Previously, we highlighted a bit of Daniel’s life after he and many others were forcibly removed from Jerusalem, the only home they’d known, to become residents in a new city, under a foreign empire, living among strange people who spoke a different language. We noted how Daniel remained faithful to God in spite of the temptation to simply fall in line and do what was told. We saw how Daniel, though wanting to honor God, did not become rude or demanding where his captives were concerned. Because of that, God honored Daniel and blessed him as well.

Daniel passed the test related to the food/wine he was offered from King Nebuchadnezzar’s own banquet table. Because of this, God elevated Daniel to a very high post inside the Babylonian Empire. It is very clear from reading successive chapters that Daniel continued to rely on and act in a faithful way toward God. Because of it, Daniel was still alive and very important when the Medes-Persians conquered Babylon because of Belshazzar’s arrogance and blasphemy toward God.

I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating. Daniel was a human being just like us. He likely sinned from time to time but there is no record in Scripture of Daniel sinning at all. We should not conclude though that Daniel was somehow sinless. That’s impossible even though there are some today who argue that Christians can come to a point of sinlessness in this life. This is foolish because we will continue to have our sin natures with us until after we exit this life and the Lord removes our sin nature permanently.

However, that said, because we continue to have the sin nature, we should not use that as an excuse to sin and we cited numerous sections of Scripture in our previous post from Romans and Galatians. We are warned not to use our freedom in Christ as a reason to live an actively sinful life now. Actively sinning is different from occasionally making a sinful mistake. While both are absolutely reprehensible and need to be condemned, clearly, the person who accidentally (without thinking), sins is different from the person who lives to sin. Sadly, there are those who profess to know Jesus who live like those who are united with this world.

There must be a difference between the lost of this world and authentic Christians. It might not be easy to see in some, but there should be a difference nonetheless. We all come to Jesus with tremendous baggage (sin) that needs to be dealt with and the remainder of our lives once we receive salvation is to learn to live a life that befits our high calling in Christ. We are to eschew any number of things that the writers of the New Testament outline for us in their letters to churches and individuals. We are also to embrace other things that these same authors encourage us to do.

Living the Christians life is not easy because of our sin nature that is constantly attempting to pull us away from God to focus on Self. That is the war that constantly rages within us. Daniel certainly had this inner battle as well, but in spite of fear and trepidation created by situations, he pushed himself to be and remain faithful to Jehovah. He essentially took life seriously. He wanted to please God in all things. Is that you? Is that me?

It is unfortunately, easy to become very legalistic about this so that we focus far more on rules and regulations than on living a life of godly love; love to God that highlights itself in our lives by the way we live toward others.

For instance, if you’re never telling anyone about their need for Jesus, then sadly, it means you love yourself more than you love others. We’ve ALL been there, haven’t we? There have been times in my life when I knew I should have said something but didn’t. Why? Embarrassment. How would I look to that person? Would they make fun of me? Would they pigeon-hole me as one of those religious “zealots”?

This may have been Daniel’s concern as well, but ultimately, it did not keep him from politely requesting another option instead of having to eat the king’s food and drink his wine. We see the same type of thing in Daniel’s friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. For Daniel, being faithful to God meant being used by Him to a far greater extent. He was used to not only interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream but was actually told what that dream was so that Nebuchadnezzar would understand that Daniel’s God was far greater than any god the Babylonian king worshiped. Let’s not forget too, that God had a tremendous purpose in using Daniel. That purpose was to share the visions that God provided as they relate to the end times/last days; the days in which we are now living.

Let’s take a look at Daniel’s friends as well. They also faced a huge test which directly affected their lives. Daniel 3 highlights the problem. Nebuchadnezzar had a huge image constructed and when music was played everyone was to stop what they were doing and worship the image. You can see how this would be a problem for orthodox Jews. In fact, imagine if this situation occurred in the world today and affected the United States. What would you do? It appears that this is exactly what will occur in the second portion of the coming Tribulation (Revelation 13).

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were caught up in a trap (like Daniel was in Daniel 6; the lion’s den). Jealous men worked to contrive a situation by ratting out Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These “tattlers” were in line to benefit if Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were removed from the picture as they were over them in authority. They noticed that the three men ignored the king’s order to bow and worship the image when music was played so they reported this to Nebuchadnezzar.

Nebuchadnezzar, for all of his tyranny, seemed to be a fair man. The three men were called before him and given the chance right in front of him to worship the image when music was played. If they did, no worries. Their lives would be spared. If they refused, they would be thrown into the fiery furnace. They refused in front of the king. I appreciate what they told him.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18 ESV)

Now that takes guts and it also takes an actual commitment to God to do what is right so that a decision does not even really need to be thought out. It was automatic. The correct path was clear and they walked in it. It may appear that they were being rude at first, but they weren’t. They were citing a much higher authority than Nebuchadnezzar; God Himself. Because of their love and devotion to God, they could worship nothing else. They were prepared to die for their commitment to God. Certainly to Nebuchadnezzar this was a huge act of insurrection and disobedience for which he would make these three men pay, with their lives, or so he thought. He was in for a very surprising awakening and one that eventually benefited him later.

Are you that committed to God? Am I? Look, there are so many things in the world that attempt to pull us away from God; way too many things to count! Sometimes, an unbeliever will be used to tempt you into doing what they do because they want to see what you’re commitment to God really stems from. If you cave in, they will determine you’re just like them in spite of the words of your testimony. Sure, they may warm up to you but it’ll be because they will conclude you’re just like them. Are you? Am I?

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were not willing to submit to the king’s demand to worship a false image. He probably created this image based on the dream he had where his kingdom – Babylon – was represented by the head of gold (Daniel 2).

Had the three men gone along with the king’s program, it would’ve meant betraying God Himself; committing spiritual adultery. The men would not even consider it. They would rather face death. We know the outcome. They were thrown into the fiery furnace and it was so hot that the soldiers delivering them to the furnace were killed because of the flames and heat.

However, not only were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego not harmed from the flames/heat, but they didn’t even smell of smoke and they were accompanied by “another”; a fourth individual who appeared to be godlike. The three men knew that if they died it was because God willed it. If they lived, it was because God willed it. Either way, God was in charge of their lives, not fear, not Satan, and certainly not King Nebuchadnezzar.

Ultimately, I believe God used the situations with Daniel, then his friends to open Nebuchadnezzar’s eyes to who God is and how great as well. Ultimately, God humbled Nebuchadnezzar and I believe we will see him when we get to heaven. There are only two reasons God does anything like this. First, so that people can be in a position to receive salvation, and second, because these things glorify God mightily.

All of us, as Christians, experience times of temptation, when either the enemy of our souls or our own sin nature works to move us away from God and our commitment to Him. This is the sad fact about remaining here in this life after we become saved.

Paul perfectly encapsulates this concept in Romans 7:24-25.

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (ESV)

As you can imagine there are all sorts of views on what Paul really means here. Some actually believe that Paul had come to a point of sinless perfection in this life and from that point onward until his death, he lived free of sin. For those who believe this, it appears they have failed to understand the entirety of the book of Romans. Others believe that Paul was describing life before Jesus with life after gaining salvation through Jesus.

For me, it makes much more sense if we understand that Paul is speaking of his actual human experience in Christ. The temptations come yearning desperately to pull us off the path so that we begin to cave into and worship Self. Who saves us from that? Only Jesus. Is it once for all? No, it is constant. We are tempted. We must submit ourselves to Him so that His Holy Spirit living within us will grant us the ability to overcome the temptation so that we will not sin. Folks, this is the situation or should be every time we are faced with any and all temptation.

Paul is saying that the temptations come and they seek our destruction. A battle ensues, but the battle is between wills; the will of Self vs the will of God. Christians are to be actively involved in “resisting” the devil and as we do that, God wins that battle in and through us. When we resist the devil, he flees (James 4:7). How do we resist him? By turning our backs to him and submitting ourselves in that moment to God in Christ! We either do one or the other. You cannot submit to God while at the same time, give into temptation. Sinning happens because it either overtakes us without warning (still our fault), or we do not “resist” hard enough by actively submitting ourselves to God for His strength to not give into the temptation.

This is Christianity, practically speaking, where the rubber meets the road. I’ve yet to meet any Christian who lives it perfectly, yet like Paul, we are to “…press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” Philippians 3:14 KJV).

It can become a habit with work. I am once again learning how to play the piano. It’s frustrating because when I was in 5th grade I played songs easily that I cannot play today. We didn’t have a piano at home though I practiced daily at school. When we moved, there went piano. Now, 35 or so years later I am again taking up the piano. The struggle is unreal. My fingers will not do what I see on the printed page. There has been progress certainly and my piano teacher is very gifted and very patient. If I could practice more I would be further along. It is a slow process of coordinating my fingers, memorizing the keyboard layout, becoming familiar with chords, etc. Eventually, I hope to be able to play much more difficult pieces without struggling because the groundwork will have been seriously laid.

It should get easier the longer we are Christians and the more we actively practice our commitment to the Lord every time we are faced with some form of temptation. If it is not getting easier, if you do not see progress, then you are likely doing something wrong. It is not God. It is you (or me).

Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and Daniel had spent the first part of their lives living for God. By the time they got to Babylon, it was firmly embedded in their thinking and outlook. They could no more set aside their obedience to God than they would drink muddy, putrid water. There was no question about their direction. They were all in for God regardless of the cost.

Are you? Am I? May God provide us the desire to serve Him and awaken our hearts to this high calling. We are the only testimony the world gets to see.

Psalm 55:22
Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.

Psalm 62:8
Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts before Him. God is our refuge. Selah

Proverbs 3:5
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;

Entry filed under: Atheism and religion, christianity, Cultural Marxism, Demonic, Emotional virtue, eternity, israel, Judaism, Political Correctness, Politically Correct, Politics, Religious - Christian - Prophecy. Tags: , , , .

It’s Too Easy to Compromise Isn’t It? Daniel Chapter 11, Part 1

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. rutnerh  |  September 14, 2018 at 1:17 PM

    Well said Brother Fred,
    “Actively sinning is different from occasionally making a sinful mistake. While both are absolutely reprehensible and need to be condemned, clearly, the person who accidentally (without thinking), sins is different from the person who lives to sin. Sadly, there are those who profess to know Jesus who live like those who are united with this world.” Amen!
    Jesus’ shedding of His blood on the cross forgave the sins of humanity, past, present and future…but only to the “few”, in His words, who sincerely accept His offer of salvation as Lord and Savior …..not merely as Savior without His Lordship in our lives, evident as unchanged lifestyles. The indwelling Holy Spirit will convict true believers of any sins in our lives (as He did with the murderous King David) that need to be repented to restore our fellowship with Jesus, not temporary loss of our salvation.

    Reply
    • 2. modres  |  September 14, 2018 at 1:29 PM

      Amen thanks!👍🏼

      Reply

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