The Convictions We Live By
Charles F. Stanley
Scripture: Daniel 1:1-8
I. Introduction: Convictions guide our decisions and determine our character. In order to live a godly life, we must have strong biblical values. With a firm foundation based on God's Word, we're ready to face whatever challenges come our way.
II. The Bible is full of stories about believers who had uncompromising convictions.
- They courageously obeyed God's will for their lives.
- Noah needed strong faith to build a boat despite the ridicule of his neighbors.
- Regardless of beatings, persecutions, and imprisonment, Paul didn't compromise his convictions.
- When the authorities told Peter and John to stop preaching about Jesus, they replied, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:19-20).
- As Christians, we should base our decisions on personal convictions––strong beliefs founded upon the truth of God's Word. Unfortunately, most people make decisions according to their preferences and desires.
III. Daniel faced unusually challenging circumstances in a foreign land.
- Jerusalem, the capital of Judah, fell to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and Daniel was taken captive (Jer. 25:9-12). Along with other attractive, intelligent young men, he was selected to train for service to the king. As part of the process to assimilate the captives into Babylonian culture, the king gave them new names and invited them to eat from his table.
- Daniel and his friends chose to live by their convictions, although they were far from their homeland. The king's food had not been prepared according to Jewish dietary laws and may have been offered to idols (Deut. 34:12-16).The young men's overseer permitted them to eat only vegetables.
IV. What was Daniel like? He was a man of:
- Principle: "Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king's choice food" (Dan. 1:8). He determined to obey the Lord no matter what happened.
- Courage: For declining the king's food, Daniel and his friends could have lost their lives.
- Faith: When Daniel asked for permission to eat only vegetables, he told the supervisor that their diet would make them healthier than their peers.
- Humility: The young man respectfully asked his leader for permission to try eating only vegetables. His modest attitude won the favor of the official.
V. Daniel and his friends faced consequences because of their determination to live by godly convictions.
- When Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah entered the king's service, Nebuchadnezzar found them ten times better than his other men (Dan. 1:19-21).
- By his excellent service, Daniel distinguished himself from the other administrators (Dan. 6:1-3).
- God granted him a long life. Daniel worked and ministered in a foreign land for at least 70 years, through the reigns of four kings: Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar of Babylon, Darius of the Chaldeans, and Cyrus of Persia.
- Daniel courageously prophesied to Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar (Dan. 4:19-27; Dan. 5:1-31).
- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego boldly refused to bow down to the golden image of Nebuchadnezzar, despite the threat of being thrown into a blazing furnace (Dan. 3:16-18).
- Daniel continued to pray to the Lord after prayer was outlawed, and he spent a night in the lions' den as a consequence (Dan. 6:1-20).
VI. What can we expect when we live by our convictions?
- God's protection: The Lord covered these godly young men in each situation they faced.
- Pain and testing:Those who want to live according to their convictions will be tested. When you are falsely accused and mistreated, stick to your biblical standards. The history of Christianity is filled with men and women who refused to deny their faith, even to the point of death.
- Promotion: As we saw in the lives of Daniel and his three friends, the Lord will honor and promote those who hold firmly to godly beliefs.
- The Lord's work in the lives of others: The kings under whom Daniel served all acknowledged the one true God. People today want to see if your life is consistent with your convictions. In every situation, make it your goal to live by biblical standards.
VII. Conclusion:As believers in an increasingly secular culture, we need to learn from Daniel's determination. You and I should base our convictions on the Word of God instead of allowing society to set our values and priorities. Like Daniel, we should purpose not to defile ourselves with ungodly choices and behavior. Ask the Lord to grant you the desire and courage to live by your convictions.