Daniel 1:8-16 - Taking a Stand for God

Dr. Steve Viars February 6, 1999 Daniel 1:8-16

- Last Sunday was the culmination of any football players dream.
- to make it to the Super Bowl, and play before the largest TV audience of the year.
- One of those players was the safety for the Atlanta Falcons, a gentleman named Eugene Robinson.

- Mr. Robinson has not only had a great career in the NFL, he has also been outspoken his faith in Christ.
- Many times he has taken a stand for God and has earned the respect of his teammates for being willing to do so.
- Last Saturday morning, a Christian group named Athletes in Action gave Eugene Robinson the Starr award, named after football great Bart Starr and presented to the athlete who especially exemplifies high moral standards in the sport.

- later on Saturday, he and his wife and their son were spending time together around the pool at the hotel where the team was staying.
- It looked like it was going to be the perfect weekend for this football great.

- But later that evening, Eugene Robinson was arrested by the Miami police for soliciting a prostitute.
- The safety for the Atlanta Falcons spent the night before the Super Bowl in jail....and the rest is history.

- now we don't believe in kicking a Christian brother when he is down....and that’s certainly not why I raise this story this morning.
- the point is that Eugene Robinson faced a critical decision in his life, and he didn’t take the right stand.
- he gave in to the temptation and fell down under the weight instead of standing up under it.

- please compare that to the message of I Corinthians 10:13....
- There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man, but God is faithful, who will not permit you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but will, with the temptation, also make a way of escape [if you’ll take it], so that you [as the NAS translates it], so you may stand up under it.

- friend, I’d like to ask you a question this morning....Did you have any opportunities this week to take a stand for God?
- I don't mean drawing inappropriate attention to your self....
- I certainly don't mean grandstanding...or being needlessly abrasive or offensive....

- but taking a stand for God in the sense of seizing the opportunities God gives us to prove our love and devotion to Him....to prove or fidelity to Him.

- I believe that God gives us such opportunities all the time...to take a stand ....to stand up for what’s right....to do what’s right.....to prove our faith....

- to prove that we’re his disciples - John 15:8
- to prove the good and acceptable and perfect will of God - Rom. 12:2
- to prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach - Phil. 2:15
- to prove yourselves doers of the word and not hearers only - James 1:22
- to prove yourselves zealous for what is good - I Peter 3:13.
- taking a stand for God.

- did you have opportunities this week to do that?.....we all did.....how’d you do?

- the good news is -- I Cor. 10:13 is still true ---- you can stand up under it.
- this morning we’d like to look at the life of a young man....probably a teenager....who was faced with a terrible trial.....
- no parental accountability....great pressure to compromise.....the desire by those around him to literally make a Babylonian out of him.....
- but God enabled this young man to know how to take a stand.
- please open your Bible this morning to Daniel chapter 1 verse 8.

- we’re studying this book this year verse by verse and chapter by chapter.
- we’ve learned that the book begins in the year 605 BC when God allows King Nebuchanezzar from Babylon to come to Israel and besiege the city of Jerusalem.
- Nebuchanezzar took a group of the choice young people, along with some choice articles from the Jewish temple, and carted them back with him to Babylon.
- one of those taken was a teenage young man named Daniel.
- so he been forcibly removed from his home....
- he was being schooled in Babylonian ways and customs.....
- his name was changed to one that honored a Babylonian god....
- and he was offered food and wine from the kings table.

- in chapter 1 verse 8, Daniel takes a stand.
- read 1:8-13

- I’d like to propose to you this morning that in these verses we can find three principles to help us take a stand for God.

I. Make Up Your Mind Ahead of Time.

- a key phrase in this passage occurs in the early part of verse 8 --- “But Daniel made up his mind”
- the King James Version translates the phrase, “Daniel purposed in his heart.”
- the NIV says, Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself.
- If you are going to be the kind of person who seizes the opportunities God gives you to prove your love and devotion to Him....then you are going to have to decide in your heart ahead of time to do so.
- Daniel’s victory in this story did not begin when he opened his mouth, it began when he opened his heart.

- now, the emphasis in the original text is what Daniel set, placed, put in his heart.
- even the word order in Hebrew makes this emphasis....literally the verse could be translated, “Placed Daniel his heart....”
- the issue here is what Daniel chose to put in his heart.
- that principle has significant application to the growth process, or the sanctification process, or the biblical counseling process,,,,
- the ideas you place in your heart are going to have a significant impact on your behavior.

- and the reason that is important is because that’s so different than what many in our world would say.
- many want to take the position that my behavior is determined by my environment, what the people around me do.
- so I’m a passive agent, that brings a neutral heart to the equation, or in most cases a positive heart to the equation....and the problems I face are because others around me have treated me badly......My love cup hasn’t been filled up, my inner child hasn’t been properly stroked......my problem is the people around me.

- Those who seek to think biblically about life would say, No....its not so much what others do to me....but its the condition of the heart that I bring to the table.
- I’m not a passive victim, I’m an active moral agent....and what I have chosen to place in my heart is what’s going to make the difference between taking a right stand for God or not.

- let me use an illustration I gave to our Wednesday evening Intro to Faith Class...
- let’s say that a husband comes home to his wife and two pre-school age children.
- and he’s had a hard day...and he just wants some peace and quiet....
- and he just wants to enjoy a nice dinner....and sit in his perfectly cleaned home....and just relax in his castle.

- and he walks in the door and the house is a wreck, and the kids are screaming, and dinner hasn’t been started....
- now, what’s the most important thing in this equation?
- crying babies, messy house, late dinner.....

- no, the most important thing in this equation is what this man has decided in his heart concerning his place in that home.
- because if he has placed in his heart that his home is supposed to be his castle, where his needs reign supreme, and where everyone else exists to serve him, and his wife doesn’t do anything all day anyway so that house better be perfectly cleaned, and that 7 course dinner better be ready on time and on and on.....
- that kind of man is going to walk in this house and explode, or walk in this house and pout.....or behave in some other sinful way....
- but the bottom line is he’ll miss an opportunity to take a stand for God because he did not put the right things in his mind before he ever walked in that door.

- conversely, if that man says, I’m not going home from work, I’m going home to work.....the job my wife does in the house is important, and difficult, and if everything’s not quite ready I’ll have an opportunity to be like Christ....so Lord whatever I find on the other side of this door, I’m making up my mind to serve you and show my love for you by my response....
- that kind of person, who makes up his mind ahead of time, is well positioned to take a stand for God.

- now, please think back to that situation I asked you about a moment ago....when you had an opportunity to take a stand for God this week.
- were you like Daniel?
- did you make up your mind ahead of time to please God?
- did you purpose in your heart that you would not defile yourself with sinful living?

- in other words, what did you put in your heart?....what kind of a heart did you bring to the equation?

- now, let’s tie that back into the growth process, the sanctification process, or the biblical counseling process of trying to help someone else grow.
- how does this fit together.

- hold on tight --- there’s an important point to be made here.
- the folks who are here for this conference are here to study nouthetic counseling.
- we get that term from a Greek word group that is used many times in the NT.
- nouthetic --- it comes from a compound word.....
- nous - mind ------ tithami - place/put
- nouthetic counseling seeks to help others place or put biblical truth in the mind.

- its not simply behavioral modification ---- its an attempt to help others change from the inside out.
- you might say, what’s that have to do with Daniel?
- here’s where you really have to hold on tight.

- the book of Daniel was written in Hebrew and Aramaic.
- but just before the time of Christ, a group of people translated the OT into Greek.
- Alexander the Great had conquered much of the known world, spreading the Greek language to the places he conquered.....so because so many people spoke Greek, the OT was translated into Greek....we call that book the Septuagint.

- the reason its so important is because we can learn how the people just prior to Christ interpreted the OT.
- in Daniel 1:8 --- this key verse we’ve been studying ---- this word “purposed” in his heart, or “resolved in his heart”.......is that same word tithami......
- what Daniel was doing in Daniel 1:8 is exactly what NT believers in Jesus Christ need to do if we want to grow....and its exactly what God wants us to do if we have the privilege of helping someone else grow.....
- a critical piece of the equation is ---- what are you placing in your heart?
- what decisions are you making in your mind?

- its like when Job said --- I have made a covenant with my eyes, I will not look upon a maid.
- its like when Joshua said --- As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.....

- and I’m not suggesting that making decisions is the end of the process, but I am suggesting that it is a very important point in the process.....
- the willingness to purpose in your heart.....to decide with the help of God, this is what you’re going to do, and this is what you’re not going to do.....
- this is what you’re going to be, and this is what you’re not going to be....
- this is what you’re to want, and this is what you’re not going to want....
- this is what you’re going to say, and this is what you’re not going to say....
- this is where you’re going to go, and this is where you’re not going to go....

- and the question before the house this morning is....are you making up your mind?
- are you purposing in your heart?
- are you putting the kind of ideas in there that position you to take a stand for God?

- friend, let me ask you this....why did God want you to hear what we’ve just said?
1) I believe that there are some who need to hear that because you need to make up your mind about trusting Jesus Christ.
- you’ve been hearing about that for some time but you’ve not repented of your sin and trusted Christ as Savior and Lord.....friend, its time to make up your mind.
- its time to purpose in your heart.....
- its impossible to live like Daniel until you have established a personal relationship with God through trusting in the shed blood of Christ.

2) Others need to make up their minds about the use of their tongue....
- where, at least in certain situations under certain circumstances around certain people....
- the words that are spoken are displeasing to God.....
- and you may need to say, with Daniel this morning, I am purposing in my heart that I am not going to continue those kinds of habits....
- I’m planning now to change....
- I’ll get others to help me if necessary....
- but I’m making up my mind that things are going to be different....

- others need to take such a stand regarding telling the truth regardless of the cost....
- others need to do that regarding stealing....
- some need to do that regarding wrong forms of entertainment....
- others need to take a stand about they way they will express their sexuality....

- but I believe that God would be greatly pleased for a number of us in different ways for different reasons saying this morning with Daniel....I am purposing within my heart that I am going to take a stand for God in this particular area of life.

- the second principle that flows out of this text is....

II. Know How and When to Take a Stand.

- its very important to note that there were certain things that the Babylonians tried to do to Daniel that he allowed, and certain things he didn’t.
- in other words, he didn’t take a stand on everything.

- you may be hearing what we’re talking about this morning and would say, PV, I know some people who call themselves Christians where I work....and they’re taking a stand for everything.....
- they’ve got opinions on everything and they’re fussing about things constantly.....
- they’re very negative and critical....is that what we mean here?

- no, Daniel didn’t take a stand on everything.
1) They deported him to a foreign nation....no sign of resistance.
2) They changed his name to one that would have been very offensive to him.....no resistance.
3) They made him attend their schools....no resistance.

- but then they offered him their food ---- and he asked permission to not have to eat it.
- now why was that?
- what was unique about the food that was not true of the other facets of this trial?
- what’s the answer?

- the food was a biblical issue.
- eating this food would have been a violation of OT dietary laws, and it had probably been offered to their pagan gods.....

- so on both counts, Daniel had a biblical reason not to participate....so what determined when Daniel took a stand and when he didn’t was whether or not he was in danger of violating the Word of God.

- this principle helps us identify two clear extremes in this matter.
1) Some people who call themselves Christians will not stand up for anything.
- they are so ruled by the fear of man that they are hiding their light under a bushel basket and hoping desperately that no one finds out they’re a Christian.....
- they are ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ....
- and had they lived during Daniel’s day they would have justified eating the food because of the unique circumstances....

2) Some believers, on the other hand....take positions on everything....they’ve got an opinion on every subject [which isn’t necessarily bad] until they baptize those opinions with the authority of Biblical truth.....
- and they take a stand on practically every issue that comes up at work....
- they take a stand on every issue that comes up in the community or the country.....
- do you know anybody like that -- every issue is a drop dead issue.

- somewhere in the middle of that is Daniel....
- change his location --- he might not like it, but he’ll let it go.....
- change his name --- he might not like it, but he’ll let it go....
- change his school ---- won’t like it, but he’ll let it go.....

- its only when there is a clear violation of the Word of God that Daniel stands up for what he believes.

- Daniel was able to be Daniel because of his love for and obedience to God’s Word.
- now, there’s an obvious contrast going on in this text on this particular point.
- who’s the other Jewish man who was mentioned earlier in the chapter?

- Jehoiakim ---- and what was his relationship to the Word of God?
- he was the one who took Jeremiah’s scroll...and because he didn’t like God’s message, cut it up and threw it in the fire.

- so you’ve got the king of Judah on the one hand, despising and rejecting God’s Word, and this young teenager Daniel, loving and obeying God’s Word....and at the risk of his popularity, and his future, and his career, and his own life.....was willing to stand up for God’s Word.

- you know, much of what is going on in our country today, falls along these same lines.
- My friend David Henderson who pastors at Covenant Presbyterian wrote an article in the paper two weeks ago about the dividing line in our culture.
- Quoting from James Davison Hunter, the author of the book Culture Wars, Pastor Henderson rightly pointed out that what divides us as a culture is not so much our views on abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, or capital punishment.....
- the real issue is our view of truth.....
- whether absolute, final truth is revealed to human beings through an outside source....
- or whether human beings have the ability to find fresh truth within themselves to apply to contemporary life.

- two days later, this letter was written to the editor of the paper ---- READ

- now listen, I respect the right of this gentleman to hold his view....[I hope his god is going to be able to get him to heaven], but I respect his right to hold his view.....
- but let me say strongly, if you have a similar view of truth, forget about being like Daniel.

- because every time you’re called on to take a stand that might cost you something, you will find a reason to compromise....you will find a reason to give in....you’ll find a reason to back down.
- Daniels become Daniels because of their allegiance to the Word of God.

- by the way, this has huge implications to counseling.
- frankly, most approaches to Christian counseling today are based on a view of truth that is more like this writer and less like this teenager named Daniel.

- there has been a gross lack of fidelity to the Word of God in the Christian counseling movement which has led to all sorts of error.
- man in his pride believes that he can find truth that is superior to that of the Scriptures.
- so counseling becomes whatever is the latest fad of the day.....like the Athenians in Acts 17 who spent their time in other other than telling or hearing some new thing.

- so one day we’re trying to tweak everyone’s self-image....
- the next day we’re trying to cure toxic codependency....
- then we’re trying to heal one another’s memories....
- then we’re trying to soothe our wounded inner child....
- then we’re trying to cast out our demons.....
- then we’re trying to find the right combination of drugs.....

- and its exactly what the apostle Paul predicted the end times would be like when he said men and women would be ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

- Jesus said --- Sanctify them through thy truth, thy Word is truth...and Daniel was able to be Daniel because he was willing to take a stand for the truth.

- we said not only did he know when to take a stand but he knew how to take a stand.
- did you see that emphasis flow out of the text?

- he asked permission to not have to eat the food.....he addressed this commander with the word “please”.
- taking a stand doesn’t mean being arrogant....it doesn’t mean being proud....it doesn’t mean being condescending.
- that’s why Paul said in Col. 4:6 - Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
- in our dealings with those who don't know the Lord....when we have to take a stand.....let it be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so we may know how to answer everyone.

- you know, some of us treat those who don’t know the Lord like Little Bunny Fufu....
- do you remember that children’s song --- little bunny fufu, hoping through the forest, picking up the field mice, and bobbing them on the heads.

- Daniel knew when, and Daniel knew how, to take a stand.
- most of us, could take a lesson from him there.

- a third principle we see in this text is....

III. Believe That God Will Bless Your Efforts.

- Daniel went into this situation believing God....trusting in God.
- and I’m not saying that Daniel knew that if he proposed this experiment, that God would have to bless their only eating the vegetables.
- Daniel’s faith was in the fact that if he obeyed the Scriptures, God would take care of him.
- how, he didn’t know.
- when, and where?....he didn’t know.
- but Daniel left all of that up to God.

- Trust in the Lord with all your heart........

- someone might say --- PV, if I do what you’re talking about doing.....if I take a stand for God in my situation.....I’m not sure how it would turn out.......

- listen, what’s the name of this church?

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and four grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video