Purpose In Your Heart
Scripture: Daniel 1:1-21
Sermon preached at Gospel Light Christian Church, Singapore
on 16 January 2000
Introduction: Daniel is one of the greatest men that ever lived. He is described as a "man greatly beloved' of God (DAN 10: 11, 19). He served as "prime minister" of both the Babylonian and Persian Empires under four kings (Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius, Cyrus). Today's passage records one of the greatest stories of godliness, courage and manhood. Daniel's decision not to defile himself (v.8) was the turning-point in his life. Few people realize how important a "little" decision may be, and how important it is to have a good start in life. A good beginning usually produces a good ending because "whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap" (GAL 6:7). The popular belief that it is all right to make foolish decisions in youth, is a very dangerous one.
The outstanding characteristic of Daniel was that when he was faced with the tempting offer of preparing for the elite Babylonian civil service, he had already "purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself' (v.8). Daniel knew that it was vital to have a clear purpose in his heart, so that when he was tempted he would know exactly what to do. Christians do not choose to sin but "drift" into sin, or fall into sin. Therefore, the danger is not that they will deliberately choose to sin but that they do not deliberately determine not to sin. So when the excitement of temptation comes or peer-pressure comes they do not have the strength to resist temptation. Failure to have a "purposed" heart is the great failure of Christians. In nature, all things faithfully obey the laws of nature and work harmoniously together. But sinful men disobey God's laws and suffer greatly.
Temptations: Everybody faces temptations, and Christians even more so. There are different types of temptations (eg. blatant temptations) but Daniel faced more subtle (and dangerous ones)
a) Honour - Daniel, the poor exiled slave, was offered an opportunity to become a great man. Even if he had to disobey God in the process, he could have justified accepting the offer on the grounds that he could be a blessing to his people when he became a great man. God condemns those who say "Let us do evil, that good may come" (ROM 3:8). It is extremely difficult to overcome a temptation that offers "honour," eg. better education, prestigious job.
b) Comfort - Daniel, who ate slave's food, was offered the king's food. He knew that God had forbidden the Jews to eat certain animals, animals that were not slaughtered according to certain laws, and food that was offered to idols. Daniel probably did not fully understand the purpose of these laws. Furthermore, his Jewish brethren had probably already broken these food laws by convincing themselves that these were "unimportant" laws. It is extremely difficult to overcome temptations that are pleasing to the flesh, that are "minor," and that most other Christians are already accepting. Because of these reasons, most Christians readily accept a little lateness in coming to church, laziness in studying God's Word, and worldliness in the church.
c) No choice - Daniel could easily has disobeyed God by pretending that he did not have a choice. Even if he was really forced to obey, he knew that he "ought to obey God rather than men" (ACT 5:29).
Victory: Though we cannot be free from temptations, we can prepare to face them. Daniel conquered his temptations by:
a) Purposing his heart - Daniel knew the importance of obeying God's laws, so he hid God's Word in his heart (PSA 119: 11). Because he depended on God's law to be his guide rather than circumstances, he was not a victim of circumstances but a victor of circumstances. He was not overly concerned with his lowly status, the power and anger of his boss, his friends' opinions, nor the outcome of the ten-day trial period (v. 12). The Babylonians tried to change Daniel's religion by changing his name to one which incorporated the name of a Babylonian god (v.7) but Daniel had already purposed in his heart to obey his God (v.8).
b) Denying himself - Daniel knew that he had to deny himself to have victory over temptations because obedience demands sacrifice. The offer of sumptuous food and a prestigious job had to be denied.
c) Trusting God - Daniel believed that God would honour his obedience. He proved his faith by putting his case to a severe test of a meager diet of pulse and water and a short period of only ten days (v. 12).
d) Winning his enemies - Daniel had won favour with his boss (v.9) probably through his good character and nice ways (see v. 12). We must learn to stand firm on God's Word without being harsh and unkind. We must "speak the truth in love" (EPH 4:15). We should yield our preferences but not our principles.
Blessings: Daniel received unimaginable blessings for purposing to obey God:
(a) Peace, joy and health - Accepting God's law as truth produces peace and joy, which produces a 'fairer" appearance (v. 15). Obedient Christians are the happiest and healthiest people in the world.
(b) Wisdom - God "gave knowledge, skill and understanding.... wisdom ... ten times better" (vs. 17, 20).
(c) Success and prosperity - Four kings trusted him because he was a man of principle.
(d) Holiness - He could live a godly, separated life because he unashamedly declared his allegiance to God.
Conclusion: And Daniel continued (v.2 1)…and continued faithful. Dare to have a purpose firm!
More Sermon Outlines And Notes
Our Matchless Savior - Mark 4:35:41
Ready For Heaven But Needed On Earth - Philippians 2:23-26
The Privilege Of Prayer - Psalms 55:16-17
Those Noble Bereans - Acts 17:1-14
Wicked _ Psalm 10:4
Don't Even Think Of Parking Here - Proverbs 5:1-13