Explore The Bible Study: Integrity Established

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What situations place pressure on you to compromise your faith in Christ? While we may find our situations difficult, they are nothing like what many are facing around the world today. Yet, no matter how great or small the situation may be, all professing Christians must deal with how to live with integrity when tempted to compromise one's faith in Christ. The Explore the Bible Study: Integrity Established, will focus upon this challenge as it begins a new study of the Book of Daniel.

Imagine being ripped out of your homeland, separated from your parents, and taken to a foreign country. This is what happened to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (the last three better known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego). These young teenagers were ripped from their homes, family, and culture and taken to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar. This is how the book of Daniel begins. 

Daniel, his friends, and others were taken into captivity because they were considered some of the “best” of Judah. They became a part of the king’s training program that involved three years of intensive instruction. During this period, they were to be taught what foods to eat and wine to drink based on the Babylonian culture. They were educated in vast knowledge and wisdom that the Babylonians had acquired and were taught the cultural ways of the Babylonians. All of this was for the purpose of grooming them for royal service unto the king.

Daniel and his friends faced challenges, similar to what we face today, from a culture that was diametrically opposed to their faith in God. The prospect of serving in the king’s court was both an opportunity and an obstacle. While they were safe and comfortable, there was always an element of danger, thus lending itself to the temptation to compromise one’s belief in God in order to survive. But Daniel and his friends recognized God had strategically placed them where God could and should be honored among the elite of the Babylonian empire.

As you begin this examination of the book of Daniel, consider this question, “How can I remain faithful to God when I’m influenced or expected to compromise my faith because of the culture around me?” You will learn three things in this study that help answer that question.

First, you must determine in advance how you will respond when asked to compromise - Daniel 1:8-10.

The word determined literally means “he set his heart” or “he set it upon his heart.” This expression indicates a careful, thoughtful decision. Daniel’s decision was not an arbitrary one but one that involved careful consideration in advance as the passage indicates. The word translated defile designates Daniel’s concern to maintain the dietary laws Leviticus prescribed (see Leviticus 11). Pork and horse meat were among the unclean foods the Babylonians ate. Other acceptable meat might not have the blood drained properly (Leviticus 17:13-14) or could have been dedicated to an idol before it was eaten. Eating the king’s food would result in Daniel compromising his religious convictions. Additionally, to drink the wine the king drank could communicate to others Daniel’s unconditional acceptance of the king’s entire political and moral agenda.

Why didn’t Daniel respond differently to his situation? Why didn’t he protest or stage a “sit-in,” go on a “hunger strike,” or lead a revolt? What if Daniel had demanded his way instead of humbly asking for permission? What can you learn from the way Daniel initially handled this situation?

 Daniel sought permission from Ashpenaz, the king’s chief eunuch, not to defile himself.  God’s word tells us that God had already granted Daniel favor in the official’s sight because of his lifestyle. He and Daniel may have become friendly toward one another, but the king’s officer still bore responsibility to Nebuchadnezzar to provide the king well-fed youth trainees. Daniel and his friends might not be happy about the situation if they had to comply, but Ashpenaz risked the possibility of losing his life if Nebuchadnezzar became displeased.

Some today might think this is not that big of a deal; "Just eat the food and drink the wine so you can survive." What could happen if Daniel compromised on this one thing? Read 1 Peter 2:11-17 – How does this passage help you understand the importance of remaining faithful in the face of compromise?

One might think that all would go well since Daniel responded as he did, but it obviously didn’t. Therefore, God gave Daniel another solution to offer to Ashpenaz – a “plan B.”

Next, you need a “plan B” when people don’t respond positively to your commitment to remain faithful – Daniel 1:11-16.

Daniel suggested an ingenious solution to Ashpenaz’s dilemma. He asked permission for himself and his three friends to eat only vegetables and water for ten days, after which the official could judge their appearance against the appearance of the other trainees.

Daniel’s “Plan B” accomplished two things. First, he and his friends did not compromise their faith. Second, they were a witness to those who were observing them.What are some actions we could take to determine a “plan B” in advance?

Finally, God will open additional opportunities for you to proclaim His greatness and the gospel if you don’t compromise – Daniel 1:17-21.

Through their required secular studies and their continuing walk with the Lord, God gave these Judean exiles knowledge so they could better understand the culture in which they now lived. They did this without compromising their faith. Additionally, God blessed Daniel with the ability to understand visions and dreams of every kind, which foreshadows his ministry throughout the rest of the book. 

Daniel and his friends had no control over the forces and events that resulted in their being uprooted and removed to Babylon, but they did have some control over how they would choose to live their faith. They did not withdraw from the Babylonian culture but rather lived with spiritual discernment amid the culture, using their God-given gifts and abilities to serve with integrity so they could exalt God in the midst of a pagan culture.

Verse 21 ends with a powerful statement regarding Daniel's Godly witness and influence over a pagan culture. We are reminded that Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus. He began his training in the year 605 BC. Chapters 10–12 record a vision Daniel had in the third year of King Cyrus, which would be about 536 BC. Consequently, we know Daniel’s ministry lasted seventy years.

How difficult would it be to avoid compromise in the following situations? How could you respond based upon this passage?

  1. You are asked to pray at a local event but not use the name of Jesus in your prayer.
  2. You are expected to go to a work meeting held at a local bar or club.
  3. You are on a work trip with your boss, and he wants you to go with him to a club during your free time.
  4. You are told your child has to travel on multiple Sundays if he/she wants to be on a sports team.
  5. You are told to ignore certain financials in order to report a better quarterly earnings report to the board.
  6. You are asked to remove your Bible from your desk at school or work.

What compromising situations do you face? Seek out someone who would pray for you as you face those situations.

In Alistair Begg’s book, Brave by Faith, he offers this challenge based upon his observation of Daniel's life, 

“The crisis will come; the moments will arrive when we are called to go with the flow of our culture rather than obedience to our God in the workplace, or the sports club, or in how we raise our children, or what we say from our pulpits, and so on. Those crises will reveal what is inside us. Don’t assume you’ll stand firm in those moments. Equally, don’t assume you will have to give in. Resolve now. Think through where to draw the lines you will not cross.”

The downloadable teaching helps provide more details for this study, along with some tools you can use in guiding a group Bible study. Be sure to use this as a supplement to your study of the Explore the Bible Study resources provided by LifeWay.

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