The world has always tried to get the Church to adopt its culture. It wants us to give up or back down from what we believe so we can fit in better. It wants us to accept what it says over what God says. It wants us to question, “Did God really mean it that way?” Satan tried it in the Garden of Eden. He asked Eve, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” He then challenged what God said and got her to believe the lie. Since the beginning, we have been tempted to wonder if what God said is really what he meant.
I’m always saddened to see how many believers fall for this temptation. It doesn’t matter what the sin is, the world would have us question what God calls sin in exchange for acceptance in its culture. It appeals to our deep seated human need to feel accepted, but it challenges our spiritual need to be set apart. In Romans 12:2, Paul challenges us as believers by saying, “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. (MSG)” God has never asked His people to fit in.
Daniel faced the same thing in the Old Testament. Israel had been overtaken by the Babylonians and King Nebuchadnezzar ordered the head of his palace staff to find the best and brightest prospects for leadership. In Daniel 1:4 he said, “Indoctrinate them in the Babylonian language and the lore of magic and fortune telling.” He wanted to take Israel’s future leaders and indoctrinate them so he could change the culture that God had given them. Of all the young men he did this to, we only know of four who refused to accept the Babylonian culture.
Verse 8 says, “But Daniel determined that he would not defile himself.” He refused to fit into the culture that was being forced on him because he understood God’s Word superseded culture. He knew God’s Word does not change with the times or the culture. He and his three friends stood firm in their beliefs. Because of that, he was thrown into a den of lions and the other three were thrown into a fiery furnace. God rewarded their faith by keeping them alive in those situations in an effort to proclaim that He rewards those who do not bow to social pressures.
Every day you and I are forced with the same choice as they were. We can choose to bow to the will of the world or we can choose to stand for God’s Word. We can believe the lie that God didn’t really mean what He said all those years ago or we can trust that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We have been called to be set apart, not to fit in. We have been given the responsibility to be light in a dark world. We cannot change what God said in order to fit in. When we do, our light goes out and we fit into the darkness without thinking. We must shine our lights and lead the world to the cross where salvation lies. We cannot give in.