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February 21, 2021 1:00 am
In America, Christians are rapidly becoming like Daniel and his friends in Babylon: out of sync with their pagan environment. How do we reconcile what we believe with what we have to do to live in our culture? What should we do when facing conflicts of conscience?Click here to listen (Duration 54:30)
In America, Christians are rapidly becoming like Daniel and his friends in Babylon out of sync with their pagan environment, how do we reconcile what we believe with what we have to do to live in such a culture today.
The answers please stay with us from Chicago. We welcome you to The Moody Church. Our weekly service of worship and teaching under the ministry of Dr. Erwin lutes on this broadcast. We continue a 10 part series on the church in Babylon unleashing the power of a spirit filled witness later, Erwin lutes, or takes us to Daniel chapter 1 or look at conflicts of conscience below Goss Symphony Orchestra and choir come now to open our service and invite you to follow along with me in your Bibles and bulletins. As I read from second Timothy chapter 1 verses 18 through 14, shortly before his death while he was a prisoner in Rome. The apostle Paul wrote this last letter to Timothy expressing his unwavering confidence in the truth of the gospel. This is God's holy word.
Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began in, which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher which is why I suffer as I do, but I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am convinced that he is able to guard until that day. What has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us guard the good deposit entrusted to you. Amen.
Today's topic is conflicts of conscience. We've all experienced it. I'm sure there are several sources where these conflicts come from. First of all, they may come from the state they may come from laws that are enacted.
For example, here's a question. Should an organization run on Christian principles have to buy into a national healthcare program whereby if they do that that some of the money that they will be spending will go to abortion whether or not it is through drugs or the procedure. When the conviction of those who believe the Bible is that life begins at conception is that a violation of religious conscience.
Or I think for example of the Lane photography over there in in New Mexico and that she and her studio refused to take pictures and a same-sex wedding and as many of you know they ran afoul of the law and all of those things that happened the fines that were levied etc. in the laws that have been an act that it's a conflict of conscience that sometimes comes to us because of society and because of society's laws, and then at times there are conflicts of conscience because of where we find ourselves in the work. I wish I had time to talk to many of you are in the professional world. I'm sure that you have conflicts of conscience on a regular basis. Sometimes you may be asked to participate in something that you know right well is dishonest. How do you handle a conflict of conscience and then we can speak personally can't wait just in the last couple of weeks, I received an email and a letter from two mothers separate mothers. One was asking whether or not she should go to the wedding of her son who is marrying a woman who is part of a cult and that this woman's father has a great emphasis and authority in this cult second was from a same-sex wedding or the family was going through the agony she said my daughter is marrying her same-sex partner and part of my family thinks that we should go because if not, we lose our relationship with the couple as she said but I don't feel as if I should a conflict of conscience will that's our topic today and you know when you think of the society at large and by the way, I hope that in this message. I don't scare up more rabbits than I'm able to shoot because these things. These things can get very complicated but I believe were going to be helped on our journey. There are three different ways that we can respond to the culture when it becomes pagan. One way is of course to oppose the culture continually to stand against everything that we see happening and often times to do so with anger and we can become angry evangelicals. Angry because our freedoms are being taken away. Angry because of this angry because of that, and so we are opposed to culture. There's another way that we can respond and that is to assimilate simply go with the stream and not have an argument about it and say that somebody has to live.
We all have to live in so the culture is pushing us in one direction and then love would dictate we go along with the culture because after all were to love everybody and to oppose anything seems to be bad business.
There is 1/3 view. The third view is to take into account culture to go along with culture, not in anger but as far as you possibly can and then draw the line and say this far, but no further. And so you draw the line but you go into the culture you take as much of the culture with you.
As you can because you want to minister to the culture but at the same time you do have convictions and you know where that line is drawn. The passage of Scripture that I have before me and I hope it's before you as well is Daniel chapter 1 Daniel chapter 1. Now let's get the context and I hope that you are here for the message. Last time because last time we pointed out that God had led the exiles into Babylon. So now they no longer had security, they no longer had oneness of outlook and culture and religion. Suddenly they were without a Temple, and they were in the middle of a pagan culture. And God said to them, be sure to build houses, plant vineyards, bless the city bless the city and that you will be blessed in turn seek the shalom of the city. Be involved in the culture and now in Daniel chapter 1 because Daniel was one of the exiles we finally see for ourselves what it looks like for those who follow God in a pagan culture.
I'm going to pick it up. Actually in verse 73, and that the reason is because verses one and to just give the background I gave you how that there were these exiles in Babylon 600 miles from Jerusalem.
It says then the king commanded Ashkenaz that was his Chief of Staff to bring some of the people of Israel.
Both of the royal family and of the nobility use without blemish of good appearance, skillful in all wisdom endowed with knowledge, understanding of learning and competent to stand in the king's palace and the command was to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans, the king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king agent of the wind that he drank they were to be educated for three years and at the end of that time to stand before the king. Among these were Daniel Hannah Anaya, Michelle Azariah, of the tribe of Judah just to the end of her sick so far. Notice what the king of Babel and that he wasn't a nice king. Remember were talking about the man who would take babies whose soldiers took babies and threw them against the rocks actually is not a very nice man, cruel, but he sees that the Jews have among them youths that are very brilliant and wise and he wants to use them in his court so he has a program of forest assimilation before we look at how Daniel stood against the culture let's look at all of the ways in which he participated in the culture. In fact, those ways might actually surprises the aspects in which he went along with the culture.
First of all, in education, I just rented a moment ago they were to be educated for three years in the literature about: they'd have to learn the Babylonian language Akkadian, what an experience that would be and so they be inundated with all kinds of pagan ideas regarding sexuality regarding the meaning of life. All of the wisdom of the mythology of Babel, and they would have to be educated almost brainwashed with this kind of education for three years. They accepted that because they believe that they could endure that kind of an education without losing their faith and I believe that the reason that they thought that they could do that and didn't do it without losing their faith is because of the reasons all of that they had to maintain their faith. This is a parenthesis but I am convinced that the reason that so many teenagers and teenagers you listen at this point in college student. The reason that so many lose their faith in university or college is not because of the intellectual arguments.
It's because of the moral issues the moral pressure the peer pressure the falling into sexuality and having guilt and not knowing how to deal with it. This past week I was in a number of places.
Actually, it's a good thing that I'm young because I can still get around. But one place I was actually was in New Brunswick, Canada. All things for a day church for a pastors conference and Rebecca spoke to the women and so at lunch. There was a young woman who works with inter-varsity so I asked whether or not she agreed with my assessment and she said unquestionably young people lose their resolve the moral pressure is so strong that pretty soon if they fall morally. Then they find all kinds of intellectual reasons why they are abandoning Christianity is not to say that the intellectual aspect isn't important, but they go together.
These use four of them got less than said we can be in the educational institution of Babylon and maintain our faith. Secondly, is not just that but they accepted careers in the government they were going to stand before the king. This wicked king who had done so much damage so much damage to their culture, whose armies destroyed Jerusalem.
On his command, and they were now going to stand before him and give him wisdom and help them be successful. They were willing to accept that that they would stand before the king in his presence and help them rule.
Third, and this is again remarkable accepted the name change. Now you'll notice that the Bible says there and now I am in verse seven he gave them names Daniel and Deb the name Daniel by the way, means that God is my judge, he changed his name to Belle Chavez or Hannah Anaya. He called Shadrach Michelle. He called me shack Azariah, he called Bendigo so they have pagan names every one of these names I won't take time to tell you the meaning of each and every one of these names that the Jewish boys had signified in some way God God's favor. Now they're receiving Babylonian names and they said we can endure that because were to bless the culture and seek the shalom of our city. Well, there were some aspects of the culture that they would not accept. You'll notice here in verse eight, but Daniel resolve. Wow, what a fantastic statement. The old King James that I memorized years ago, I think, is that Daniel purposed in his heart this morning. I was praying with one of our interns. He came up to the study to pray with me and he said are you going to emphasize verse eight he said that verse has Here in the city of Chicago living in this culture. Young people take your Bibles and I don't know if you can do this on cell phones and tablets and all the other things that people bring to church nowadays and call the Bible but underlying that phrase. The Bible says that they purposed to Daniel purposed he resolved what was his resolve, will the place that he drew the line interestingly had to do with the food he would not eat the king's food now. Honestly, we don't know exactly why he had such an issue with the king's food almost certainly it was not kosher.
It probably was offered onto idols. Perhaps it signified the good life in the kind of life that he didn't want to be identified with, for whatever reason, Daniel said I draw the line here and so you spoke to the Chief of Staff and said them. I want to drink the eat this food and I don't want to drink the king's wine and them. He said I'm going to give you an alternate possibility, the intention of the king is that we might be healthy fetus vegetables for 10 days and if we are not as healthy as all those who are eating the king's food, then you'll have a point. And so the rest of the story is that the Chief of Staff agreed with the test and he said all right I'll test you all give you vegetables and then we'll see who's the best at the end of 10 days and at the end of 10 days before Jewish boys. Their faces glowed and they were much more healthy than those who ate the king's food so Daniel said that's where I draw the line by the way, that is the only place that Daniel drew the line in chapter 6, and I wish I had time to speak on this all only referred to it because you know the story in chapter 6 the king issues an edict because some people came to him and said how are we going to corner Daniel and that people said to the king went to issue an edict that says that whoever does not bow down when the music plays. Whoever does not bow down has to be thrown in the line stand. This is now a different king. By the way, and Daniel is an advisor to him as well. The king's name is Darius and the drives goes along with it.
Not understanding the implications. Daniel prays with his window open to Jerusalem three times a day.
He kneels and prays and he won't bow down to the image. I'll be sure to listen to the next message in this series because I'm going to talk about another image that they were to bow down to and the implications of statism. Specifically, my topic next time is going to be when the state becomes God well in this case the state game God bow down and Daniel won't and he was thrown in the lion's den. Now we all know that an angel came and close the mouths of the lions. We all know that story and it's a true story, but critically did Daniel know that that was going to happen when he was thrown into the lion's den. Absolutely not.
He expected to be torn to bits and I don't think that that would be an ideal way to die to be torn to bits by a hungry, angry lion, but Daniel says I I draw the line there. I draw the line there. I will not worship the pagan God and I will not stop my devotions and he wasn't doing that on company time. This was in his home.
The window was open and they said you have to bow down. He says I refuse to. I continued to pray because he resolved in his heart, there are certain things in a pagan society that you cannot do and there. Daniel stood now the question is what does all this mean to us – how do we resolve our own conflicts of conscience. Well I'm going to give you a few principles that I hope will help you stimulate your pure mind and make you think and give you some context.
But I hope will help all of us as we try to struggle with this issue of conscience. Your Bibles are open your iPad is to Daniel chapter 1. Your telephone should be turned off. Notice the little phrase in the Scriptures on gave God gave verse to the Lord gave the Jehoiada Kim king of Judah into Nebuchadnezzar's hand, the Lord brought them there to babble and it was a judgment to be sure, but God brought them there. You'll notice it says now in verse nine verse nine and the Lord gave Daniel favor, and then in verse 17 and as for these four youths, God gave them learning and wisdom, and they had understanding of all visions and dreams. Notice God's sovereignty internationally. He's the God of the nations notice God's sovereignty. Personally God showed favor to Daniel and helped him in his predicament. Notice God's sovereignty, situational lay when they stood before the king and they needed the wisdom that they had sought and as God before when that happened. Lo and behold, God gave them what they needed. The moment that they needed it. God's sovereignty, my dear Christian friend today you are where you are because of God's sovereignty, he led you to that job, he is there with you in your predicament. He knows the long attitude in the latitude of your boat as you sail along the oceans of life. He knows the strength of every board. He knows the, the trajectory of the wind and its speed. God is with you and what we must do is to somehow not divorce God from our predicament, which is a serious predicament in America, but we should not divorce God from that. But we should see that God has led us to where we are, possibly because of our own judgment. The point is, he is with us. There, God is not absence from his people and it's times like this, we have to remind ourselves of the promises of Scripture. I shall never leave the nor for safety. Hebrews chapter 13 I think it is verse five has actually five negatives in the verse in Greek if I could just have roughly translated, I will know not leave you, I will known never sake you five times God says never, never, never, never, never, he is with us no matter the trial that we are going through. God is there, thank you for those man's God is there with us. Rejoice in his sovereignty.
We are where we are by a divine will, even if she were here because of our disobedience that that's exactly what the text teaches here. God was with them, though they were there because of their disobedience. Second, we must rely on the wisdom of God the wisdom of God. Nothing for a moment.
These four boys and were gonna be talking about three of them in the next message Daniel was exempt from that experience.
There may be reasons for that because of his prominence. That's the next message when I speak about the state becoming God, but please know that God gave them the wisdom to know how to navigate this issue of conscience.
For one thing, what they did is they suggested to the Chief of Staff that there was an alternative.
Why might they not be able to test the fact that vegetables work better than them eating the Kings food not so sure whether or not this is a great argument for a vegetarian diet, though some people have taken it that way – so what Daniel did as he got the intention of this Chief of Staff and after getting his intention explained to him that he can't eat the food, but he came up with an alternative and the Chief of Staff bought it. Sometimes when we are confronted with a conflict of conscience. What we have to do is to ask ourselves is there an alternative can we discuss with the person to whom we owe this allegiance or who was brought this conflict upon us.
Can we discuss with him the rationale of our own convictions and to do so with respect for his convictions, or may the lack of them, and for respect for our own convictions, Stuart Briscoe, who many of you know, because he was and a great pastor and he and his wife Jill do missionary work all over them world.
I really do admire them. Stuart Briscoe said that when he was back in England. He was working in a bank, and the chief officer of the bank wanted him to do something that was really thievery. He basically wanted to steal from the customers and stored.
Of course, would have nothing to do with that.
But he said this to his superior if you want me to steal for you.
What makes you think that I would not steal from you if I had the opportunity, and that bank official began to think you know may be eroding the character of those who work with me is not the best idea because it has ramifications. It has implications when it comes to some things, even, such as whether or not you should attend this wedding or that wedding there may not be an immediate answer.
And by the way there made the differences of opinion among Christians know the apostle Paul in the book of Corinthians. Basically devoted a chapter to the fact that some people have a conscience whereby they can eat meat offered to idols and others can and what he saying is give the people some space because some people have a different view of viewing things than others but listen carefully. We have to say to this generation that love and conscience are not in conflict is a sometimes we have people say well you know if you are really loving you would do ABCD where is your love well. Love is great, but it should never be opposed to my conscience no matter what my personal conviction should be love should always abound. Understanding insight. The ability to be able to to think clearly on this issue is so critical and and there may be a difference of opinion, but just because you're under pressure does not mean that you should ever violate your conscience because the Bible says whatever is not of faith is sin.
So for you.
It may be sin to do one thing, it may not be sin for the other because he thinks that he can do it in faith. I'm talking now about issues that may not be entirely absolute.
The absolutes we must obey. But exactly how we show love where we go, who we connect with God may give us some space and some freedom. Just knowing that whatever is not of faith is sin. And then of course the bottom line. I say that to all of these good-looking young people who are here today on the platform, not to mention all of the others that are out there don't want to leave anybody out there comes a time when you draw a line in the sand and then you simply take your lumps. Whatever happens, happens. You want me to bow down to worship. I refused to do it. I've drawn the line in the sand here stay at issue come next on the bus.
All of you should know that don't you not Romanian. Here I stand I can do no other to go against conscience is neither right nor safe, and you take your lumps and Luther thought that he would be put to death because of the decree of Charles V, two said anyone who finds them and killing but there are times when you simply take your stand.
Whether you get thrown in the den of lions.
When Rebecca and I were in Germany we been both in what is known as the West and the East and of course now it's unified, but there was a time when the East was under communism. We were there talking to a pastor in the actually the church were Luther preached his last sermon.
As a matter of fact, and it so happened that I had his last sermon there and they actually allowed me to go on to the pulpit and preach a summary of it. But here's what he told us he said when communism came the communist said if you go to church. Your kids can't go to university, you won't get the best job, you'll have to just be a laborer and so what did people do they basically buckle said if that's the price of living in getting my kids a good education will surrender and will go along with the state, but there were some people who draw the line in the sand and said we will not stop associating ourselves as Christians, we will not give up our faith. We will not go with the communist line and many of them were marginalized.
Perhaps some of them were put to death, and so forth. But me ask you something thousand years from now affect a lot less than a thousand years from now, who made the best decision we made the best decision is not those whose children were promoted who were given a good education, though I understand that as a father and a grand mother the best decision were those who stood and said we refused to surrender our rights to the state and we will live for Christ and take the consequences. They were the wisest. So what we must do is to seek God for wisdom. Draw a line in the sand and say here we stand even at great personal cost. Young people in universities, colleges, you must draw that line in the sand. You must resolve like Daniel and say I refused to be defiled refused to be defiled.
What Daniel said and he lived up to it. Finally, it's important for us to understand the purposes of God in all of this. What was God's purpose in taking the Israelites to Babylon well. His purpose actually had two purposes. One for them and one for the Babylonians. The purpose for them. The Israelites was that the God says I'm not here to destroy you.
Remember chapter 29 verse 11. If you were here last time for God says I am not here to destroy you. I am here to bless you and to give you a future and a hope. I'm here not to destroy you, but I am here to refine you because of your idolatry and turning away from me, but my intention toward you survived here is good. I want to humble you not destroy you, but humble you did you know that that is God's agenda for the church today, we look around and everything that is been nailed down is being torn up every day on the news. Some new Domino falls. The question is what do we do what is God saying God is saying I am humbling and bringing you down to give you a future and a hope.
That's his goal for the church.
As for the culture at large is our responsibility to witness to them. Tim Keller said some very interesting things about the exile that were speaking about here. What does this mean for Christians the fact that we are losing so many battles, he says, Christian should be humbled before the new pagan ballistic situation. Just as with the exiles of the situation is due in large part to our own failings. The church did not lose its position of privilege simply because it evil enemies of the faith we lost our position as part of God's judgment on our pride are hypoxia.
See our love of power are prejudice our bigotry and failure to hold on to the truth and so God said, he says that this is the way in which God gets people's attention and then he says and what a rebuke. This is what we need to hear it. We must be far harder on ourselves in gracious, humble repentance, then we are on the unbelieving culture around us. That was a major lesson for the exiles and for us.
Our first report response should be repentance. We should be very understanding toward people catch this. Now, toward people who have failed to believe in Christ because of the weakness of the churches testimony a lot more of what is happening in our culture today may be our fault that we are willing to admit.
I want to talk and end in just a moment by reminding you that Jesus was crucified in weakness during a whole lot of people on his side when he died on the cross and yet Jesus in being crucified in weakness and imagine that seed falling into the ground and the marvelous fruit that brought forth in the very same way we are today as a church culturally weak. Few people pay attention to us. Often times we are despised, sometimes for good reason, sometimes not. The question is are we willing to be weak for the sake of the gospel and if you're here today and you're not quite sure how Jesus Christ in his weakness brought about the great victory of his redemption.
Remember that when he died on the cross is death was a sacrifice for sinners and some of you are listening to this have to hear that because you came with a troubled conscience in your conscience is troubled because of your sin. Jesus has a good cure for sin in substituting himself in our place. He died that we might have eternal life and all that we have to do is to receive that eternal life by faith. When we do we become his children and suddenly we realize we are children of our father in heaven.
Father we ask in Jesus name that in a confused culture. Help us to live wisely.
May we not defile ourselves and give us wisdom as we make decisions regarding conflicts of conscience both to be lenient when we should be and yet at the same time to draw a line in the sand and delightfully and joyfully pay the consequences. We love you. May there be people today who believe on Christ that they might be children of the most high pray in his name. Amen on today's Moody Church. Our Dr. Erwin Lutzer spoke on conflicts of conscience. The eighth message in a 10 part series on the church in Babylon unleashing the power of the spirit filled witness government pressure on believers is not new. Next time on The Moody Church.
Our we turned to Daniel chapter 3 and see what happens when the state becomes God. The church in Babylon series shows us how to live during times of spiritual darkness.
The series is imprint as Erwin Blitzer's book the church in Babylon, a company is waiting for you as our thank you for your gift of any amount to The Moody Church. Our just call us at 1-800-215-5001. Ask about the church in Babylon when you call 1-800-215-5001 or you can write to us at The Moody Church 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard Chicago, IL 60614 online go to moodyoffer.com that's moodyoffer.com join us next week for another Moody Church. Our with Dr. Erwin Lutzer and the congregation of historic Moody Church in Chicago.
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