You know something? If you want to get somewhere in God's kingdom, you don't have to play politics. Just don't compromise. Let God put you there. If God wants to lift you up in a society, or lift you up in a church, or lift you up in a ministry, or lift you up in some kind of situation, live an uncompromising life, and let God work on the hearts of people who will draw you to that place. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.
I'm your host, Phil Johnson. Perhaps you've seen the movie Chariots of Fire. It tells the story of Eric Little, a world-class sprinter and a devout Christian who, in the 1924 Olympics, dropped out of his best event when he realized he would have to race on the Lord's Day. Does that sound foolish? Unnecessary?
Was it a wasted opportunity? While some certainly criticized him, Little decided his convictions were more important than Olympic glory. Call it an uncompromising desire to honor God with his life. John MacArthur helps you cultivate that sort of conviction as he continues his study titled An Uncompromising Life, focusing today on the life of Daniel, a man who set an example for every believer to follow. Here's John now in Daniel chapter 1. Now, let's look at the text beginning in verse 8, and I want you to see a sequence of characteristics.
I think this is so exciting. A sequence of characteristics that are true of one who takes an uncompromising stand. So you can just start writing them down. Number one, an unashamed boldness. An unashamed boldness.
Let me give you a second point. I believe an uncompromising life will result in an uncommon standard. Not only an unashamed boldness, but an uncommon standard. You know, people who have an uncompromising life just don't do it the way everybody else does.
Have you ever noticed that? They won't do it the way everybody else does it. They will set their standard a cut above the masses, even a cut above the Christians. They just don't live on that normal plane.
They set standards that always exceed the norm. I remember when I was a little kid just in high school, I got to reading some people who were great at prayer, and I just couldn't believe the commitment they made to that. And I read a couple of missionary biographies, and these people were just...they didn't live the Christian life the way anybody I knew did.
And there were lots of people, you know, who went by the book, but it seemed as if these people just went up to another level. Well, look at the end of verse 8 again. He says, I don't want any portion of the king's food. I don't want any of the wine which the king drinks. Now go down to verse 12. He says, in fact, I'll go a step further. Just give us vegetables and water.
Now wait a minute. You don't have to eat the wine of the king, and you don't have to eat the food of the king. But you could certainly eat some other food, and you could certainly drink some proper kind of wine.
But Daniel says, look, I want to go to an uncommon standard. Not any wine at all. He was a teetotaler. Total abstinence. Drinking only water. And not any kind of meat. Just what they call pulse.
Some kind of beans and seeds. That's it. Well, you say, Daniel, this is not really necessary. But people who make the kind of commitment he made always want to live at the highest plane. They seem to choose a standard above everybody else. Their ministries are a cut above the rest. They have a higher level of commitment. They have a more faithful prayer life.
They're just a little bit more committed to a deep study of the Word of God. And I can illustrate this principle by just dealing with the issue of wine, for example, here. Now why does Daniel say, I don't want to drink any wine at all? And by the way, he sustains this commitment all the way through this thing.
Why does he do that? It isn't required of him. In fact, the Old Testament talks about yayin, which is a word for wine, as a very common part of Jewish society. It was a mixed wine so that it was diluted.
And it was proper to drink it. In fact, drink offerings were used in the sacrificial system. There was even a supply of wine kept in the temple. Isaiah 24 talked about wine drinking being associated with singing and having a joyful time. Isaiah 55, wine is actually a symbol of salvation. So in the Old Testament, it wasn't that wine in itself, a properly mixed wine, in itself was wrong or evil. But why does he choose this standard?
Well, that's just the way it is with those kind of commitments. Let me give you an illustration. Go back to Leviticus chapter 10 for a minute. Leviticus chapter 10 and verse 8. And the Lord spake unto Aaron. Now Aaron isn't just like everybody. Aaron is the high priest. And Aaron's people would be the priestly people. And so the Lord speaks to Aaron and through Aaron to all those who would be involved in the priesthood. And He says, In effect, if you are to be a priest, do not drink wine, nor strong drink, neither yayin nor sakar, thou nor thy sons with thee, when you go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, and that you may put difference between holy and unholy, between unclean and clean, and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes with which the Lord has spoken unto them by the hand of Moses. In other words, don't touch it, because if you ever touched it, you might find yourself falling prey to its temptation, and then you would lose the ability to properly distinguish between holy and unholy, and to rightly teach the people.
You're in too precarious a position to fool with it. In Numbers chapter 6, look with me for a moment. Numbers chapter 6, The Lord spoke unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, which means, by the way, to be separated, not to be from Nazareth, that's a different word. But when you take a vow of separation, to separate unto the Lord, you will separate yourself from wine and strong drink, and no vinegar of wine, no vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat any moist grapes, or any dried grapes. All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing made of the vine tree, from the kernel even to the husk. Now listen, it wasn't required that everybody lived this way, but somebody who wanted to set their life in a unique way as separated unto God set an uncommon standard, you see?
It was a matter of your choice, but when it was established that you wanted to live on the very highest plane, when you took that occasion to do so, you set an uncommon standard. Look with me for a moment at the 31st chapter of Proverbs, the final chapter, and you find a similar thing in verse 4 of Proverbs 31. It is not, now listen to this, it is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, nor for princes strong drink. And by the way, Daniel well may have come from a royal family and then been taught this tremendous biblical principle, and that is part and parcel of the reason he never would touch the wine. It may have been that he had already made this commitment as a part of the royal family, but it is not for kings, it is not for princes, lest they drink and forget the law and pervert the justice of any of the afflicted. Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish. When somebody is in the last throes and the agonies of death, sedate them with it, but don't give it to people who must make decisions on a spiritual level.
There is an uncommon standard for the greatest spiritual responsibility. 1 Timothy chapter 5 takes us into the New Testament thought on this, and I think it's interesting to hear the Apostle Paul say to Timothy, drink no longer water, but use a little wine for your stomach's sake. Why do you think he said that?
Drink no longer water. I'll tell you why I believe he said it, because Timothy never drank anything but water. The fact that Paul has to instruct him to take a little wine and tell him not to just drink water indicates to me that Timothy did not customarily drink wine. That wasn't something that was necessarily an overt command to him.
That was a choice he made, an uncommon standard. I believe in Luke chapter 1, it says of John the Baptist, he shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. It tells us that an elder in 1 Timothy is not to be given to wine.
It says it in Titus, he's not to be given to wine. The point is this, people. Those who choose the highest and the best, those who desire to live at the most uncompromising level of commitment, seek an uncommon standard. And Daniel for certain wanted to be distinguished from the gluttons and the drunkards of Babylon. That there would be no confusion. And so he not only says, I will not drink the king's wine, he says, I will not drink any wine at all, only water, only water. And I think in this day, I know in my own life, that's a choice that I've made. It doesn't make me more spiritual.
It's just that I feel that that's one place where I can set an uncommon standard for myself. That I might not be drawn into a compromising position, that I might avoid all appearance of evil. So Daniel, though the king commanded it, didn't drink.
How much easier it should be for us when there's no such command upon us and no necessity either. Great men, you know, and I'm sure that Daniel knew God's laws on this, great men have fallen to the power of drink. You have only to look further in the book of Daniel to see Belshazzar losing the Babylonian empire in the midst of a drunken stupor. You have only to study history to realize that at the age of 33, Alexander the Great lost the world empire because he was already a full-fledged drunkard. It is said that the reason Napoleon Bonaparte lost the battle at Waterloo to the victorious Duke of Wellington was because the night before, Marshal Ney tarried too long over his favorite glass of wine, and the next morning his head was clouded, his mind unsteady, and he made bad decisions. When France fell in World War II against Hitler, Marshal Petain said, quote, France was defeated because its army was drunk, end quote.
And the Vichy government of 1940 said the reason for the collapse of the moral fiber of the French army was due to alcohol, plain and simple. He's never done anybody any favors. Daniel had an uncommon standard. A really uncompromising life will not play on the edge of what is right.
It will choose the highest and the noblest and the best. Let me give you one more. An uncompromising life is characterized by an unashamed boldness, an uncommon standard, and thirdly, an unearthly protection. An unearthly protection.
This is great. Verse 9. Now God, I love those two words, did you get that? Now God, you know as well as I do, get this, that when anybody establishes a standard like Daniel did, God will be on his side, right? So it's only a matter of time until we read now God.
Didn't take long. Daniel purposed in his heart in verse 8 and God moved in verse 9. Beloved, if you don't get anything else, get this, that God responds to this kind of commitment. God had brought Daniel into favor and compassion with the prince of the eunuchs.
Amazing. Now, you know, let me just talk about this for a minute. It's axiomatic, I think, that even if people disagree with your convictions, they admire you for sticking up to them, right? I mean, everybody loves somebody with character. You know, you're so sick of wishy-washy, pusillimous little puny people who vacillate about everything, who flow like flotsam and jetsam with the tide, like water-soaked sticks washing back and forth under a pier.
You get so tired of people who are spineless. It is axiomatic that when you meet somebody with convictions, you respect that person, especially if their convictions are strong, moral, conscientious convictions. Integrity, I think, is a valued thing.
We put a premium on integrity, but that's not the issue here. It wasn't Daniel's integrity that swayed Ashpenaz, the prince of the eunuchs. Now, you say, well, maybe it was just that Daniel was such a nice guy.
Well, I think he was. I think Daniel had a gracious and loving personality. I think that comes out further on in the section as we see some more things about him. The way he talks is such a loving, there's such a gentleness about him, such a lack of pushiness.
He's this beautiful kind of character that naturally goes with a godly man. We would expect to find it, but I don't think it was even his amazing personality. So I don't think it was the human value placed on integrity and so forth.
I don't think it was the pleasing personality of the man. I think the reason things went so well is this. Now, God brought Daniel into favor and compassion, sovereign act of God.
This is so important, folks. God is controlling everything. God had a plan for Daniel. God had a purpose for Daniel. And God wanted Daniel to be a witness in Babylon. I believe Daniel is the key in one sense to a great part of the panorama of the Christmas story. I question whether ever would be wise men coming from the east if there never was a Daniel. I mean, God had a long-range plan for this guy. Behind the scenes of the return at the end of the seventy years, as the people go back to their land, behind the scenes is the character and the ministry of Daniel whom I believe brought it to pass as the agent of God.
Amazing man. God had a plan. And God, now watch this, just moved into the heart of that guy and he just pushed in there favor and compassion and he said, in his sovereignty, Ashpenaz, you will love Daniel. And he did. And he did. And I don't guess he knew why he did, but he did. It's tremendous. And you know, even Nebuchadnezzar, who was brilliant, who was powerful, couldn't do anything to sway or change the plan of God.
God put it into that man's heart to be kind to Daniel. Now listen to me. You live an uncompromising life and you will enjoy an unearthly protection. People say, oh, well if I stick my neck out. People sometimes say that to me. Don't you, you say things, you know, you just speak what you think and you say what the Bible says. Don't you worry about what will happen?
Well, I might worry about it for a minute, but it passes very rapidly. Because I'm saying, look God, this is your word. You got me into this. Now get me out of it. And I believe that until the time comes when God says, it's time for you to be finished, MacArthur, I believe I enjoy an unearthly protection.
That's just the way it is. I think God protects those who make a commitment to Him. Now what's important about this is, now listen to me, usually we compromise because we are afraid we'll get into trouble. And the fact is, if we didn't compromise, God would be our protection in the midst of trouble. But as soon as you compromise, you forfeit that unearthly protection and you're on your own. And then one compromise leads to what?
Another compromise and another one and then you're really stuck because if you ever tell the truth, they know you've been a phony all along, uncompromising. That's Daniel and God protected him. In 1 Kings 8 verse 50, it says, and forgive thy people who have sinned against thee and all their transgressions in which they have transgressed against thee and give them compassion before them who carried them captive that they may have compassion on them. Here are people saying, God, give them compassion and God will do it.
God will do it. So, you know, if we were living in a society that was oppressive and if people were coming down on us and shooting us for our faith and so on and so on, would we still speak the truth? Listen, if we didn't speak the truth and compromised, we would be on our own. If we spoke the truth, no matter what happened, then God is our unearthly protector. And if God says you live, there isn't a king in the world that could take your life, right? Not one.
Boy, that's terrific. I mean, you have nothing to fear, you say, well, if I really say what I think, if I really stand for the truth, I'll lose my job. So compromise and lose God's resource.
Does that make sense? Who do you want on your team, your boss or God? There isn't a boss in the world who can move you until God allows it. Psalm 106, 46. I just have to share this with you because I think it sums up the whole idea. Listen, this is great. It's talking here about how God cares for His people.
This is so good. He made them, this is talking about His people, Israel, He made them also to be pitied of all those that carried them captives. Now listen to me. This isn't just Ashkenaz. God made the whole pile of Chaldeans and Babylonians compassionate toward His people. You realize that God can not only sway a king, God can sway an entire society?
Why? Because verse 45 says, He's a covenant-keeping God and He made a covenant with His people and beloved, we have a covenant with our God in Christ, don't we? If we live an uncompromising life, God will take care of us. I always think of David. David is so great, but he sure did some klutzy things. One of the dumbest things he ever did was when he was up in the Philistines country and he went into the palace and of course here he was, an arch enemy of the Philistines and he's in the palace and he becomes fearful instead of saying, I am David who is the king of the people of God.
I am David who speaks for Jehovah. I will not falter to give his testimonies. Instead of confronting that pagan situation, he gets afraid. So you know what he does? He pretends he's nuts.
That's right. That's exactly what he did. He pretended he was crazy and the first thing he did was he started slobbering his beard. Look at the Bible says, he drooled all over his beard. Now the beard in the Orient was a sign of your dignity. To slobber in your beard was very, very undignified.
I think it still leaves a lot to be desired. But anyway, it was a very undignified behavior. You know what he did?
He started slobbering in his beard and he acted like a madman and it says he kept running his hands up and down the gates like he was crazy. You say to yourself, David, the sweet singer of Israel who wrote all the Scriptures, David whose hands were covered with blood because of all the victories he had won, David the great man of God, David that handsome musician who had every heart of every woman in the land, David that majestic figure, David going around slobbering and doing this. And you know what the king says? Look, we got enough nuts in this court, get rid of that guy.
That's what he said. And they shipped him out of there and he goes, oh, oh, my plan worked. And then he crawls in a cave out in the middle of nowhere and he pens a psalm and the psalm in effect says, God, I was really a fool, wasn't I? I compromised. And for all history God recorded that stupidity so everybody would know it instead of believing that you were my deliverer and if I had lived in an uncompromising way, unashamedly bold before those people, if I had lived at an uncommon standard, I would have had an unearthly protection and those Philistines couldn't have laid a hand on me any more than Goliath with his great big Philistine sword could do anything against my little handful of rocks.
Oh, how soon David forgot. An unearthly protection is promised to the one who doesn't compromise. There's a great word, you have to hear it, Proverbs 16, 7, just listen. When a man's ways please the Lord, listen to this, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him, end quote. Is that great? When a man's ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
So what is the point in life then? Please the Lord, live with an unashamed boldness, live at an uncommon standard and gain an unearthly protection. Boy, it's exciting to have that sense of being invincible. Beloved, can I say this to you, the hearts of all men are in the hands of God.
You see it? They're in the hands of God, the hearts of all men, not some men, the hearts of all men. And all you have to do is please God and He'll control their hearts. So Daniel's life portrays what God will do for a person who is faithfully obedient to him.
By the way, look back at verse 9 for a moment. The word favor is the word for tender love, compassion, so it really means unfailing love. He had a virtuous kind of unfailing love as well as a gut level, just an affection. It was both a true kind of love and one that knew emotion. This guy really loved Daniel. Oh, what a setup this is for Daniel.
You know something? If you want to get somewhere in God's kingdom, you don't have to play politics. Just don't compromise. Let God put you there. If God wants to lift you up in a society or lift you up in a church or lift you up in a ministry or lift you up in some kind of situation, live an uncompromising life and let God work on the hearts of people who will draw you to that place. Don't seek it on your own. God takes special care of his faithful uncompromising people.
We don't need to use politics, self-effort. When we don't compromise, we have an unearthly protection. You're listening to Grace to You with the Bible teaching of John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. Today's lesson is part of John's series from the book of Daniel titled An Uncompromising Life.
Now, some might think if anyone could ever justify compromising, it would be Daniel. The fact that he didn't bend is what makes his story so powerful, but a question some people may have, John, how can you cultivate that kind of uncompromising character, especially if you're a new believer? That's why you were given the Holy Spirit. That's what it means to walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. How do you walk in the Spirit? The Spirit reveals his will in Scripture. He's the author of Scripture. You know, the Bible says, be filled with the Spirit or it says, that's Ephesians, Colossians in the comparative passage says, let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.
In both cases, the results are the same. Being filled with the word so that it dominates your thinking richly is putting yourself in the hands of the Holy Spirit. But we want to help you even go beyond that because in the power of the Spirit, you must know the truth. I want to tell you of a book that I think is critical for our time. It's called Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong. Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong. Whether you've been a believer for a week or half a century, it's a book you need. It deals with glorifying God in the gray areas of life.
It deals with, you know, how you cope with virtual reality. What about homosexuality? What about surrogacy?
What about abortion? Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong will show you how to respond to all these things in a biblical and godly way. And you can not only be strong in the Lord yourself, but you can be a strength to others.
Two hundred and sixty pages. Just ask for Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong. Friend, this book will help you think biblically and avoid compromise when it comes to the most pressing moral issues of the day. To get a copy of Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong, contact us today. You can call our toll-free number, 855-GRACE, or go to our website, GTY.org. This book will help you cut through the secular worldviews that saturate our culture, and it will help you apply God's truth to the most talked-about moral and political and ethical issues of our day.
To order your copy of Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong, the price is $15 and shipping is free, call us here at 800-55-GRACE or go to GTY.org. And remember, Grace To You has thousands of free resources online to help you understand and apply God's Word. Whether you're looking for biblical insight on parenting or what Scripture says about the spiritual gifts, or you want to know how to know if you're called to vocational ministry, visit us at GTY.org. There are so many helpful tools there that will help you grasp the transforming truth of God's Word and apply it to your own life. Our website again, GTY.org. Now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace To You staff, I'm Phil Johnson. Thanks for being here today and make sure you're here tomorrow when John looks at strategies for overcoming your nagging sins. It's another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
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