But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. (Daniel 1:8)
Christians are to be in the world, yet not of the world. The firefighter is in the fire, but not of the fire. He cannot do his job without being close to the fire, but if he becomes of the fire it is life-threatening. Believers are to have contact with our world, but not contamination from the world. The story of Daniel and his three young friends in chapter one of his book provides insight.
We are presented with a complex and perplexing dilemma (v.1-4) How in this world can I be holy? We live in a world filled with filth bent on polluting us. Yet, God has deliberately placed us in this kind of environment—otherwise, we could not carry out our mission. These four teenagers faced such a challenge to their faith. They had to learn to be conversant with a pagan culture, but not corrupted by it. Jesus has not called us to be isolated, but insulated, from the world. We are not summoned to a monastery, but a ministry. We are to be salt that seasons society and arrests the spread of corruption, but salt has to make contact before it can help preserve and season. If it remains in the salt shaker it can’t do any good. We are also to be the light of the world—and a flashlight at noonday won’t do much, but put it in the dark and it can show the way.
This is not to minimize a clear and present danger (v.5-8). It is the little compromise that opens the door to a major catastrophe. How often Satan says, “That’s not so bad—people do much worse.” Or, “Just this once—what could it hurt?” Just a little wine—Satan whispered to Daniel—everybody else is doing it. You don't have to be an oddball. So it begins. No one starts out with the goal of becoming an alcoholic, but you’ll never have to worry about that if you don't take the first drink. Nobody intends to become a drug addict, and you won’t if you don’t smoke that first joint. People don't become bankrupt from gambling without placing the first bet. You won’t become pregnant out of wedlock or contract an STD, if you don’t surrender your virginity.
We must make a committed and persistent decision (v.8-10). They drew a line in the sand. The old country song is so true, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” That line you draw will have to be redrawn again and again. Temptation functions like gravity. It is constant and must be resisted. The chief of the eunuchs was worried about losing his head—Daniel’s fate might be the same. You don’t tell a tyrant, “No.” But Daniel wasn’t worried about death for he had already died—died to self and to the world.
This brought a complete and powerful deliverance (v.11-20). Daniel says, “Watch me and I’ll prove God is real!” If God didn't come through, he was through! Our world isn’t impressed with words—it waits to see the reality of our faith. Miracles come to those expecting one. Even the pagans had to take notice. We can make a difference by being different. Will we?