The Importance of Spiritual Preparation

Conviction to stand in a Compromising world  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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We CAN prepare our young people with spiritual convictions


It is vitally important to us to be spiritually prepared because the crisis could arrive at any moment (v.1)

Explanation: The text declares that Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian army came against Jerusalem “in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim” (v. 1). This event took place in 605 B.C. [it was an actual event in history, not a fictional account. The Bible is an historical document; it is inspired by God and it gives a true account]
The point is not to be able to pass a history test on events in the Ancient Near East; rather the point is to recognize that the moment of crisis had finally arrived for Jerusalem. God had sent the prophets to warn them of the coming judgment, but the Jews had ignored the warnings. God had given them His truth during the time of Moses and His revelation contained the blessings for Obedience along with the curses for disobedience. The people had by and large ignored God’s revelation, had practiced idolatry, and had abused the Sabbaths. God was righteous in His judgment and He allowed the Babylonians to act as His agents of destruction
Illustrate: Prior to 1939 some of the German Jews saw the coming problems with the rise to power of the Nazis and fled the country. Most of the others ignored the signs and / or hoped for the best (many wanted to leave but could not due to a variety of circumstances)
Argument: The signs of the coming judgment surround us in the 21st century. Many unbelievers actually rejoice in the wickedness and the sexual immorality and even view our societal ills as progress. That mind-set should not surprise us when coming from the pagans. What should surprise us is the seeming indifference of the Christians. Many are naive to believe that “things just won’t get that bad here in America.”
Application: Instead of sticking our heads in the sand or looking through our “Pollyanna” glasses, Christians CAN intensify our efforts to prepare for judgment. Yes, God in His grace can send revival, but what if He doesn’t? We are not doing a great job in the spiritual preparation area and we can step up our efforts

It is vitally important that we be spiritually prepared because the world is NOT neutral towards Christian beliefs (vv.3-5)

Explanation: The Chaldeans, like the Assyrians before them, had an assimilation program. After invading and conquering another nation, the victors put the young people of the conquered nation into a training program. The course of study was designed to re-educate the youth and to give them a new identity. In short, Neb’s school was designed to make the aliens good Babylonians. It was intentionally designed to give them a new way of thinking and behaving.
Illustrate: Hitler was very intentional with this same principle with the Hitler Youth. He said, “He alone who owns the youth gains the future.” (taken from a 1935 campaign speech for the Nazi party)
Argument: It is amazing to me that there are some Christians who still believe that our public school system is neutral, or that it is not anti-Christian. The public school system is a propaganda machine for the state and its goal is to actively turn our young people into socialist leftists who cant think critically and will be forever dependent upon the government for guidance
NOTE: there as still Christian educators in the system who are striving to be salt and light. They are fighting the decay and I applaud them. I pray for them to be able to stand by their convictions and to continue to provide some level of hope and sanity to our troubled youth]
Application: Thankfully there are other options. We have two Christian schools in the county and many more parents are home-schooling. These are not always easy decisions for families to make, but at the very least we can and should teach our children the values of Christianity. That MUST be done in the home - the Church cannot do it. At best, the Church reinforces what is taught in the home.

We can spiritually train our youth to think for themselves and to develop the ability to stand in the minority (v. 6)

Explanation: Notice the wording of verse 6: “now among these.” This is a clear indication that Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were NOT the only 4 Hebrew youth in Neb’s re-education program. This same thought is brought out in v. 3 when Neb instructs his officials to bring a group from the Israelites in general, and some from the royal family and of the nobility. These others were probably very well known in Jerusalem (the cool kids) but they are not mentioned by name and have faded into the dustbin of history
Illustration: in 1948 two preachers were having a discussion on the trustworthiness of the Scriptures. The more popular of the pair was having serious doubts and was asking the other to answer his questions. The second man could not answer the first man’s questions about seeming contradictions in the Bible and many of his philosophical objections, but this 2nd man prayed and asked God to allow him to trust the Word and keep the faith. God honored that prayer. The first man went down a descending path of liberalism and left the ministry within 10 years. Very few remember the first man’s name: Chuck Templeton; almost all of us know the second man’s name: Billy Graham.
Argument: The truths of Christianity have never rested upon majority opinion. We who are Christ-followers need to come to terms with being in the minority. Most of those who profess the name of Jesus are NOT convictional Christians; they will go with the flow instead of standing alone for God’s truth. They are NOT going to rock the boat. They will actually come against those who DO try to rock the boat.
Remember the pastor in Canada who was jailed for continuing to hold in-person services during the pandemic? Many of the area pastors actually stood against his decision to honor God and instead sided with the state.
Application: We CAN be intentional in training our young people to stand alone. We CAN teach them about group-think tactics and how to combat this type of thinking. We must teach them to THINK for themselves instead of simply emoting. (cf Romans 12:1-2)

We can train our youth to have spiritual discernment (v.8)

Explanation: Neb’s school involved all types of learning including science and the arts. They were being trained to become “Magi” or the wise ones. This training would have included astronomy - more likely astrology or discerning signs from the skies.
Their language was being changed and they were given new names - names which reflected pagan worship. And they were exposed to new and exciting rich and exotic foods. All of which was designed to create in the group a sense of elitism and bonding
Illustration: Basic training in most military units around the world and throughout history operate on a similar basis. Break them down and rebuild them and make them special. Soldiers no longer think like civilians at the end of the training.
Argument: The point not to miss is that Daniel recognized the danger of eating and drinking from the King’s table. He didn’t balk at the name change or of learning a different language and being exposed to different concepts. He drew the line at being personally defiled (v. 8) He recognized that the food & drink had been used in idolatrous practices or that such a rich and decadent diet would instill laziness which could (and would) lead to other slip ups.
This is integrity - doing the right thing consistently. It is having convictions and being willing to stand for those convictions, regardless of the decision of those around you. This level of convictional living is lacking in our society, but it can still take place.
The question that needs asking is this: where did Daniel develop such spiritual convictions? Did God supernaturally indwell these principles in Daniel and his 3 friends when they were taken to Babylon as captives? Or did they develop these spiritual convictions in the home?
Application: We can still raise Daniels in this crazy mixed-up world in which we live. We can still be men and women of integrity ourselves! If we aren’t, our children most certainly won’t be! One of the primary responsibilities of parents is to transmit our faith values to the next generation (cf Psalm 78:1-7)
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