We live in a major cultural shift. If the church is asleep, it will not be able to handle the things that come against her in these last days. The best Biblical example I can use of someone that was in a corrupt culture is Daniel. What happened in Daniel’s life is a play-book for us today. He had to navigate a Jewish faith in a Babylonian culture. He not only survived it, he had influence in it and he did it without ever compromising his faith.
If we look at Daniel, we will see how to live in a society that hates God and keep our faith and influence at the same time without compromise:
Daniel 1:1 – In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. (Verse 2) And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god: and he brought the articles into the treasure-house of his god.
(Verse 3) Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king’s descendants and some of the nobles, (Verse 4) young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had an ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans.
(Verse 5) And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king. (Verse 6) Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.
Gathering young minds to dictate every aspect way of thinking to adapt to their culture, is exactly what is happening in our schools today. Teachers are indoctrinating this generation how they should speak and think. Certain words are offensive, which never used to be and getting them to think everything should be free at the expense of someone else paying for it. Over half of the college students are so confused, they don’t even know what gender they are or what they want to be called.
However, God did not call us to reflect this culture, He called us to set it and influence it with His teachings and principles. That is why it is so important what a child is taught at home. But if a child is not prepared beforehand, they will be tremendously impacted by the culture they live in.
How has our culture today impacted the church? It always starts with a small erosion from within the body of believers, the church. For instance: “Maybe we don’t need to be so strict on sin and preach repentance.”
Culture Will Try To Rename You
This is going on right now in our society today. Maybe not in changing your literal name, but changing your identity, in how you see yourself! Oh, and if we Christians disagree, we are the ones that have a “phobia.” Look what they did to Daniel and his three friends:
Daniel 1:7 – To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego.
Names were always a sign of ownership. When God puts a new creation, a new heart, in us through belief in His Son, we have a new identity. But the Babylonians, by changing these young men’s names, wanted to obliterate anything God had put inside of them – change their identity! On some of the college campuses today, if you call a person by the wrong gender, you can be reprimanded.
The enemy will always try to put a “label” on you which is not what God calls you. For instance, Daniel’s name means “God is my Judge.” Belteshazzar means “lady, protect the king.” They were even trying to create “gender confusion” back then! If you study pagan religion, there was always gender confusion. That is straight from the devil.
Hananiah means “Yahweh has been gracious.” But Shadrach means “I’m afraid of God.” Mishael means “Who is, what God is.” Meshach means “I’m despised, contemptible and humiliated.” They changed their names from “confidence” to cowards. The enemy will try to change the redemptive name we have from God.
Azariah means, “Yahweh has helped.” Abed-Nego means “I’m a servant of Nebo.” The enemy has a label for each one of us, and for many they have bought into that thinking that strips their real identity and it is defining their lives. That’s why when someone stops drinking alcohol, is born again, they are no longer called an alcoholic, but society says they are always an alcoholic. Not so, and neither is a drug addict once they stop, still a drug addict. If you are born again, you are a child of the Most High God not what you used to be!
When Culture Shifts, We Must Know Who We Are
Culture will try to change our standards also. Culture will try to get us to compromise what we once believed was wrong! Tells us its “out-dated” thinking. This takes the church into the forbidden. For instance: “You don’t have to be married, just live together. The marriage license is just a piece of paper.” And the worse one yet is: “It’s my body and I will do what I want with it!”
Daniel 1:8 – But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Daniel didn’t start preaching to them that this was from the devil, he simply asked if he could not defile himself. He was polite, as we should be. Daniel had already purposed in his heart not to compromise his standards.
In this day and time, we better know what we believe, settle our core beliefs, and know what is compromise and what is not. Just how much of today’s culture do we really let into our lives? When we see culture shift, we need to reaffirm our convictions.
Culture Will Test Us
Many today will be tested in a lot of areas, and some only a few, but we all will be tested in today’s society. How much we tolerate to enter into our lives is up to us.
Daniel 1:9 – Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and good will of the chief of the eunuchs. (Verse 10) And the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking worse than the young men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king.” (Verse 11) So Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, (Verse 12) “Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. (Verse 13) “Then let our countenance be examined before you, and the countenance of the young men who eat the portion of the king’s delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants.” (Verse 14) So he contended with them in this matter, and tested them ten days.
When the culture we live in starts to shift, we have to respond in the right way. We can’t fall into the two ex-streams: God didn’t call us to just be right! He called us to be effective. The goal is not to prove our point and that person be told, “You’re going to hell if you don’t change.” The goal is to be a good witness and win them over to understanding our God.
The other ex-stream is by telling a person that “you” love that person, that needs salvation, more than God does. Example: “I know the Bible says that, but God doesn’t really mean that for you.” When the truth is: God loves us so much that He calls us out of our sin and wants us to live for Him.
Jesus gives us the perfect balance of how we are to respond: John 1:14 – And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
When Jesus loved people, He did it with both grace and truth. Grace comes first. We connect before we correct. Love people first and then show them grace. Truth without grace is just plain mean. It’s right, but it’s mean. We can be right but also helpful.
Grace without truth is “meaningless!” The truth is what’s sets us free, so if there’s no truth with all that love, then its all meaningless. But when we put grace and truth together, we get good medicine.
Jesus gave us an example of this in Chapter 8 of John, when a woman is caught in adultery:
John 8:1 – But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. (Verse 2) But early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. (Verse 3) Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, (Verse 4) they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. (Verse 5) “Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” (Verse 6) This they said, testing Him that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. (Verse 7) So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”
I want you to notice something: Jesus is in the temple and the floor in the temple is not dirt, it is stone. They brought the woman directly into the temple and sat her down in the midst of all these men, including Jesus. Jesus wrote on the ground, hard stone, with His finger and He does it again.
(Verse 8) And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. (Verse 9) Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. I don’t know what He wrote, but He wrote it on that hard stone on the floor of the temple, because it says they “went out one by one.” They went out of the temple! Nowhere does it say that Jesus went out to meet these accusers because they had interrupted His teaching in the temple. Wow!
(Verse 10) When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” (Verse 11) She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
Grace first, then truth! Grace invites us to be free, so that the truth can literally set us free. Jesus loves us but loves us too much to leave us the way we are. God will give us the confidence we need to stand firm in the middle of a shifting culture! He will prepare us for every test!