The pressure to conform (Daniel 1 v 3-8)

Explore God's Word Daily
Explore God's Word Daily

The book of Daniel is the story of some of God’s people who are taken to live in Babylon. One of the main themes of the book is how people can live for God in a “pagan” land.

New life
Read Daniel 1:3

• Who has been chosen to go to Babylon?
• What is their new life to involve?

It was common practice to export the brightest and best of a nation, train them in their new land and then give them positions of responsibility. It made use of the new talent and reduced the chances of any rebellion from that nation.

New names
Read Daniel 1:6

Within this group we are told of four men in particular and the following chapters focus on the story of these four men, especially that of Daniel.

• What do you think was the significance of being given new names by their new rulers?

In the Bible, names are significant for showing people’s identity. And these new names are specifically Babylonian—the one given to Daniel comes from the name of the Babylonian god!
So the issue here is whether Daniel and the others will be pressured into becoming Babylonians.

Drawing the line
Read Daniel 1:8

• What does Daniel go along with and what does he decline in his new life?

Daniel seems happy to run with the education program and the new name—but in verse 8 he draws a line. It's not quite clear why he draws the line at this particular point, but the key aspect is that he does draw a line: he will not “defile” himself.

Setting your heart

Daniel made a resolution; literally it is that he ‘set his heart’ not to defile himself. Living in pagan world as we do with all kinds of pressure to conform we need to set our hearts not to go along with the world.

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APPLY
Think of areas of life where you might be tempted to conform to the world around, for instance work, family, house, hobbies, holidays, money or children.
• Ask God to help you see where you need to set your heart to live for God.
• What will this look like in practice—where do you need to draw a line?
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This devotional is taken from Explore—a daily Bible-reading devotional from the good book company which enables you to engage with Scripture and which will encourage, equip and inspire you to live for Christ. Explore features contributions from pastors such as Dr Timothy Keller, Mike McKinley and Tim Chester.

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Originally published January 24, 2012.

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