(summary of the sermon from 16 Aug 2015)
Subhash Chandra Bose famously said, ‘Give me blood and I will give you freedom’.
John F Kennedy said, ‘Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty’.
When world leaders wax eloquent about the importance of freedom, how much more significance should we give to our spiritual freedom?
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free,[a] and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
Paul addresses the Church of Galatia and reminds them that as followers of Jesus they have been set free. They needed to therefore be careful not to get bound in knots again. The Bible warns us from 2 Corinthians 11:3 that, ‘But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ’.
It is easy to fall prey to the Devil’s cunning schemes. Hence our spiritual freedom must be guarded carefully. In fact, in order to really experience freedom in Christ, we must be deeply dependent on God.
Let us reflect from the life of Daniel to learn how he stood firmly in his freedom in God.
A YOUNG HEART ROOTED IN GOD
Daniel chapter 1 talks about Daniel and his three friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who were taken as captives by King Nebuchadnezzar. Our success and wisdom often cause us to be targeted by the enemy. These young men were wise people and King Nebuchadnezzar didn’t spare them. They were dragged to Babylon as slaves. Interestingly, the dislocation from his family, his status, country or freedom didn’t ruffle young Daniel’s heart. Daniel 1:8 says, ‘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’s heart was rooted in God.
AN OLD HEART DEPENDENT ON GOD
In Daniel chapter 6, we see Daniel advanced in age. He is in his 80s. The government had changed hands a couple of times. Presently a Mede-Persian King was ruling the country. But Daniel was still high in the ranks. He was one of the top men in the country.
Often when we are doing well and are placed in high ranking positions, we will notice that we end up with many enemies. Daniel also had his share of enemies. They tried their level best to find fault with him. But they could not identify any lapse in his character. Everything about him right from relationships to finances to leadership styles was impeccable. Finally, they figured that the only way they could trip him up was by changing the law of the land that would affect his religion. So they influenced King Darius and slyly got a law that stated that for a month from then, every person must only worship King Darius. Any violation to that law meant being put into a den of lions!
Guess what Daniel did when he heard about this new law?
Daniel 6:10 says, ‘Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days’.
He went home and prayed.
Daniel subjected himself to the law of the Lord than that of the land.
Daniel’s enemies caught him praying and reported him to the king. King Darius was in a dilemma. He realized what was going on and wanted to protect Daniel, but unfortunately the law was signed and sealed. So he told Daniel that ‘the Lord you have been serving continuously is able to protect you’. Daniel’s commitment and dependence on God was a known reality. Do people around us know that we are dependent on the Most High God?
IN THE LION’S DEN
The custom was to starve the lions so that they would pounce on the person being thrown into their den and eat him up. According to the terms of the penalty, Daniel was flung into the lion’s den. The next morning the King hurried over and called out to Daniel.
Behold! There came a confident reply from the den, ‘Your Highness! Live forever! I am alive. God, My God whom I worship sent forth His angel and He closed the lion’s mouth and I am still alive. Because I am found innocent the lion couldn’t have his way’.
The hungry lions could not eat Daniel because he had no fleshly sin on him. Pride, jealousy, envy, self-righteousness, anger, strife – Daniel had nothing on him.
FLESH IN US
Satan tried yet again time to seal another tomb. But there was no flesh that could be found on Him either. That man was Jesus Christ. As we take up the Cross and walk behind Jesus every day, the enemy is trampled. As we lean more on God, our fleshly instincts will be killed and we can enjoy greater freedom.
D.L Moody once showed his students an empty glass. He told them that the glass was filled with air and asked them for ideas to get it out of the glass. Some suggested sucking the air out. Moody explained that sucking the air would lead to breaking of the glass. Instead, he said, that they could empty the air out of the glass by filling it with water.
Often we see a lot of fleshly sinful things in and around us. We want to get rid of it. If we don’t do it correctly our lives might crumble. The only way we can do that is by being filled by the streams of living water, that is, the Holy Spirit. The more we are filled by the Spirit, the more is our dependency on God. That will certainly lead us away from the sin in us.
King Darius lifted Daniel out of the den and instead tossed in his enemies. Even before they landed the floor, the hungry man eating lions gobbled them up! Meanwhile, Daniel grew from one level of independence to the next level despite being in the land of slavery. Let our dependency on God and our character show that we are the children of the Most High God.
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