Being a Daniel, Part 1: Character Traits of a Follower of Jesus Christ

Daniel 1:8 “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself…”

If you are someone who wants evidence for God’s existence, one of the best places to start is to examine the life of Jesus Christ. Daniel, the author of the Old Testament book that bears his name, records for us two incredible prophecies that the future Messiah must fulfill in order to be recognized by anyone as God: the “Son of Man” (in Daniel 7:13-14) and the date when Messiah first comes to earth (in Daniel 9:24-26).

We have looked at four “worldview wars” raging in a godless American culture today: 1) the war on the unborn child, 2) the war on sexual purity, 3) the war on personal identity, and 4) the war on re-education. Yet 150 years ago, in January 1873, Pastor Charles Spurgeon delivered a sermon on how to stand firm, as a follower of Jesus Christ, in a godless culture. The subject of his sermon was the character of Daniel.

This week, we’ll examine 3 of the 5 truths from Daniel’s character that Spurgeon highlighted to his congregation in 1873 that are worth following in America today, if your desire is to live for Jesus Christ.

Character Truth #1: Daniel’s Fear of God meant His Nonconformity to the World – “From his very youth Daniel feared God. His early days were spent in captivity. He was of the royal house of Judah, and he was carried away to Babylon. But the great love of God for Daniel appeared in his early and thorough nonconformity to the world. He was carried into an idolatrous country, and trained in an idolatrous court. Everything was done that could be done to make the young Hebrew forget the God of his fathers. His very name was changed, so that he might forget that he was a Jew and forget the name of God Himself!

Everywhere he saw idolatry, lust, and crime. There was nothing when he went outside or when he stayed at home that would not suggest the abominations of the heathen. Yet here it was that, while still a mere lad, ‘Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself…’ Daniel was a man greatly beloved, because even early in his life, he was distinguished for his nonconformity to the world.”

Character Truth #2: Daniel’s Courageous Trust in God – “He was called on 2 occasions to exhibit the utmost conceivable courage. First, he told the monarch Nebuchadnezzar to cease his sins by doing righteousness, and his iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, so that his life might be lengthened.

In these days, it needs no great courage to speak the truth, because no sudden death awaits the boldest messenger of Christ. We live in days of liberty, in which we may believe what we please, and say almost anything we wish, but it needed heroic courage then to come before a Nebuchadnezzar who thought himself to be a god. He was surrounded by soldiers who would in a moment have put him to death.

Later, he stood before a young and proud monarch and said to him, ‘You are weighed in the balances and found wanting; your kingdom is given to the Medes and Persians.’ It required great spirit to be able to be the stern interpreter of a monarch’s final doom. When he had been young he had faced Nebuchadnezzar, and when he had grown grey with years, with the same calm, brave spirit, he faced Belshazzar, and rebuked him for his sins, and for his proud defiance of the Lord God of Israel. He was a man greatly beloved to be such a lion as he was in the midst of all his foes.”

Character Truth #3: Daniel’s Resolve Under Trial. “There will come to most men some special time in which they will be tested, and it happened to Daniel in his old age. There were those who could not bear that he should always be in the forefront in political affairs, and they plotted against him, but they found nothing against him except concerning his God. They obtained a decree that no one should pray during thirty days except to the king. But Daniel cared little for decrees: it was his custom to bow 3 times a day before his God with his window opened towards that dear country which he still loved.

The lion’s den was nothing to him – if the way of duty lay through the jaws of wild beasts Daniel still pursued it. And you know the result, and how God vindicated his servant. Truly, I might have said, when he was thrown into the pit where the lions were raging, that the martyr was a man greatly beloved; but all confess that fact when they see him honored by Darius, brought up alive out of the pit where God had sent his angel to preserve him — then all who saw him confessed that he was a man greatly beloved.”

Daniel’s nonconformity to the culture, his courageous trust in God, and his resolve under trial: 3 marks of a true follower of Jesus Christ. Can you say you are a modern-day Daniel?

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