Article: Resist the devil and Resolve not to defile oneself! | Jacob Varghese

Resist the devil and Resolve not to defile oneself!
Daniel 1:8 “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way”.
James 4:7 “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
The kingdom of Babylon conquered Jerusalem. King Nebuchadnezzar ordered to select some of the best brains from the Jewish people for his royal service. Selection criteria was tough followed with 3 years of excellent training. Food and facilities offered were also royal. Daniel and his young friends were conquered and carried away to that foreign land. There were many things done to them that they simply could not protest against. They couldn’t say or do much about it. He could not do anything about being renamed and forcibly reeducated in all things of Babylon. But then we read that he “resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food or with the wine” (Daniel 1:8). The Mosaic law did not prohibit eating meat or drinking wine. But Daniel was cautious. He feared that he might eat something that had been consecrated to idols.
Some scholars point us to the significance of sharing in meals created a symbolic visible bond between host and guest. This could easily have symbolized “covenant loyalty” to the king in everyone’s eyes. In addition, receiving the king’s food was also showing the “good life” being offered to him as a servant of king Nebuchadnezzar. So, Daniel chose to signal to others and to himself that he was devoted to his God and not to the king. Christians also need to think through how we can preserve some indication of a distinctive life as followers of Jesus. But I want to draw our attention to the fact that this was an inner resolution of Daniel’s heart and mind before he ever decided to do anything. It was formed in connection with his biblical convictions about holiness and living for the glory of God. Psalm 119 in verse 173 we read, “Let your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts.” This aptly captures the spirit of Daniel’s predetermined devotion to the Lord and his hope in God’s aid.
As Christians, we also aliens living in exile, are to have a similar inner resolution of the heart in order to be best prepared to explain the hope we possess. What was it that strengthened the hearts and minds of Daniel and his friends, so that they had courage to overcome a natural fear of the unknown? It was surely the fact that they had set God apart as holy in their hearts. They had made God sole director of their lives. We read and understand Daniel was determined, he made up his mind, and purposed in his heart. Today, as we hold onto Christ, living in our progressively hostile culture, we will also have to say no to the bad and wrong influences of the world. We will need to prayerfully guard and treasure our loyalty and commitment to Christ while reaching out to a world who needs His love. This will require constant submission of our hearts to Jesus as our Lord, turning to Him for our steadfastness in the faith. When we draw near to Him for these things, Christ’s resolve becomes ours.
We understand under the leadership of Daniel, they resolved not to defile themselves with the food and wine from the Babylonian king’s palace as the first portion of that food was offered to idols, and a portion of the wine was poured out on a pagan altar. An agreement was made with the chief official to test them for ten days by giving them only vegetables and water. (Dan.1:8-14) In those ten days, they looked healthier and better nourished than all the others who were taking royal food. So, they continued taking only vegetables and water for 3 years. But we see God blessed them in every area and they were ten times better than all others in wisdom and knowledge, in the whole country. Daniel and friends chose just vegetables and water when they were offered the best food and wine in the country. As Christians, what are the areas in our life where we chose anything like this? As Christians, are we willing to say NO to what this world offers if that is against God’s law? We may be offered name, money and facilities but God will give us His grace to say YES to His plans and NO to the world. By deciding to obey the Lord, we may become a fool in the eyes of many. But God places His chosen ones in strategic locations with a great plan and for a specific reason. Wherever you are placed today, whatever be your difficultly, God is working for you and through you. The exile failed to dampen the spirit of the four young men in Babylon. Instead of fuming and fretting they excelled in the land of exile. What a great inspiration for all of us. God exalted them to heights so that His name would be glorified through them. Never lose hope by your locked-up situation. Though it appears stagnant and a dead end, God will raise you up to greater heights. And His name would be glorified through us if we resist the devil and resolve not to defile oneself.
To be defiled is to be full of sin. Defilement is the state of being impure, dishonored, or desecrated. To defile oneself is an act of great disrespect toward God. Sin can defile a person, a community, or a nation. We defile ourselves in many ways. So, we need to have Godly characteristics and not to be friends of this world? If Abraham is pictured as a friend of God in Genesis 18, in Genesis 19, Lot is pictured as a friend of the world. In the Scripture, we are warned of this possibility; it is possible for a follower of Christ to be conformed to the world in such a way that it is hard to distinguish him. Christian life is a battle. Satan’s greatest desire is to turn people away from Christ through his lies and deceit. Although the Devil cannot snatch believers away from Christ (1 John 5:18), he is still hard at work to cause division among believers, render them ineffective in their testimony, and damage their relationship with God. Because of this reality, Christians are called to “resist the Devil.” We are to stand firm and oppose the adversary of God’s people.
Resisting the devil is a step in the journey from sin back to our loving Father. Right before James tells the early Christians to “resist the devil,” he tells them to “submit yourselves therefore to God.” Submitting to God and resisting the devil go hand in hand. “Submission to God in itself is an act of resistance to the devil. As people align their lives with God, the result becomes a growing resistance to the temptations of the devil and he loses any foothold in our life.” There is no better illustration of what this looks like than the example of Jesus himself. At the beginning of his earthly ministry, he had to resist the devil in the wilderness (Matt. 4; Luke 4). Even though Jesus was God in flesh, He resisted Satan by submitting to the will of the Father and quoting Scripture. After his command to resist the devil, James commands his readers to “draw near to God and he will draw near to you.”
If we resist the devil, he will flee from us. He cannot overpower a child of God who is humbly submitting to and actively pursuing Jesus. It is important for us as believers to remember that our ability to resist the devil should not be viewed in isolation. There are things that must happen in our hearts before, during and after we resist. We need to take stock of our own sinful desires and repent of those sinful desires and ask God for the grace to love Him more than ourself. We need to compare our life style with God’s word. When we pray, we talk to God, but when we read the Bible, God talks to us. We need a regular dose of God’s word in our lives so that we can clearly discern truth and live according to God’s word. We need to be serious in our Christian life. Don’t think that we can navigate through life, picking and choosing when to follow God, and think that we can escape devil’s attacks. Put on the Armor of God before Satan’s attacks; don’t wait until you are in the midst of a battle. Take courage as a Christian! You can resist the devil if you resolve not to defile yourself with the affairs of the world because Christ already won the victory. Don’t allow your own sin to give Satan a foothold in your life.

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JACOB VARGHESE

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