Daniel 1:8, “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.”
The life of Daniel is one of the most significant stories in the Bible for many reasons. Not only do we find the miraculous event in this drama when God delivered Daniel from a den of lions, but we also read of a man about whom nothing negative is reported. From chapter one to the end of the book named after him, every mention of Daniel is positive. As a young teenager from Jerusalem, he was exiled to a distant foreign land called Babylon. Daniel and three of his good friends were immediately being considered for an honorable position in that land. The arrogant King Nebuchadnezzar planned to interview them for a prominent place of service in the court.
In order to prepare for this high-profile interview, they were instructed to eat “delicacies” the king would provide. “And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king. Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah” (Dan. 1:5-6). Even though the majority were feeding on the king’s meat and drinking the king’s wine, Daniel and his friends chose not to partake. Instead, they preferred a vegetable diet with water to drink.
But where did they get the resolve to stand against the king and not go along with ‘the crowd’ on this issue? It all began with a purposed heart. We live in a world where most people are feeding their fleshly appetites, being consumed by their addictions, and giving in to their besetting sins. We should take a stand and do the right thing in the midst of a culture that is declining. Refuse to participate, “…neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure” (I Tim. 5:22). Notice three aspects of having a purposed heart to do the right thing:
1. A Purpose in the Mind
The mind is our God-given faculty for thinking and processing information. Daniel and his friends were able to see beyond the luxurious enjoyment of the king’s dainties, using the faculty of their mind. The devil seeks to work around our faculties, but God always works through them. People whose minds are not able to understand the Gospel have experienced the darkening of this faculty. “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God should shine unto them” (II Cor. 4:4). When our minds are illuminated by God’s Spirit, we can see sin for what it really is, rather than in the way the devil tries to deceive us into seeing it. A proper view of the snares that Satan lays in our path is a vital part of having purpose in the mind to avoid them.
2. A Purpose in the Will
The will is the mental faculty by which we deliberately choose a course of action. Daniel and his friends had a resolve in their will that said: “When the opportunity comes to partake, I will not give in. I will not allow these delicacies to defile me. I will remain pure.” We must purpose in our will not to allow the entanglements of the world to entrap us. Of course our own will power, without God’s power, will never be enough to withstand the powerful pull of our sinful world. Even the apostle Paul said: “…for to WILL is present with me, but how to perform that which is good, I find not” (Rom. 7:18). But as our will is in line with God’s will, we can resist the temptations we face on a regular basis. We must deliberately choose to avoid wrong and choose to follow right.
3. A Purpose in the Emotions
The emotions are that state of mind derived from our circumstances, mood, or relationship with others. Daniel and his friends could have allowed the emotion of fear to take over, causing them to yield to the peer pressure around them. But they purposed not to let their emotions dictate their actions. Emotions are up and down, back and forth, and they change often. For that reason, we cannot make decisions based on how we feel at the moment. We must act according to principle, and crucify the emotions that are contrary to the Spirit’s leading in our lives. “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:24).
Taking the right stand with the right spirit comes as a result of having a purposed heart. There is no reason to be rude, condescending, or harsh when refusing to ‘go with the flow’ of society. Instead, we should demonstrate kindness, grace, and humility when we state our position. Daniel and his friends didn’t yell from a giant soapbox: “WE AREN’T DRINKING WINE LIKE THE REST OF YOU HEATHENS! WE AREN’T INDULGING OUR APPETITES LIKE YOU SELF-INDULGENT GLUTTONS!” No, without all the noise and pomp and outward display they quietly, yet firmly, took their stand. “He requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself” (Dan. 1:8b). Purpose in your mind, your will, and your emotions to do the right thing and, like Daniel, you can experience the blessings of a purposed heart!