Chapter 1.
A Mind that Was Made Up!

Daniel 1:1-8

We now open the curtain on one of the most exciting books of the Bible. The elements of this book have placed it under attack by those who do not believe the Bible is the Word of God. Here are some of the exciting elements of this book.

He foretells the history of the world from the time of Nebuchadnezzar, the rise and fall of the Medes and Persians, the Greeks, the empire of Rome, and the rule of the AntiChrist in the future Tribulation Period.

The book records the miracles of God's miraculous protection of the three Hebrews in the fiery furnace, Daniel in the den of lions, and the destruction of Belshazzar and his kingdom announced by the handwriting of God on the wall of the banquet hall.

This book is a great book. It is very practical for us today, but also prophetical, encouraging us to look forward to the return of Jesus Christ, the Ancient of Days. It records the character of an outstanding man throughout the first six chapters. Daniel was a man of character. The Bible gives us an idea of what he was like.


Daniel's Character Traits

1. He was Charming or Cute. He was a handsome young man.

Daniel 1:4— Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.

2. He had Character & Convictions, was Cool-headed.

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.

Daniel 2:16— Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would shew the king the interpretation.

3. He was Courteous.

Daniel 1:8-12... 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 [9] Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs. [10] And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king. [11] Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, [12] Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.

4. He was Cultured in education.

Daniel 1:17-19... As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. [18] Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. [19] And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king.

Daniel 9:2— In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.

Daniel 1:4— Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.

5. He was Courageous.

Daniel 2:13-16... And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain. [14] Then Daniel answered with counsel and wisdom to Arioch the captain of the king's guard, which was gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon: [15] He answered and said to Arioch the king's captain, Why is the decree so hasty from the king? Then Arioch made the thing known to Daniel. [16] Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would shew the king the interpretation.

Daniel 6:7-11... All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. [8] Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. [9] Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree. [10] Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. [11] Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God.

6. He was Contrite and Compliant. Daniel was a man of humility.

Daniel 2:20-23... Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: [21] And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: [22] He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him. [23] I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou hast now made known unto us the king's matter.

Daniel 2:30— But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart.

7. He was Celebrated, Commended, and Considered worthy of Honor.

Daniel 2:48— Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon.

Daniel 6:23— Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.

8. He was Conscientious and Consistent. He was a faithful man.

Daniel 6:4— Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.

9. He was Consecrated to the Lord. He was especially a man of prayer.

Daniel 6:10— Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.

Daniel 9:3-4... And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: [4] And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;

With this background about this man, let's fill in all the blanks and begin an adventure with him that will cover about 73 years. The next 357 verses and 11,606 words will be a blessing to your life. Let's look at Daniel's made up mind in this first chapter and learn from his decisiveness.

I. THE PUNISHMENT OF GOD'S PEOPLE— 1:1-2

When one rejects the Lord continually, sooner or later, time runs out and sin must be punished. Persistence in sinful living leads to promised judgment. The book of Daniel is about the fulfillment of promised judgment because of the lack of repentance from God's people. The Jews were caught off guard when a king named Nebuchadnezzar, besieged the city. His name means "Nabu has protected by inheritance." Nabu was the Babylonian god of wisdom and writing. The Babylonians had a thirst for knowledge. In late Babylonian astrology, Nabu was connected with the planet Mercury. References to Nabu or Nebo are made in Isaiah 46:1 and Jeremiah 48:1.

The siege of Jerusalem should not have caught the Jews by surprise because God's men like Isaiah, Micah, and Jeremiah warned them specifically that captivity was coming. They were warned that Nebuchadnezzar would come for them and would carry them off to Babylon for 70 years of captivity.

Isaiah 39:5-7.. Then said Isaiah to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the Lord of hosts: [6] Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. [7] And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.

Notice that Isaiah prophesies that the treasures of the Temple would be carried off to Jerusalem around 100 years before it happened.

Micah 4:10— Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go even to Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the Lord shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies.

While Babylon was still a small power, Micah delivered God's prophecy around 100 years before it took place.

Jeremiah 25:8-11... Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Because ye have not heard my words, [9] Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith the Lord, and Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual desolations. [10] Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the candle. [11] And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.

Notice that the Lord calls Nebuchadnezzar, "my servant." He was the tool of tribulation to be used against God's people.

Nebuchadnezzar attacked Jerusalem in the third year of Jehoiakim, the king of Judah. This appears to conflict with Jeremiah's statement that the first year of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, was in the fourth year of Jehoiakim's reign.

Jeremiah 25:1— The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that was the first year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon;

There is an explanation that may be given for this apparent discrepancy. It is the difference between Jewish and Babylonian reckoning. The Jewish calendar began the year in the month of Tishri (September-October) while the Babylonian calendar began in the spring in the month of Nisan (March-April). If Babylonian reckoning was used, the year Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem was the fourth year of Jehoiakim's reign, but if the Jewish reckoning was used, it was Jehoiakim's third year. Daniel, a Jew, may well have adopted the familiar Jewish calendar.

To conquer Jerusalem was not an easy task, but you need to remember that the Lord is using Nebuchadnezzar as a tool of chastisement. In 605 b.c. Nebuchadnezzar led Babylon against Egypt in the Battle of Carchemish. Egypt was defeated, and Carchemish was destroyed by the Babylonians in May-June of that year. While pursuing the defeated Egyptians, Nebuchadnezzar expanded his territorial conquests southward into Syria and toward Israel. Learning of the death of his father Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar returned from Riblah to Babylon in August, 605, to receive the crown and reigned for 43 years (605-562 b.c.). He then returned to Israel and attacked Jerusalem in September, 605. The city was not destroyed, but it was on this occasion that Daniel and his companions were taken to Babylon as captives along with thousands of others.

There were two other attacks upon Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar returned to Judah a second time in 597 b.c. in response to Jehoiachin's rebellion. When Jehoiakim died, his son Jehoiachin came to the throne. He rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar who again besieged Jerusalem. Once more, Jerusalem was not destroyed, but the king, his mother, and all the vessels of the Temple were taken away to Shinar or Babylon, along with 10,000 captives.

Ezra 1:11— All the vessels of gold and of silver were five thousand and four hundred. All these did Sheshbazzar bring up with them of the captivity that were brought up from Babylon unto Jerusalem.

Nearly seventy years later these vessels were desecrated by Belshazzar at his drunken feast, and God brought his kingdom to a close This was a fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah. Among these captives was the prophet Ezekiel.

Nebuchadnezzar returned to Judah a third time in 587-586 b.c. Zedekiah, the uncle of Jehoiachin, was subsequently made king and also rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar. This time Nebuchadnezzar came against the city, and after a long siege, he destroyed the Temple, and burned Jerusalem. The sons of King Zedekiah were slain in his presence, and then his own eyes were put out. He, along with the final deportation, went into captivity about 586 b.c. Most of the Jews who were not killed in this assault were deported to Babylon.

Why did the Lord allow this? Babylon was known for its idolatry. One reason why the Jews were taken captive is the fact that God placed His idolatrous people in the midst of an idolatrous nation so they would come to hate that which they loved. He wanted them to become sick of their sin. People today eventually become sick of their sinfulness. Those who indulge in drinking alcohol claim to have a good time until they become alcoholics and lose their jobs, health, money, or family. Drug users proclaim getting high is great until they crash and suffer the lows of addiction. Those folks involved in sexual sins are thrilled at first with their lifestyles until they have to deal with guilt, unwanted pregnancy, sexual diseases like AIDES, herpes, syphilis, or gonorrhea that can leave them sterile or dead. Solomon warned us of a wicked lifestyle.

Proverbs 13:15— Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.

Galatians 6:7— Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

It is tragic that the vessels that were used in the service and glory of God were taken away to be used to strengthen the worship of a pagan god. This is what happens when people rebel against the Lord, especially Christians. Our lives as believers are to be used to honor God just as these sacred vessels, but when we rebel against the Lord, God is dishonored and the purpose for which we were created and saved goes unfulfilled. Satan in fact, uses our terrible testimony to lead others astray. Our lives become a stumblingblock. Paul admonished us about causing others to spiritually fall by the way we live.

1 Corinthians 8:9— But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.

Romans 14:13— Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.

God raised up Babylon to punish idolatrous Israel. The wealthy and middle class families of Israel were taken back to Babylon as captives. God revealed to Jeremiah that Israel would be in captivity for a total of 70 years.

Jeremiah 29:10— For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.

Israel had broken God's law of letting the land rest every seventh year. For 490 years they rebelled against this law which means they disobeyed it 70 times. God allowed the land to rest for 70 years while His people were being chastened by the captivity of Babylon.

Leviticus 25:4-6... But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the Lord: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard. [5] That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land. [6] And the sabbath of the land shall be meat for you; for thee, and for thy servant, and for thy maid, and for thy hired servant, and for thy stranger that sojourneth with thee.

II. THE PREMIER PICKS OF THE YOUNG PEOPLE— 1:3-4

This section is important because it provides for us some background information about Daniel himself, and the young people that were chosen to serve in the king's palace. Nebuchadnezzar always took for himself the cream of the crop of the captives from any nation. The captivity of the royal princes to Babylon and their training to be eunuchs were a fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy. Isaiah told King Hezekiah this would happen to his descendants.

Isaiah 39:7— And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.

2 Kings 20:17-18... Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. [18] And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.

Most conservative scholars agree that Daniel was taken captive when he was about fifteen to seventeen years old. The Hebrew word for "children" refers to those who are in their teen years. Nebuchadnezzar recognized the value of training young people. Young people are provided with everything today, except God. There is a need for training in manners, Bible principles, dating, marriage, sexual purity, and money management.

As far as we can tell, based on what Isaiah said and the implications of verse three, Daniel was made a eunuch, and so you can understand why Daniel never married or had any children. It is possible these young men were given tests to determine their IQ's, and those selected were trained to be wise men to advise the king of Babylon. We will find that Daniel was included in this group and that the king did consult them. These candidates had several traits indicating they were not dummies. They were very sharp young men. They were the best of the nation.


Without Blemish = These words are from the Hebrew word muwm {moom} which means they were without "physical defects or blemishes and also moral defects."

Well Favored = good-looking or handsome

Skillful in Wisdom = They were well-versed in all kinds of wisdom. They had given attention to learning.

Cunning in Knowledge = This means "endowed with understanding, well educated or well informed."

Understanding Science = This means "having good judgment; quick to understand; having keen insight; discerning." The Chaldeans were noted for their studies in these areas. The Babylonians and the Assyrians were the originators of the calendar, the alphabet, and chariots.

Able to Stand in the King's Palace = They had the ability and were qualified to serve in king's court. These young men needed to be sharp so they could learn the language and literature of the Babylonians and be effective servants for the king. Thomson in The Pulpit Commentary says, "There were three tongues used in Babylon.

  1. Aramaic= Used for ordinary business and diplomacy. It was called in II Kings 18:26 'the Syrian language' and in this book (Daniel) 'Syriac'.
  2. Assyrian, a Shemitic tongue= This is the language of historic and legal documents.
  3. Accadian, the sacred tongue= In it the great bulk of the magical formulas and ritual directions of Babylon and Nineveh were written."

Eastern kings preferred foreign officials, interpreters, and governors. Their knowledge and backgrounds would add to the reservoir of knowledge that the king was seeking and prized. Knowledge was supreme to Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians. Let me ask, "Do you have a thirst for knowledge for the Word of God? Do you have these same traits listed above?" These are good traits to strive for in our lives.

Ecclesiastes 7:25— I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness:

Solomon searched everywhere and was determined to find wisdom and to understand the reason for things. He was determined to prove to himself that wickedness is stupid and that foolishness is madness.

III. THE PROVISIONS OF THE KING— 1:5

Daniel and the others are provided with food. The word "provision" is from the Hebrew word dabar {daw-baw'} which means "word, speech, or command." Each day he gave instructions for the menu of the palace. The word "meats" referred to the dainties or delicacies for the king. This was to be the finest food of the land. For three years they would attend the University of Babylon. Their beliefs would be under constant attack and challenge. Not only that, their humility would be attacked by tendencies to become proud and cocky. They were being "nourished," or groomed and prepared for greatness in this school. This is the idea behind this word "nourished."

This was definitely a test for Daniel, the Jewish princes, and the other young people. The first book that most Jewish children are taught is the book of Leviticus. It is the "health" manual of God's people. Included in Leviticus is a list of foods that are OK to eat and foods that are unclean or bad for your health. These young men were being tempted to compromise in their diet and what they would put into their bodies. Compromise would mean disobedience to God's Word and eventual deterioration to their health. The food would also be a problem because it was dedicated and sacrificed to a pagan god which was forbidden by God.

Exodus 34:14-15... For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice;

This is Satan's old tactic. He lays prosperity and comfort before God's servants in order to get them to replace their spiritual values and priorities with temporal, earthly ones. He tempts them with worldly values. When God's people make one compromise after another, they begin to change their goals, their focus, and their allegiance from the Lord to themselves or the crowd. When this happens, Christians get careless about what they put into their bodies. Some get involved with liquor, drugs, tobacco, and sexual impurity. These things do affect our health and our testimony.

Satan may lay popularity, pleasure, power, or prestige before you in order to get you distracted or spiritually sidetracked. When you get off-course, you become ineffective. Eventually, you will become dissatisfied with your life, especially when you are plagued with problems, emptiness, complications, and a sense of the wasting-away of your life. Beware of the provisions of the flesh that will hurt your spiritual growth and entrap your life.

Near Watsonville, California, there is a creek that has a strange name: Salsipuedes Creek. Salsi puedes is Spanish for "Get out of it, if you can." The creek is lined with quicksand, and the story is that many years ago, in the early days of California, a Mexican laborer fell into the quicksand. A Spaniard, riding by on a horse, saw him and yelled out to him, "Salsi puedes!" which was not very helpful to the man in distress. The creek has been so named ever since. That is what the flesh is like. We struggle to correct our fleshly tendencies, to get out of the effects of our sinful nature, but without the help of the Lord or a desire for spiritual victory, we cannot do it. Stay away from the creeks of corruption and carnality.

Romans 13:14— But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

IV. THE PURPOSE OR PERSISTENCE OF DANIEL— 1:6-8

Part of the Babylonian indoctrination program was changing the diet of the captives and also changing their names. Changing another person's names denotes power and the authority of the one who changes the name. The king is trying to get them to forget their old life and allegiance to God Almighty. The names that these boys have reveal that their parents feared the Lord. They are singled out because they are going to take a stand for the Lord.

1. Daniel = His name means "God is my Judge." It is interesting to note that this is the way he lived his life. He knew the Lord was judging or watching over him. Daniel was given a pagan name.

Belteshazzar = This means "The god Bel favors; the prince of Bel." Bel's proper name was Marduk, the sun god. Bel is possibly believed to be Cush, the father of Nimrod. Bel means "the confounder."

2. Hannaniah = His name means "Beloved of the Lord or the Lord is gracious." He too, is given a new name.

Shadrach = This means "Illuminated by the sun god or the servant of Sin," the moon god. Others render it "The command of Aku."

3. Mishael = This means "Who is as God or he who comes from God." His name is changed.

Meshach = This means "He who belongs to the goddess Sheshach or who is like Venus." Venus was considered the mother of God. In earlier history, she was known as Semaramis, the mother and wife of Nimrod. Meshach has connections with being an earth god.

4. Azariah = His name means "The Lord is my help." It was changed to Abednego.

Abednego = This means "Servant of Nego or Nebo." It also means "servant of shining fire." Nebo was the son of Bel. He was the Babylonian god of writing and vegetation. He was also known as Nabu.

The king thought he would destroy the faith of these kids by changing their names. He was fortunately mistaken. Notice verse eight again.

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 Bible says that Daniel "purposed" in his heart not to defile himself. What does this mean? The word "purposed" comes from the Hebrew word suwm {soom}. It means "to determine, to fix, to resolve and be devoted to principle; to be committed to a course of action." Daniel resolved not to defile himself for he was being true to a lifelong determination to do what was right and not to give in to the pressures around him. He refused to be swayed by popular appeal.

We too, are often assaulted by pressures to compromise our standards and live more like the world around us. Merely wanting or preferring God's will and way is not enough to stand against the onslaught of temptation. Like Daniel, we must resolve to obey God and make up our mind now to do what is right before we are faced with temptation.

The king could change Daniel's name, but not his character. He was a decisive young man, which is a rare breed in this day and age. Everything that was needed to make his compromise easy was in place.

Yet, Daniel determined to do what was right. He was decisive. Decisiveness is making present commitments to avoid future failures. Jeremiah preached against wickedness and foretold of punishment to come. Daniel listened and learned that compromise with evil always results in punishment and problems for the compromiser.

Daniel's commitment enabled him to endure four tests.

1. Unclean meats and wine, dedicated to Babylonian idols.

Proverbs 20:1— Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

The Jews diluted their wine with 3,6, 10 parts or more of water. The wine would act as an antiseptic to the water and its intoxicating effects were greatly reduced. The Babylonians, however, did not dilute their wine. The high alcoholic content would make it "strong drink."

2. Daniel's negative interpretation to a dream. Chapter 4

3. Daniel's negative interpretation to the writing on the wall. Chapter 5

4. The law that was signed to prohibit prayer to God. Chapter 6

Sometimes we are hesitant to take a stand. Why?

Daniel made up his mind to do what was right, for God was his judge. We should make the same commitments. Instability comes from not making up your mind. Daniel shows us that inner convictions can overcome outward pressures to compromise. God-honoring convictions yield God-given rewards as we will see later in the book. Is your mind made up to serve Jesus Christ? Some folks may ask, "How do you make up your mind and become decisive for God?" What does it really mean to be "decisive?"

A decisive person is one who has the ability to recognize the important, crucial factors of a situation and finalize difficult choices. This word "decisive" comes from a Latin word de-caedere which means "to cut off once for all as with a knife or sword." Decisiveness then is the ability to cut quickly to the heart of a matter. It is the ability to cut through chaos and confusion. Gordon Graham said, "Decisiveness is a sharp knife that cuts clean and straight. Indecision is a dull knife that hacks, tears, and leaves ragged edges behind it."

Decisiveness is an open-eyed character trait, willingly facing all factors bearing on the decision. Getting the right information is also an important part of decisiveness. So how does one become decisive? What will help you and I to be decisive and make up our minds?

1. Preparation Helps you Become Decisive

Future decisions on a matter can be made a little easier to make by being prepared now. This involves training, experience, getting all the facts, evaluating a course of action, and quickly and accurately using all one's energy to complete the task. The decisive person is careful not to move too fast or too slow. He maintains a balance on when to act. Preparation helps one maintain that balance.

In areas concerning temptations that we will face in the future, it is important that we make up our mind now about the decisions we will make when we are confronted with temptation. Both Daniel and Joseph had prepared themselves for temptation so that when they were confronted with sin, they refused it. Daniel's mind was made up about the temptations he would face in Babylon. When Joseph was confronted with sexual temptations day after day in Potiphar's house, he continually refused and finally had to run from Mrs. Potiphar's clutches.

By preparing yourself now, you ease the emotional and spiritual conflict you face when confronted with temptation. If your mind is not made up, then a debate is waged in your heart when temptation comes. Your flesh will look for ways to rationalize and justify sinful choices while the Holy Spirit will tell you not to give in to sinful actions.

The urges and desires of the flesh are very powerful. You don't want to put yourself in a debate. You may find yourself giving in to sinful desires. People get into trouble when they debate with their flesh because our flesh is a good debater. It is smooth at justifying and rationalizing that which is wrong. Get into a debate with your flesh about sin and in most cases you will lose. For this reason the wise Christian makes up his mind now and promises the Lord, "By your grace and power I will not do this Lord if I am ever confronted with this temptation!"

It is easier to resist temptation if you have thought through your convictions well before the temptation arrives. Daniel and his friends made their decision to be faithful to the laws of God before they were faced with the king's delicacies, so they did not hesitate to stick with their convictions. We will get into trouble if we have not previously decided where to draw the line. You need to draw your lines now of what is right and wrong. Before temptations arise, decide on your commitments. Then when temptation comes, you will be ready to say "No" to temptation. If you don't make up your mind, you will most likely give in to temptation. Behind every sinful tragedy, there is a process of wicked thinking.

2. Persistence Will Help you to be Decisive

The person who is decisive is willing to take responsibility for his decisions. It is the double-minded person that makes decisions and then backs away from the weight of following through on them. If their decision turns out to be a bad one, they look for others to blame or make excuses for their failures. The decisive person takes responsibility for their choices, good or bad, and sees their decision to completion. It is not decision making that brings success, but following through right decisions that brings success.

Esther was a persistent lady whose mind was made up to do what was necessary to save her people. It was Esther who said in

Esther 4:16— Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.

Esther's persistence and adamant conviction made her willing to sacrifice her very life for her people if need be.

Ruth's persistence helped her to remain loyal to Naomi even though Naomi was bitter, depressed, distressed, and chastened by the Lord. Her eyes were open to the difficulties. Naomi spoke of her emptiness, affliction, bitterness, and the hand of the Lord being against her. Yet, Ruth's persistence helped her make up her mind and take responsibility for Naomi. Ruth did not run from the difficulties they were facing because she made up her mind to stick with Naomi no matter what the cost. She told Naomi that her home, her God, her cemetery would be the same as Naomi's.

It was the persistence of the prodigal son that got him into trouble when he left his home and it was the same persistence that made up his mind to return to his father and get his life straightened out with his dad (Luke 15). Decisiveness is a great trait if it is channeled in the RIGHT direction. If a person has made up their mind to disobey the Lord it can be catastrophic. This is what happened to the nation of Israel.

Exodus 32:9— And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:

1 Samuel 8:19— Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;

It was downhill from here on out.

3. Principles of Virtue Help you Become Decisive

We want decisive leaders to give direction, make good decisions, and stick with those decisions. Yet, when their convictions ruffle the feathers of society, they are attacked and their character is assassinated. Liberals accuse the person who believes in absolutes as arrogant, authoritarian, and aggressive. The person sure of himself and his decisions is considered snooty, snobby, or stuck-up. The confident leader is labeled cocky.

Our country marvels at the person with a made-up mind. The people of this nation really do not know how to handle a person of conviction and decisiveness. Their only recourse is to destroy their reputation or life. It is for this reason, many leaders button up in order to spare themselves of grief and character assassinations. They fear taking a strong stand for what is right.

The decisive person lives by virtuous principles which give him a solid foundation for living and making the right choices in life. He refuses to reconsider a decision which he knows is right because right is right no matter how much pressure is exerted upon him to compromise. He is not swayed by polls or public opinions. He will not remain silent, but will speak up when others have shut-up because it is not popular or politically correct to say anything. Moral principles take precedence over polls in the life of a decisive person. Those principles of virtue and truth enable him to stand on his two feet even when he is alone. Truth gives strength, courage and confidence because truth is always right. The strength of truth is revealed in John 8:32.

John 8:32— And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

The strength of truth breaks the bondage of deception and intimidation, and sets one free to take the decisive stand that needs to be taken.

Secular education preaches there are no "absolutes." For this reason the Bible is rejected in many public schools and colleges. Man sets his own standards for living. Man determines what is right and wrong for he is his own god. Such teaching is known as "secular humanism." This is the message that is taught in our public schools and colleges. It is a false and corrupt message that is destroying our nation, especially our young people.

Young people now think nothing of going to school and slaughtering their fellow classmates. Life has been cheapened because our nation has rejected God's absolutes that life is special and sacred and that murder, especially of the unborn, is wrong. The absolutes of God's Word are not "old fashioned" as this world leads us to believe. They are as relevant today as they were when holy men of God wrote them down as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1:21). To reject the absolutes of Scripture is to court disaster and reap a whirlwind of woe. For this reason, it is vital that we have moral convictions that will help us to be decisive in doing what is right.


Virtuous Principles and Convictions Enable People to be Decisive

A. Decisive in Shunning Sexual Temptations-Joseph's moral convictions gave him strength to shun Mrs. Potiphar.

Genesis 39:10-12— And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her. [11] And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within. [12] And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.

B. Decisive in Suffering For What is Right—

Daniel persisted in praying to the Lord as always, knowing that it could cost him his life. It was his conviction to obey God rather than men. (Daniel 6:1-16).

C. Decisive in Standing For the Lord—

The conviction of the three Hebrews enabled them to firmly stand for the Lord and not bow down to Nebuchadnezzar's image. The truth of God's commandments gave them backbone to stand in the face of suffering and death.

Daniel 3:17-18, If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. (18) But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

D. Decisive in Shunning Satanic Temptation—

Jesus was continually tempted by Satan himself to give in to Satan's wiles. Our Lord's resistance was based upon the principles of Scripture. Each time He stood upon the Word of God and we should too.

Matthew 4:4— But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (7) Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. (10) Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

Preparation, Persistence, and Principles of Virtue help a person become decisive. The fourth thing that will help you in this area is having a Purpose.

4. Having a Purpose Helps you to Be Decisive

The decisive person has the ability to make the right decision and stick with it. If the decision is based upon one's circumstances, the decisions will change when the circumstances change. If the decision is based upon logical reasoning, the decision is altered when new information is presented. If the decision is based upon feelings, the decision will vary with emotions. When a person has a goal, a purpose, he is not as easily swayed from a good, perhaps unpopular decision. The person with a purpose is usually totally committed to the task that needs to be accomplished and sticks with the task until it is finished. Why is he so decisive? He has a purpose!

In the face of hardships and obstacles, Ruth stayed with Naomi because she had a purpose. That purpose was to help Naomi, someone she loved very much. She repelled turning back because she had a purpose. God gives the Christian a purpose for living. That purpose is to glorify God with his or her life. It is that goal that gives you motivation to decisively live for the Lord. Having a purpose helped several Bible characters to decisively live for God.

A. Having a Purpose Helps you to SERVE THE LORD—

Joshua was very decisive about serving the Lord because glorifying the Lord was his purpose in his life.

Joshua 24:15— And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

It was Moses who decided with great conviction and purpose to endure the hardships of his people rather than live a life of ease and wickedness.

Hebrews 11:24,25— By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; (25) Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;

Have you purposed in your life to serve the Lord Jesus Christ?

B. Having a Purpose Helps you to STAND FOR THE LORD

The purpose of the three Hebrews was to honor and serve the Lord. That desire helped them to stand with conviction against idolatry even when their lives were on the line.

Daniel 3:16-18— Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. [17] If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. [18] But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

C. Having a Purpose Helps to Prevent you From Being SIDETRACKED

The servant of Abraham was on a mission to find a wife for Isaac. This was the servant's mission and purpose. He did not let anything distract him from doing his job for his master.

Genesis 24:55,56— And her brother and her mother said, Let the damsel abide with us a few days, at the least ten; after that she shall go. (56) And he said unto them, Hinder me not, seeing the Lord hath prospered my way; send me away that I may go to my master.

When we have as our goal and purpose to do God's will, it will give us strength to keep from getting sidetracked. Demas lost that purpose in his life and he did get sidetracked.

2 Timothy 4:10— For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.

Is the purpose of your life to glorify God or have you been sidetracked?

D. Having a Purpose Helps you to Be STEADFAST

Paul challenged us to not give up and quit in our service for Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:58— Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Galatians 6:9— And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Paul's purpose to press for the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus enabled him to endure the shipwrecks, suffering, stonings, smitings, stealing, and scourgings that he faced throughout his ministry. Why? Paul had a purpose to glorify God.

Colossians 3:17— And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

E. Having a Purpose Helps you to STRAIGHTEN OUT your Life

When the prodigal son realized the mess he made of his life, his purpose to restore his relationship with his father and make matters right was the driving force that helped him to straighten out his life.

Luke 15:17,18— And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! (18) I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee.

Is your life messed up right now? When you ponder your path, is it filled with regret? Right now can be a turning point in your life if you will make your purpose in life to bring honor and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ. That purpose and goal will help you make the right decisions and help you straighten out your life.

Special Study.
A Study on Self Denial

When we look at the character of Daniel, we find that he was willing to deny his selfish desires of pleasure, popularity, and prominence to do what was right and in compliance with God's commands. He was a unique man because he knew how to govern his graspy, greedy desires that can grab a young man in a convenient situation. Self denial is a trait that is difficult to acquire and maintain because denying your fleshly desires is a struggle. Our flesh likes to be pampered and we don't like to say, "No" to ourselves. So how do we get consistent victory in this area of our lives? God provides some answers. A survey of Scripture provides insights on this issue. We will look at two basic areas:


A. The Reasons for Self Denial

1. Self denial is a Substantive Element in following Jesus Christ.

If you are going to be a disciple of the Lord, then "self must be conquered and kept in check. The conflict between your will and God's will is a constant battle that you will face continually. If it is your desire to be used of God, then you need to learn to deny yourself. To deny oneself not only means in every moment of life to say "No" to self, but also "Yes" to God. To deny oneself means to dethrone self and to enthrone the Lord Jesus Christ as the master of your life.

Kamikaze is the Japanese word for "divine wind." Divine the wind was in 1281. Never was a typhoon more God-sent, if one were Japanese. The typhoon crushed the invasion fleet mounted by the ambitious Mongol emperor Kublai Khan (Marco Poli Kublai) in the wake of his conquest of China's Sung dynasty. To take the wind out of the sails of the United States naval juggernaut, the retreating Japanese organized their own kamikaze in World War II.... a suicide air force. Navy pilots slammed their bomb-laden planes and themselves into American ships in the Pacific. Twelve hundred pilots killed themselves taking out thirty four U.S. ships. Today, we need "Christian Kamikazes" who will take the faith anywhere the "divine wind" blows regardless of the cost. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor who was imprisoned by Adolph Hitler said, "When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die." This is what eventually happened to him as he died for Christ in Germany.

Matthew 16:24— Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

When Jesus used this picture of his followers taking up their crosses to follow Him, the disciples knew what He meant. Crucifixion was a common Roman method of execution, and condemned criminals had to carry their crosses through the streets to the execution site. Following Jesus, therefore, meant sacrifice, true commitment, the risk of death, and no turning back. Taking up the cross meant that death was imminent for the cross-bearer. We are to live our lives for Christ each day as if it were our last. You never know, do you? Let me ask, "If this was your last day to live, what did you do with your life? Did you make it count for the Lord and have you wasted and thrown away your opportunities to serve Him?"

James 4:14— Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

2. Self denial is a Significant Principle in accomplishing difficult tasks.

Mark 9:28-29— And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? [29] And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.

In this situation, Jesus explains that the demons could not be cast out accept by prayer and fasting. Prayer and fasting involve self denial. It is hard work. The principle we are making here is that a difficult task sometimes requires self denial, especially in areas of time, money, energy, personal goals and desires. There are times we must sacrifice and do without to reach difficult goals.

3. Self denial helps to Strengthen those that are weak.

Romans 15:1— We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

The comforts that come from blessing and strength are not for the sole purpose of self indulgence. The philosophy of our lives is not to be eat, drink, and be merry. No, we are to be alert to the needs of others and do what we can to encourage and help them. Our life is not to be consumed in living for self, but for God and for others. A good motto for the believer, whether poor or rich, is to be "ministry to others."

Philippians 2:4— Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

Christian History, Issue 39, speaks of the Later Years and Legacy of Martin Luther. The article reveals that when Martin Luther married, neither he nor his bride, Katherine von Bora, felt "in love." Katherine was still getting over a broken engagement to a man she truly loved and Martin admitted, "I am not 'in love' or burning with desire." Yet, their love for each other blossomed throughout their 20-year marriage.

In 1527, a terrible plague struck Wittenberg, and virtually all of Luther's students fled for their lives. The prince begged Luther to leave town also, but Luther felt pastors should stay and help the afflicted. Because he and Katherine took in so many sick and dying people, their house had to be quarantined even after the plague ended. They denied themselves to strengthen the weak.

Luther was so generous he was sometimes taken advantage of by people. In 1541, a transient woman, allegedly a runaway nun, came to their home. Martin and Katherine fed and housed her, only to discover she had lied and stolen. Yet, Luther believed no one would become poor by practicing charity. "God divided the hand into fingers so that money would slip through," he said.

Even on his wedding night, Luther couldn't refuse a person in need. At 11 p.m., after all the guests had left, radical reformer Andreas Karlstadt knocked at the door of the newly weds. Largely because Luther fiercely opposed him, Karlstadt had fled town. But now, when Karlstadt was fleeing the Peasants' War and needed shelter, Luther took him into his home. Luther was able to strengthen someone who was weak by denying himself.

We have seen several reasons for denying self.

4. Denying self Safeguards our life from being disqualified by moral failure.

Lord Joseph Duveen, American head of the art firm that bore his name, planned in 1915 to send one of his experts to England to examine some ancient pottery. He booked passage on the ship Lusitania. Then the German Embassy issued a warning that the ocean liner might be torpedoed. Duveen wanted to call off the trip. "I can't take the risk of you being killed," he said to his young employee. "Don't worry," said the man, "I'm a strong swimmer, and when I read what was happening in the Atlantic, I began hardening myself by spending time every day in a tub of ice water. At first I could sit only a few minutes, but this morning, I stayed in that tub nearly two hours."

Naturally, Duveen laughed. It sounded preposterous, but his expert sailed, and the Lusitania was torpedoed. The young man was rescued after nearly five hours in the chilly ocean, still in excellent condition. Just as this young man did, so Christians should condition themselves by practicing devotional discipline, behavioral discipline, and discipline in doing good. This is what Paul did in his own life. He disciplined himself to do what was right.

1 Corinthians 9:27— But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

Paul denied his flesh, bringing it into subjection. This word "subjection" is a powerful word. It is from the Greek word doulagogeo {doo-lag-ogue-eh'-o} which means "to lead away into slavery, to make a slave and to treat as a slave; to subject to stern and rigid discipline." This is what we are to do with our body. Paul said, "I treat my body as a slave. I subject it to rigid discipline."

The reason he lived in self denial was to avoid behavior that would disqualify him from ministry. This is the idea behind the word "castaway." This word is from the Greek word adokimos {ad-ok'-ee-mos} which means "not standing the test, not approved." It was used of metals and coins that were examined and not found to be of the genuine weight because they had been shaved on the edges. People would shave the edges of their coins and melt down the shavings to form their own coins. The tampered coins were disqualified from circulation and use because they were not genuine or accurate.

Paul denied the desires of his flesh to keep himself in check. He did not want to do anything stupid that would hinder his service for Jesus Christ and put him out of circulation in serving the Lord. He wanted God to use him and was careful to practice what he preached because he wanted his listeners to know that he was genuine and his message was genuine.

We have seen the reasons for self denial, now we will examine the rudiments for self denial.

B. The Rudiments for Self Denial

What are the elements of self-denial? What is involved in denying your self? The Bible provides a number of insights.

1. Self denial may involve Surrendering Special Treasures in your life.

Exodus 33:5-6... For the Lord had said unto Moses, Say unto the children of Israel, Ye are a stiffnecked people: I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment, and consume thee: therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee. [6] And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by the mount Horeb.

Mark 10:21— Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

Not long ago at a high school, three military recruiters showed up to address some high school seniors. Graduation was only a few months away, and the military men were there for the obvious—to articulate to these graduating young men and women some of the options that military service would provide them. The meeting was to last forty-five minutes. Each recruiter-representing Army, Navy, and Marine Corps-was to have fifteen minutes. Well, the Army and Navy recruiters got carried away.

When it came time for the Marine to speak, he had two minutes. So he walked up with two minutes to make his pitch. He stood utterly silent for a full sixty seconds—half of his time. Then he said this: "I doubt whether there are two or three of you in this room who could even cut it in the Marine Corps. I want to see those two or three immediately in the dining hall when we are dismissed." He turned smartly and sat down. When he arrived in the dining hall, those students interested in the Marines were a mob. They acted without delay. He appealed to the heroic dimension in every heart and challenged them with difficulty, sacrifice, and a difficult standard. Jesus made the same challenge when He said, "Take up your cross and follow me."

A great hindrance to 100% total commitment to the Lord is the treasure of the believer. I am talking about those things or those people that are so important that they keep us from being or doing what God wants us to do. It may be money, a material possession, a position, even a person such as a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife. There is nothing wrong in treasuring things as long as they are the right treasures and they don't have a prominent position above our relationship with Christ. God's challenge to us is to replace our earthly treasures with eternal ones that will never be destroyed.

Matthew 6:20— But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

Our relationship with the Lord is to be our greatest treasu