GETTING THE MESSAGE/The truth of Christ to overcome evil

GETTING THE MESSAGE/The truth of Christ to overcome evil


Daniel chapter three begins with King Nebuchadnezzar setting up a giant image of gold “on the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon” (verse 1). The King’s purpose is that the Babylonian empire will be unified around this image, which exalts the King.

In chapter two, Daniel had interpreted a dream the King had. In the dream an image had a head of gold that Daniel said referred to King Nebuchadnezzar’s rule over all nations. The main point of the dream, though, was that other great kingdoms would come after Babylon, but the kingdom of God would ultimately destroy them all and reign forever. King Nebuchadnezzar had responded to Daniel’s interpretation of the dream with great humility and homage to the Lord, but the scene in chapter three shows he is opposed to the plan of God.

In Ephesians chapter 2, Paul teaches that Christians were redeemed from being opposed to God’s kingdom. The three categories of resistance to God’s kingdom are the world, the sinful nature, and the devil. Paul mentions these in Ephesians 2:2-3, and we see them all on the plains of Dura.

King Nebuchadnezzar assembled all the dignitaries and a mass of humanity before the image he set up and commanded all people to fall down and worship at the sound of music from an orchestra set up for the grand occasion. You can imagine the scene of a multitude standing in reverence and then all falling down like a wave when the music began.

This image reflects mankind’s unity in opposition to God. The world we live in is opposed to God, who made all things. Christians are souls called out of the world into the kingdom of God by Christ. He teaches us not to love the world. The world hated Him. We are redeemed from that same enmity toward God. We know that we are dependent upon the grace of God.

God’s love to the world is in the gift of Christ. There are good things in the world. All good gifts come from God. We are to give thanks to God for all we have, to honor people in places of authority, and to do good to our neighbor. It is the spirit of the world, its pursuits, principles, and modes of living apart from God that Christians are called out of. 

Sometimes Christians struggle with what is sinful conformity to the world and what is not. Charles Hodge has a helpful comment on this problem: “There are rules in God’s word for us, but first understand the main difficulty is theoretical, not practical. The one who is filled with the Spirit of Christ and devoted to his service will not find much difficulty in determining what is and what is not sinful conformity to the world.”

The second category of opposition God is our sinful nature. The people in Babylon see good in the image of gold. There is a great warning from the king for non-conformity; you will be tossed into a furnace if you don’t bow down (Daniel 3:6). Sin is like this. The power of sin is coercive. I can’t live if I don’t have enough money, or if I submit to Christ, and countless other arguments. Sin is like kudzu. It grows anywhere planted and overruns the heart. 

Christ alone can deliver us from the guilt and power of sin. We are all Babylonians by nature, worshipping our own idols instead of the living God. Faith in Christ is a precious grace, and whatever is opposite of it is the greatest sin. It is a great gift of God to be convicted of sin and our need of Christ. Never take this for granted, but earnestly seek after Christ. 

The other opposition to God is the devil. In Isaiah 14, the King of Babylon is likened to Satan: “You have said in your heart I will ascend to heaven, above the stars of God. I will set my throne on high. I will make myself like the Most High.” The spirit of the devil is in King Nebuchadnezzar. He seeks adulation and glory for himself rather than God. 

Satan is described as an angel of light, a dragon, thief, liar, murderer, and roaring lion. Only Christ can deliver us from him. When tempted, Jesus could have overcome the devil by power. Instead, He overcame him by argument; He used God’s word. And He triumphed over Satan by His death, resurrection, and ascension into glory. And He set His people an example: we must use the truth of Christ to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil by faith. 

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