Obedience is best
Yesterday I likened our experience of temptation to the firing of clay… a process which, if we resist “cracking” under the heat of it, deepens our resolve and strengthens our integrity. You could say we become tempered by the temperature of the temptation.
In making this comparison I cannot help but think of the most literal demonstration of it from the Old Testament: the record of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego found in Daniel chapter 3.
King Nebuchadnezzar had made a huge gold statue and summoned all the leaders of his domain to its dedication. The command went out to all, “As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.” (Dan. 3:5-6).
But these three, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Lord Almighty, refused to obey the king’s command. In fact, they boldly testified to the king,
“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Dan. 3:16-18).
Infuriated, Nebuchadnezzar had the men thrown into the blazing furnace – a furnace heated seven times hotter, so hot the flames killed the men who threw them in.
But to Nebuchadnezzar’s astonishment he sees four men in the flames – walking around unharmed! He calls the three to come out of the furnace and when they do “…the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.” (v. 27).
But remember, these men did not know the outcome of their ordeal beforehand. They were equally prepared to die rather than deny their Lord by worshipping Nebuchadnezzar’s idol.
This past Sunday Pastor Andrew made a statement that may have shocked some. But his statement is completely accurate. He said,
“We need to obey God; we don’t need to live.”
When temptations seek to dissuade us we do well to remember this truth and the examples of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego as we fix our eyes upon Christ and the prize before us.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. (Heb. 12:1-4)
To hear Pastor Andrew’s complete message, go to the NEW Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Sept. 15 message.