Principles for Living in a Pagan Society

This outline is taken from a series of messages on the book of Daniel, preached by Dr. Charles Surrett.

  • Recognize that God has arranged the situation and has both placed you and allowed you to be in a pagan society. (1:1-2)

God is in control, and He sets up and removes kings. Don’t kick and scream against the society in which you live. He has a purpose for you being here.

  • Admit that you do not deserve better circumstances. (9:4-15)

We are always better off than we deserve. Were it not for His mercies, we would be consumed.

  • Learn to discern what you can do and what you should avoid. (1:3-5)

What can/should you as a Christian avoid in this culture? Daniel and his friends were taught the learning and the language of foreigners. They received government education and government food. He did not refuse to learn the language and culture. He refused only the meat and wine, and that was for a religious principle. He was not belligerent or arrogant. He was discerning. You must live by principle. (I Cor. 10:31)

  • Determine to remain personally pure. (1:8)

You must have this purpose or you will be defiled and impure by default. There must be a clear determination to be pure. Purity gives value to anything. Impurity devalues anything.

Eventually we as believers will be pure, without spot or wrinkle; yet in the present day we must strive for purity. Make your determination to purity when you are not under the influence of emotional feelings and desires.  Purity is possible, but it takes determination.

  • Trust God to give you whatever help you need. (1:9)

God arranged it so that Daniel could receive favor in the eyes of his superiors, without going against his principles. God has a way for you to do things right. When called to take a stand, you must trust God to arrange the circumstances.

  • Do not be defiant in spirit, but never compromise in actions. (1:12-14; 3:16-18)

Be determined. Take a stand. But, do it in the right way. Daniel respectfully made his request. Shadrach, Meshak, and Abednego were polite when speaking to the king.

  • Try to establish an excellent testimony. (1:19-20; 6:4-5)

Unbelievers may not appreciate the stand you take, but they ought to know you have a good testimony.

  • Depend on prayer to get you through the trials. (2:17-18)

Daniel had the kind of friends who would pray.

  • Give God the glory for your victories. (2:19-23, 28, 30)

Don’t claim victory for self. Be humble. Point others to God. He does not give victory because you are someone special. We are here for the glory of God.

  • Accept the fact that in this world you will have enemies. This should not take you by surprise. (3:8-12)

Your presence will or should put them under conviction. They may be jealous. Don’t let this get to your head. They hate your God. Don’t develop a martyr’s complex. If you represent God, His enemies will be your enemies. Love them. Do good to them.

If you are a friend of the world, God will be your enemy. Either way you will have an enemy.  It’s far better to be on God’s side with the world as your enemy.

  • Remember that God is able to deliver from persecution and oppression. (3:18)

Have the attitude of Christ, “Not my will, but thine be done.”  The leper cried, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.”  You must recognize God’s ability, but also yield to His will.

  • Recognize that God may not choose to deliver. (3:18)

As Job said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” The psalmist wrote, “As for God, his way is perfect.” You must still be true to God, even if He chooses not to deliver you.

  • Do not make moral decisions on the basis of convenience. (3:18)

This is what makes people become compromisers. If it is the right stand to take, then take it regardless of the outcome. God can give you another job or new friends. Don’t try to bargain with Him that you will do right if ____ happens. It sometimes hurts to do right, but it always hurts more to do wrong.

  • Live so wisely that unbelievers can see the difference. (4:18; 5:11-12)

They may not appreciate or agree with you, but thy should see a difference and see that you can be victorious regardless of what happens to you. The best testimony you have is how you deal with difficulty. (I Thes. 4:13)

  • Speak the truth uncompromisingly, but not unkindly or arrogantly. (4:24-27; 5:22-23) 
  • When secondary authorities command you to disobey God, you must disobey the secondary authority.  (6:7-10)

They exist so that you will obey God. He established the system. Obey – in the Lord. You must not disobey God in order to obey secondary authorities. When you must disobey a secondary authority, do so respectfully.

  • Do not fear the consequences of obeying God. (6:10)

Instead, fear the consequences of disobeying Him. It is your choice whether God will bless or chastise you. He is not a respecter of persons and does not play favorites.

  • Depend upon the coming Lord to eventually make all wrongs right. (7:21-27)

He is coming. You may not see things made right in your lifetime. The martyrs died, not seeing the fulfillment of the promises, but God is still faithful. In His time and way, He will take care of it. Remember that He is merciful and gives time and space to repent.