The Changing of the Guard 14 – The Challenge of the Compromise

So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him. Then these men said, “We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God.”

 So these governors and satraps thronged before the king, and said thus to him: “King Darius, live forever! All the governors of the kingdom, the administrators and satraps, the counsellors and advisors, have consulted together to establish a royal statute and to make a firm decree, that whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the decree and sign the writing, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter.”

Therefore King Darius signed the written decree. Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days (Dan. 6:4-10).

All too often, politics is just a game. It is a dirty game of compromise and accommodation. It is a cut-throat game of give and take, of do unto others before they do it unto you.

But what really is the basis of long-term influence, power, and dominion? The political game?  Or obedience to God?  Daniel’s answer was clear: obedience to God is the basis of dominion.  He knew that Biblical ethics is the basis of dominion.

That was why Daniel refused to play the game.

He was a man of principle. He was a man of conviction. He refused to be drawn into the petty world of party pandering and peccant patronizing. He was a wise man who simply would not sacrifice integrity for pragmatism.

He had been called into the ministry of political action by Almighty God (Dan. 1:4, 17-20) and so owed his first allegiance to Almighty God (Dan. 6:10-11). He would not, and he could not, compromise that commitment. God’s will, God’s Law, God’s purpose, and God’s agenda for men and nations were non-negotiable for him.

Now, this does not mean that Daniel was inflexible and moss-backed. On the contrary, he was remarkably creative (Dan. 1:12-13). He was capable and discerning (Dan. 1:4). He was learned and facile (Dan. 1:20). He was dedicated and teachable (Dan. 1:17-18).  He was selfless and discreet (Dan. 2:14-18).  His extraordinary wisdom and insight won for him the audience of kings (Dan. 5:13-14), and his extraordinary piety and devotion won for him the audience of hosts (Dan. 9:3-22).  He was highly esteemed by men (Dan. 4:18), by God (Dan. 9:23), and by angels (Dan. 10:11).

 Still, his unswerving commitment and his righteous determination were inimitable. He was forthright in his condemnation of sin (Dan. 4:27). He was unguarded in his pronouncement of truth (Dan. 5:13-28). He was single-minded in his adherence to the Word of God (Dan.  6:5).

Like Josiah before him, Daniel

…did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the
ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or
to the left  (II Kings  22:2).

He dutifully obeyed the clear commands of Scripture to be steadfast and unwavering:

Therefore be very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, lest you turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left, . . . but you shall hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day (Josh. 23:6, 8).

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord (I Cor. 15:58).

And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing. For the Lord will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you His people. Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king (I Sam. 12:21-22, 24-25).

A stand like that can be costly though, and it nearly cost Daniel everything.

Think of it. He had power (Dan. 6:3). He had influence (Dan. 5:12). He had prominence (Dan.  5:14). But he risked it all for the sake of conscience.

A simple compromise would have preserved his power, influence, and prominence. But he refused to compromise.

He could have tried to work within the system. He could have tried to wait out the edict. He wouldn’t have had to deny his faith, just keep it quiet for a while. He could have tried conciliation, accommodation, or negotiation. Why waste everything that he had gained over such a small matter? Why not just play along, attempting to do good as the opportunity presented itself?

Daniel refused to compromise, risking prison and even death. He refused for three reasons.                

Loyalty to God

First, Daniel understood who really governs men and nations. He did not need to tremble before mere human edicts. God and God alone directs the ebb and flow of history:

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes” (Prov. 21:1).

“For I know that the Lord is great, and our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the Lord pleases He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deep places” (Psa.135:5-6).

Daniel knew that the security of power, influence, and prominence depended solely upon his loyalty and obedience to God: “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess” (Deut.30:15-16).

Daniel knew that he couldn’t play dirty little political games. Compromise would have been self-defeating.

The Inevitability of Persecution

Second, Daniel understood the nature of his opposition. He knew that his enemies would not be satisfied with anything less than the assassination of his faith and the obliteration of his privilege. Compromise would have been fruitless.  It wouldn’t have accomplished anything more than a watering down of his message.

“All those who desire to live godly lives will be persecuted” (II Tim. 3:12). There is no way around it. No amount of compromise can divert it. Persecution is inevitable.

Jesus explained this fact to His disciples saying,

If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but  I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the Word that I said to you, “A servant is not greater than his master.” If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My Word, they will keep yours also (Jn.15:18-20).                                                        

Thus, no matter what concessions or accommodations Daniel would have made, his enemies would have continued their assaults against him. Compromise would have done little more than buy some time.

The Promise of Prison

Third, Daniel understood that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). By refusing to compromise, he was risking prison or even death. But he knew that prison and death would become opportunities under the sovereign direction of God Almighty.

Like Daniel, Joseph risked everything by refusing to compromise his obedience to God (Gen. 39:7-16). As a result, he was thrown into prison (Gen. 39:19-20). But God used that prison as the first stage of dominion. Before long, Joseph was raised up out of the depths to rule over the whole land (Gen. 41:37-45).

Similarly, David risked everything by refusing to compromise his obedience to God (I Sam. 18:1-16). As a result, he was cast into exile (I Sam. 19:11-18). But God used exile as the first stage of dominion. Before long, David was raised up out of the depths to rule over the whole land (II Sam. 2:4).

The early Christians alsorisked everything by refusing to compromise their obedience to God (Acts 4:19-20). As a result, they were thrown into prison (Acts 5:19). But God used prison as the first stage of dominion. Before long they were raised up out of the depths to rule over the whole land (Acts 19:26).

This pattern of reaction– repression – resurrection runs all throughout the Bible. It underlies the stories of Esther (Esther 3:6-15; 8:1-17), Job (Job 1:13-22; 42:10-15), Jeremiah (Jer.37:11-16; 39:11-12),  Elijah  (I Kings  17:1-16; 18:20-46), Hosea (Hosea 1:2-9; 3:1-5), Micaiah (I Kings 22:7-12; 24-40), and the Apostle Paul (Phil. 1:7; 3:8-16). Like Daniel, each of these heroes of the faith witnessed the resurrection power of Almighty God. Each of them saw the most difficult and oppressive circumstances transformed into glorious victory. Each of them went from death to life, from bondage to liberty, from prison to promise. Each of them mirrored and illuminated the Gospel:

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures (I Cor. 15:3-4).

Jesus refused to compromise (Lk. 22:42; Phil. 2:5-8). As a result, He was thrown into the prison of the grave (Matt. 16:21). But God used that prison as the first stage of dominion. On the third day Jesus arose out of the depths to rule and reign over the whole land (Phil. 2:9-11). This is the essence of the Gospel.

So, Daniel’s uncompromising stand was rooted in his understanding of God’s absolute sovereignty and man’s resolute opposition. But it was also rooted in the privilege of prison and the promise of resurrection. He could remain steadfast because he recognized the reaction -repression -resurrection pattern in his own experience and could therefore “walk by faith and not by sight” (II Cor.5:7).

Steadfastness and Humility

The uncompromising stance of believers is often mistaken for prideful self-assurance.
Because  he  understood  who  really governs men and nations, because he understood the nature of His opposition, and because he understood that God would transform prison into promise, Daniel refused to hedge God’s statutes (Dan. 1:8; 6:5). His enemies took this to be mere hardheaded stubbornness (Dan. 6:13). They presumed that Daniel was just another in a long line of self-confident, egotistical, and dogmatic bureaucrats – a prideful, pompous, and pertinacious Persian political pretender!

Joseph’s enemies thought the same thing (Gen. 37:8). They assumed that he was a swaggering, self-promoting braggart -an irascible, irrational, and intractable inferno of indomitable indolence!

Virtually all of God’s heroes through time have been accused of having a self-indulgent, self-inflating, and self-assuming attitude: Moses (Ex.2:14), Job (Job 8:2), David (I Sam.18:8), and even Jesus (Matt. 9:3). Uncompromising steadfastness is almost always confused with unreasoning pontification. Righteousness is thus labelled “intolerance,” and righteous men and women are popularly diagnosed as “suffering from delusions of grandeur.”

But nothing could be further from the truth.

Uncompromising believers throughout the ages who have “conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, and from weakness were made strong,” did so “by faith” (Heb. 11:33-34). In other words, they trusted God rather than themselves. Far from having confidence or certainty in their own flesh, their own ideas, their own understanding, their own abilities, their own strength, and their own ingenuity, they put their full reliance on God (Phil. 3:3). They obtained victory even amidst travail, not because they were domineeringly proud, but because they were submissively humble (Matthew 5:3-12).

The Bible is crystal clear in this matter:

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret; it only causes harm. For evildoers shall be cut off but those who wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while and the wicked  shall be no more; indeed, you will look diligently for his place, but it shall be no more. But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace (Ps.37:7-11).

The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, and before honour is humility (Prov. 15:33).

Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty, and before honour is humility
(Prov. 18:12).

By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honour and life (Prov. 22:4).

But Jesus called them to Himself and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt.20:25-28).

Thus the reason Daniel was able to square off against the forces of evil without compromise involved not only what he knew, but what he was.  And he was humble.  His steadfastness was not closed-minded obstinacy. Instead, his understanding of absolute sovereignty, persistent opposition, and the promise of prison was rooted in a true humility.

The fact is Daniel couldn’t have done what he was able to do had he not been humble, no matter how well he understood the situations and circumstances swirling about him.

Living by faith, walking in steadfastness, and partaking of resurrection power is completely and entirely dependent on righteous humility. Recognizing and prospering amidst the reaction-repression-resurrection pattern is utterly impossible apart from godly meekness.

Hope from Prison

The Apostle Paul emphasized this truth when he wrote to the besieged believers in Philippi. He reminded them that their stand for the Gospel had to remain absolutely uncompromised, but in doing so he outlined in broad brush strokes the Biblical reaction- repression- resurrection pattern; he reminded them that it is God who really rulesmen and nations (Phil. 1:12-26), and he reminded them that prison is the first stage of dominion (Phil.1:1-11).

Once he had stated the necessity for steadfastness, he reiterated that humility is the only means to attain to attain steadfastness. The Philippians were not to have any confidence in their own flesh (Phil. 3:1-7). On the contrary, they were to imitate the Lord Jesus:

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:5-11).

They were also to imitate the Apostle Paul (Phil. 3:17) who asserted:

But indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of  His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means,  I may attain to the resurrection from the dead (Phil. 3:8-11).

Believers can stand firm on the truth despite opposition and persecution. We can emerge victorious, transforming prison into promise. We can know the power of Christ’s resurrection.

But only if we are humble.

We cannot hope to win the battle for the hearts of men and the souls of nations if we constantly compromise Biblical essentials (Matt. 28:20). But then, neither can we hope to win that battle if we carry airs of superiority (Matt.5:3-5).


The eighth basic principle in the Biblical blueprint for political action is that we must not compromise. But, that steadfastness must be marked by humility.

Like Daniel, we owe our full allegiance to God Almighty. We must not — we cannot waffle when God’s purposes are at issue.

There can be no compromise on the sanctity of human life. Abortion must be stopped.
Infanticide must be stopped. Euthanasia must be stopped. This must be an absolute priority for anyone called by God into the ministry of political action. This must be an absolute priority for every other Christian citizen as well. There are no “ifs,” “buts,” or “ands” about it — regardless of the risk to our power, influence, and prominence. There can be no compromise on ethics and morality. A conservative humanism is no better than a liberal humanism. Man centered values -whether from the left or the right, whether traditional or contemporary– must be eliminated from our cultural and political ecology.

We must stand steadfastly on the Word of God as our only guide to truth and life.

 Similarly, there can be no compromise on the integrity of the family, the freedom of commerce and enterprise, the limitation of federal intervention, regulation, and taxation, the diligent care of the poor and distressed, the autonomy and liberty of the Church, etc. In each of these areas, we must stand steadfast. God’s decrees dare not be compromised.

 We must recognize, as Daniel did, that God is sovereign, that opposition is inevitable, and that even the worst persecution offers with it promise and privilege. If we do, then we will not fear. The reaction –repression-resurrection pattern in Scripture gives us the assurance that an uncompromising stand will ultimately be blessed and used by God.

But – our steadfastness must be rooted in humility. Our uncompromising commitment must not rest on self-confidence and self-assurance, but on confidence in God and the assurance that comes by trusting in His “very great and precious promises” (II Peter 1:3).

Only when we stand, like Daniel, uncompromisingly yet humbly, can we hope to avoid the dirty games and sordid ploys of the political process.


Daniel refused to play the game of politics. He was uncompromising in his commitment to God. He was unyielding in his godly convictions. And thus, he risked all the power, influence, and privilege that he had.

He was willing to risk that power, influence, and privilege because:

First, he understood who really governs men and nations. God is sovereign and thus the risks of uncompromising faithfulness are more than balanced out by the benefits.

Second, he understood that opposition was inevitable. To compromise would not have appeased Daniel’s enemies. Better to keep his message undiluted and face the risks than to compromise and still be under the fires of persecution.

Third, he understood that God would transform persecution into promise. Prison is the first stage of dominion, so an uncompromising stand is worth the risk. Risk offers resurrection.

This reaction–repression–resurrection pattern is not only evident in Daniel’s life, it appears throughout the Scriptures providing for us the security we need to imitate the heroes of the faith.

But imitating unwavering steadfastness is not all we must do in order to procure victory. We must root our uncompromising posture in humility as well.

Our confidence must be in God. Our own ingenuity, our own skillfulness, and our own wilfulness is not sufficient or satisfactory. We must yield to Him. We must be uncompromising. But we must also be humble.

In short, we must unswervingly speak the truth. But we must speak that truth with true, loving kindness.

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