Daniel, ch 5
I’ve often heard the question from teens: “Pastor, how far can we go?” That’s the wrong question.
When you go to the doctor you don’t ask, ‘How much arsenic do you think my body can withstand?” Would the doctor look at your BMI and estimate how much you could handle? No, he’s not going to tell you how much poison you can handle. He’s going to tell you not to take any arsenic. He’d want to know where the question came from. I don’t want to know how long I could be strapped underwater and still survive either.
Why ask these questions? Why do you want to know how far you can go toward immorality? You’re not married. Married people don’t ask how far they can go. If you’re married, you’re committed to go all the way. It’s wonderful. God intends marriage to be wonderful. However, sexual immorality is deadly. Flee sexual immorality! Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the person who is sexually immoral sins against his own body. 1 Cor 6:18
If you’re not married, focus on purity. Ask, “How can we honor God in our relationship?” Don’t ask, “How far can I go before I’ve dishonored God with this relationship?” Don’t try to figure out how close you can get to the line. Stay as far back from it as possible. This doesn’t mean you need to become a legalist. It just means learning to live safely.
When our boys were little, we often took them to Montreat to see my parents; they loved to go down to the stream in the woods behind my parents’ house. The stream was a magnet for our boys. I didn’t want the boys to get wet, especially in the winter. I didn’t want to have to deal with the mess in the aftermath of their playtime down by the stream. Each time they were heading toward the stream, I reminded the boys of this by asking, “What’s the rule?”
“Stay far enough back from the stream that if we fall headfirst, we can’t reach the water with our hands.”
After stating the rule to me, they were free to go and play. They would go down and play in the woods and they would throw rocks into the stream and have a great time, but they always came back dry. They couldn’t come back wet, because they weren’t allowed the excuse, “I slipped and fell in.” If they slipped and fell, they wouldn’t get wet. If they fell headfirst, they couldn’t touch the water with their fingertips. This is the way you want to live.
There is a line a person can cross, and there’s no turning back beyond that point. You don’t want to go near that line. You don’t want to figure out how close you can get. You want to go in the other direction. Don’t be Belshazzar. Be Belteshazzar; be Daniel. Be the guy who says, “I don’t care about a purple robe and a gold chain. I serve God. You can keep your rewards and all the incentives to bribe your friends to come and engage in blasphemy with you. I’m not interested. You don’t have anything I want.”
Be like Daniel. Daniel understood: There is a line a person can cross where it’s too late to turn back. Stay far from it.