You won’t find “New Year’s resolutions” in the Bible (nor will you catch me making any) but you WILL find the wholly biblical concept of being RESOLVED (a very different thing as you are about to see).
But Daniel RESOLVED to not defile himself… (Daniel 1:8, added emphasis)
The practice of making New Year’s resolutions goes back over 3,000 years to the ancient Babylonians (Daniel’s time). Yet nowhere will you find the word “resolution” in the Bible. By contrast, we do find the very different word — “resolved” — some 29 times in Scripture. For purposes of this article, we’re going to focus on two instances: this passage in Daniel 1:8 and the following passage from the Apostle Paul:
For while I was with you I resolved to know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2, added emphasis)
Again, we’re NOT talking about a typical New Year’s “resolution” here. On the contrary, the Hebrew word for resolved has a very different meaning: to be steadfast; unwavering; having a fixed purpose; to be resolute.
So how is being RESOLVED different (biblically speaking) from a making a resolution? A 2007 study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail, despite the fact that 52% of the study’s participants said they were confident of success at the beginning. My own experience involves the gym. I’ve been resolutely (resolved) training (lifting, martial arts, athletics) now for over 45 years and each year I have to suffer the hordes of “resolutioners” who pack the gym in January only to be largely gone by March (if not much earlier).
Sadly, and to the point of the aforementioned study, are the great many who make a so-called “confession of faith” or “repeat a prayer” as part of an emotional response but then soon fall away in the absence of genuine repentance and a life-saving/life-CHANGING faith in Christ alone (as described in Mark 1:15, John 3:1-21, 14:6). And it is for these lost souls that I have such a “Code 3” (lights and siren) sense of urgency — a laser-focused RESOLVE we should ALL share with Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:2.
Accordingly, let’s take a deeper look at the RESOLVED lives of Daniel and Paul. Following his first invasion of Judah and siege of Jerusalem in 606 B.C., Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar took hostage dozens of quality, gifted Jewish youths for “re-education” to help ensure the success of his long-range plans for world dominance. Among those was Daniel, but his path would not be like the others. Today, Daniel’s name is synonymous with uncompromising integrity, faith and resolute (RESOLVED) obedience to God and His standards.
Now understand, it wasn’t captivity and hardship that tested Daniel’s resolve. Rather, it was privilege. When the king ordered his chief official to choose from among the Israelites, he sought youths with certain qualities. They were to be without defect, good looking, “showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge,” with the ability to serve in the king’s court (Daniel 1:3-5). They were to receive privileged instruction and training for privileged positions.
The king ordered his chief official “to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans” including mathematics, astronomy, natural history, agriculture, and architecture. They were to eat the king’s food and drink the king’s wine, and after three years, they were to have a guaranteed position in the king’s personal service.
Now you say, “Privilege, education, good food and drink, one of the most sought after jobs in the kingdom—who could have a problem with that?” Praise God, Daniel did!
Daniel didn’t argue with the education, the training program, and the future in the king’s court. He didn’t even balk when Ashpenaz named him Belteshazzar, after a Chaldean god. Daniel drew the line where God did in Scripture — he wouldn’t eat the king’s rich food or drink.
But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank. (Daniel 1:8, added emphasis).
Why? Because the enticing food and choice wines—perks of the king’s service—had been ritually dedicated to Babylon’s false gods. What’s more, eating food prepared to Babylonian standards was likely to put the young exiles in violation of God’s laws concerning unclean foods (see Leviticus 7:23-27 and Leviticus 11).
Daniel wanted no participation in any pagan feast, even to the slightest degree. That would be a form of idolatry that would provoke the wrath of a righteous and holy God (Exodus 20:4-5). His decision, though immediately dealing with food and wine, was ultimately a decision about who he worshiped.
Daniel’s decision constitutes a basic part of resolute, uncompromising life (concepts that just happen to be central to our law enforcement calling): we must draw lines where God draws them in Scripture. If the truth of God’s Word opposes the world’s “wisdom” on a certain issue, we must uncompromisingly RESOLVE to stand firm on God’s Word under the power of the Holy Spirit that indwells every true Christian believer (something that Daniel and other Old Testament believers did not have, although they most certainly acted under the leading, covering and inspiration of the Holy Spirit).
Let’s briefly look at the rest of verse 8: Daniel, having RESOLVED to stand fast in obedience, responded with uncompromising courage and boldness:
He sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself.”
He was respectful, but steadfast (RESOLVED).
Finally, Daniel (and Paul after him), displayed resolute FAITH, and ALL for the glory of God (it was never about them). When Daniel sought permission to go on a water and vegetable diet, he demonstrated unwavering, resolute faith and trust in God. He said:
“Please test your servants for ten days…then let our appearance be observed in your presence and the appearance of the youths who are eating the king’s choice food; and deal with your servants according to what you see” (Daniel 1:12-13).
Daniel did what was right, and trusted God for the results, no matter what. In this case, God caused Daniel to look healthier than all the other youths (Daniel 1:15).
In closing, what else did Daniel and Paul do to have this kind of Holy Spirit-powered resolve? They prayed and spent time in God’s Word (in Daniel’s case, he clearly committed Scripture to memory inasmuch as the Hebrew texts were unlikely to have been available to him during his Babylonian “academy” training) – something EVERY Christian should be doing. And that same resolve and attitude toward “faith” is part of what it means to have a genuine, life-saving, life-CHANGING personal RELATIONSHIP with God in Christ.
Do you have that?
Do you have the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit that is available ONLY to born again believers? If not, let us help you.
In 2022, let’s be RESOLVED “in Christ” (and not a destined-to-fail resolution) under the power of the Holy Spirit. Let’s follow the examples of Daniel, Paul and our Savior Himself (Jesus was 100% resolved to fulfill His ministry and go to the cross on our behalf – see Luke 9:51, for example) to live out our faith and our law enforcement calling with fearless, bold (but humble) and resolute integrity. God knows we’re going to be tested this year, but with God’s power, all of us can meet the challenges.