Without question, Daniel was a sinful man. Though scripture does not put in black and white his lawless thoughts and actions, we can be sure he was just like us — fallen, broken, tempted, and guilty of innumerable trangressions.
However, without question, Daniel was one regenerated and sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and as he grew in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and man, he looked more and more like Jesus Christ — the perfect man — who was yet to come.
Therefore, Daniel is a trophy of grace. He is an illustration of how the Holy Spirit can transform a man into the image of Christ. He is a model of manhood, and a motivator of our worship.
So, let’s not forget the impossibility of man’s self-righteousness. And let’s not forget the totality of man’s depravity. Neither should we forget the monergeistic, exhaustive, and unwavering nature of the Gospel. And let us boast only in Christ alone. However, as we do so, let us not also forget the unfathomable grace of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in making some wicked fellows men who are above reproach. And let’s pray that he does so to us and ours.
Daniel, as a young lad, was exemplary. Despite the hard providences of God, he remained faithful. He was not the average teenager; even the pagan Babylonians recognized this fact. Daniel appeared to be a wicked youngster without reproach.
Daniel remained an exemplary worshiper as he made his way through his middle ages. As the years mounted, his faithfulness before his God did not seem to falter. It mattered not the situation. It mattered not the king. For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, Daniel remained the Lord’s man. He was one in whom the Spirit of God rested. He refused to worship another deity. He was willing to die for his Heavenly Father, and he could be counted on to express God’s decrees without apology. Daniel’s testimony and reputation suffered no mid-life crisis. Daniel was a wicked middle-aged man, swimming in a world of temptations, but doing so without reproach.
Daniel, in his old age, remained a man of godly character and testimony. All about him changed. Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and the Babylonian dynasty had come and gone. Darius and the Medes now reigned supreme. However, Daniel’s faithfulness fluctuated not. As a man, as an elder, as a worshiper, as a neighbor, as a subject, and as a political servant, he was above reproach. And even his political enemies recognized this fact:
Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.” (Daniel 6:3-5)
Daniel’s enemies wished to take him down a notch, remove him from his influential post, and see him executed. However, upon fully vetting their opponent, no weak points could be found. No hidden interns could be found in the closet. No sexual indiscretion could be uncovered. He had not misused public funds, and he had not abused his servants or employees. One could “read his lips” and count on him to keep every word. Had he enjoyed modern technology, no secret texts could be found in cyberspace and no elevator videos could damn him. No, Daniel was a gracious servant leader who for decades had modeled allegiance towards God and charity towards his fellow man. Any accusations against him would be laughable — unless of course someone could make it illegal for him to pray to and worship his God. Then he might be in trouble. But that aside, throughout his life, from a young man to a senior saint, Daniel was a sinful man whose testimony was stellar. He was a wicked man above reproach.
Ladies, wouldn’t it be wonderful to marry such a man? How happy would be the wife whose husband loved God more than her? She would be so cherished and protected. She would be so honored and adored. She would be so improved by the worshiper who regularly fell on his knees in prayer and then arose to engage in the daily worship of his God and loving service to his beloved. He would not do her wrong … for long … for soon he would be checked and convicted by the lack of intimacy in his prayer life, and this would result in his immediate repentance and pursuit of marital reconciliation. Married friends, pray for your man. The Holy Spirit can build such a one. Unmarried and searching friends, hold out for such. Happy is the wife married to a wicked man who is above reproach.
Sons and daughters, wouldn’t it be wonderful to be fathered by such? He would spend himself providing well for his household, and any act of discipline would not be to safeguard his reputation, but to elevate, improve, and sanctify his children. Because he would be regularly found on his knees asking for wisdom, the Lord would answer and given him heavenly counsel in abundance. He would be an above-average leader, guide and counselor. Children, do you regularly lift up your wicked fathers in prayer?
Wouldn’t it be fantastic to work for such a man? God makes no “prosperity gospel” promises, but his business would be more likely to thrive due to his wisdom, work ethic, grace, honesty, and charity. Upon his passing, thousands of those graced by his life would gather to celebrate his legacy.
How about in the political sector? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be publicly served by a wicked man without reproach? Oh that God would give us local and national leaders who are persistent petitioners of the Most High God. Aren’t we all weary of self-serving and duplicitous tyrants? Don’t we wish for men with the demeanor of Daniel? Aren’t we weary of dishonest corruption and scandal? Aren’t we weary of governors and representatives removing the Scripture from public schools and offices, and wouldn’t we thrive if we had more men known for the callouses on their knees? Friends, pray for all those put into power by the Sovereign God. What we need are more wicked men, transformed by the Holy Spirit, and found to be above reproach.
Finally, wouldn’t it be wonderful to be served and led by such fellows in the church? Such ministers, elders, and deacons would be a team players and not ecclesiastical monarchs. They would not be found ministering from thrones and boardrooms, but from their knees and with towels in hand. They would be less concerned with the opinions of men and more interested in proclaiming the unvarnished words of God. For love of God and congregation, they would be willing to die. Oh, how the congregation served and led by such men would be blessed! Many have been the churches graciously loved by the holy God and his unholy men — wicked men above reproach. Dear church friends, are you storming the throne room of Christ on behalf of those he has called to serve and represent him?
Therefore, let us give honor to God who makes such men. We have all come across men who have stood tall for many years. Such fathers, husbands, teachers, pastors, politicians, employers, and leaders are to be honored. They are to be praised for being the trophies of grace built by the Holy One.
Let us realize that the best of us are really not such men. Maybe our press clippings are pretty grand. Maybe our dirty laundry has not been exposed. Maybe we can say our external testimony is clean. Let us know that it is always easier to maintain a better reputation than character. However, in the silent recesses of our hearts, we all know our minds and hearts. The sins change. They come and go. But sins of all sorts always remain and raise their ugly heads. We are one with Jesus, but we are not like Jesus … yet. We have a long way to go. Therefore, every day, our race of progressive sanctification begins with repentance and a Gospel shower.
Let us strive to be such men. Let us set forth to look a lot more like Daniel and other more faithful saints. Let us diligently labor to be transformed more and more into the image of Jesus Christ — our Lover, Savior, Lord, Friend, Molder, and Maker. And how might I suggest we get on with our work? How might we make progress towards such a noble end?
Daniel’s prayer life is the key.
If we spent more time on our knees, with our Bibles in hand, with our brothers in check, we would be transformed more and more into the image of Christ. If we prayed like Daniel we could expect the progressive sanctification of Daniel. We too would be wicked men, seen more and more as holy, consistent, reputable, and above reproach. This is what God does!