We’re continuing a new series we started last week called Truth or Dare. You probably remember playing the game as a kid. As adults, we are still faced with this dilemma called Truth or Dare.
We live in a culture that is falling further and further away from God and we’re faced with this tension of deciding which way we are going to go.
Are we going to dare to live our lives like the world? Or are we going to face the truth of God’s Word?
In the game, there were usually negative consequences regardless of what you choose, truth or dare. You either had to reveal something you didn’t want people to know, or you had to do something that had a negative consequence.
But in the context of your spiritual journey, there’s an obvious best choice. Come clean about your secrets with God and you are going to find freedom. Dare to live like the world and you’ll find yourself drifting further and further from God.
This entire series is based on the book of Daniel because Daniel lived in a time where the nation of Israel, the people who are known as God’s people, rejected God and were paying the price for it.
But, Daniel took a stand for truth in the midst of all the compromise.
As you probably know, history tends to repeat itself. So, what we see in Daniel, even though it happened years ago, can be paralleled to what we are seeing today. And we all need to find out how to live like Daniel.
Last week, we talked about how culture has an agenda for us. It wants to change our identity, compromise our standards and create a confrontation.
And christians really struggle with this confrontation thing. They are on one extreme or the other.
You have the dogmatic christian who gets upset a culture and passionately tells them they are wrong. And then you have the passive christian who thinks it doesn’t matter how we live our lives.
Neither of these is right. Actually we need to meet in the middle. We need to get to a place where we be generous with grace and stand for truth at the same time.
This is exactly what Jesus does for us. He extends grace by saving us even though we don’t deserve it. And then He invites us into truth by giving us the Bible and helping us apply it to our lives.
Grace invites us to be free. Truth sets us free.
It’s not an either or. You don’t have to choose between grace and truth. It’s a both and. You need both and they complement each other very well.
Knowing that culture has an agenda to pull you away from your best life, you might be tempted to pull yourself out of culture altogether. But we are not supposed to retreat from culture, we’re supposed to impact it.
That’s why on the night before Jesus went to the cross, He prayed this prayer:
John 17:15-16 NLT – I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do.
Christians tend to get a fort mentality, “We going to barricade the doors of the church to separate ourselves from the world.” But Jesus cleared this up for us.
No, we do not belong to the world, but the last thing Jesus wants is for us to be taken out of the world. Instead, He wants us safe from the evil one as we go about making a difference in the world.
Sounds like a better plan than creating a fort, doesn’t it?
When you receive the gift of salvation by believing in Jesus, the devil can’t take that away from you. So he changes his strategy and works hard to make sure you don’t take anyone to heaven with you.
The devil would love for us all to create a fort and separate ourselves from the world. And that’s why you see so many churches that are inward focused. They don’t even care about the lost, they just want a safe place for themselves.
Well, you aren’t going to get that here. Actually, what’s most important to us is that those who don’t know God come through those doors every Sunday and find Him here at NoLimits.
If you’re looking for a church where everyone behaves like a mature christian, you’ll probably be disappointed here. We are a church who accepts people as they are and guides them into their best life.
So, this poses a challenge. How do we live in the world but not become part of the world? And how can we have positive influence in the middle of it all?
Well today I am going to really simplify this for you. There’s really only one culprit to an ungodly culture. There’s one thing that drives every ounce of ungodly behavior.
It’s all rooted in one mindset. And once you are able to identify that mindset, you’ll be able to be in the world without allowing its culture inside of you.
Since we’re in the book of Daniel, we’re going to call it:
The Babylon Mentality
You may remember from last week that Babylon is the ancient city whose culture infected the people of God in the book of Daniel. What’s interesting is, where Babylon used to be is now present-day Iraq.
And what I want to get across to you today is that Babylon is not a locality, it is a mentality. And it is a spirit that has existed from the moment sin entered this world until today. It’s still hanging around.
I want to help you recognize it. Because when you recognize how the devil works through Babylon Mentality, you’re not going to fall for it so easily. This message is going to be like turning the light on in a dark room.
The devil has one lie that spawns all the other lies. And you can see it the very first time he spoke in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. He’s always elevating humans above God.
Satan’s Lie: “I’m all about you. God is all about Himself.”
You can move forward just a few chapters in the book of Genesis and see satan using the same exact lie that he used with Adam and Eve. This is the story of the Tower of Babel:
Genesis 11:4 NKJV – “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves.”
God? Who needs God? We got this. God can just stay out of the way.
You see, the devil knows that all he has to do is promote and elevate you and fill your little pride tank to get you off track.
Genesis 11:9 NKJV – Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth.
This is where the name Babylon comes from. And the word Babel literally means confusion.
Because if you follow a way other than God’s way, it’s going to produce confusion in your life. You’ll find yourself living in chaos. Can you see why the entire world is in chaos right now?
If you are living a life of chaos, if you spend your days confused, you might just have bought into the Babylon mentality.
And the beginning of your Bible isn’t the only place you’ll find this. You’ll also find it at the end of your Bible in the book of Revelation:
Revelation 17:5 NLT – A mysterious name was written on her forehead: “Babylon the Great, Mother of All Prostitutes and Obscenities in the World.”
All the obscene things you see happening in the world started with someone elevating themselves above God, just like Babylon did.
That’s why you hear things such as “my body, my choice” as an excuse to kill a baby. That’s why it’s called the Pride movement, because we are elevating our ungodly choices above the Word of God.
You can even go to the middle of your Bible and find it there:
Isaiah 47:8-10 NIV – Now then, listen, you lover of pleasure, lounging in your security and saying to yourself, ‘I am, and there is none besides me. I will never be a widow or suffer the loss of children.’
With the Babylon mentality, you become so full of yourself that you believe nothing bad will ever happen to you. But look what happens:
Isaiah 47:8-10 NIV – Both of these will overtake you in a moment, on a single day: loss of children and widowhood. They will come upon you in full measure, in spite of your many sorceries and all your potent spells.
The Babylon mentality always starts off with fun and games, but now we see how it ends.
Isaiah 47:8-10 NIV – You have trusted in your wickedness and have said, ‘No one sees me.’ Your wisdom and knowledge mislead you when you say to yourself, ‘I am, and there is none besides me.’
Anyone else seeing how this has taken over our culture? You don’t even have to go to the dirty places to see this happen. Just look at all the people taking selfies.
Here’s what it all boils down to. This is exactly what we need to watch out for:
Babylon’s motto: “I am, and there is none besides me.”
This is the biggest trick of the devil right here. If he can get you self-focused, he can eventually get you to think that you’re smarter than God, that you know more than God and that your ways are better than God’s.
Every sin, every ungodly behavior can be summed up into one idea:
And this expresses itself in three different ways:
Let me post this selfie so people look at me and see how cute I am. Oh, and I better hit the gym, and take a pic while I’m there, so people can drool over my muscles.
This is also why so many ladies fall into the nips and tucks and fills trap. They want people to gawk over the way they look, or how well they’ve held up through the years.
I can do this without God. I’ll let you know when I need you God, but until then, stay out of my way. I’ll come see you on Sunday, but I don’t need you in my day-to-day life.
Did you know that’s why church attendance drops when things are pretty calm on the Earth? But you better know people will run to the church when there’s a tragedy or a recession.
Because most people truly believe they don’t need God until everything falls apart.
In other words, if it feels good, do it. I mean, no god would ever ask me not to do something that makes me feel good. How dare he call that sin!
In order to elevate self, there’s something else that has to take place at the same time:
You have to make God less than He is. You have to put Him below your ideas, your passions, your pleasures. And that’s exactly what culture does. They want to mock God every chance they get.
There are three ways to devil gets you to lower God:
Lie #1: God doesn’t love me.
Why would God call me out of something that makes me feel good?
The greatest expression of love is God who lavishly forgives and then calls you to live according to His Word so you can live a better life.
A few months ago, Beth and I rolled out of bed on a Monday morning, trying to find a good attitude while fixing the kiddos breakfast. When walking into the kitchen, we both noticed a rank smell.
We were both sniffing around trying to find the source. Was it the trash can? Did the dog poop somewhere? Did someone track in poop on their shoes? Are the onions rotting? What is it?!
We searched everything. Beth cleaned the floor. We couldn’t find the source, but yet the smell kept coming back.
As we were sniffing around, one of our girls, Adalynn, woke up. I went to her room, opened the door, and BAM, I was hit in the face with a terrible smell. I had found the source.
Apparently, at some point in the night, Adalynn not only threw up several times in her bed, but also blew out of her diaper. Yeah, she had a rough night.
There’s only one way to fix this problem. You have to tackle it head on. So I put her on the changing table and unzipped her little onesie sleeper to find that poop was all over her. And, it had been there awhile.
At this point, my heart broke into a thousand pieces. I started play a scene in my mind of what the night must have been like for her. In her room, all alone, wondering what was going on while rolling around in her mess.
You see, we still have a baby monitor in her room. So, we heard her fuss a bit in the night, but it was never anything extensive. But, if I’m honest, there was a moment in the night where I wondered if she had gotten sick.
In hindsight, now I know it was the Holy Spirit giving me a gentle nudge. But I never went and checked on her. I fell back asleep.
So, after playing the scene in my mind and then realizing that I should have been there to help her, I fell apart. I don’t cry often, but in this moment, I was sobbing.
God is a much better dad than me. He loves you too much to let you sit in your mess.
He forgives every one of your mistakes, yes. But that’s not enough! His love extends beyond that by correcting you when you’re headed the wrong direction.
He’ll put people in your life that will call you out and lift you up out of your mess. He’ll show you truth in His Word that may hurt a little, but deep down you know it will lead you to your best life.
Our culture is telling us that God doesn’t love us and is trying to take away our freedom. But the truth is, God loves you too much to let you flop around in your mess. He is actually helping you step into freedom.
Lie #2: God isn’t for me.
People think that God punishes us with sickness and natural disasters and other kinds of calamity. But this is all a lie. We bring all of that on ourselves when we separate ourselves from God!
He says, “Hey! Keep sex between one man and one woman who have committed themselves to each other in marriage.” And we decide our way is better and then get mad at God when our relationships fall apart.
God says, “Hey! Take care of your bodies because you are going to need them!” And then we blame God when type 2 diabetes comes knocking at our door from all the sugar and processed food we’ve been eating.
Every instruction in the Bible is for YOUR benefit, not God’s! He put it in there because He wants you free. He wants you to live your best life.
We just get convinced by culture that our own way is better.
Lie #3: God wants too much from me.
Is it a challenge to live according to the truth in God’s Word? You bet. But God doesn’t leave you to do it on your own. He gave you the Holy Spirit to help you.
God loves you so much that He clearly shows us what to get away from. And then He gives us the power and help we need to follow those instructions. How good is that?
So the Babylon Mentality can all be summed up into these two simple statements:
Elevate self. Lower God.
There is one pillar story in the book of Daniel that illustrates this really well. It is found in chapter four:
Daniel 4:4 NLT – “I, Nebuchadnezzar, was living in my palace in comfort and prosperity.”
Here is the Babylonian king content without God. And he was elevating himself in the process. Imagine that.
The story goes on and Nebuchadnezzar has a dream that frightens him.
In the dream, he sees a tree that is healthy, strong and tall enough for the whole world to see it. It’s leaves were beautiful, it has abundant fruit, and every living thing enjoyed its presence.
And then a messenger came down from heaven and had the tree chopped down to a stump and shoo off all the animals that were benefiting from the tree.
This dream frightens Nebuchadnezzar so he calls in all his magicians and enchanters to interpret the dream and no one can do it. So he ends up calling in Daniel to interpret the dream, since Daniel could hear from God.
Here comes Daniel influencing culture the right way. He had the interpretation, and he knew the king could kill him for it, but he comes in with strength and courage:
Daniel 4:22 NLT – That tree, Your Majesty, is you.
That’s a great way to start off a conversation with a king… and it gets even better:
Daniel 4:25-26 NLT – You will be driven from human society, and you will live in the fields with the wild animals. You will eat grass like a cow, and you will be drenched with the dew of heaven.
Wow. I bet the king was really loving Daniel in this moment. But remember how the word Babylon means confusion? You get deep enough into it and you go insane and start acting like a wild animal.
Daniel 4:25-26 NLT – Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way, until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses.
The only way to step out of confusion, the only way to get away from the Babylon Mentality, is when you figure out that God is the one to be elevated.
Daniel 4:25-26 NLT – But the stump and roots of the tree were left in the ground. This means that you will receive your kingdom back again when you have learned that heaven rules.
This is how good God is! King Nebuchadnezzar totally walked away from God in favor of himself. But as soon as he gets his eyes focused back on God, God restores his kingdom. Come on, now. That’s awesome!
He doesn’t just leave you in your insanity even though you are the one that caused it. He leads you back to truth and restores you back to a prosperous life. That is how much God loves you!
But get this. Even with the foresight of what was going to happen to Nebuchadnezzar if he didn’t change, he still didn’t change. He continued to elevate himself and exactly what was predicted happened.
He was driven from human society and he ate grass like a cow. No joke.
But after seven years, he had finally had enough of living like an animal and look at what happened:
Daniel 4:34-37 NLT – After this time had passed, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven. My sanity returned, and I praised and worshiped the Most High and honored the one who lives forever. His rule is everlasting, and his kingdom is eternal.
Wow, talk about a perspective shift. And it gets even better:
Daniel 4:34-37 NLT – All the people of the earth are nothing compared to him. He does as he pleases among the angels of heaven and among the people of the earth. No one can stop him or say to him, ‘What do you mean by doing these things?
He now realizes that God is the only one to give credit to for life. Without God, we’re nothing. And we have no place to question what God does or what He asks us to do in His Word.
And look at the result of Nebuchadnezzar switching his perspective:
Daniel 4:34-37 NLT – When my sanity returned to me, so did my honor and glory and kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored as head of my kingdom, with even greater honor than before.
Only God can restore you and make you better than you were before. Only God loves you enough to call you out of your mess. Only God can give you honor with man because you honor God first. Only God.
Daniel 4:34-37 NLT – Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honor the King of heaven. All his acts are just and true, and he is able to humble the proud.
He finally got it figured out. Too bad he had to spend seven years acting like an animal before he stopped elevating himself and chose to elevate God instead.
It doesn’t have to take you that long! You can humble yourself today. Even if you’ve been acting like a wild animal for longer than seven years.
And when you do, God is not only going to restore you. He’s going to make you better than you were before. He’s going to give you favor with man and elevate you to a place of honor with those around you.
When you elevate God, He elevates you.
Try to elevate yourself and you are going to fall hard. Your face is going to hit the cement and you will wonder if you’ll ever recover.
Put God first, and you don’t have to worry about being elevated because He will take care of that for you. And it’s going to be way better than anything you could ever do by yourself.
Now that we can recognize culture, how do we withstand and even influence the culture around us?
I am going to give you three simple things you can do that will guarantee that culture will stay out of you while you stay in culture so you can influence it.
#1 I will exalt God.
Not just on Sunday. Not just at church. No, I will live my entire life praising and exalting God above everything else in my life.
We are really good at exalting a football team. So, if you are wondering how to exalt God, just take some tips from these crazy football fans.
They put everything else on the back-burner when it’s time to watch a game. They get focused in and don’t let anyone distract them. They scream, they yell, and they exalt their favorite team to all their friends.
I’m not saying football is bad. I’m just giving you a picture of what it means to exalt something. And we need to exalt God in our lives with the same energy and passion.
Just keep in mind, culture is okay with you exalting football. But they are not okay with you exalting God. So, get ready for people to look at you weird.
But it’s worth it! Because when you exalt God, you rid yourself of the Babylon Mentality and wind up living your best life. Who’s making fun of you now?
Here’s another example for you:
Psalms 145:1 NLT – I will exalt you, my God and King, and praise your name forever and ever.
Don’t praise a team that doesn’t even know your name while staying quiet about the God who saved you. Exalt, honor and praise God every chance you get and give no weight to the opposition of culture.
#2 I will acknowledge God.
Acknowledge that God is true and just. Acknowledge that everything God does and says is right and I have no grounds to argue about it.
Acknowledge that God’s Word is 100% truth. And there is no law that culture can pass that will get me to disregard the truth I find in my Bible.
If they tell me I can’t believe something in the Bible because it’s offensive, I’m sorry, but they are just going to have to lock me up. Because I care too much about people to not share the truth.
Truth comes from God and God alone. You can’t convince me otherwise. I will acknowledge God above all else.
Here’s the deal. When you exalt God and acknowledge that everything He says is true, culture can’t touch you.
1 Corinthians 4:7 LB – What are you so puffed up about? What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if all you have is from God, why act as though you have accomplished something on your own?
There it is right there. God made you. He gave you your gifts and your talents. He saved you by giving His one and only son. He provided everything we need on this earth to eat and build shelter and make a living.
It’s not you. It’s God. So, don’t ever get caught up with yourself. Which leads us into the third thing:
#3 I will humble myself.
Listen to me. Humility is coming whether you initiate it yourself or something else does it for you.
But can I tell you something? It’s much more pleasant to humble yourself. That’s why the Bible says:
James 4:10 NLT – Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.
Nebuchadnezzar was given a choice with the dream. He had the opportunity to humble himself. But he didn’t, and therefore was humiliated in front of everyone.
The same choice is before you. Are you going to choose humility? Or are you going to wait for humiliation?
Because I can promise you, if you don’t humble yourself, humiliation is coming and it’s not going to be pleasant.
Don’t you see what’s happening to America? Our country has elevated itself above God and now we’re being humiliated in front of everyone.
We’re killing our future with abortions. We’re killing our future with homosexuality. Because, I don’t know if you realize it or not, but two people of the same gender cannot reproduce.
We have people who sit around and let the government take care of them even when they are well and able to work and contribute to society. America is becoming a laughing stock and it’s all because we elevated ourselves above God.
Isn’t it clear to see how this happened? Don’t you see the Babylon Mentality running rampant through our country?
You have the ability to change it. And it starts by humbling yourself. We’re not talking about a cowering down as if you are worthless. No, you simply elevate God above yourself.
And like James 4:10 says, when you humble yourself, God will elevate you. He doesn’t leave you down in the dirt. No, He lifts you up into the amazing things that He’s called you to do.
Make your life all about God, and God will make your life amazing.
This is how you have an impact on culture without it getting inside of you. In every moment of your life, elevate God. Seek Him first. Give Him your best. Prioritize Him. And take initiative and humble yourself.
Take a moment right now to elevate God over your life and lay yourself before God in humility, offering everything you are to Him.
There may just be a strong pull on the inside of you because it’s time. It’s time for you to surrender your life to God and receive a new life from Jesus.
You know you’re not that good at managing your life anyways. It’s time to give Jesus the control of your life. It’s time to receive forgiveness and get your past washed away.
If that’s you, if you are ready to do that, I want you to say the following prayer out loud. And when you do, Jesus is going to wash you clean and give you new life. He’s going to fill you with joy, peace and purpose.
“Jesus, I’ve been living without you and I don’t want to do that anymore. I’ve done a lot of things wrong and I need your forgiveness. I accept Your love and grace for me and ask that You would be my Lord. Thank you for making me new. Thank you for washing away my past. I hand my life over to you and ask that you’d help me walk out your plan for my life.”