I learned to read with lightening speed the small print on the back of every type of packaged food. My daughter’s food allergies prevented her from eating soy, eggs, dairy and peanuts. Though the foods took on different shapes and flavors, those possibly life-threatening ingredients managed to make their way into what seemed like everything.
In today’s Daniel reading, we are introduced briefly to the pride-filled king, Belshazzar. His irreverent act of drinking from the gold and silver cups, sacred vessels—made by Solomon (1 Kings 7:48-51) and later taken from the Jerusalem Temple by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Chronicles 36:10)— smacks of sacrilegious arrogance.
We find woven in Scripture three similar themes or ingredients of sin. John warns against loving the world’s system and summarizes the sin in three parts: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life (1 John 2:15-17).
The same ingredients appear in the very first act of disobedience in Genesis, when Adam and Eve eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Take a look at Genesis 3:6: “The woman saw that the tree was good for food” (lust of the flesh), “and that it was pleasant to the eyes” (lust of the eyes), “and a tree…to make one wise” (pride of life).
Jesus, when tempted by Satan in the wilderness after fasting 40 days, faced the same three opportunities to sin. Look at Matthew 4:3-8: Satan said to Jesus, “Command that these stones be made bread” (lust of the flesh). He showed Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory” (lust of the eyes). He also mocks Him, saying, “throw Yourself down. For it is written, He will give His angels charge concerning you” (pride of life).
Belshazzar, after the terrifying appearance of the hand, offers anyone who can decipher the writing on the wall similar ingredients of the world’s system: pleasures, possessions, and position (Daniel 5:7,16). But these things are ultimately hollow; when we put our trust in them, we are found wanting. The writing on the wall says as much (Daniel 5:26-27).
Sin looks different from person to person, but it is rooted in the same self-focused pride we see in Belshazzar. Like those pesky food ingredients my daughter must avoid, evidence of sin seems to be everywhere we turn. Our sinful hearts are bent toward pride and self-sufficiency, but God’s truth offers freedom.
Sisters, our perspective is renewed as we invest in reading and studying God’s Word. Note how Jesus responded when tempted in the wilderness: “It is written…” He continually looked to His Father and His Word for strength and sustenance. Our hearts become recalibrated to True North as we lift our eyes off of self and circumstances. When we trust God with our very life-breath, we can stand firm in the knowledge that He controls the whole course of our lives (Daniel 5:23b).
Father, help us. Lift our eyes off our circumstances and our hollow pursuits. Renew our minds through Your Word. Help us to see You clearly and know You more intimately. Help us walk in Your ways, filled with Your Spirit, with hearts surrendered and lives wholly Yours. Amen.
Vivian Mabuni is an author and speaker, and a sushi, white Christmas lights, coffee-with-friends-lover. She has been on staff with Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) for 26 years and serves with Epic Movement, the Asian-American ministry of Cru. Vivian is the author of Warrior In Pink: A Story of Cancer, Community and the God Who Comforts.