We learn something interesting in the book of Daniel: after taking the Jewish people captive, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon found it important to give some of them—specifically Daniel and his friends—new names. Daniel 1 tells us that "from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego" (vv. 6-7).
Nebuchadnezzar stole from every captive his most private possession: his own name. When he redesignated these captives, he took away their identity. Why was that? Because to a Jew, your name was your spiritual identity.
For instance, the Jewish name Daniel means God is my judge. But that was stripped from him and he was given the name Belteshazzar, which means bel protect the king. Bel was the generic term for lord; it could refer to any of the Babylonian gods. So any time someone spoke Daniel's new name, they were basically saying "god save the king." That was his new spiritual identity.
All of this was Nebuchadnezzar's attempt to conform the Jewish captives into the image of Babylon—the opposite of what Paul instructed us in Romans 12: "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed" (v. 2). The world is constantly trying to make you like they are, to conform you to their image. They work hard at that every day in every song you hear, every billboard you read, every value system that's passed in a court of law.
So what can you do? Dare to be like Daniel. We go on to read that "Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself" (Daniel 1:8).
Daniel was no thermometer—he was a thermostat. He didn't go up and down depending on the temperature of the people around him. He'd walk into a room and boldly set the temperature.
The king could rename him, but Daniel refused to give in to the pampering and indulging that was meant to get the captive Jews thinking, Man, life is a lot better here in Babylon than it ever was in Jerusalem—maybe it really pays to live like this world. Daniel could have easily said, "Well, even if I ever do return to Judah, what happens in Babylon stays in Babylon." He could have made all sorts of excuses. "Why not indulge? Who's watching? Who cares?" But Daniel wasn't looking for an excuse because he was living with a purpose. He made an internal commitment. He purposed in his heart. You might say Daniel conquered inner space.
A couple years ago we celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the moon landing. It's impressive that we can conquer outer space pretty well. Our big problem is we don't do so well with conquering our inner space. When it comes to your life—what's around you, all the ways the world tries to mold you into its image—the way to conquer that outer space is to first conquer your inner space, to live with conviction so that you don't fall into compromise. Why not commit to doing that today?