Emotional Conversion

Wanting to believe.

Daniel 6:14–18

And the king, when he heard these words, was greatly displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him; and he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him. Then these men approached the king, and said to the king, “Know, O king, that it is the law of the Medes and Persians that no decree or statute which the king establishes may be changed.”

So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions. But the king spoke, saying to Daniel, “Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you.” Then a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signets of his lords, that the purpose concerning Daniel might not be changed.

Now the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; and no musicians were brought before him. Also his sleep went from him.

They got him. The king is cornered, and he knows it. They’ve won. They’re also dead men walking. When they noticed how unhappy the king was with what was going on, they should have caved right there and let the whole thing drop. Getting on the wrong side of the king is not how to “live long and prosper.”

But the amazing thing about this passage is that it says that the king was greatly displeased with himself.

That seals their fate.

The king’s displeasure with himself is also important to God’s agenda. It keeps it right on track. While his displeasure threatens the agenda of the governors and satraps, it fits God’s agenda to a tee. It pries the king’s mind open.

He is suddenly rooting that Daniel’s God is real. He didn’t believe in Daniel’s God before. He may not have even known anything about Him. He probably still doesn’t know much.

But emotionally he now finds himself on the same side.

That’s a lot of conversion for such a short period of time.

People usually believe what they want to believe—what they hope is true. That’s where a lot of denial comes from. If you wish hard enough something to be true, you won’t be very open to contradictory evidence. This happens all the time with parents, to an astonishing extent, when their kid gets in trouble. Even video evidence can have no impact.

Unfortunately, because of this phenomenon, we tend to sugarcoat the gospel. We don’t sell Christianity based on it being true (i.e., the resurrection is a historical fact); we sell it as terrific. That’s a problem.

When you sell Christianity based on its benefits, you get believers who believe it based on its benefits.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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