A few weeks ago I wrote an urgent message to a special group on my prayer list -children of Christian parents who were taught to live for God, but have gone away from their upbringing and are now living in sin. I continue to pray for them. There is another group on my list – children of Christian parents who are still in the faith. We rejoice in them. Yet they face great challenges in this world which is growing more and more hostile to biblical living. Here are several points I believe can help them keep living for God no matter what.
1. Humble yourself.
A teen who had been very co-operative, helpful, caring, and faithful made a fateful decision. “Why should I be the only one that helps? Why shouldn’t I do things my way and not worry about what others think?” That day marked a dramatic change. Instead of being reliable and considerate of others, that teen became self-centered. Instead of being a humble servant, the teen became self-focused. The danger zone was entered. Instead of getting God’s grace, that teen found something else – God’s resistance. God was no longer close. And God’s ways lost their appeal.
The Bible says that “God resisteth the proud but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6). If you determine to keep the faith, you must do it from an attitude of humility. That means to learn to think how God thinks, which means becoming a student of the Bible. This does not necessarily mean you go to college and learn all about the Bible. It does mean that you find out by consistent reading of God’s word what God says about life and how to live it.
In my teens, I had been unstable as a Christian. I probably went to the altar at every revival. One day after coming home from a service, I decided that if I was going to be serious about being a Christian, I should be serious about the Bible. I started to read it daily to see what God had to say. Solomon encouraged his son in a similar way. “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Pr. 3:5,6). The proud is self-sufficient, leaning on his own understanding. The humble person relies on God’s word, trusting in the Lord for direction.
If God’s grace comes to the humble, how do we get humility? Do we ask God for it? Does it drop down from the sky? Interestingly, in the Bible you find this phrase over and over: “Humble yourself.” Andrew Murray said that humility is not a grace like other graces, but is the ground in which all other graces are planted. And you are responsible for the ground being receptive to grace. That is why we read, “Humble yourselves.”
When you need to make a decision and are not sure what is right, humble yourself and pray that God will give you wisdom. Open the Bible and see what God says. Ask for help. When you have a relationship problem, humble yourself. Take the blame that belongs to you and clear your conscience. God will give you grace. When you are tempted to speak evil of someone, remember that it is the ungodly who sit in the seat of the scorner. “Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath” (Pr. 21:24). Humble yourself, and ask God to make your conversation always that which brings grace.
Don’t be worried that if you humble yourself people will make you a doormat and trample you. They may try, but Jesus humbled Himself and God gave Him a name above every name! After the cross came great glory. You may go to the cross too in humility. But there is a promise. “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:10).
2. Trust the Lord Jesus about everything.
Jesus made some amazing claims. He claimed to be the Son of God. He claimed that He was the only way to the Father. He claimed that He was the Good Shepherd. He claimed that He was the Bread of Life. He claimed that He was the Light of the World. If He is who He said He is, then you can trust Him with everything, and you can trust what He says about everything.
You can trust Him to save you from sin and eternal death. “For God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17). You can trust Him to be with you through every experience in your life, for He said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5b). You can trust Him to supply your needs, for He said, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” Matt. 6:33).
After Jesus taught His disciples some of the most difficult teaching, the Bible says, “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (John 6:66). It was such a dramatic loss that Jesus turned to His closest followers and asked them if they, too, were leaving. Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
3. Abstain from fleshly lusts.
Every Christian faces three enemies that work together to try to defeat him: the world, the flesh, and the devil. Many times it is through fleshly desires that Christian are tripped up. You will be tempted greatly to compromise with fleshly lusts.
It is like being at war and the enemy sets a ticking time bomb right beside you. You can either stay with the bomb and be destroyed, or you can get away. “Flee!” wrote the Apostle Paul. Sometimes running away is the most spiritual thing you can do. Peter stated it like this. “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (1 Pet. 2:11).
The world will allure you, your flesh will be severely tempted, and the devil will give you every excuse to give in, but in this war of the soul, God is also there. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13).
Years ago I learned a prayer that I have used in times of temptation. It is something like this: “Lord, I submit myself to You. And I resist the devil in the name and through the blood of Jesus.” I have never had temptation win when I’ve prayed that from my heart. God has made a promise. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). God’s word is true. You can depend on it. The devil will flee and the strength of the temptation leaves.
4. Be a good example of what a believer should be.
Being young does not mean you must be stupid or foolish or sinful. You can be informed because the word of God gives light. You can be wise because the Lord is our wisdom. You can be holy because God has called us to sanctification, and “faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it” (1 Thes. 5:24).
Paul wrote to young Timothy about his role in the church. “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12). Paul expected this young person to be a good example of a Christian. Timothy has long passed on, but you can be that good example today.
It does not matter that these are times of secularism, social media, and an increasingly anti-God bias in our institutions. We can still live for God. Timothy did it when Roman culture with its lewdness, its multiple gods, and its Caesars all conspired against followers of Jesus. It is not the environment or the politics that determines our faith, but the Son of God in heaven who is the same yesterday, today and forever. He died for us, was buried, and rose again. We have all the resources we need in Him.
Humble yourself, trust Jesus about everything, abstain from fleshly lusts, and be a good example of a believer. You will be a blessing.