Every generation has its challenges in trying to live the Christian life. Teenagers and young adults may face greater struggles than those in other age categories because new temptations clash with inexperience, and that can translate into disaster. Young people are still learning how to handle the world. Without the wisdom and life experience older generations rely on to overcome temptation, a young person can feel at a loss when pursuing godliness in an ungodly world. However, young people who want to follow Christ can avoid many pitfalls by following a few instructions:
1. Recognize that you are in a learning season of life. Our culture praises self-expression and urges the young to voice their opinions at every opportunity. While we all have the right to an opinion, wise young people recognize that they may not have the wisdom that many older people have earned, so they choose to listen and learn. Proverbs 13:20 says, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Rather than automatically discounting anything the older generation has to say, a young person desiring to live a Christian life will welcome the lessons learned through the experiences of others. By asking questions, challenging assumptions, and comparing ideas with the principles in God’s Word, you will build a foundation for a well-constructed opinion that is worth voicing.
2. Remain vigilant over the lust of the flesh and sexual sin (1 John 2:15–16). Young people must learn to handle passions, new feelings, and intense desires as they are in the process of becoming adults. The biological surges can feel overwhelming, especially to young men. Sexual lust can hit with such force that a young person who desires to live for Christ may feel out of control at times. God understands, and He has given detailed instruction in His Word to help keep those passions from ruining your life (1 Corinthians 6:18).
Romans 13:14 says, “Put on Christ and make no provision for the flesh and its lusts.” We “make provision” when we give our weak and sinful flesh more credit than it deserves. When we put ourselves in compromising situations and then expect ourselves to do the right thing at the last minute, we are making provision for our flesh. For example, a young person who attends a party hosted by acquaintances known for their drinking, drug use, and immoral behavior is making provision for the flesh. Intentions of doing the right thing in such a circumstance often get swept away by peer pressure or curiosity about sin. Wise people know their own weaknesses and steer clear of situations that might exploit them.
3. Recognize and reject idealistic expectations. Idealism creates unrealistic assumptions that can lead a young person into making poor decisions with lifelong consequences. Idealism about marriage, government, and finances can defeat the Christian life of a young person, as can idealism about the church. Many Christian young people leave the church because it does not live up to their expectations of what “church” should be. When they do so, they unwitting leave themselves open for attack by their enemy, Satan (1 Peter 5:8). God designed Christian fellowship and the preaching of the Word to help shape and mature believers (Hebrews 10:25), and plugging into a local, Bible-teaching church is vital for a young person’s spiritual growth. Any church will have flaws, but God may want to use a youthful perspective to help that church flourish. He will also use the flaws of that church to build character and wisdom into a young person who wants to live a Christian life.
4. Study. Study. Study. Paul instructed his protégé Timothy to study diligently so that he would learn to handle the Word of God rightly (2 Timothy 2:15). Our world is starving for truth. God’s Word is the truth it needs (John 17:17). The best way to thwart the enemy’s deception is to study God’s Word for oneself. Read it, listen to it, cross-check one verse against another, seek out teachers who thoroughly know and honor God’s Word, and apply what you learn. A young person who lives faithfully by the principles of God’s Word will gain the wisdom and maturity to impact the world (Psalm 92:12–14).
A young person can live the Christian life the same way an older person does. Christian living begins with a genuine surrender to the lordship of Jesus. It continues with growth as we come to understand who we are in Christ and all that means for our daily lives. We daily submit ourselves to the Lord for His purposes and His pleasure. When we sin, we quickly confess and reject it so that our hearts remain in close connection to God (1 John 1:9). We keep our eyes on Christ and “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called [us] heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).