Facing Your Crucial Years!
(An Urgent Message for Young Men and Women)
Are you a young man or young woman? Whether you are in your teen years or 20s, you are at an exciting time of your life! There is so much to learn and so much to do. Wherever you turn, you see opportunities to experience the thrills of living in the contemporary world, with it new discoveries, amazing inventions, and technological advances. We are conquering diseases, making nutritional breakthroughs, and continuing to explore space. Indeed, it is an awesome age in which to live!
Along with the excitement of your present years, you are at an extremely crucial time of your life! You are making choices now that will determine the remaining years of your earthly life–and may determine your eternal destiny!
You may be seeking an education now that will help or hinder your mental and spiritual development. You are choosing an occupation or entering a profession that will affect your entire lifetime career. The very ones of the opposite sex whom you are dating will have something to do with how you relate to men and women for the rest of your life. You may soon choose to marry a person who will have an extremely important place in your future–and this pivotal choice may either elevate you or destroy you! Decisions, decisions, and more decisions! Such weighty choices, and so often they are made with superficial thought and without regard to the consequences.
Although the potential for your life is great and lifelong choices lie before you, the vast majority of young men and women rush through these critical years without considering their significance or importance! Most young people misuse their fleeting years, abuse their bodies, and corrupt their minds. They assume that they can squeeze the last ounce of pleasure from life without reaping tragic consequences in the future. They reason, “We only live once, so let’s live it to the full while we’re young!”
While most people seem unconcerned about the deeper things of life, some thoughtful young people do realize that they cannot find the answers to the serious questions that face them: Why am I here? What is the meaning to life? Where am I going? Is there something beyond me? Does God really exist? If so, who is He? And how does He fit into all of this? A quest for answers to such questions seems to lead nowhere:
- Parents are generally as confused as their sons and daughters, and friends are facing the same basic issues without clear answers.
- Educators point to science, knowledge, and technology–but this provides no satisfying answer.
- Psychology says to find the answers within ourselves–but this is a main source of our problems rather than the solution.
- Television and other forms of media encourage us to seek excitement, diversion, and personal pleasure–but these avenues leave us depressed and unfulfilled in the long run.
- Popular songs speak of finding satisfaction in drugs, sexual expression, drink, and running wild–but these avenues lead nowhere but down, and many have taken their own lives as the outcome of the hedonistic or pessimistic message of music.
- The marketing system says to indulge self with money and possessions–but this leaves us spiritually empty.
Other voices tell us to find pleasure in drink, drugs, music, travel, food, cigarettes, sports, and sexual thrills–but, once again, these merely give momentary pleasure. They leave us empty inside, crying out for something deeper and more significant.
The Solution to the Perplexity of Life
Why do people seek but not find? Why is nearly everyone oblivious to the real answers to life? Why does our existence seem to be a cruel maze, with no way out? Because nearly all young men and women have overlooked the most fundamental truths of life! They proceed like millions before them without really seeing the simple truth!
Let’s look at some of these plain and clear but profound truths, without trying to avoid them or whitewash them. Let’s examine the very real problems you are facing without making them appear to be minor defects. Serious problems require radical solutions! It won’t be easy for you to face this personally–but if we really want to see the truth and find a lasting, fulfilling solution, we must sometimes confront issues that are rather ugly and hard to bear.
The Most Important Reality
First, we have forgotten the most important reality that exists–God! Don’t refuse to face this basic fact just because it makes you feel uncomfortable. The Scriptures say, “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth.”(1) Whether you are sixteen or twenty-six, now is the time to remember God and give Him the place that He deserves. Regrettably, most people have acted like God is irrelevant to their lives. Some have even denied His existence and the fact that He has created them! What could be more cowardly, close-minded, and self-defeating than to refuse to face the reality of God? The Scriptures simply charge, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.'”(2)
Young men and woman have made their choices of education, career, relationships, marriage, and lifestyle without God. How utterly preposterous to face the momentous life decisions without a thoughtful consideration of what God the Creator would want! People act as though God doesn’t matter. as though He can be confined to a church structure or a specific portion of time. On the contrary, God is vitally interested in you–your thoughts, words, deeds, plans, aspirations, and future! Therefore, be willing to acknowledge that your greatest responsibility in life is to respond to God, your Creator and Lord.
Rebelling Against God’s Will
Second, we have rebelled against God’s will for our lives. At first reading, this may sound too strong–but it is the truth. Be willing to face this obvious fact. By being unconcerned about God and His will, we rebel against our Creator. God declares, “Each of us has turned to his own way.”(3) Few people seriously ask themselves, “What would God want me to do about this decision?” No, people usually live from day to day according to what they want to do. In other words, each person is his or her own ruler or decision-maker. In effect, people make themselves into their own god! Few people look outside of themselves to God and His Word to direct their lives.
Consider what you allow in your own life. Are you very concerned about pleasing God and doing His will–or do you follow your own will? Do you carefully consult the written Word of God (the Bible) to discover what God says about everyday matters of life? Ask yourself the following:
- Do you listen to music that honors God–or do you listen to rock, country, rap, and other worldly music that leaves God entirely out?(4)
- Do you watch foolish, fleshly, lustful, materialistic, and worldly television–or do you use your precious time in ways that would glorify God?(5)
- Do you read and look at lustful, sexual, romantic, and worldly literature, pornography, and videos–or do you keep your mind pure and clean for God?(6)
- Do you waste your time pursuing selfish pleasures and worldly activities (games, sports, literature, movies, etc.)–or do you carefully use each moment in a responsible and wise way in light of eternity?(7)
- Do you dress in a way to attract the opposite sex or impress others–or do you dress in modest and proper clothing to please God?(8)
- Do you use your money on selfish pursuits, pleasures, and pastimes–or are you very conscious that money is a gift of God to be used according to His will?(9)
- Do you violate the speed limits and disobey other civil laws–or are you careful to submit to governmental authority which God has established?(10)
- Do you participate in sexual immorality of any kind (premarital sex, living with someone of the opposite sex, lustful embraces, homosexuality, masturbation, etc.)–or do you keep yourself absolutely pure and undefiled for your future marriage partner?(11)
- Do you lie to others, slander others, gossip, use profanity or vulgarity, or engage in foolish speaking–or is your speech pure, loving, wise, and true?(12)
- Do you like to party, drink, and use drugs which corrupt your mind and ruin your body–or do you keep your heart, mind, spirit, and body pure and clean for your Creator’s use?(13)
Answers to such questions as these should reveal the extent to which we have closed our hearts to God’s will for our lives.
Omitting Our Greatest Responsibility
Third, we have omitted our greatest responsibility and highest privilege. Do you imagine that God created you for your own happiness and fulfillment? Sadly, this seems to be the attitude of most people, yet it’s definitely untrue. Fulfillment, satisfaction, and joy do come but only as the outcome of doing what God wants us to do and being what God wants us to be! What is the essence of what God wants us to do?
The Lord Jesus reminds us of the greatest command: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.”(14) Not only are we commanded to love God with all of our being, but God also has given us ample incentives to do this. Actually, our love is to be a response to God’s own love. The Scriptures say that “God is love.”(15) This is a basic characteristic of the true and living God. He has demonstrated His love in creating you, providing for you, and allowing you to live to this very moment as you read this little booklet. He could have judged you long ago for your sins, but he patiently waits for your response to Him.(16) The greatest demonstration of God’s love for you and all of us is in the giving of His own dear Son to rescue us from destruction. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.”(17) “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”(18) Because of this overwhelming love for you, your greatest blessing (and responsibility) is to love Him in return.
If we sincerely love God from the depths of our heart, we will allow Him to be the center of our lives! We will think about Him, talk about Him, and want to live for Him. Furthermore, if we truly love God, we will obey Him in everything: “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.”(19)
Do you think that even one percent of people take this responsibility and privilege seriously? Very few do. Even many of those who profess to love and obey God fail to put Him foremost in their lives. They often want to follow the ways of the world rather than the ways of God. Yet God’s Word says, “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”(20) God will not tolerate a divided heart and compromised allegiance.
Furthermore, most young men and women want to put a girlfriend or boyfriend or someone else before and above God or the Lord Jesus. However, Jesus warned that this must not be done: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.”(21) No human being, including one of the opposite sex, must be allowed to compete with the Lord Jesus and with God!
Most people–including those who profess to be Christians–simply do not have an overwhelming, passionate, all-consuming love for God that is demonstrated in a lifestyle centered on God. Most are cold toward God or, at most, lukewarm in their devotion to Jesus. Yet Christ says that He will not accept this nominal, half-hearted, and partial commitment.(22)
Living for This Life Rather than the Next Life
Fourth, we have lived for this life rather than the future life. Most people of all ages are dominated by thoughts of the “here and now.” Observation will show that even most of the elderly–who should be thinking about what lies beyond death–are yet preoccupied with the present time. Especially is this true of young men and women! They somehow wrongly and foolishly conclude that fifty or more years are guaranteed them, thus they need not think about God now. However, no one is assured of one more day! “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”(23) God warns, “You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”(24)
Even if you expect to live a normal life span, God doesn’t want us to only be concerned about this life. Your present earthly life is extremely brief compared to eternity! This life may last 70 or 80 years. But the life to come will go on, and on, and on–endlessly! The Word of God encourages us to have this eternal perspective: “We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”(25)
You have the amazing privilege now, while you are young, of living for eternity. What you do now can count for the eternal future! You must never, never just think in terms of what gives you pleasure for a moment!(26)
Committing a Fundamental Sin
Fifth, most people are guilty of one of the most serious and fundamental sins in God’s sight. This is the sin of pride. Think about this for a moment. Pride is a feeling of self-sufficiency, an attitude that refuses to be under subjection to others, a disposition that exalts self and thinks that one has all of the answers. It raises oneself up and lowers God.
Obviously, many young people refuse to place themselves under their parents, under civil authority, under older people, and especially under their Creator. They are unwilling to admit the implications of their restricted vision, their partial knowledge, their limited experience, and their lack of maturity. While all unbelievers have some measure of pride, surely vast numbers of young men and women are guilty of this basic sin.
What does Scripture say? “You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves in humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”(27) Jesus warns, “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”(28) When young men and women are willing to submit themselves to rightful authority, they receive God’s blessing. When they harden their hearts and refuse to humble themselves, they inevitably fall into a wide range of other sins.
The Second Greatest Preoccupation
Sixth, most young men and women are preoccupied with a chief sin of the ages. Consider this carefully. Surveys indicate that sex is the greatest preoccupation of young men and women. In this sex-saturated culture, people think about, talk about, read about, watch, and even dream about sex and relationships with the opposite sex. But close to sex is the age-long preoccupation of money and possessions. This has provided a temptation through the ages that few have been able to resist. Some of the young generation in the latter 1960s dropped out of society and could see the hypocrisy of their parents in pursuing wealth. In turn, they fell into hedonism and opened the door to what they called “sexual liberation” which was actually a sexual bondage. Today, young men and women are not only obsessed with sexual immorality but with money and possessions!
Covetousness literally means to “want more” or to strive for more and more monetary and materialistic goals. Scripture points out that covetousness or “greed” actually “amounts to idolatry.”(29) It is one of the greatest dangers confronting young people–and just as dangerous to people of older ages. “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and corruption. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil.”(30)
It is true that God can use money and possessions and He wants His people to employ these gifts to His glory by supporting themselves and their families, providing for the needs of the community of Christ, and helping those in need.(31) Therefore, money and material things can be used rightly if they are carefully employed in the things of God. However, in the vast majority of cases, money and possessions will plunge people into eternal destruction. As young men and women, now is the time to renounce this second youthful preoccupation and establish wise and proper priorities in life.
The Amazing Sin of Omission
Seventh, consider the sin of omission. When most people think about the matter of sin, they remember things that they have done that they should not have done. For example, they lie when they should have told the truth, they use profanity when they should have used clean speech, they get angry when they should have remained calm and patient. Such sins of commission are definitely wrong. But the Bible also says that we sin by failing to do what we should do. We omit what God wants us to do. For instance, we read in Scripture, “Even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks.”(32) This is one of the greatest sinsthe failure to honor God and give thanks to God! If God has created us for Himself, surely it is a terrible offense to simply neglect and avoid Him. But this is what most people do! Only a small minority of people are outright atheists; most people just neglect God and His will.
Think about this yourself. Surely there must be many things that you know are right and good and pleasing to God, but you simply fail to do them. You may actually refuse to do them! Do you fail to read your Bible, the written revelation of God us us? Do you neglect praying to God? Do you forget to thank God for your blessings in life? Do you ignore thinking about God and His will? Do you disregard careful Bible study? Are you afraid to talk about God and Jesus with others? Do you fail to help those in need? Do you carelessly waste time on trivial, foolish, and useless activities? Do you refuse to give some of your money to people who are in need of such help? Are you generally self-oriented in your focus instead of expressing love for God and interest in others?
We only bring these matters up since by far the majority of young men and women miserably fail to do the good and right that they should be doing. Because of this, we can see that sin is much more extensive than we may have imagined!
The Tragic Consequences
Some people who suspect they may have cancer refuse to seek informed medical diagnosis because they are afraid of facing the unwelcome truth of their condition. Most people are like this in other ways. God says that people inwardly know that He exists, that He is Creator, that they are part of His creation, and that they are responsible to Him. They even know that God is a righteous Judge who will render to all their due.(33) However, the vast majority of people refuse to face this truth and act on it. They are like the one who says, “Dont confuse me with facts; my mind is made up!” Jesus says that those who love darkness refuse to come to the light of truth.(34)
What about you, personally? Are you willing to face the truth of God? We have already seen that all of us, including young men and women, have miserably failed God and not measured up to His Word. The Bible calls this sin and makes this solemn pronouncement: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”(35)
Many people think that God will judge people for their sins in a careless and indulgent manner. They think that He will balance their “good” deeds with their “bad” deeds and if the scales tip in favor of their good deeds, they will be invited into heaven! But Jesus said to those with unforgiven sins: “You will die in your sins.”(36) Tragically, those with unforgiven sins must face those sins in judgment! If you are a sinner, like the rest of us, what is the tragic result of your sin?
- You are spiritually “dead” even though you look very much alive! “She who gives herself to wanton pleasure [sin] is dead even while she lives.”(37)
- You are separated or alienated from God your Creator. “Your iniquities [sins] have made a separation between you and your God.”(38)
- You are in bondage to sin. Jesus declared, “Everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.”(39)
- You are under God’s wrath (or righteous anger). “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.”(40)
- You will have a part in the lake of fire–which we know as hell. “Their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”(41)
- You will not have a place in the kingdom of God. “Those who practice such things [sins] shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”(42)
- You will be eternally banished from God, the Source of all love, joy, peace, and true pleasure. Jesus will say, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire.”(43)
These are a few of the many consequences of your sins and my sins. Although it would be convenient to pass over these facts or not even mention them, God knows that it is for our good that we face them directly and courageously. Some people joke about sin and think of hell as a place of gratified pleasure, a sort of eternal party with all of their friends! Others close their eyes to these facts and imagine that they will be reincarnated and thereby escape judgment. Still others choose to even deny the existence of hell and assume they will cease to exist, just like a dog, cat, or ant! However, sin and its consequences are not laughing matters! Sin is utterly serious with punishment that will last forever and ever. Yes, sin is the most dreadful enemy you can imagine. It destroys everything that is good, loving, pure, true, and glorifying to God. It brings the most tragic and frightening loss.
Sin also is so very deceptive. God warns us of “the deceitfulness of sin.”(44) It is as though you were a strong, vibrant, energetic, and seemingly healthy young manbut then you discover that you are consumed inwardly by a fatal, terminal cancer. Cancer is destroying you without warning. Likewise, sin is deceitful and doesn’t announce that it is destructive, deadly, and disastrous.
The Surprising Solution
Since God has infinite love, wisdom, and power, only He could devise a plan to rescue us from the penalty of sin. People take pride in accomplishing great feats. Some are admired because they complete a triathlon, sail around the world, climb a towering mountain peak, or make an amazing scientific discovery. Man invents a plane to conquer gravity, devises water-purification to eradicate water-borne disease, and designs computer chips to store information.
However, all of this is child’s play compared to the seemingly insolvable problem of sin. How can a holy God of justice who demands punishment of the sinner actually accept the sinful person? Scripture says that God will not leave the guilty unpunished.(45) God’s Word warns, “You are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds.”(46)
In light of this righteous judgment, how can God accept you and me? Lets consult God’s Word, the source of truth, to discover the amazing solution. This is how God made provision to rescue us from sin and its consequences. The eternal God our Creator sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to deliver us from sin.(47) Christ placed on Himself our countless sins and died for them! “He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”(48) “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross. . . . Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God.”(49)
Let’s summarize these amazing truths: God gave His Son, whom we know as Jesus Christ. Jesus took upon Himself a human body, lived a sinless life, and died on a Roman cross in first century Judea. These are incontrovertible facts. When He died, Jesus died for you and meHe died for your sin and my sin! He suffered for us so that we need not die and be eternally separated from God. Through His death, we can be reconciled to God (or united to God) from whom we have been separated.(50)
Because Christ died for sin, He offers us the forgiveness of our sins! All of our sins can be removed and we can be accepted as righteous before God.(51) Think of it–your greed, your lust, your dishonesty, your laziness, your gluttony, your sexual immorality, your indulgence in drugs and drink, your lack of interest in God and disobedience to Him–all of this can be wiped away! Your record of sin can be entirely eliminated since Christ paid the price for your sin.
This is only half the good news! Jesus not only died, but God also raised Him from the dead. Three days after Christ died, he was raised with a glorified, spiritual, imperishable body! Jesus is alive today!(52) Through His new life, Christ Jesus offers us eternal life ourselves. We can receive eternal life now–a life that will be given in its fullness when Christ returns from heaven to receive His faithful followers.(53) “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”(54)
In addition to these blessings, consider this gift of gifts–God offers us the Holy Spirit as the greatest of blessings! God promises, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”(55) The Holy Spirit of God enables the true Christian to live a holy life that is pleasing to God.(56) Through the strength that the Spirit gives, one may say No to sin and self-centered pursuits and say Yes to a life of righteousness.(57) We can now see how the Bible promises us: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”(58) The inward change that God effects in us is so deep and radical that it is called a “new birth”–a spiritual birth from God.(59)
Many young people live with a profound sense of loneliness. They have reached out for friendship with others but have been turned down. Some have entered immoral sexual relationships with the opposite sex, but they remain deeply unfulfilled. Still others have looked for companionship through sports, parties, as well as common interests and pastimes. Yet they remain spiritually and emotionally empty. Even with superficial friends, truly loving relationships are absent. Some have gone so far as to take their own lives in despair.
God knows that we are not autonomous. We do need relationship–and He provides us with the greatest and deepest of relationships. We may have a rich, personal knowledge of God.(60) Paul speaks of “the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my lord.”(61) We may have a stimulating and fulfilling fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ! “Our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”(62) We may also have a deeply satisfying relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ.(63) The family of God (true children of God the Father) was designed to provide warm and intimate spiritual fellowship. God gives the answer to our loneliness by supplying this deep, spiritual relationship with Himself through Christ in fellowship with other followers of Jesus!
Let’s review the wonderful blessings that God offers to you through His wonderful mercy and through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ:
- You may be forgiven of all your sins.
- You may escape the sentence of death and hell.
- You may be reconciled to God.
- You may receive spiritual life from God now.
- You may have the fullness of eternal life when Christ returns.
- You may have a part in God’s wonderful Kingdom.
- You may become a new creation in Christ.
- You may receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
- You may enjoy a deep fellowship with God.
How Do You Receive God’s Wonderful Gifts?
God freely offers you the blessings of salvation in Jesus Christ. In other words, all of His wonderful gifts come along with the wonderful gift of His Son, Jesus Christ Himself! If we truly know Christ and are in Christ, we will also have eternal life,(64) forgiveness,(65) the Holy Spirit,(66) and every other spiritual blessing.(67) But how can you come to Christ? How do you appropriate His amazing gifts? Although a gift comes to you free and you do not work for it, you still must accept it and open it. Likewise, we must appropriate God’s gift of Jesus Christ to us and the blessings that come with Him.
First, you must believe in God. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”(68) You must accept Him as your Creator, as the One who “made the world, and all things in it,” and who is “Lord of heaven and earth.”(69) You must reject all naturalistic explanations for the universe and renounce godless evolutionary theories for the origin of life.(70) Many helpful books are available if you have been indoctrinated by the popular but erroneous evolutionary theories that have deceived so many.(71) Therefore, you must come to have a simple but firm confidence in Almighty God, your Creator. This is the foundational truth on which every other spiritual truth rests.
Second, you must believe that Jesus is the Son of God, sent into the world to save us from sin. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”(72) How important is it that you believe in Jesus? Scripture answers: “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”(73) Jesus is the “Christ” or the “anointed” of God to be our Savior and King.(74) He is our risen, living Lord.(75) In other words, you must believe that Jesus is who He claimed to be and the only way to come to God.(76) All other competing “ways” to approach God are false and futile ways.
Third, you must acknowledge that you are guilty of sin. This is elementary. If the cancer patient does not agree that he is sick and refuses to do anything about his condition, he cannot be healed. Likewise, unless you see yourself as a helpless,(77) hopeless,(78) condemned,(79) ungodly,(80) sinner, there is nothing that God can do to deliver you. If you sinned only three times a day for ten years, this would be more than 10,000 sins! Surely we have sinned much more than this! Indeed, all of us are sinners, worthy of death and Gods judgment. All are guilty of sin–and that includes you.(81)
Fourth, you must deeply regret your sins. Since you can now see the tragedy of sin, you need to be deeply grieved over your own personal sins.(82) Since sin has broken the heart of God, since sin has sent Christ to the cross to die for sin, since sin has brought you and all mankind under God’s righteous wrath, and since sin will surely take most of your loved ones and everyone else to hell, you should have deep sorrow and remorse over your many sins.(83) If you can see the seriousness of sin in your life, let your heart be broken by this dreadful guilt before God, your Creator and Judge.
Fifth, you must repent and renounce your sins and turn to God with all of your heart. Not only does God want you to be grieved and heartbroken for your sins, He also says that we must repent of them. This means that we must have a change of heart and mind about them. We must look upon sin as an enemy and must determine that we will not continue in them. “Repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”(84) Further, we must not only resolve to turn from sin, we must also turn to God. We must “repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.”(85)
Further yet, if you are presently living in sin, you must not only repent but you must renounce and turn from those known sins. If needed, you should also make restitution (make amends) for your sins. This is only reasonable. Suppose you steal a person’s watch and begin wearing it. If you want the person’s forgiveness, you must repent of the stealing, determine to cease stealing, and return the stolen watch to the rightful owner. This is also true regarding our own relationship with God. The Bible says that “he who confesses and forsakes” his sins “will find compassion” from God.(86) If you want to be forgiven, you must cease sinning and you must determine to do right. For example:
- You must repent of lying–and must begin to tell the truth.(87)
- You must repent of fornication or premarital sex, and must stop living with or “sleeping” with your boyfriend or girlfriend–then you must begin to live in sexual purity and holiness.(88)
- You must repent of listening to your worldly music and throw out your tapes and CDs–then you must freely sing with joy to the Lord.(89)
- You must repent of any type of employment that compromises Christian standards–and quit certain wrongful jobs to seek acceptable work.(90)
- You must repent of your use of drugs and tobacco–and must begin to treat your body with respect as a gift of God.(91)
- You must repent of your sexual lust and must throw out your pornographic magazines and videos–then begin to renew your mind in purity.(92)
- You must repent of your highway speeding and reckless driving–and begin to drive safely and responsibly on the roads, according to the will of God.(93)
- You must repent of your partying and drunkenness–and begin to live in sobriety and self-control.(94)
- You must repent of disrespecting proper authority–and must begin to submit yourself to those over you, whether parents, employer, or God Himself.(95)
- You must repent of any false religion you have embraced or false doctrine you have believed–and must begin to believe and practice the sound teaching of Scripture.
Sixth, you must renounce the false “gods” of your life. Earlier we noticed that most people in the world have set up favorite idols or gods that they cherish. They are wrongfully attached to them, spend money on them, waste time on them, read about and watch them. In effect, they worship and serve these personal gods. Some people in the world, like Buddhists and Hindus, actually bow down to and worship gods of stone, wood, and precious metals.
But most people today worship more sophisticated gods that are just as enticing and captivating as those in false religions. Notice some of the “gods” that young men and women “worship”:
- Drink and drugs
What should be done to such false “gods” in your life? The Bible describes what happens when certain believers come to God: “You turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God.”(96) “You should turn from these vain things [idols] to a living God.”(97) We are warned to “flee from idolatry” and “guard yourselves from idols.”(98) Although these scriptures relate to literal idols, we definitely must renounce the everyday “gods” that we find in our lives. While some of the items in the list above may have a legitimate but limited place in our life, we must avoid elevating them to a wrongful level.(99) Other items must be entirely eliminated. Some of the early Christians even publicly burned items that were part of their sinful past. You too may find that you need to dispose of a wide range of items that were part of your former life. You must search your own heart and life to determine what you must forsake in order to demonstrate your sincere repentance.
Seventh, you must place all of your faith and trust in the crucified and risen Savior. You must cease trusting in yourself and your good deeds and must rest the entire weight of your confidence on the Lord Jesus. Look to Him as your Sin-bearer and Savior.(100) Look to Him as the only one who can offer full forgiveness. “Everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.”(101) He is the only way of salvation.(102) Jesus declared, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”(103) Christ and Christ alone is the way of salvation, forgiveness, and eternal life. Realize that all of the good things that you do cannot save you from the guilt of your sins.(104)
You must not only believe in the person of Christ (the second point above), you also must trust that Christ has died personally for you and carried your sins to the cross. You cannot save yourself; Christ must save you! You must rely on the fact that Christ is your Savior and Sin-bearer.
How do you trust a chair to hold you up? By sitting in it and entrusting your weight to it. You trust Christ as Sin-bearer by placing all of your confidence in Him and depending on Him to forgive you and make you a new creature. You no longer have faith in yourself and your ability to save yourself; you now must trust God to save you from sin through Jesus Christ.
Eighth, you must determine to live for Jesus your Lord. Since people in general live without a conscious submission to Jesus as Ruler, there needs to be a radical reorientation to your life. Instead of looking to yourself as the ultimate decision-maker in what you do, you must resolve to allow Jesus to be your absolute Ruler, Owner, or Lord.(105) Jesus is called, “Lord of all,” “Lord . . . of the dead and of the living,” and “the Lord of glory.”(106) You must confess or acknowledge this very fact: “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”(107) No longer will you be directing your own life. Henceforth, Jesus will be Lord of all you dothe One who rules over your very heart!
Ninth, you must express your faith in Christ and your repentance of sin by being baptized into Christ. If you believe in God and in Christ Jesus, you need to demonstrate your faith by being baptized (immersed) in water.(108) If you have repented of your sins, you need to embody this in baptism.(109)
The Word of God says that we identify with the death and resurrection of Christ and show our faith in Him when we are baptized. Further, we also die to sin and rise to new life in Christ in relation to this meaningful act. Notice carefully the significance of baptism: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”(110)
Notice further that when God speaks of baptism, He relates it to numerous spiritual blessings which God gives to you through faith in Christ. For instance, we are commanded, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”(111) Besides receiving the Holy Spirit to enable us to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, God also gives us the forgiveness of sins, salvation from Gods judgment and wrath, union with Christ, and membership in Christs body. All of these blessings, and many more, come to us by a sincere and genuine faith in Christ Jesus, our Savior and Lord–a faith that is expressed and embodied as you are baptized into the Lord Jesus.(112)
You will discover that your baptism (that is, immersion) into Christ will be the most significant and far-reaching event in your entire life–far surpassing anything else you may experience. “Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His [the Lord’s] name.”(113)
Don’t Throw Away Your Youth!
God has given you only one life. Contrary to the false theory of reincarnation, we only live once and this is what makes our short time on earth so dreadfully significant! Our life is like a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.(114) We are like grass that soon withers and flowers that fall off.(115) Your years in your teens and twenties will soon be gone. What will you do with themwhile you still have them?
We caution you to not be like many of the “church going” young people who merely want to add Jesus to the periphery of their lives. Jesus requires us to give Him all. He does not tolerate lukewarmness.(116) He will not accept second place.(117) He must be at the very center of our lives! He must have “first place in everything.”(118)
What will you do with the truth that you have learned from these pages? Will you continue on your self-chosen way, the way that the vast majority of young men and women travel? Or will you take this message as a word of warning? Further, will you take this message as a refreshing and wonderful word of good news? You have not only learned that you are in sin and under God’s judgment, but you also have learned the wonderful fact that God has solved the problem of sin and offers you blessings beyond measure! Now, while you are young, is the time for you to come to Christ and find the life that God has planned for you! “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”(119)
- Ecclesiastes 12:1; all quotations from Scripture are taken from the NASB, Update.
- Psalm 14:1; 53:1
- Isaiah 53:6
- Ephesians 5:18-19; Colossians 3:16
- James 4:4; Philippians 4:4; 1 Corinthians 10:31
- 1 Peter 2:11; Matthew 5:8; 2 Timothy 2:22
- Ephesians 5:15; Colossians 4:5-6; John 9:4
- 1 Timothy 2:9-10; 1 Peter 3:3-4; Matthew 5:27-30
- 2 Corinthians 9:6-7; Matthew 6:19-24
- Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14; Titus 3:1
- Romans 1:24-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8; Hebrews 13:4
- Ephesians 4:15,25,29,31; Colossians 3:8-9
- 1 Corinthians 6:20; Romans 12:1; 1 Peter 4:2-6
- Mark 12:30; cf. Matthew 22:37; Luke 10:27
- 1 John 4:8,16
- 2 Peter 3:9; cf. 1 Timothy 2:4
- John 3:16
- Romans 5:8
- 1 John 5:3; cf. 2 John 6; John 14:15,21,23-24
- 1 John 2:15
- Matthew 10:37; cf. Luke 14:26
- Revelation 3:15-16
- Proverbs 27:1
- James 4:14
- 2 Corinthians 4:18
- Hebrews 11:25
- 1 Peter 5:5; cf. James 4:6,10
- Matthew 23:12; cf. Luke 14:11; 18:14
- Colossians 3:5; cf. Ephesians 5:5
- 1 Timothy 6:9-10
- 2 Corinthians 8:1-15; 9:6-15; Galatians 2:10; 6:6
- Romans 1:21
- Romans 1:18-23,32; 2:2,12-16
- John 3:19-21
- Romans 3:23; cf. 5:12
- John 8:24
- 1 Timothy 5:6; cf. Ephesians 2:1
- Isaiah 59:2; cf. Ephesians 2:12
- John 8:34; cf. Romans 6:19-20
- Romans 1:18; cf. 2:4-5; John 3:36
- Revelation 21:8
- 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; cf. Galatians 5:21-23
- Matthew 25:41; cf. 7:21,23.
- Hebrews 3:13
- Exodus 34:7; Nahum 1:3
- Romans 2:5-6
- John 3:16-18
- Hebrews 9:26
- 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18
- Romans 5:9-11; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21
- Acts 2:38; 3:19; 10:43; Romans 3:24-26; 1 Corinthians 1:30
- Romans 4:25; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4
- John 3:36; 5:24; Mark 10:30; Matthew 25:46
- Romans 6:23
- Acts 2:38-39; cf. 5:32; Ephesians 1:13
- Romans 8:13; 1 Peter 1:3
- Ephesians 3:16; Romans 8:6-8
- 2 Corinthians 5:17; cf. Ephesians 4:23-24
- John 3:3-7; cf. 1:12-13
- John 17:3
- Philippians 3:8
- 1 John 1:3; cf. 1 Corinthians 1:9
- John 13:34-35; Philippians 2:1-5; Romans 16:3-16
- 1 John 5:11-13
- Ephesians 1:7
- Ephesians 1:13
- Ephesians 1:3
- Hebrews 11:6
- Acts 17:24; cf. vv. 25-31
- Romans 1:18-21; Acts 14:15-17; Colossians 1:16-17
- See especially Institute for Creation Research, P.O. Box 2667, El Cajon, CA 92021-0667 and Answers in Genesis, P.O. Box 6330, Florence, KY 41022.
- 1 Timothy 1:15; cf. 1 John 4:14; John 3:14-18
- John 3:36
- John 20:30-31
- Philippians 2:9-11
- John 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:5
- Romans 5:6
- Ephesians 2:12
- John 3:17-18
- Romans 5:8; 1:18
- Romans 3:23; 5:12; Ephesians 2:1
- 2 Corinthians 7:10-11
- James 4:8-10
- Acts 3:19; cf. 17:30; Luke 13:3; 24:47
- Acts 26:20
- Proverbs 28:13; cf. Isaiah 55:7; Luke 19:8
- Ephesians 4:25
- 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8; Hebrews 13:4
- Ephesians 5:18-19; Colossians 3:16
- 1 Thessalonians 5:22; Colossians 3:22-24
- Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
- 2 Timothy 2:22; 1 Peter 2:11; Matthew 5:8; Romans 12:1-2
- Romans 13:1-5; Luke 6:31
- 1 Peter 4:3-5; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:21
- Ephesians 6:1-3; 5:22-33; Colossians 3:18-24; Acts 5:29; 1 Peter 5:5-6
- 1 Thessalonians 1:9
- Acts 14:15
- 1 Corinthians 10:14; 1 John 5:21
- Luke 14:26
- 1 Peter 2:24; John 3:15
- Acts 10:43; cf. 13:38-39
- Acts 4:12
- John 14:6; cf. 1 Timothy 2:5
- Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 3:4-6
- Philippians 2:9-11
- Acts 10:36; Romans 14:9; 1 Corinthians 2:8
- Romans 10:9; cf. vv. 10-13
- Acts 8:12; 16:14-15,30-33; Mark 16:16
- Acts 2:28-41; cf. Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3
- Romans 6:3-4; cf. Colossians 2:11-13; 3:1-2
- Acts 2:38
- Mark 16:16; Matthew 28:19; Acts 22:16; Galatians 3:26-27; 1 Peter 3:20-21
- Acts 22:16
- James 4:14
- 1 Peter 1:24
- Revelation 3:15-16
- Matthew 10:37; Luke 14:26
- Colossians 1:18
- 2 Corinthians 5:17