By Henry Nelson
James 1:14-15“Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”Some of you may not know that different people have different temptations. We are not all tempted by the same things but we are all tempted. Teenagers reading this may be rolling their eyes right now as they read this message and thinking, “What could he remember about being a teenager?” The answer is, “Probably more than you think!”I was talking to parents of two teenagers this week and they asked me to pray for their teenage son and daughter. They both have eyesight problems. Their daughter can’t find anything to wear in a closet full of clothes, and their son cannot find anything good to eat in a refrigerator full of food. Young people, I am really not here this week to blast you for all the things you’re doing wrong. I simply want to offer you some challenges and instruction from God’s Word. Please understand that teenagers have faced the same basic temptations for decades, but I also want to let you know that there are some things that are a bit different. Someone once said that “The passions are the same but the availability and intensity of the temptations have greatly increased.” Amen!In my opinion adults you should, “Never underestimate your potential to influence a teenager’s life.” If you are reading this message and you cannot even remember your teenage years or do not have any teenagers in your family, I want you to continue anyway. You need to be better prepared to pray for our teenagers and to encourage them on their journeyIn considering the key areas of teenage temptation, let’s look at some words that Paul wrote to Timothy his son in the faith. 1st Tim. 4:12 says, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” Amen!This is a reminder to adults. Two important truths are couched in our theme verse this week that we, as adults, should not miss. We are not to look down on teenagers simply because they are young. There is a tendency to think kids aren’t as mature or as responsible and disciplined as we think we were at their age. It is true that some young people today behave horribly, just as some adults do. It may be tempting to get frustrated with kids who are out of control but it’s unfair to lump all teenagers together. Do you know the pressures that teenagers face in this day and age? Are you ready to jump down their throats when you see behavior that you think is intolerable? When you tell them to act their age, do you understand that they probably are acting their age? They are not adults. They are teenagers. Do you confuse their individuality with immorality? Do you find yourself judging teenagers by the passing fads of clothing styles? Do not look down on teenagers because they’re acting like teenagers. We can set standards for them and challenge them without being negative, critical, and unrealistic in our expectations.You also need to watch the example you set for them. Paul points out clearly and explicitly in 1st Timothy 4 that our example is very powerful. Adults, the kids are watching. If you are not consistent with your words and if we do not practice what you preach, they will seldom follow your directions. It is critical that you as adults set an example for the younger generations in speech, life, love, faith, and purity if we want them to do the same.I was blessed not only to have grandparents and a mother who made sure that they took me to Sunday school and church, I had a some older men in the military who encouraged me and helped guide me in my faith. Far too many young people lack those kinds of role models today. That is why you as adults need to be very cautious to set an example in both our actions and our attitudes.The challenge for teenagers should be to set a proper example and also avoid the corresponding temptation. Some of them are set an example in your speech. This suggests, among other things that you avoid the temptation of profanity. Obviously, there are numerous other ways we sin with our speech hateful words, sarcasm, gossip, and even tone-of-voice can be harmful. I do remember what a temptation profanity was for me in the military it cannot be any easier today that it was way back then.Typically, as you move through the teen years to adulthood, it becomes more difficult to keep your speech pure. You are bombarded by profanity on the bus, in the locker room, at the movie theater, it may be in the music you listen to and may even be used regularly in your home. The more you hear it, the harder it is to avoid it. However, young people, I want to challenge you to rise above the crowd and learn how to express yourself in ways that are decent. If you can control your speech in front of your parents, your teachers and here at church, you can control it with your friends, too.Set an example in life by avoiding the temptation of hypocrisy. Be the same person wherever you are. Do not claim to be a Christian on Sunday and then live like the world the rest of the week. Do not pretend to be moral and upright around adults and then blend in with the crowd when you think no one’s watching.Many of you often think the opposite of love is hate. That is wrong! The opposite of love is apathy just not caring. Sometimes the loneliest place in the world is in a crowd of people who don’t know or even care that you exist. Set an example in faith by avoiding the temptation of skepticism. Are you predisposed to doubt the things you learn at church? Do you find yourself questioning the biblical values we talk about here? That’s not all bad because it is okay to ask questions. Jesus affirmed the honest doubters who came to Him unsure but seeking the truth. God honors those who struggle with their faith but are willing to investigate to honestly know the truth. However, the challenge for you is this: Do not abandon your convictions in the face of other doubters. In high school or when you go off to college, don’t cave in to the pressure of people, even teachers, who scoff at Christianity. Do not become cynical and skeptical just because you know some other students or adults who claim to be Christian but live an immoral life behind the scenes. However, the world is not very consistent in that attitude of open-mindedness especially to Christians.Teens, I challenge you to stand up for your convictions. Do not be arrogant, or argumentative, but stand firm in the faith. Set an example for other believers. Your stand for truth may help another student who’s struggling to hold on to their convictions. Set an example in purity and avoid the temptation of sexual indulgence. Sexual temptation threatens teenagers as much or more than any other single issue in our society today. You are continuously hit with sex in music videos, advertisements, movies, and internet sites. The world and your friends may be telling you that sex is a natural expression of your love for your boyfriend or girlfriend. Guys, you may be hearing that you’re not a man until you’ve lost your virginity. Girls, you may be hearing that certain forms of sexual contact are not really sex at all Let me tell you something, if it involves your sexual organs, it is SEX! and it does not matter whether you can get pregnant from it or not and please do not give in to the lie that “Everybody’s doing it.” Not too long ago, a New York Times headline read: “One in Five Teenagers has Sex before 15”Another survey showed that nearly half of all teenagers have had sex before they graduate from high school. We might think those are alarming statistics. However, those numbers mean that 8 out of 10 kids have NOT had sex by the age of 15 and that more than half of all graduating students are still virgins. Everybody is not doing it. God designed sex for marriage. He wants you to wait until marriage, and with His help you can do that. Also know today that if you have already engaged in pre-marital sexual relations, God can forgive you, restore you, and keep you out of that behavior if you will allow Him.Here are several quick suggestions on how you can overcome these temptations common to your age group. You have to understand the high stakes. Prov. 24:21-22 says, “Fear the Lord and the king, my son, and do not join with the rebellious, for the Lord and the king will send sudden destruction upon them [the rebellious], and who knows what calamities they can bring?” A paraphrase might be: “Fear God and the Law. Avoid spending a lot of time with those who are rebellious because they can get you into a lot of trouble with God and the Law.” Amen!The things I am talking about today deal with life and death, heaven and hell kinds of issuesthat is too important to just blow off. Young people you have to choose your closest friends cautiously. As Christians you all walk a fine line when it comes to living in the world but not being like the world. If you treat the church like a fortress where you hide away from the world, how are we ever going to evangelize those who are lost? Amen! Teens and adults should build relationships with unbelievers in order to share Christ with them, but when it comes time to choose your closest friends the ones you spend the most time with, the ones you share your deepest secrets with, the ones you go to for advice you need to choose these friends very carefully. 1st Cor. 15:33-34 says, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’ Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning.” When your friends start influencing you negatively instead of you influencing them positively, it’s time to find some new friends. Amen!Young people you must build a relationship with your parents based on trust. Eph. 6:1-3 says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ which is the first commandment with a promise ‘that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’” Amen!Some teenagers ridicule their parents, alienate them, refuse to communicate with them, and openly defy them. It might surprise you to know just how much you can accomplish by following this advice.If you obey your parents, earn their trust, talk to them about what’s going on in your life, and follow their rules, your home will be so much more peaceful. Your parents actually do not like pointing out where you are messing up most of them want a peaceful home life, too. Some of you may have parents where you are basically ignored and no matter what you do, it would not be appreciated but if you earn your parents’ trust and build a solid relationship with them, most of you will find that life gets a whole lot less complicated. Amen!Carefully guard what you put in your mind 1. Phil 4:8 says, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things.” Amen!As you battle temptation, I want to challenge you to carefully monitor the magazines, the movies, the music and the websites that you feed on. It is hard to maintain a steady diet of obscenity and maintain a pure and godly life. Amen!Make a firm decision to follow Christ. No matter who gives you the advice, remember that the final decision is yours to make, so do what you know in your heart is right.” At first glance, that sounds like good, sound, and reasonable advice, the problem comes when your heart wants to do what is wrong Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Mathew 15:19 says “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” Amen!Young people, you need to make a firm, steadfast, resolute, unwavering decision to make Jesus Christ the Lord of your life. You need to surrender your heart, your mind, your emotions, your relationship, your behavior to Him. You’ll never experience victory over temptation until you put Him on the throne of your heart. Maybe you’re thinking, “I am young. I will live for myself for now, and then straighten up later on. I have got plenty of time to make things right with God.” You may be right and then again, you may not. There are no guarantees when it comes to the future. Young people die every day. When it comes to temptation do not flirt with the devil. Stay as far from him away as you can. Flee the evil desires of youth. Take a stand by setting an example in speech, life, love, faith and purity. Now you can understand the temptations teens face.
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