December 17, 2017

Temptations Faced by Teenagers

John C. Vaughn

Most preachers know what it is like to prepare a message on an assigned topic. I was once asked by a conference host to preach on the subject “The Enemies of Fundamentalism.” Immediately I began to compile a mental list of outspoken individuals who oppose the doctrine of separation and important ecclesiastical movements eroding the fundamentals. Then, I felt sure I had to include the matter of music. Hmmm . . . there was a possible outline: The Enemies of Fundamentalism—Men, Movements, Music. But as I prayed and considered what the Bible had to say, I was led to a different approach: The Enemies of Fundamentalism— The World, the Flesh, and the Devil.

These are also the enemies of Christian teenagers, their main areas of temptation. They are your enemies because they are the enemies of Christ (and like Judas, these enemies betray Him with a kiss). Teenagers and youth workers should study the Gospel accounts of the temptation of Christ and see there how Satan tempted Him just as he tempts you. You are not greater than your Lord. As you deal with these same temptations, you will face persecution (2 Tim. 3:12), ridicule (Matt. 5:10–12), and hatred (John 15:18–20). You need the strength of spiritual maturity to overcome these temptations in a hostile environment. Christian teenagers live in enemy territory!

Defeating an enemy requires you to know your enemy. The world hates Christ, and it hates you too. James tells us that if we join the enemies of Christ, we make ourselves “the [enemies] of God” (James 4:4). John explained further why we are not to love the world (1 John 2:15–17). The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—desiring pleasure, possessions, or power instead of desiring God—reveal that the love of God is not in us. The meaning of these verses is clear, in spite of the endless quibbling about their application in Christian life. Worldliness deals with motives.

“Why won’t my parents let me listen to CCM? It draws me closer to the Lord,” you reason. But if you want to be closer to the Lord, then why not honor your parents as the Lord commands? If you will listen to your own defenses with a spiritually open heart, the Lord will show you how you are being influenced by the world rather than influencing the world for Him. Biblical examination of your heart is one of the ways you engage in spiritual warfare. Galatians 5:16–21 lists the works of the flesh and tells us how they lust against the Spirit. That passage is very helpful as you prepare for this battle.

You know that the Devil is the enemy of Christ and a great source of temptation. We are quick to blame temptation on the Devil. Are we quick to blame our own flesh? James 1:14 tells us that “every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” The flesh is allied with the world and the Devil; it is a friend of the enemies of Christ. It cannot be made to cooperate with the Spirit, for they are “contrary the one to the other.” It must submit to the Spirit, so that the life can be “led by the Spirit.” The war between the flesh and the spirit will continue until we are delivered from the flesh, but it is not a hopeless battle. In fact, James tells you to “count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” God does not tempt you, but He allows temptation to bring you to spiritual maturity.

God promised you that He would never allow you to be tempted to the point at which the only alternative you have is to sin (1 Cor. 10:13). You cannot overcome the world with worldly weapons, the flesh with more disciplined flesh, or the Devil with his own devices. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Cor. 10:3–6). You have victory over a specific temptation when your thoughts and actions about it are Christlike—when your “obedience is fulfilled.”

The temptations faced by teenagers are the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the Devil, specialized for the vulnerabilities of teenagers. How you deal with them will determine your progress toward spiritual maturity. Have courage: though the Devil rules this world and you live here in the flesh, you can overcome them all, for “greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.”

John Vaughn is the President of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International.

(Originally published in FrontLine • January / February 2008. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)

This week we plan to feature a series of articles from this issue of FrontLine – the theme of the issue: “Temptations Teenagers Face”

Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

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