Advice For Youth

By Richard Barnett

The Bible prophesied that “knowledge shall be increased” (Dan. 12:4 KJV). This truth is evident in the large numbers – more than ever before – of colleges, universities and other institutions for learning as well as in the millions of students, young and old, enrolled in various programs of study.

Congratulations, if you are getting ready to enter high school or pursue a post-secondary education. I cannot stress enough the value of a good education, especially in a very competitive work environment where the most qualified get the best jobs. Your decision to go to college or university may have been influenced by your parents who want to see you excel academically, or it may be tied to a goal you have set for yourself. Skills are in demand, and those with a preferred college diploma can usually expect their earning capability to increase significantly. There are, however, three areas in which you should be on guard, whether you are in high school, trade school, college or university.

“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of.” —2 Timothy 3:14

Many college students who grew up in Christian homes and went to Sunday school and church meetings will stop gathering with believers. Some even abandon their Christian beliefs. This alarming fact may be the result of the atheistic and philosophic teachings of some professors, which can only be resisted by being solidly grounded in the Christian faith. One’s departure may also be the result of pressure to be accepted by fellow-students or an act of rebellion against parents.

On the other hand, a Christian upbringing has helped many students maintain their faith while furthering their education. Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived, with the exception of the Lord Jesus, and his advice to you as a young man or woman is: “Hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother” (Prov. 1:8). Young Timothy had been taught the Holy Scriptures by his mother and grandmother (2 Tim. 1:5, 3:15). At a time when many were turning away from the faith, Paul encouraged him to hold fast and to continue in the things which he had been taught and heard.

Daniel, a teenager who was forcibly taken from his country, home and family, had to learn a new language and was educated in a corrupt, Babylonian system. He could have reasoned like others have done, “Why do I have to be so careful about my upbringing? After all, I am in a strange country and no one knows me here. I will get by much easier if I conform to the culture and embrace their godless teaching.” That, however, was not the path Daniel chose in his new surroundings. In fact, he “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat or with the wine which he [the king] drank” (Dan. 1:8). The king’s “meat” and “wine” represent the best that this world has to offer, but “what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mk. 8:36). Nothing in this world can be compared with the blessings God has bestowed on us through Christ. Daniel took a stand for God in a godless environment, and God blessed him for it. Furthermore, he refused to submit to the idols of the land, continuing his exemplary habit of praying to the Lord three times a day.

Many idols such as power, possessions and pleasures exist today, and care must be taken that they do not draw away your love for the Lord. Therefore I urge you not to compromise by giving up what you have been taught in the Word of God. Rather, let that instruction be your safeguard while you pursue your education, and God will honor you for it.

“Flee also youthful lusts.” —2 Timothy 2:22

It is not unusual to hear of sexual harassment and attacks on college campuses. The use of alcohol, marijuana and other drugs is often directly related to these incidents as well as to other immoral decisions among young people. This connection is not surprising because the very wise and up-to-date Word of God showed long ago the link between drunkenness and sex: “Who hath woe? Who hath sorrow? Who hath contentions? Who hath babbling [shallow, foolish talk]? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse [wrong, shameful] things” (Prov. 23:29-33, italics added for emphasis).

Therefore, I encourage you to receive the excellent advice that the Word of God freely gives, namely: “My son, attend unto my wisdom … for the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: but her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword … Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house: Lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel: Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labours be in the house of a stranger; and thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed, and say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof [correction]; and have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me!” (Prov. 5:1-13).

Like alcohol, pornography is very addictive and will lead to a wrong perspective of sexual relations, leading to all kinds of sinful lusts. Therefore it should be persistently shunned and avoided. Disobedience to the Word of God gets us into all kinds of trouble, but obedience to it keeps us from trouble.

Last but certainly not least, sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, are often the result of sexual activity outside of marriage. “When thy flesh and thy body are consumed” (v.11) is a dreadful but accurate description of what HIV/AIDS does to the body, eventually leading to death. Practicing “safe sex” is taught by so-called experts, but God teaches what is far better: abstinence!

“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” —Proverbs 13:20

In light of the previously mentioned topic of sexuality, it is not difficult to see the value of seeking out good company. Let’s look at the example of Daniel once again. In Babylon he had three very good friends: Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. They were his companions because they were of the same faith and shared the same moral values. Furthermore, because Daniel made a vow of faithfulness to God, He even brought him into favor with Ashpenaz, who was “the prince of the eunuchs” and a Babylonian. This man, although he admitted that he feared the king, granted Daniel his request not to defile himself by eating the king’s food, allowing him instead to eat pulse, or crushed grain, and drink only water. In a typical way the pulse and water speak of Christ, who said, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst” (Jn. 6:35). Read Daniel 1 to get all the details.

Daniel and his friends proved the faithfulness of God, who had said hundreds of years before, “Them that honour Me I will honour, and they that despise Me shall be lightly esteemed” (1 Sam. 2:30). Faced with a further crisis in Daniel 2, we read that “then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions: that they would desire mercies of the God of heaven” (Dan. 2:17-18). They brought the life-threatening matter before God in prayer, and God granted their request. Getting together with your Christian friends on campus to ask the Lord’s help in your studies and struggles is definitely something for which you will be greatly rewarded.

David is another example of one who recognized how important it is to walk with those of like mind. He said, “I am a companion of all them that fear Thee, and of them that keep Thy precepts” (Ps. 119:63) and, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful” (1:1). Getting mixed up with the ungodly is often a gradual process: “walking,” “standing” and finally “sitting.” Once you are in association with them, you have lost your moral power to witness to them.

Ponder one additional quote from Paul the apostle: “Be not deceived: evil communications [company] corrupt good manners” (1 Cor. 15:33). What did Daniel, David and Paul have in common? They knew the corrupting influence of bad company and were determined to stay away from it. On the other hand, there is strengthening and encouragement in the companionship of those who love the Lord and want to please Him.

I have sought to give you the best advice possible, which can only come from the Word of God. It is for you to prove for yourself the truthfulness of it. God’s Word can withstand any test, and God Himself will be true to His own Word.

May the Lord help you to avoid the pitfalls of sin. If you find that you have been walking in disobedience to His Word, it is not too late to change direction. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9). May He bless you in your studies to their completion, for “the desire accomplished is sweet to the soul” (Prov. 13:19). Then go forward into the workplace and be the best that God wants you to be.

Finally, if you are not yet a Christian you need to repent of your sin, open the door of your heart and ask the Lord Jesus to come in and save you. Do it now.

God loves you so much that His Son, Jesus, died to take the punishment for your sins: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16 NKJV).§ There is no way you can earn your way to heaven. Trying your very best cannot make you good enough. You must believe that Jesus died for your sins. Only God can forgive your sins. That is His gift of love to you. “You have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works” (Eph. 2:8-9).§ Would you like to be ready for heaven? If so, talk to God something like this: “Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and I know you died to take away my sins. I am trusting You to forgive my sins and make me ready for heaven. I know You will help me to live for You. Thank You!”
—L. Abercrombie