While on the boys’ trip, Brother James gave a devotion from this passage in Luke 21:24-26 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.
He said it’s almost unfair for young people in our churches where the Bible is actually taught and there is some kind of expectation that as Christians we would at least attempt to live by what it says. It is unfair in the sense that in almost any other church, the average young person in our church would be held up as a stellar example of a godly youth on the basis of all the things that he or she doesn’t do. Our young people, as far as we know, don’t go to bars. They don’t drink beer. They don’t do drugs. They aren’t involved in criminal activity. They aren’t involved in immoral activity.
We probably don’t do enough to express our appreciation to our young people for the fact that they don’t do those things. But reading and studying the Bible and trying to do what pleases God, we are left with no other choice than to keep pointing out that if your Christianity is defined by all the things you don’t do, then it’s not enough to keep the devil from finding a place in your heart (Ephesians 4:27).
We thank God that our young people are clean. But clean is not enough. We thank God that they’re decent. But decent is not enough. We’re glad that our young people are moral. But the devil doesn’t care if they’re moral. And here’s why. So long as those young people don’t give their heart to Jesus Christ and fill their mind with the word of God and fill their ears with songs of praise to God and fill their lives with Christian service, then the devil can come in and take over their lives whenever he wants.
Talk to any pastor that’s been at this thing any length of time, and he can probably give you a list of names of young people that used to be in church and used to go to youth activities and used to go out witnessing but now are involved in every sort of wickedness imaginable. And this is why. They were good young people. But they never developed any godliness. They were clean “Christian” kids. But they never got serious about following and serving Jesus Christ. They weren’t necessarily worldly. But they weren’t spiritual, either.
So what are we to do? If you’re a young person, you need to get off the fence (1 Kings 18:21); deny your flesh (Luke 9:23); turn your back on the world (1 John 2:15-17); gird your loins with truth (Ephesians 6:14); lay your life down on the altar of surrender (Romans 12:1-2); and follow hard after God (Psalm 63:8). Just go ahead and make up your mind (Daniel 1:8) that you are going to serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15); you are going to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31); you are going to fulfill your created purpose (Revelation 4:11). Start reading your Bible (Isaiah 34:16). Start studying God’s word (2 Timothy 2:15). Start hiding it in your heart (Psalm 119:11). Start singing God’s songs (Colossians 3:16). Start paying attendance and attention to the preaching of God’s word (1 Timothy 4:13). Start responding to it when it’s preached (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Start witnessing (Acts 1:8). Start serving (1 Samuel 12:24). Start giving (2 Corinthians 9:7). Start growing (2 Peter 3:18). In other words, 1 Timothy 4:12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
And parents, pastors, youth leaders, let’s somehow balance a level of thankfulness and gratitude for what they’re not with an uncompromising commitment to teach them, instruct them, encourage them, love them, rebuke them, correct them, and lead them so they can understand why it is that “good” is not enough and enjoy the blessings of giving their all to Jesus Christ.