The teen years are challenging. This statement isn’t startling to you, is it? (If it is, just by any teenager and/or their parents.) For example, if an unexplained mishap occurs in the home and teenagers are present, which of the following three individuals would be the most likely to suspect as the culprit: a – the teenager; b – the teenager; or c- the teenager?
In all seriousness, being a teenager in a Christian home can be difficult. Not only are there challenges at home, but teenagers are also confronted with a world that calls out loudly to them. But what is offered is a deceptive ploy. Pleasure, along with relief from life’s difficulties, is promised by an alluring world. As Proverbs 9 teaches, the world’s call to troubled teens is the classic bait-and-switch of the enemy. A discouraged teen takes the road that offers relief— and finds that he has become enslaved to forces more powerful than he ever imagined. What may have begun as a search for fun and relief from problems quickly turns into a nightmare of entrapment.
The gospel matters for your teenager.
The world appeals directly to the flesh. It does not ask permission from parents to tempt their teenagers. Apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, the flesh is an intimate gateway for the world’s temptations. So often parents attempt to teach their teenagers about important issues of life—only to find that the world is already there, actively at work in the flesh of their teen. The message that the world gives seeks to discredit the biblical message the parents offer. Galatians 5:19-21 teaches that the teenager’s flesh willingly listens to the world’s message of subversion. Parents, you must be aware of this warfare! Your call for your teenagers to be pure may be met with a scoffing, mocking world that already has an “in” with your teenager. This “in” is the flesh.
“But my teenager has made a profession of faith,” you protest. But the battle against the flesh goes on whether or not your teenager is a Christian. If he is a Christian, Galatians 5 teaches that he will still battle his flesh. If she is not a Christian, the same battle occurs, but without the power of the Savior to overcome the enemy. In both cases the answer is the gospel!
The beauty of the gospel is Jesus Christ. The call of Christ is more intimate than the call of the world. You may not have experienced all of the temptations that your teenager faces—but Jesus has! He offers his help. But first Christ must be acknowledged as God; he alone is the One worth living for.
Three thousand years ago, a teenager named David realized this. He knew that he must honor and love God alone. For all believers, once this commitment is in place, the call of the world through the flesh can be seen for what it is, a pathetic lie. Look at 1 Samuel 17:28-37. David is sent by his father to bring supplies to his brothers who are on the front lines of battle against the Philistines. He is met by his oldest brother, who immediately becomes irritated with his younger, teenage brother. Because David knew God, and because he trusted in the character of his God, he asked (with outraged astonishment!), “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” This bothered his brother, who misjudged David’s confidence as pride. But undeterred, David kept asking the same question. Finally, King Saul hears of the question. David told the king that he would defeat the Philistine giant. Saul also doubts David. Everyone jeered at the idea that David could defeat Goliath, the giant killing- machine.
But David persists because he believed in God and trusted his promises. And David beat the giant.
David’s hope in the power and faithfulness of God was the hope of the gospel. Knowing Christ and being blown away by him is the one thing that can cause your teenager to overcome the alluring call of the flesh. The call of pornography is strong, but the gospel can expose it for the ugly lie that it is. The desire to be accepted appeals to teenagers when they have been hurt or misunderstood; but in Christ, teenagers can know that they are accepted, not on the basis of what they have done, but they are accepted because of what Christ has done for them. Teenagers can feel out of place because of how they look, but in Christ they know that they are fearfully and wonderfully made.
There are not easy answers or shortcuts to the problems teenagers face. There is only Christ. David knew God and his power. And as a young man, he was not drawn away by the call of world. He did not listen to his flesh, but to his God.
The gospel matters for your teenagers. The gospel leads them to Christ. We must offer nothing less.