Rev. Eriks is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Hudsonville, Michigan.
This section of the Standard Bearer has been and continues to be written for the young people in the church. The title, “The Strength of Youth,” emphasizes the spiritual strength that God has given to our young people. This spiritual strength is renewed through the study of God’s Word. God has given the Scriptures to be our faithful guide in life. To encourage you young people in the study of God’s Word, I plan to write my articles so that they can be used for meditation on the Word of God. I plan to include passages of Scripture and some thought questions that you can use in your personal devotions. You may want to take the time to write out answers to these questions for your own benefit. This will be beneficial because it forces you to think more about the questions and it aids in better evaluating your own spiritual thoughts. Parents, I would humbly request of you that you encourage your teenagers to read the passages of Scripture for their personal devotions.
Passages to read and consider:
As Christian young people in this wicked world you have the calling to fight against sin. This is the same calling God has given to your parents, grandparents, and all the members of the church. The battle is fierce and the enemies are strong. Those strong enemies are not only without (the wicked world, Satan, and his host of fallen angels), but also withinyou (your own sinful flesh). The world of sin and Satan has an ally within you, your flesh, which is so powerful. These ferocious enemies without and within want to enslave you to sin. They want you under the tyranny and bondage of sin.
God calls His people to fight against sin in the power of His grace. The Word of God teaches there is only one thing more powerful than this enemy—the power of God’s grace in the hearts and lives of His people. Thanks be to God for giving this powerful grace, which is the strength of all God’s people. As those saved by grace, you are called to fight against sin.
The Scriptures provide different strategies for fighting against sin. One such strategy is the calling to seek the living water (this is the calling found in the passages listed above). The Word of God calls you young people to seek the living water that is found alone in Jesus Christ. When you seek this living water, you will not seek the impure waters found in this world. The waters of this world cannot satisfy, but the living water gives true satisfaction. My desire is that you learn from Scripture what it means to seek the living water.
In John 4:7-30 Jesus speaks of two kinds of water. The first kind of water is the water that the Samaritan woman drew from the well, which does not quench spiritual thirst. The second is the water that Jesus gives to His people. This water quenches thirst eternally.
Jesus teaches in John 4 that the water the Samaritan woman drew from the well cannot quench spiritual thirst. No matter how much the woman drinks of this water, she will be thirsty again. So also there are many things you may desire that will not quench your spiritual thirst. You may seek to fill your closet with clothes and shoes, with the misconception that this will bring you happiness. You may attempt to seek fulfillment in your life by gratifying your flesh. Gratifying the flesh is satisfying sinful passions and urges. The reason for gratifying the flesh is to search for something that satisfies. It is an attempt to feel good and find happiness. Jesus teaches that satisfaction cannot be found in following sinful desires. They are poor substitutes for the living water.
The Samaritan woman is an example of this. After Jesus spoke to her about the living water that He gives, the woman asked in verse 15, “Sir, give me this water that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.” Then Jesus said to her, “Go, call thy husband, and come hither.” Why did Jesus command her to do this? The following verses answer this. She responded, “I have no husband.” Jesus answers that she said rightly, because she had five husbands and she was married to the sixth (v. 18). Why did Jesus bring this up? She was searching for satisfaction and happiness in these marriages, but she did not find it in these unlawful marriages.
True spiritual satisfaction and happiness cannot be found in anything other than the living water of Jesus Christ. The world promises you satisfaction and happiness in partying—drunkenness, drugs, and music. The world says happiness is found by fulfilling your sexual desires outside of marriage. In our day, people turn to food for comfort and happiness. Others think happiness is to be found in having a thin body or bulging biceps. Excellence in academics and sports offers you happiness. The list is endless. Notice that some of these things are not wrong of themselves. But they become wrongly elevated in our minds so that we think they have the ability to provide true happiness and satisfaction. But they cannot.
The Word of God makes clear that anything other than the living water of Jesus Christ will not satisfy. The things of this world promise to satisfy and quench your thirst. Drunkenness, drugs, music, movies, and much more promise to quench your thirst. They promise to satisfy and provide the happiness that you long for. Honestly, these things seem to provide what you want—but only for a little while. Soon you discover that these things cannot truly satisfy.
The things of this world can never satisfy, because they are temporary. We know this from our own experience of hunger and thirst physically. We eat and drink to satisfy our hunger and thirst. This is not wrong. But after a few hours we are hungry and thirsty again.
Sin is totally incapable of satisfying us and bringing happiness. This is the very nature of sin. Sin cannot bring lasting happiness because it enslaves and ends in death. Remember that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). It promises to satisfy, and this is why we keep going back to sin. The result is that sin becomes habitual in our lives when we seek happiness in it. This means we repeat sinful activity, thinking it will provide true happiness. This is what Ephesians 4:19 teaches: “Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness (every kind of impurity—GJE), to work all uncleanness with greediness.”
But the Scriptures expose sin for what it is. Seeking satisfaction in sin is like seeking to quench your thirst with sewer water. Would you go to the Grand River in Grand Rapids for a drink of water after a storm, when millions of gallons of raw sewage spilled into the river? Would you quench your thirst by drinking out of the toilet? Why seek satisfaction and happiness in the sewer-water of sin?
Isaiah 55:2 asks an important question: “Wherefore do you spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.” This passage shows the vanity of seeking and laboring for what does not satisfy.
1) From what water have you been drinking to find satisfaction and happiness? 2) Are you looking for satisfaction in the wrong places? 3) How have you spent money or worked for that which does not satisfy?
Isaiah 55:1 says, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” We are commanded to come “to the waters.” Verses 6 and 7 further explain: “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near . . . .” Those who thirst come to the waters by seeking the Lord.
Where will these waters be found? Isaiah 55:3says, “Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.” When the passage says “incline your ear” and “hear,” God is saying that this living water is found in His Word. The source of this water is God. He pours out the living water in the preaching of the gospel and in the Holy Scriptures. You receive the living water weekly under the preaching of the gospel. The living water is found when you read the Scriptures before bed. What gives true refreshment and satisfaction is the Word of God!
We know where this water is found, but what is this water? Jesus explains more fully in John 4:13, 14: “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” The water that satisfies is the blessings of salvation in Jesus Christ. This water satisfies because it meets your greatest need. Young people, do you know what your greatest need is? It is not to be popular. It is not all A’s on your report card. It is not a good time. It is not to have a cell phone, car, iPod, computer, and a closet full of clothes. Your greatest need is deliverance from sin. This is why the water of Jesus Christ satisfies. It is living water.
This water gives life. This alone brings true happiness. This water gives life because Jesus Christ alone saves. He suffered and died on the tree of Calvary, bearing the curse of God in our place. All the wrath of God we deserved for our sins was poured out on Him, so that He cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” The living water that flows to us is the assurance that our sins are forgiven for Jesus’ sake. What can give you more joy than knowing this?
Jesus Christ has made us alive through the work of His Spirit. The tyranny of sin has been broken by the powerful work of Christ’s Spirit in your hearts and lives. This does not mean you do not sin anymore. This means sin no longer reigns! There is a power greater than the power of your sin. This is the power of God’s grace in you. What joy! As a child of God saved by grace you have within you the power to overcome sin. This is not your own power, but the power of the cross working in you. Jesus Christ is a constantly flowing spring of water, giving strength to overcome the power of sin in your lives.
This well of water giving life brings you everlasting life. Jesus Christ gives the living water of preservation until you are finally taken home. In Jesus Christ, you have everlasting life. This is the life that quenches your thirst and satisfies. Young people, do you know this life and seek this life?
1) What sins has Jesus Christ given you grace to overcome? 2) To what sins are you still clinging and need to pray that God will give you strength to overcome?
When seeking the living water that is found in Jesus Christ, you will not seek satisfaction in other things. While seeking satisfaction in the things of this world or in a life of sin, those things become the focus of life. These things become extremely BIG in life. When you try to find happiness in these things, you will give heart, mind, soul, and strength in this pursuit. But when the focus is turned to Jesus Christ and seeking the living water that is found in Him, there is a change in what you think about. You do not dwell in your mind on those things, but on Christ. You leave those things behind because your mind is stayed on God.
Although we know that everything we need is found in Jesus Christ, it can still be a great struggle for us to leave the other water behind. But more and more in the Christian life you must leave that sewer-water behind and seek the living water found in Jesus Christ. This is the spiritual activity of the child of God fighting against sin.
Those who seek the living water then have their minds fixed on Jesus Christ. Is your mind fixed on Jesus Christ? Throughout your life, may you be thinking more about Jesus Christ and the living water found only in Him. Remember John 4:14: “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst: but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” Seek the living water!
1) What have you learned about yourself spiritually from these passages of Scripture? 2) What have you learned about Jesus Christ from this lesson and from these passages of Scripture? 3) What does Jeremiah 2:13 warn you about?