Miss Huizinga is a member of our Hope Church in Grand Rapids. She is a senior at Calvin College, an English major, studying to be a school teacher.
The name “Christian” implies a very important responsibility. As Christians, we have a responsibility to lead a sanctified life. In other words, we are called to lead a life free from sin and worldly lusts. This calling is explicitly stated in Titus 2:11, 12: “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world . . . .” It must be our desire to put aside all sinful pleasures so that we can present our lives as a living sacrifice before God.
Fulfilling the mandate set forth by the apostle in Titus 2is difficult. We are by nature sinful creatures who delight in the pleasures of the world. Leading a sanctified life is a responsibility with which all Christians struggle. Although Christians of all ages experience difficulty in their attempt to lead a holy life, it is especially difficult for Christian young people. Young people generally do not possess a clear understanding of who they are and what their place in life is, They have the knowledge but not the confidence to stand up for what they know is right. Because of this fact they are easily swayed by pressure from peers to engage in sinful activities. These activities in which they often engage are a detriment to their living a sanctified life.
Because of their vulnerability to peer pressure, high school students are especially susceptible to temptation. It is in high school where the young person’s struggle to lead a sanctified life intensifies. The pressure from peers is great in any high school, but it is especially so in a small school such as Covenant Christian, the high school that many Protestant Reformed young people attend. Young people are pressured by “friends” to participate in activities which have no place in a sanctified life. One temptation which young people struggle with is the movie. The theater is the world’s accepted and revered form of entertainment. It is as much a part of American life as baseball or apple pie. It is also fast becoming an accepted form of entertainment among our own young people. Therefore it is difficult for any young person to resist the taunts and the pressure from friends who would lead their classmates into sin.
Closely related to the problem of the theater is the VCR. Compared to the theater the VCR seems harmless. After all, material shown on the VCR can be monitored and viewed in the privacy of the home. It is its presumed innocence which makes the VCR so tempting and therefore so dangerous. The VCR is very accessible to young people. Many families own one. It is much easier for the young person who refuses to sit in the theater to sit in the family room of his home and watch a movie on the VCR. Once again, the world’s technology makes it very difficult for the young person to resist temptation and to persist in his attempt to lead a sanctified life.
In addition to the temptations provided by the theater and the VCR, temptation also lies in the music of the world. For several reasons, this would seem to be the most difficult temptation for young people to overcome. First of all, music is an integral part of human life. It surrounds the young person no matter where he goes. Its presence in the home is manifested by the stereo. Its presence in the car is evident by the radio. Stores, restaurants, doctors’ offices, and office buildings all play worldly music over their loud speakers. It is this very pervasiveness which makes it so very difficult for the young person to resist the temptation of the world’s music.
In addition to the temptations of the entertainment industry are those temptations which involve dangerous substances. Many young people struggle not only with movies, VCR’s, and worldly music but also with cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs. Once again peer pressure plays a role in the struggle experienced by young people to lead a sanctified life. Most young people who smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol do so to be accepted by peers—not because they enjoy doing so. It is not easy for a young person to ignore the taunts of “friends” and to refuse a cigarette or a drink. It is sometimes easier to ignore one’s conscience than to ignore the taunting of others. Leading a sanctified life is not easy.
If the struggle to lead a sanctified life was intense in high school, the problem becomes more acute after high school. The young person who enters the world as an employee or a student finds the struggle to lead a holy life even more difficult than before. He must now learn to deal with new freedoms and the struggles which they entail. In college, as well as in the work place, the young person is surrounded by a multitude of people from a variety of religious backgrounds, Some are Christians but many are not. Gradually, these new acquaintances have an influence upon the young person. They begin to make subtle demands upon him. They suggest that he question the values and priorities which he grew up with and that he reevaluate them. They encourage him to establish standards, priorities, and values that are more in step with the times. They make it increasingly difficult for the young person to maintain his distinctly Protestant Reformed world-life view. These new “friends” with their worldly influence increase the bitter agony of the young person’s struggle to lead a sanctified life.
Another problem which many young people face in their struggle to lead a sanctified life involves dating. It is becoming more and more common for young people, both high school students and graduates, to date outside of the church. This is a potentially dangerous situation. Usually, people outside of our churches do not share the same religious beliefs as we do. Young people who do not have the same religious sensibilities as we do often have the freedom to attend movies, to dance at parties, and to listen to secular music. Young people who date outside of their church often experience conflict. Often their association with people outside their church becomes an obstacle to their leading a sanctified life.
Obviously, fulfilling the mandate presented in Titus 2:11, 12 is not an easy task. It is clear that the Reformed young person who attempts to lead a sanctified life in today’s world faces intense and bitter struggles. The young person’s life is fraught with temptations which he must struggle with and overcome. Oftentimes, it seems that the responsibility to lead a holy life is one which cannot be fulfilled. With God’s help, however, the responsibility is not too difficult to bear. The young Christian must say with the writer of Psalm 121:1, “I will life up my eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.” The calling to be holy is one which can and must be fulfilled.
There are several things a young Christian can do to achieve the goal of a sanctified life. With God’s help, these efforts can bear much fruit.
Know the Truth
The young person must know the truth. He must also be confident in this knowledge. He will then find it much easier to ignore the pressure of “friends” and to resist doing what is wrong.
Remove Yourself From Temptation
In order to resist temptation, remove yourself from it. When friends call, set specific plans. It’s much easier to give in to the temptation to attend a movie or to go to a party when one has no specific direction.
Seek Godly Friends
When one associates with people of the world it becomes much easier to fall into sin. It is imperative, therefore, that young people seek relationships with fellow Christians. Godly friends, who share the desire to live a sanctified life, will support each other in their responsibility.
View Your Family As a Means of Support
Members of a Christian family share a special bond. They share the desire as well as the responsibility to lead a sanctified life. By sharing this responsibility, they also provide support for one another. Young people must view their families as a terrific source of strength and support. They must realize that they can turn to their families when they are tempted to fall into sin.
Without the Bible and prayer, the young person cannot possibly succeed in his attempt to live a sanctified life. Both are an invaluable means of aid in the constant struggle. The young person must follow the command Christ utters in Luke 22:40: “. . . Pray that ye enter not into temptation.” The temptations are great as well as constant; but through prayer and God’s word the young person will find the strength to win the struggle against these temptations.