by Pastor Afolabi Oladele
Youth is a conundrum. It can be just as exciting as it can be challenging. The scriptures say in Genesis 8:21 that the imagination of man’s heart has been evil from his youth; and Paul speaking to Timothy said: “Flee youthful lusts” (2 Timothy 2:22). And it is this conundrum of feeling mature at one time and directionless at other times that result in the weirdness of youthful dressing and behaviours. But in the face of that same reality, God’s Word is at work, saying to converted youth, “. . . I am writing to you, young men, because you have been victorious over the wicked [one. I write to you, boys (lads), because you have come to know (recognize and be aware) of the Father.” 1 John 2:13 (AMP).
Verse 14 [AMP] “. . . I write to you, young men, because you are strong and vigorous, and the Word of God is [always] abiding in you (in your hearts), and you have been victorious over the wicked one.” Vigorous means to be strong, spirited, energetic, forceful, and active; and these are all characteristic of youthfulness.
Youthfulness is challenging, but independent of the lusts that challenge you, the word of God says concerning you, that you have been victorious over the wicked one and you have known the Father? So, do you know who the Father is? Do you believe that you have overcome the wicked one?
David was only 22years old when he faced and killed Goliath. The entire army of Israel had been coward and totally demobilized in fear. Even Saul the king feared for David, but he just took his sling and advanced toward the enemy, the uncircumcised philistine who was defying the armies of his God. Why was he able to do that? It was because he had the word of God abiding on his inside. That is what you should ensure as a youth and until this happens to you, your relevance is theoretical.
PRINCIPLES TO LIVE BY
The story of Joseph in the Bible is a much known one; sibling rivalry and jealousy caused his brothers to sell him into slavery to the Ishmaelite, and later on to the Egyptians and he landed in the courts of Potiphar. Separated from a loving family, and the only link he had to his God, he was tested but he fought and won his personal battle with Satan. Every youth must face the war against the flesh and satan. What do you do when you face temptation and you are all alone where nobody can help you? Here are principles to victory:
1. BE ALERT AND VIGILANT
1 Peter 5:8 “Be alert, be on watch! Your enemy, the Devil, roams around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”
The very first step in the war against the flesh and Satan is alertness and soberliness. When you are sober and vigilant, you can see the enemy quick enough to develop your own escape plan. Joseph knew Potiphar’s wife’s pranks, he wasn’t cajoled by rationalization—when you think otherwise even though you know that something is wrong; like when you see colour black and instead of calling it black, you’re thinking: maybe it’s not really black, it is shades of grey.
While you are being careless ad taking things easy, Satan is not taking anything easy with you, he’s ready to eat you up at the slightest opportunity. Joseph understood what Potiphar’s wife stood for and he did not even try to negotiate it. Being self controlled implies staying in charge of your own emotions, your thoughts, your words, yours decisions and your actions. You must take responsibility over your life otherwise Satan will take the steering from you and begin to drive your life and you’d wonder how you fell into sin. To be alert means be conscious of your weakness and Satan’s corresponding ploys. You can’t afford to coast and run on autopilot. There is a proactive-ness that is required of you.
2. SUBMIT AND ALIGN YOURSELF TO GOD.
After you have being alert and seen where the enemy is coming from, the next step is to submit yourself to the living God. This means aligning yourself to God, in whom your strength is in. James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
“Submit yourselves therefore to God”. Salvation doesn’t enroll you in a ‘feel good’ religious club, rather, you are being drafted into an army that fights, and the war isn’t about you, it is about the rulership of God in your life; it is about the contest against Satan who wants to usurp the place of God in your life. And the only way you will win once you identify where the enemy is coming from, is to align yourself with the power that can deliver you. That’s why you need to submit yourself to God.
The Roman centurion in John said “I am a man under authority”; because he understood what it meant to be under authority. When you recognize the authority that is over you, then it is easy for you to issue commands. The Lord is the One that is backing you up. Submitting yourselves to Jesus is what gives you the power to battle Satan successfully. Remember the story of the sons of Sceva in Acts, when they went against those demons and the demons said to them, ‘’Paul I know, Jesus I know, but who are you? And the demons tore them up.
3. RESIST THE DEVIL
James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
When you have aligned yourself with God, you will receive the power to contend and then you can resist the Devil. Seize the moments of surrendering yourself to the power of the Eternal King, and under His authority, you’ll discover that victory over Satan will always come as God has declared.
You need to understand that the battle is not about you. When you see a slim policeman who you can actually beat up, who just gives orders and everyone obeys, it’s not about him; it’s about the power of the government that put the authority and uniform on him. Satan is not looking at you in the day of battle; he is looking at the power behind you.
James 4:8 says, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” This scripture says, “Draw nigh to God…” showing that you have to take the first step. You have to run into the battle first and than you’ll see God backing you up. In other words, you have to desire to overcome temptation temptation then you will see God empowering you.
This verse also presents an enigma before us: You’ll find in the order: “draw nigh to God and He’ll draw nigh to you”; and then points out the areas in your life that you need to take care of so that Satan doesn’t start accusing you when you are in the presence of God. God could have reversed the order in which that word came by saying, “cleanse your hands ye sinners” but no. Because then it could have been by your works, which you couldn’t do anyway, because judging by our works, no man can be saved. So take that step of going to Him, and as He points areas of your weakness, cry out to Him in repentance, asking for His help in those areas, and He will draw near to you and cleanse your heart.
Resisting the devil is at the imperative, but it is not the end game. Satan’s goal is to drive a wedge between you and God, and it is a dangerous place to be because distancing yourself from God is like creeping sleep, it is not something that you consciously get into.
James 4:8 (AMP) – “Come close to God and He will come close to you. [Recognize that you are] sinners, get your soiled hands clean; [realize that you have been disloyal] wavering individuals with divided interests, and purify your hearts [of your spiritual adultery]”.
Hebrews 2:1 (AMP) “SINCE ALL this is true, we ought to pay much closer attention than ever to the truths that we have heard, lest in any way we drift past [them] and slip away”.
You can drift past these truths and miss being in the presence of God, for irrelevant things. Drifting means to be carried away and Satan would have succeeded in doing whatever he can to drive a wedge between you and God and you will not be able to take that step of drawing close to Him before He comes to you. That’s why Paul exhorted the Hebrew saints not to neglect their fellowship meetings (Hebrews 10:27). If Satan succeeds in separating you from God, you become a target for him, and it’s easy for him to get you. And in distancing yourself from God, you are the one that makes the choice; you make the decision whether to go to fellowship or not, you make the decision not to pray, nobody forces you, you make the choice! That’s why you need alertness in facing the battle of the flesh and Satan like Joseph had to. And for him, the end game was that God used him to preserve a people upon which the covenant of God was going to stand.
Daniel 1:3-4 says, “And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes; Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.”
What happens to you in the university is not different from what happened to Daniel and friends in the above scripture. They were enrolled into the University of Babylon. The new world age wants to brainwash you, teach you political correctness, and totally soak you in the principles of this world you are living, while draining the principles of God’s kingdom from you. And except you consciously make up your mind to draw the line, you will be swept in. Nebuchadnezzar made every attempt to brainwash them completely of their Hebrew heritage which was their link with God and the centre of their lives in terms of their belief, and then teach them the arts of Babylon which was witchcraft and everything against their belief. Nebuchadnezzar changed their names, which was their identity; and these are the same things that a university education can do to you if you are not careful—change your identity through the theory of evolution, and rob you of your faith.
I studied well as an undergraduate, but God gave me an understanding in anatomy, beyond what I had been taught. And I knew that was God, not my lecturers. What you need to write to pass exams is different from what you need to live the life of God’s kingdom, and Daniel and his friends understood. Daniel dealt with the crisis of identity, saying that they belonged to God and would only live by His rules. There was the power of fellowship among them because Daniel didn’t stand alone; he had a company of like-minds. And because they stood up for God, He showed up with favour to support them.
Daniel 1:8-9 “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.”
God’s loving kindness and favour was released upon them after they took their stand; and they came out ten times better. You must make up your mind to serve the Lord before you can see His power unfolding to support you. When you rationalize before you give consideration to the word of God, you have lost the battle. There was nobody watching Daniel and his colleagues there, they could have said after all it was their fathers mistakes that brought them there, but such distractions didn’t make them change their belief in their God. You need to walk with these principles so that you won’t fail, and you must not fail, you are not allowed to fail!
Two things stand out in the lives of these young men: first was their relationship with God, which is manifest in the continuous relationship with God in the life of Daniel through constant prayers. Constant and consistent prayers, is a pattern that was established in the life of Daniel that also became the target area of the enemy in his life. Not only was he solid in terms of his relationship with God with respect to receiving instructions from God, Daniel was a man of prayer. If you don’t pray, you are on your own!
Prayer is not just a Sunday thing but it should be a part of your life, a consistent thing that you do all the time. You can see this in the lives of the apostles in the book of Acts, Peter and John usually went to the temple in the time of prayer. The people who have succeeded in this race won the battle first on their knees. Without a life solid in prayers, you are on your own. Wesley said, “I have so much to do, so much to accomplish; but I also know that I must first accomplish them on my knees in prayers.” That’s why you must break free from your cell phones, from your home videos, from every entanglement that will take you away from your time of prayer.
2 Kings 23:25 says, “And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.”
This was the testimony of Josiah, who began to rule as a boy of eight. The scripture declares that at the age of sixteen, he began to seek the Lord. At the age of twenty, he initiated a campaign that purged all of Judah of idolatry. There is no barrier in the time that God picks you up to make you relevant. By the time Josiah was twenty six, he rebuilt the temple that had been broken down. And one of the most interesting testimonies about him was that the “torah”, the book of commandments that had been forgotten since the days of the Judges, was found. One of Josiah’s most important accomplishments was the restoration of the Passover, which had not even been observed with care since the days of the judges as you find in 2kings 23:21-23, bringing back alive the prophecy that Jesus was going to accomplish. He stated as an eight year old. Relevance has nothing to do with age; it has to do with a life that is submitted to God, a life that is willing to pay the price.
Samuel was a three year old when God began to move upon him because of the pollution that was already in the priesthood. God put Samuel in the charge of Eli, a priest He was about to sack. I would have been scared that Eli might kill him. But through all those times when Samuel couldn’t understand anything yet, God was the one in control of Eli’s heart. Even at the time that Samuel began to hear from God and didn’t know who was speaking to him; it was still that same Eli who mentored him. That’s the way God will make your enemies to mentor you in to your purpose. That’s why your relationship with God is important; your prayers and oblation before Him is important, because in the presence of God, there is fullness of joy, and at His right hand are all the pleasures that you want. Pleasure is enjoyment; if you don’t enjoy God, you can’t stay in His presence. That is what people like Daniel found, that caused him to constantly be in God’s presence.
Take the case of Jeremiah the weeping prophet; he was said to be about seventeen when the word of the Lord came to him.
Jeremiah 1:4-8 says, “Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.”
The setting apart of Jeremiah didn’t show immediately he was born, it became obvious when he was about seventeen. The young boy was totally unprepared and came with excuses that he was too young to handle the people God was sending him to, and God came with the word of assurance. This is where your willingness is important; because God won’t force you, He will only persuade you with His word. Moses was a lot older when God confronted him in the wilderness, he also had excuses. But don’t let excuses draw you away from the relevance that God has appointed you to. God was with Joseph and Daniel, with favour and with deliverance. If He did it for these people why won’t He do it for you? you need to persuade yourself of these, that you are not called into a suicide mission neither is God calling you unto a life that is lost forever, no. You lose your life, you gain it in Him. And if you are not prepared for that, you are not fit for His army.
Jeremiah 1:9 says, “Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.” If you don’t get to the point where you eat the word, ruminate on it and begin to speak it, you will never know the fullness of the power of what the word of God can do. I urge you, you are not too young, you are strong, and you are not a weakling, because the word of God says you have overcome the wicked one. Useful ambassadors project the image, culture and principle of the kingdom where they come from. Just be available, God has confidence in you!
Luke 1:46-4-“And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.”
In the Jewish tradition, it is at the age of thirteen that a young woman is betrothed, at the age of fourteen she can then make her choice of whom to marry, and by the time she is fifteen, she is fully eligible to be married. She was about fifteen when she had the encounter with the angel of the Lord who told her about what God was going to do. And two unique things about her was her belief in the word of God that was spoken, when the angel explained how it would come to pass; and her magnifying God in scriptures, giving thanks to God. And what she spoke came from about thirty-three scriptures of the Old Testament! How did she know so much of God’s word if she was not familiar with it, at age fifteen? Mary was a young girl who not only had a pure heart but a heart that was filled and soaked with the word of God, at her youth.
How deeply entrenched is the word of God in your life? How familiar is the word of God to you? How much of the Word of God do you know at your age? Knowledge of the scriptures doesn’t jump on people; you have to spend time with the word of God! Wake up from your slumber and deliver yourself from those time-stealers that steal the time you need to get to know God! Relevance doesn’t just come, you prepare yourself for it. These are principles you should not forget, and that you should live by. Live by them and find that you cannot fail, you must not fail, and you are not allowed to fail. Are you available?