“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”
This plea comes from King David in Psalm 51:10, written after his sinful relationship with Bathsheba. Wracked with guilt at his wrong-doing, it is clear here that he is aching to be reconciled with God.
Many times, it is easy to enter into sinful behavior. As the old saying goes, “It’s a slippery slope.” However, once entrenched in sin, it is hard to untangle one’s self. This is true for all of us – even those of us who would consider ourselves strong Christians.
The same is even truer for our young people. Add the allure of sinful behaviors to peer pressure and a desire to fit in, and you have a perfect recipe for disaster! And once sinful habits have been established, it can be terribly hard to break free from them.
In a 2014 study conducted by the Institute for Church Ministry, Adventist young people were asked if they have participated in the following “sinful” behaviors: cursing, telling “white” lies, serious lying, suggestive language, cheating on a spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend, cheating on tests at school, cheating on taxes. Two of the top behaviors that young people admitted to engaging in were telling “white” lies (35% said they “often” or “sometimes” engage in this behavior) and serious lying (23% said they “often” or “sometimes” engage in this behavior).Our young people are human – just like us – and they are going to mess up. The big question is: what can we do to help guide them on the path to Truth? The Bible has some great ideas for just that!
- Teach your young people the importance of telling the truth. “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) Telling the truth can be hard – especially when there is social pressure involved! However, the Bible emphasizes over and over the importance of honesty and telling the truth. Seek to teach this important lesson to your young people in every way that you can. And most importantly, seek to demonstrate honesty and truth in your own life.
- Teach your young people that all sin separates us from God. “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10) It’s easy to rationalize sin away or feel as though one sin is worse than another. However, all sin separates us from God and therefore should be treated as equally detrimental to one’s spiritual life!
- Teach your young people how to repent. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John: 1:8-10) And the best way to teach them to repent is to repent, ourselves. This can be hard – and terribly humbling! However, admitting wrong-doing is the first step in the restoration process.
- Remind your young people that salvation is through Jesus alone! “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) No man can bring us salvation, nor can we be saved by being “good enough” on our own. It’s only though Jesus’ death on the cross that we can be saved! And the best part? It’s free for the taking!
Since the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, mankind has been plagued with the consequences of sin; lying is just one symptom of the disease. Recognizing our sin, confessing it, and accepting the gift of forgiveness that Jesus offers is the only way for us to receive eternal life!
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