Monday, February 1, 2021

Youthful Lusts are not Confined to Youth

By Gerald Cowan

    “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to Thy word” (Psalm 119:9). Does not the same principle apply to those who are not young? Paul urged Timothy to flee youthful lusts (2 Tim. 2:22). Peter warned against lusts that war against the soul (1 Peter 2:11). There are, no doubt, some lusts and temptations that have greater attraction for young people than for older ones, even those Christians, who try to live a holy life. Children are expected to obey God in their relationships with parents, peers, and society (Eph. 6:1-4, 1 Cor. 15:33). God requires holiness from His people at every age and in every stage of life (Heb. 12:14).
    People are prone to think of life as several stages one passes through. Their reasoning goes something like this: One should be allowed to “be a child” and even “sow a few wild oats” before settling down to the responsibilities and rigors of adulthood. "It’s only a phase. He will outgrow it."  Thinking of one’s situation and circumstances as a temporary stage, even intending and planning change later when the situation and circumstances change is irrational, but common – it is certainly not confined to youth. It is easy enough to tell oneself, “This is a phase I’m going through, but I can give it up, and I’ll make the change someday.” This rationale is often applied to drug use, social and sexual behavior, improper or illicit relationships and habits, and more. interesting, how those who say they can and perhaps should quit seldom do so. Here’s the fact: addiction can be mental and psychological as well as social and physical. Correction may require more strength than one has, and a level of integrity that one does not have. There is no known system of plowing, re-seeding, or crop rotation that can effectively remove, repair, or remedy the damage and impact of one crop of wild oats.
    The prodigal that Jesus spoke of (Luke 15:11-24) managed to repent and return home. But prodigals and other strays are often unwilling to leave the “far country” of self-indulgence and sin. Even if they are considering “going home” again, they want to take some part of the far country with them. They want to be accepted without true repentance and real change, to be assimilated and accommodated – the home changes so that the prodigals fit without changing. In effect the home becomes the far country. The principle applies to those who come to the church after some time spent in the far country of aberrant religion, whether non-Christian or simply a sectarian or denominational variant of Christianity. They want to assimilated and accommodated without real repentance or change, so that the church becomes part of the far country of religious error. The prodigals – Christians who have suffered a relapse, backsliders from the truth and fellowship – often want to be welcomed and accepted and treated as if they had never been away.
    How shall any person – young and old, male and female – cleanse his way? By taking heed to it and changing it to conform to the word of God. The standard for acceptance or rejection, for inclusion or exclusion is God’s Word. It should be studied, understood, and applied by all. Psalm 119:11 Thy word have I hidden in my heart (committed to memory in my mind) that I might not sin against Thee. Both judges and people may choose to ignore God’s word, but He will not. He will judge finally by the standard of His own righteous word as given in and by Jesus Christ (Acts 17:31, John 12:48).
- Gerald Cowan, a longtime preacher and missionary, is retired from full-time pulpit preaching. Gerald publishes an e-mail newsletter entitled GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICAL WRITINGS. He is available for Gospel Meetings and he may be contacted at

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