If you observe your friends and classmates, you will see a virtually endless pursuit of fun and pleasure. Many of your acquaintances may seem to only look forward to the next party, dance club outing, or weekend. They live their lives waiting, hoping and planning for the next “good time.” Then, as they get older, many begin to dream of having lots of money, taking trips to exotic locations, owning big houses, boats, weekend cottages, etc., instead of setting the right goals and focusing on the hard work that may be involved in reaching them.
Ultimately, the world is filled with people seeking pleasures.
What does God’s Word say about these pleasures? Certainly, God would want the youth in His Church to have fun and enjoy themselves, right? But what about the worldly pursuits of pleasure that surround you? Are there any dangers or pitfalls involved? What does God say?
(1) What are some of the “pleasures” of this world? I Peter 4:3-4; Isaiah 5:11-12.
Notice the definitions of some of the words in I Peter 4 and consider how they apply to the world today:
Lasciviousness: Unbridled lust, excess, licentiousness, wantonness, outrageousness, shamelessness, insolence, filthy.
Lusts: Craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden.
Excess of wine: Drunkenness.
Revellings: A revel, carousal (a letting loose), or “a nocturnal and riotous procession of half drunken and frolicsome fellows who after supper parade through the streets with torches and…sing and play before houses of male and female friends; hence used generally of feasts and drinking parties that are protracted till late at night and indulge in revelry.”
As a side note, ask yourself: How much does this sound like the parties of today?
Banquetings: A drinking bout or match, carousal.
Riot: An abandoned, dissolute life, or “Flood of profligacy; bearing down all rule, order, and restraints before it.”
When looking at these words and their definitions, it seems obvious that not much has changed in 2,000 years, and the language God inspired to be used in His Word still very much applies in the 21st century. This passage alone describes the many party scenes today.
The prophet Isaiah enlarges the picture, talking about those who spend their whole day focused on worldly pleasures. It is a picture of drinking, music and “feasts,” but these people “regard not the work of the Lord.”
Those out in the world, who do not know God’s truth, will think it strange that you do not follow them. They may make fun of you or ridicule you in front of others and try to embarrass you or pressure you into certain things. Even be prepared for the possibility that they will gossip about you or spread rumors behind your back.
Before going further, also understand that pleasures come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. They are not limited to drunken parties. Other examples include: playing videogames excessively; watching violent, profane or sex-filled movies; keeping up with and/or spending large amounts of money on trendy clothes and accessories, among many others.
To determine what is ultimately wrong, though, we must look at the big picture. Why do your friends or classmates do what they do? What are they hoping to actually accomplish, if anything? What are the end results that can be expected? Finally, are there any additional principles that would be helpful to examine? This Bible study cannot and is not intended to outline every possible wrong pursuit, but rather is intended to show what God says about worldly pleasures.
(2) In effect, when one follows the pursuits of the world, what is he doing? Isaiah 47:7-8; Philippians 3:18-19; Titus 3:3.
Those who seek instant gratification are careless. How many teenage girls become pregnant because they were “caught up in the moment”? How many youth spend their savings and go into debt because they are having “fun”?
The Bible says that those who are given to pleasure literally say in their mind, “Nothing matters except me.” They live as if they are the center of the universe. They do not care about the needs of others and simply base their decisions on what will be fun for themselves. If it is good for them—if they feel that they will have a good time—then they will do it. Seeking worldly pleasures is a way of life—the way of get!
The passage in Philippians puts it another way: Those who walk in the ways of this world are serving their belly—their god. This verse is not referring just to hunger for food, but also to impulses or cravings of other types. For example, have you ever lined up in a grocery store to check out and, while you were waiting, grabbed a candy bar because it suddenly and unexpectedly looked good to you? You had no intention of buying a candy bar, and you may not even have been hungry! But, you gave in to an “impulse buy.” Grocery stores specifically put rows of candy bars and chocolate in front of you, hoping that you will give in because of an “on-the-spot” craving. However, clothing outlets and other types of stores do the exact same thing. They hire “cool-looking,” attractive models to show off their latest styles on billboards and in magazines and then hope you give in to spending large amounts of money to look like them.
This world offers all sorts of fun and pleasure that people will gravitate to on an impulse. Even those who are wrapped up in the party scene of this world will admit that they are given to impulse. Stated differently, those who are given to impulse tend to act first and think later. This must never be the approach of those who are seeking to please God.
(3) In seeking the pleasures of this world, what are people not doing? John 5:44; 12:43; II Timothy 3:1-7.
The Bible says that you “cannot serve two masters.” Either you are obeying God, doing what is right, or you are doing what the world does. Those who are seeking the pleasures in this world are honoring themselves, not God.
Consider for a moment: Many of your peers are looking for prestige—wanting others to like them, to look up to them, or to admire them. This is the basic premise of peer pressure. People give in to peer pressure because they want to “fit in” with their “friends.” By “hanging out” with the popular crowd, teenagers are getting the praise of their peers and escaping the ridicule directed toward “nerds” or the “uncool.”
II Timothy 3 talks about “perilous times.” These times have arrived. One sign of the times listed is that people will be “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” To love God is to keep His commandments (I John 5:3). How many people do you know who are concerned with loving God—keeping His commandments? Very few. Rather, they seem overly concerned about seeking pleasures for themselves—making themselves feel good. This leads us to another very important question.
(4) Do these pleasures last? Job 21:12-15; Proverbs 14:13; 21:17; Luke 12:19-21; I Timothy 5:6; Hebrews 11:24-26; I Peter 1:24.
Probably the most common physical possession that most people seek is money. However, they do not realize that they cannot take it with them when they die. Character is the only thing that follows us to the grave. Yet, most still try to be the person who “will die with the most toys.” But, as Job said, in a moment they will die. Human lives are so short when looking at the big picture, and so many spend their entire life striving after material wealth and physical pleasure that will not last.
The world does not believe the wisdom of Solomon, who said that those who seek pleasures will be poor. They focus on the here and now, without looking at the big picture. If you are trying to live God’s Way, you should be focused on the reason you are alive—attempting each day to fulfill your incredible human potential.
Are you focused on laying up “treasure” for yourself? Are you focused on the here and now? Having a savings account is wise and prudent, but is your unconscious goal to be rich? An education is an important thing to have, but are you unbalanced and focusing too much on it and where it will get you? Are you living a way of get for yourself or a way of give to others?
Hebrews 11:24-26 may be one of the most important and powerful passages in this study. Moses chose not to “enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” Yes, there are many things that people do out in the world that “look” like fun—they are pleasures. So many do not realize that the pleasure is only for a “season”—it is temporary and will not last. Do you want to be focused on things that will not last or do you want to focus on something that will last for all eternity? It seems like a simple question, but history shows that many teenagers in God’s Church have dropped out and decided to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. Will this be you, or will you determine to stay away from these things?
(5) Solomon was a man who sought worldly pleasures and possessions. What was his conclusion? Ecclesiastes 2:1-11.
Solomon had everything, physically speaking, but he said it did not profit him at all. One definition of vanity is “empty.” Literally, Solomon had it all but concluded in the end that it was empty—nothing. Will you learn by Solomon’s example, understanding that you will never be able to seek as much pleasure as he did?
(6) What is the end result for those in the Church who decide they will continue to seek pleasures? Luke 8:5-8, 14.
This parable from Christ is a powerful warning to all those who are willing to hear. Those who are being called by God are seeds, and each seed has the potential to fall into a variety of different places. Those who fall among thorns will choke and die. Christ explains His meaning in verse 14—there are those who will be choked by the “cares and riches and pleasures of this life.” Those who focus on these things will come to a fatal end.
Be determined to keep this parable in mind for the rest of your life. Realize that the cares of this world can choke you. Certainly, this is not what you want. However, it can happen if you allow yourself to be snared by these things.
(7) For those who are determined to live God’s way of life, what is the correct course of action? Luke 21:34; Romans 12:2; Colossians 3:2, 5; II Timothy 2:4, 22; Titus 2:12; I John 2:15-17.
Young people in God’s Church should take heed—be careful—that their lives do not become similar to those in the world. They are not to be conformed to—meaning fashioning oneself according to—those in the world. They are to mortify—put to death—any attitude or feeling that leads them to want to participate in the pleasure of sin for a season. They are to flee—run away from—youthful lusts. They are to deny—refuse or reject—ungodliness and worldly desires. They are to love not the world and all that it has to offer.
These are all powerful proactive decisions that must be made in the mind. To follow God’s way of life, teens must constantly strive to achieve all of them. Do not allow yourself to start down the path of worldly pleasures. Remember, they are only temporary and will lead to fatal results.
Of course, this does not mean that God’s youth cannot or should not have fun. God wants you to have fun—He wants you to enjoy life. Notice: “Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health” (III John 2). However, you must stop and ask, “Is what I am doing something that is within God’s Law or is it a worldly pleasure?”
You have learned that the Bible clearly shows that we are not to follow the pleasures that those in the world seek. Ambassador Youth presents how God’s youth can have fun. The ways are endless and they lead to a happy and abundant life—one that does not involve the pain and sorrow that always accompany the pleasures of this world. Continue to read in the months ahead for many more articles that discuss and describe the various ways to have true fun.
And, remember I John 2:17: “He that does the will of God abides forever”!