Youths—Do Not Be Deceived
“Satan himself keeps transforming himself into an angel of light.”—2 CORINTHIANS 11:14.
1. (a) In what ways have many of us been deceived? (b) Who, generally, are more easily deceived?
NO DOUBT all of us have been deceived at one time or another. Perhaps you were playing a game in which an opposing player by a deceptive move faked you out of position and thus scored to win the game. Or you may have purchased a fine-looking item of clothing, only to discover after wearing it a short time and having it cleaned that the garment was not of the quality that it had appeared to be. Who, generally, are more easily deceived, that is, fooled or tricked? Is it not those with less experience? And often the consequences are much more serious than simply losing a game or being cheated on some purchase.
2. How have some youths been led into serious wrongdoing?
2 For example, Julie, only a sophomore in high school, was, as she said, “in love” with “the most handsome and popular guy in the entire school.” She explained: “I told him I wasn’t ready for what he wanted, but he kept telling me how much he loved me, and that everything would be okay. When I still said no, that’s when he lowered the boom. He said, ‘I really cared about you, and I thought you felt the same way. If you won’t prove it to me, I guess we’ll just have to stop seeing each other.’” So Julie gave in and committed fornication. The next day, when she discovered that the boy had bragged about his “conquest,” she realized how totally she had been deceived. She should have known that if the boy really loved her, he would not have done it.
3. (a) Why is fornication such a serious wrong? (b) What is the aim of Satan the Devil?
3 What Julie had been fooled or tricked into doing was a serious violation of God’s law. For that reason the Bible urges: “Flee from fornication.” And it states plainly: “No fornicator . . . has any inheritance in the kingdom of the Christ and of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:18; Ephesians 5:5) So while Satan the Devil may not be concerned whether you win or lose a ball game or you make a wise purchase or not, he is definitely trying to mislead you into breaking God’s law. “Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone,” the Bible warns. (1 Peter 5:8) Indeed, he is using all his shrewd thinking, including posing as an angel of light, to get us away from serving Jehovah God! Is that not a sobering thought?—2 Corinthians 11:14.
Learn From What Happened to Eve
4. Why can it be said that youths are a special target of Satan?
4 But for you younger ones, this is an even more sobering thought: You are a special target of Satan. Why so? Because of your youth, you have had less time to acquire knowledge and wisdom, and Satan picks on less experienced ones. He did that at the very outset of his rebellion. Recall that he approached Eve in the garden of Eden, not her husband Adam who had been created some time before her. And Satan was successful. He deceived, yes, misled by false appearances, the younger and less experienced Eve. “For Adam was formed first,” the Bible explains, “then Eve. Also, Adam was not deceived, but the woman was thoroughly deceived and came to be in transgression.”—1 Timothy 2:13, 14.
5. (a) What should we never be lulled into thinking? (b) What was the apostle Paul’s concern, and why was it appropriate?
5 Never be lulled into thinking that Satan’s methods could not work on you, that he could never get you to break God’s laws. Remember the divine warning that “Satan himself keeps transforming himself into an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14) The apostle Paul was rightly concerned that the Master of Deception might be successful in his approaches to Paul’s less experienced fellow Christians. Paul wrote: “I am afraid that somehow, as the serpent seduced Eve by its cunning, your minds might be corrupted away from the sincerity and the chastity that are due the Christ.”—2 Corinthians 11:3.
6. What does it mean to be seduced?
6 Notice that Eve was not simply deceived or tricked; she was also seduced. This means she was drawn into a disastrous course by an alluring enticement or temptation. According to Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, seduce means “to persuade into disobedience,” “to attract or gain by or as if by quiet subtle charm.” Specifically, this dictionary says, seduce means “to persuade (a female) to have sexual intercourse for the first time.” We can benefit by reviewing Satan’s method of seducing Eve (though sexual intercourse was not involved in this instance) and also by noting similar methods that he uses today.
7, 8. (a) What was the purpose of Satan’s question to Eve? (b) How did Satan make eating from the tree appear so appealing?
7 At the very outset of his approach, Satan, in a subtle way, used a serpent to cause Eve to begin to question God’s law. In words carefully designed to arouse suspicion and distrust, he asked: “Is it really so that God said you must not eat from every tree of the garden?” By this sinister question, Satan was implying that it was a pity that she could not eat from all the trees of the garden. In fact, he argued that, rather than dying as God had said she would, she would really benefit from eating from the forbidden tree. “For God knows that in the very day of your eating from it,” Satan assured her, “your eyes are bound to be opened and you are bound to be like God, knowing good and bad.”—Genesis 3:1-5.
8 How wickedly cunning of Satan this was, to suggest that God was trying to keep beneficial knowledge from Eve! According to Satan, God was even using an idle threat of death to keep her from exercising the ability of self-determination. ‘Hey, you are missing out!’ he, in effect, told Eve. ‘You will not die. You can enjoy what God himself enjoys. You can decide for yourself what is good or bad.’ It appealed to Eve to be able to make her own decisions without having to answer to anyone.
9. As shown in James 1:14, 15, what sequence of events led to Eve’s sin and eventual death?
9 As a result, Eve began to look at the tree with desire. “Consequently the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was something to be longed for to the eyes, yes, the tree was desirable to look upon. So she began taking of its fruit and eating it.” (Genesis 3:6) But afterward, when Eve discovered that she did not receive what had been promised, she explained: “The serpent—it deceived me.” (Genesis 3:13) In fact, it had also seduced her, leading her along by an alluring enticement or temptation until selfish desire caused her to sin and, consequently, eventually to die.—James 1:14, 15.
Beware of Satan’s Designs
10. Why do we not have to be ignorant of Satan’s designs, and what instructions are we wise to follow?
10 Satan uses similar designs, that is, schemes, maneuvers, and strategems, to deceive and seduce youths today. But since the Bible provides a thorough history of Satan’s deceptive methods, you need not be ignorant of his designs. (2 Corinthians 2:11) What you need is the good sense to heed the warnings and instructions that Jehovah God provides by means of his Word and organization.—Proverbs 2:1-6; 3:1-7, 11, 12; 4:1, 2, 20-27; 7:1-4.
11. How does Satan often seduce or deceive youths into wrongdoing?
11 How does Satan often allure or entice younger ones into wrongdoing? He does so by making what God condemns, activities that can lead to losing God’s approval, appear to be very attractive, yet at the same time harmless, even as the fruit appeared to Eve. And as he did with Eve, he will try to promote the idea that you are needlessly missing out on something pleasurable. Thus, in a cunning, deceitful way Satan endeavors to undermine your respect for Jehovah’s Word, as well as for the instructions given by your God-fearing parents and God’s organization. So with good reason the Bible urges, “Stand firm against the machinations [or, as The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures says, “crafty acts”] of the Devil.”—Ephesians 6:11.
12 Obviously, Eve was foolish to believe Satan’s lie. Yet do not many youths today similarly treat lightly the warnings in Jehovah’s Word or those provided by their parents or Christian elders? What about you? For example, do you take seriously the fact that Satan the Devil is the ruler of this world and that, as the god of this system of things, he is blinding the minds of people? (1 John 5:19; John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 2 Corinthians 4:4) Do you really try to heed God’s command: “Do not be loving either the world or the things in the world”? (1 John 2:15) And ask yourself: ‘Do I really believe the Scriptural statement, “Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God”’? (James 4:4) Satan would like to deceive you into believing that the world poses no threat, that the activities it promotes are harmless. But beware! Do not be deceived!
Deceptive Allurements Today
13. What custom has become popular in many places, and what would Satan like us to believe regarding it?
13 Satan often entices people into wrongdoing by things that in themselves may not be wrong or that are not explicitly condemned in the Bible. For example, while many married couples have pleasant memories of wholesome times they enjoyed in their courting days, there are potential dangers when persons are alone together on a date. Actually, dating is a relatively modern custom that only after World War I has become popular in many places. Satan would like you to believe that the custom is simply an innocent form of recreation that enables young people to become acquainted with members of the opposite sex on a one-on-one basis. But, in truth, the custom is fraught with moral dangers.
14. (a) How can the custom of dating be evaluated? (b) What feelings can develop in the dating situation?
14 Older, mature Christians, because of their experience, are more aware of these dangers and therefore can provide helpful direction. (Proverbs 27:12) But perhaps you feel that there is no danger in dating and that your parents are overly restrictive, robbing you of fun. Yet just as people can be judged by the fruitage they bear, so can customs such as dating. (Proverbs 20:11; Matthew 7:16) For example, an 18-year-old who regularly dated, and who became pregnant, noted: “I was one of the thousands of kids who thought it couldn’t happen to me.” She admitted that after dating for some time “handholding and kissing gets stale.” Similarly, a 17-year-old girl who often dated, reports: “Kissing and cuddling build up until I am desperate to have the boy make love to me.” An uncommon feeling? Not at all.
15. For what tragedies must dating bear considerable responsibility?
15 When young people who are physically attracted to each other isolate themselves, as is common when dating, sexual desire can build up until it leads even well-intentioned youths into breaking God’s law. Consider that well over a million teenage girls in the United States get pregnant each year and that hundreds of thousands of them have abortions or bear their children out of wedlock. Unfortunately, occasionally some of these teenage girls are children of Jehovah’s Witnesses and so are the boys who are involved with them. The modern custom of dating must bear considerable responsibility for these tragedies, as well as for perhaps millions of the new cases of sexually transmitted disease each year.
16. (a) Where only are sexual desires properly fulfilled? (b) What happens to many of God’s people?
16 God purposed that sexual desire be fulfilled within the bonds of marriage, where it can bring wholesome pleasure and satisfaction. (Hebrews 13:4; Proverbs 5:15-19) Yet, Satan has craftily used this God-given gift to seduce people to misuse sex and to commit fornication. In ancient times, 24,000 Israelites were put to death in one day for this offense against God, and presently thousands each year are disfellowshipped from the Christian congregation for fornication. So be wise. Listen to counsel and direction. Do not allow yourself to be deceived.—Numbers 25:1-9, 16-18; 31:16.
17. (a) What deceptive view has Satan promoted regarding such things as sports, music, and dancing? (b) Why does the world’s entertainment pose a threat to God’s people?
17 Be alert, also, to other designs of Satan. Sports, music, and dancing, for example, have become a prominent part of his world’s entertainment. True, these things in themselves are not necessarily wrong and can be pleasurable and even beneficial. (1 Timothy 4:8; Zechariah 8:5; Luke 15:25) Satan, however, has deceptively promoted the view that they pose no threat of harm, even when regularly participated in with people of the world. But God’s Word warns: “Do not be misled. Bad associations spoil useful habits.” (1 Corinthians 15:33) Think about it. If religion and politics are part of Satan’s system, is it not foolish to believe that the entertainment promoted by the world is free of his influence? You need constantly to be on guard not to “let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould.”—Romans 12:2, The New Testament in Modern English, by J. B. Phillips.
Provisions to Protect Youths
18. Why should you appreciate parents who instruct and guide you?
18 Jehovah God has lovingly made provisions to protect you younger ones from being deceived. First, he has provided your parents to instruct and guide you. And you can be happy when they do. One unhappy 18-year-old, who conceived a child out of wedlock, complained that it would not have happened “if my parents had done their job as parents should, and told me the pitfalls of a steady boy friend, and forbade me to go steady.” So be grateful if you have God-fearing parents. They are not trying to hem you in and make life unpleasant by the restrictions they place on you. On the contrary, they love you and want to protect you. Take advantage of their experience and wisdom by seeking their counsel.
19. What additional helps have been provided to protect youths?
19 In addition, Jehovah has provided his earthly organization to help you. For instance, each issue of Awake! carries the feature “Young People Ask . . . ” that shows the reasonableness of Jehovah’s standards. Similarly, the brochure School and Jehovah’s Witnesses was provided to help you abide by God’s laws and principles in the school environment. Further encouragement and counsel is given through the pages of The Watchtower and at congregation meetings, circuit assemblies, and district conventions. Indeed, this very subject, “Youths—Do Not Be Deceived,” was a talk at a recent district convention as well as the subject of a Service Meeting part.
20. (a) Why is much help provided young people? (b) What attitude will help you resist Satan’s attempts to deceive you?
20 May you never think that by all this attention we are trying to gang up on you to rob you of your joy. Rather, God’s organization loves you, and everything that is printed and said is meant to protect you—to save your life! Learn to appreciate these provisions. Make Bible study with the use of the Society’s publications a habit; let Bible truths excite you with appreciation. May you have the attitude of an 18-year-old who, after considering pointed counsel directed toward youths, wrote: “It just made me realize how fortunate we young people are to be in the truth! No other organization on earth cares for and loves its young people so much!” May we stick together and resist the attempts of the Devil to deceive us, for we are not ignorant of his designs!
□ Why are young people a special target of Satan?
□ How did Satan seduce Eve into wrongdoing?
□ How, today, does Satan often seduce youths into wrongdoing?
□ What provisions are there to protect young people?
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Just as Satan sought to mislead Eve, who was less experienced than Adam, so youths are a special target of Satan
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When young people isolate themselves, sexual desire can build up and lead to breaking God’s law