Lesson 3 – The Holiness and Pearls of Adolescence

The Holiness and Pearls of Adolescence


Adolescence is a period of life from puberty to maturity.  Puberty is defined as the condition or state of being able to reproduce sexually.  Maturity has a wide range of definitions.  In the context of this lesson, it means the stage of full development from puberty.  Although, there are exciting and dynamic changes in the human body during this stage, our interest will be in the maturing of the mind, heart and conscience.

The aim of this lesson is to help adolescents understand their vulnerability to the “rule and authority, power and dominion” in this present age.  Happily, for those who have faith, Jesus reigns as king over these forces.  These powers are referred to in Ephesians 1:19 and 3:11.  One of the powers is specifically identified as Satan in Ephesians 2:1-3 and 6:10-18.

Adolescence is one stage of the story of peoples’ lives.  As in all stories there is a protagonist and an antagonist.  God, our Father, has given the role of the protagonist to His Son, Jesus Christ.  Satan, which literally means adversary or antagonist, has been allowed by God to rule the world realm for some time (John 12:30).  God is for humanity.  Satan is against humanity.

God has given all people the power of choice.  Youth become responsible for their choices in the adolescent stage.  Youth are particularly vulnerable to Satan’s programs in their adolescence period.  The leaders and prophets who direct Satan’s stimuli programs generally come in “sheep’s clothing.”  Matt. 7:15; II Cor. 11:14.

Watch out for false prophets.  They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.  By their fruit you will recognize them.  Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?  Matt. 7:15, 16

Jesus surely had adolescents uppermost in His mind when He said;

Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs.  If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.  Matt. 7:6

Please review our study in Part V, Lesson Two.  This study is a continuation of that lesson with special emphasis on how each person develops from their birth, through their adolescence stage of life.  This study will include several teachings of Jesus from Matthew chapter seven.  The format will start with Jesus’ Judgment Day scene and work back to the foregoing scripture.


Jesus’ Judgment Day pronouncement:

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you.  Away from me, you evil doers!’ Matt. 7:23. 

This should get the attention of every Christian.  Jesus was not speaking about a person who did not proclaim his or her allegiance to Him (V. 21).  This text would work well in a lesson on the topic of judgment; however, this is not our topic.  We want to understand what it means to “know Jesus” because knowing and being known by Deity is synonymous with eternal life in John 17:3.

Jesus started His Sermon on the Mount by teaching His own emotional attitudes.  He closed it with the same thought; that is, how to know Jesus and, simultaneously, be known by Deity and thereby, inherit the kingdom of God with the life of the society in heaven (Jas. 1:12; 2:5).  This is why every Christian should give serious attention to Jesus’ few words about judgment in His sermon.  Jesus’ four words, “I never knew you,” should open up serious dimensions of thought for those who might be thinking Jesus’ mission on earth was to die on the cross and establish a Sunday worship service to remember His suffering.

Jesus is life and His life enlightens us about life (John 1:4; 14:6).  When Christians open our hearts and minds to the light of life, we accept the law of life of the new covenant.  We “enter the narrow gate.”  Matt. 7:13.  As these laws of life are being impressed on our hearts and minds we will, simultaneously, be conforming to the image of Jesus (Heb. 8:10; Rom. 8:29).  This is how Jesus knows a person and how a person knows Jesus.

Developing the healthy emotional attitudes and character taught by Jesus in His sermon is the only way a person can expect to be known by Deity.

Enter in through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.  Matt. 7:14. 

It is through this gate Christians begin our walk on the narrow road of holiness (John 10:7-11).  We practice righteousness.  It  leads us to holiness (Rom. 6:19-23).  We attain satisfaction for our earthly needs and have hope for our higher needs (Rom. 2:7, 10).  We are dedicated to serving our Lord as “salt and light” for others.  We are happy.

While keeping these teachings in mind, let us turn to the conception and birth of a baby and follow the process of his or her development to adolescence.  The spirit of every person comes from God (Heb. 12:9).  The spirit of every person is designed in the likeness of God when it comes into our bodies (Jas. 3:9).  Because of the design of our inner-man Jesus could say, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  Matt. 5:48.

The body in which God placed an individual’s spirit came from the substance of the earth.   It will return to the earth and the spirit will return to God who gave it (Eccl. 12:7).  The spirit, which includes the mind, heart and conscience of a person, must know and be known by Jesus; otherwise, she or he will not be invited to stay with God in heaven.  This spirit in its respective body is a living soul (Gen. 2:7).  We have described a new born baby.  This baby has a variety of “instinctual equipment.”  Please review the Introduction, Part I, Lesson One.

This innate equipment will motivate the child to interact with its respective environment.   As every parent understands, the baby begins at once to seek satisfaction for their instinctual needs.   They seek and they knock and later they begin to ask for assistance (Matt 7:7, 8).  For most of these babies, God provided loving parents to help them attain satisfaction.  He designed their child to be reared for Him (Isa. 43:6, 7).  He also provided the food, clothing and shelter for the parent’s use to maintain His and their children (Matt. 6:26).  Like any loving parent God responds properly to the asking, seeking and knocking of an individual.

Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!  So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.  Matt. 7:9-12 

As we have studied in this series of lessons, it is in seeking the satisfaction for his or her needs that personality and character of the child is developed.

For the sake of helping adolescents understand why only a few find the road that leads to life, we need to understand a few concepts of the stages of life from birth to adolescence.  The following are some of these concepts found in Dr. M. Scott Pecks series of books entitled “The Road Less Travelled.”

1.  Parents need to be aware of the “I – Thou” concept.  New born babies do not perceive the difference between themselves and others.  By the time they are one year old they may know they are separate from others.  It will be happening at the time they have the capacity to play the game, “this is my nose, that is your nose.”  By the time they are two years old they fully understand the concept of ego, the “self.”  “I am separate from thou.”  Later they understand they live alone within their own “ego-boundaries.”

2.  Having become aware they are individuals, parents should respect them as such.  God has not given babies to families as play things, although children dearly love to play games with others.  The involvement of others suggests that the games children play is pleasurable because it satisfies one or more of their inherent needs.  They play games that are compatible with their physical and mental capabilities.  They do not have much interest in games they played when they did not have their present capabilities.  In other words, they have an innate need to achieve new levels of life.  All of this tells us that games are children’s learning field to attain satisfaction for their God-given needs.  Games with others give them social acceptance on the level of those they engage.  Learning to play is an achievement.  Achievement with social acceptance is one of the most pleasurable accomplishments of mankind.  This satisfies our need for glory.  Consequently, parents need to help their children achieve in a friendly learning environment at every stage of their children’s lives.

3.  Parents should understand children are susceptible to developing inferior feeling about their bodies, features and abilities.  We need to discipline our children, but do not make them feel inferior (Col. 3:21).  Furthermore, parents and some other significant people can cause children to develop complexes.  Please review our previous lesson.  Complexes of anger, fear and inferiority feelings disintegrate personality and rob character of power; therefore, disintegration takes time and energy away from peoples’ power to attain the goals of satisfying our innate needs.

When children are scolded for the things they do in order to attain satisfaction for their natural needs, they may be made to feel learning is not the correct thing to do.  They may be made to feel guilty about their need to learn in order to achieve.  They may become fearful to attempt to achieve.  They may become angry because they are not allowed to achieve.  This is how inferiority complexes can be developed within a child by their parents who love them dearly.  These complexes get locked away in the young peoples’ sub-conscious.  They are unaware of the reason for their shyness or over aggressiveness.  This behavior, as well as other anti-social behavior, can be caused by locked away feelings of guilt and shame.  Complexes may be the main cause young people in the adolescence stage give up the control of their “selves” to Satan’s world powers.  They give up the sacred for the profane.   They give away the pearl of great price which is the kingdom of God (Matt. 13:44-46).

We parents need to examine ourselves to seek to understand the motivation for our own behavior.  If we have an inferiority complex we may “dump” our fears and angers on our children while they are in their passive learning stage.  We parents are our child’s ideal person in the formative years, so we need to be cautious.

4.  “Passive learning” is how most pre-school children learn.  They learn by observing.  They don’t learn by being told rules.  They learn from their parents and others by observing how they interpret the rules they make, or receive.  Forced, or book learning, is added when children are sent to school but passive learning may and should continue.  Passive learning may be why God did not put a special document in the Bible on “child rearing.”  God, through Jesus’ humanity and the Holy Spirit’s inspired literature, has equipped parents for properly assisting their children in their passive learning.  As children mature to the book learning stage they will continue to passively learn from people they accept as role models.  They should be taught to learn the Bible.  Parents have an awesome responsibility in co-parenting with God in the rearing of what we fondly call our children.  In the following chart please note the probable result of development for each stage of life.

5.  Stages of Psychosocial Development  by Erich Erickson

 Age     Personality     Explanation

0 – 1     Trust/Mistrust     Consistency, continuity, and sameness of experiences lead to trust. Negative care may lead to mistrust.

2– 3       Autonomy/Doubt      Opportunities to try out skills at one’s own pace and in their own way lead to autonomy.  Over protection or lack of support may lead to doubt about ability to control self or environment.

4– 5      Initiative/guilt      Freedom to engage in activities and parents’ patient answering of questions lead to initiative.

6– 11      Industry/Inferiority      Being permitted to make and do things and being praised for accomplishments lead to industry.

12 -18      Identity/Role Confusion     Recognition of continuity and sameness in one’s personality, even when in different situations and when reacted to by different individuals, leads to identity.  Inability to establish stability (particularly regarding sex roles and occupational choices) leads to role confusion.

Young Adult.  Intimacy/Isolation     Fusing of identity with another leads to intimacy. Competitive and combative relations with others may lead to isolation.

Middle age.     Generativity/Self-Absorption     Establishing and guiding the next generation will produce a sense of generativity. Concern with self leads to self-absorption.

Old age     Integrity/Despair     Acceptance of one’s life leads to a sense of integrity, but feeling that it is  too late to make up for lost opportunities leads to despair.

6.  Life on earth is not easy.  Once mankind became aware by attaining the knowledge of good and evil, the world we are born into becomes our “field of learning.”  Rom. 12:21; 16:19.  We must become fully aware of true reality.  We need to continually seek to “distinguish good and evil.”  Heb. 5:14.  There is no going back to a stage of life behind us.   We must go forward from one stage of our lives to another (Phil. 3:12-14).  We must continually struggle against the danger of becoming overcome with laziness and fear (II Thess. 3:10-13; I John 4:18).

7.  Discipline:  Learning requires thinking, thinking requires meditation; thus, asking, seeking, knocking all the way to the end of life on earth (II Tim. 2:15; 3:12-15).  As Christians we must develop many of our characteristics by tribulations (Rom. 5:3).  Tribulations are painful; therefore, we need to discipline ourselves to suffer (II Tim. 3:12).

a.  We learn to suffer in our tribulations by scheduling our pain before pleasure (II Cor. 1:7).  We must learn to “delay gratification.”  II Cor. 8:9.  Our work is followed by rest.  We avoid the plague of procrastination (Col. 4:17).  We do not ignore problems.  We solve them now before they build up and consume even more of our time and energy.  Tribulations lose their pain when they are accepted as joyous learning and achieving processes of life in the body (John 16:21).  Christians should look forward to our tribulations as a mother does the birth of her child.  It will be painful but, oh the joy that will follow.  This view will remove the pain from tribulations.

b.  We accept responsibility for our selves.  I am responsible for my decisions that brought me to where I am.  The problem is not out there.  This requires self-examination.  We respond to stimuli from the stand point of principle and not consequences.  Joseph is our role model (Gen. 39:1-20).  One of our greatest difficulties and continuous struggles will be to determine what we are responsible for and what we are not.  We do not get into judging.  As Jesus has told us, it only reflects our own sins.  We determine what we are responsible for and we accept it.  We do not blame others for our failures.

c.  We are dedicated to truth (Luke 16:10).  We are slaves to the righteousness of God (Rom. 6:18).  We live in the present reality.  We do not look back, yesterday can become heavy baggage.  We look to the future.  We do not attempt to use the old models that may have worked well in the past.  The good old days may have been wonderful; however, we accept the present reality as the true reality.  Those who cling to their memories of the past suffer from the mental illness of “transference.”

d.  Although we are dedicated to reality, we are flexible.  We may need to put some of our values from which we make righteous judgment “on hold” at times.  We need to take charge of our emotions and make our life decisions on principle.  There may be a time that other people are not prepared for the full truth.  “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.”  I Cor. 8:1.  We withhold our righteous judgment until they are receptive.  This is called “bracketing.”

8.  When youth develop mentally and physically to the adolescence stage, they should be aware that at some point of maturity they will become sinners.  This will separate them from God.  This is spiritual death.  All people relate to Adam (I Cor. 15:45-49).  He broke covenant with God and mankind got the knowledge of good and evil.

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed to all men, for that all have sinned.  Rom. 5: 12

This is how death spread to all people.  It is not because children are born in sin.  It is because we got this knowledge; however, no one has been able to avoid choosing evil except Jesus Christ.  Adolescents will know when they enter this phase of their lives because their conscience will let them know.  They will begin to feel guilty about not choosing the good they know to do.  Each person has developed two very long lists of what they believe is good and evil.  When an adolescents’ mind, heart and conscience matures to the point that they start “holding court” inside their head about their behavior based on the two lists, they will develop a guilty conscience (Rom. 2:14, 15).  This will affect their countenance –their view of themselves.  How they perceive themselves is the way they will behave.

Guilt is an extremely dreadful feeling.  In fact, it is so dreadful that an adolescent will go to great lengths to keep their guilt of sin out of their awareness state.  They have matured to the stage of conducting involuntary court on their thoughts, emotions and behavior.  They have guilt on their conscience.  They need to be born again because they have matured to the point of taking responsibility for their decisions.  There is no going back to innocence.  They do have a choice.  They can remain in Satan’s kingdom separated from God’s grace and guidance.  If this should be their unhappy choice they will do something about their guilt.  They cannot live in a conscious state with guilt.  This is the turning point for most people.  Adolescents often give up their holiness and pearls of great price in the kingdom of God for Satan’s world of darkness.

Let us summarize some critical points that have been made in this lesson in order bring into focus the reality of adolescence.  His or her ego boundaries have been well established.  The adolescent knows they are an individual with responsibility; however, they do have the freedom to make their own plans.  They are still dependent on their parents for the necessities of everyday life.  They may know many truths but their experience is limited.  Since wisdom is the discipline of applying truth to life’s experiences, they do not possess much wisdom.

Their bodies have been and still are developing into a new instrument.  They have some adult like features with which they have not had experience.  They are now aware of their innate sex drive; however, it is not necessarily making demands for satisfaction, but it will in time.  Their urge for social acceptance of people outside their family has increased significantly.  They feel the need of a friend in which to confide their feelings about what is happening in this new stage of life.  It is the “buddy stage” of life.  They want to achieve something that others will applaud.  They want glory.

For all of them it is a scary but exciting new world, to put it mildly.  For some it is too frightening, they seek to go back to being a little boy or girl.  Now add to this that they are now holding mind court on themselves and pronouncing themselves guilty of sin.  The attributes they gleaned from “Adam’s fall” is fully upon them.  They are aware.  They are fully aware of what they have been told is good and evil.  They are aware that they don’t live up to the good they know to do.  Their new maturity of mind, heart and conscience makes them aware of guilt for doing what they know they ought not to do.  In fact, they are aware of how they feel.  They are literally able to step back and look at themselves inside their ego boundaries.  They have what is equivalent to “observing or transcendent ego.”  Because they have the capability of examining themselves they cannot escape their own all seeing eye.  Neither can they escape from God’s all-seeing eye.

Those who have been reared in a Christian environment will know they need to be born again and enjoy peace with God because of the blessings of the cross of Jesus Christ.  Those who have not had the privilege of being reared in a Christian family will need to seek God’s help from other sources.  We pray they would find or be found by a gospel preacher.

Those who have been reared in a spiritually immature Christian home may have some inferiority complexes.  If they are in touch with a mature church where successful parents have been ordained as elders over the flock, they may get the help they need.  They will find some mature Christian who will help  them  keep from giving up the holiness and the kingdom of God they enjoyed as children (Matt. 18:2-6).

We can be sure Satan will have his all seeing eye on these wonderful adolescents (I Pet 5:8).  Satan will offer an alternate program to satisfy each innate need God put in mankind.  Satan will offer a temporary fix to satisfy one need but this will surely thwart another innate need.  We need all our God given needs satisfied, or in hope of satisfaction, for integration of our “self.”  Satan’s stimuli will produce lust which cannot be satisfied (I John 2:15-17).  Although Satan lies, he is a successful salesperson (John 8:44).  Jesus offers both grace and truth (John 1:17).  We need to listen to Him and have faith.

Adolescents must give up being a little boy or girl.  Just as young boys and girls give up being a baby, so is the nature of life “in Adam.”  Our next lesson will begin with young adults giving up adolescence.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Describe an adolescent.
  2. What is the aim of this lesson?
  3. Why should Jesus’ pronouncement, “I never knew you” catch the attention of Christians?
  4. What is the relationship of the laws of life in the new covenant with “knowing and being known” by Jesus?
  5. Why is it natural for a human being to “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect?”
  6. How could Jesus’ exhortation to ask, seek and knock relate to innate needs of mankind?
  7. What is the possible connection with the way Jesus started His Sermon on the Mount and His judgment pronouncement?
  8. Why can parents of young children understand the inherent needs theory?
  9. In what sense are mothers and fathers co-parents with God?
  10. Why is the subject of “ego boundaries” important in a study of adolescence?
  11. How might children’s interest in game playing with others relate to their inherent needs?
  12. Children get pleasure from their achievements.  They get more pleasure when they are applauded for what they achieve.  Name their need that is being satisfied in the latter case.
  13. Why might it be demeaning for a child to be treated as a play thing?
  14. How might a loving parent inadvertently cause their child to develop inferior feelings about themselves?
  15. How might parents transfer their own inferiority complexes to their children?
  16. Describe the concept of passive learning.
  17. Why was it not necessary for God to place a special document in the Bible, marked “how to rear a child?”
  18. Mankind got the capability of “awareness” because Adam and Eve broke covenant.  How does awareness make life difficult for mankind?
  19. List four helpful attitudes of a Christian that will enhance God’s discipline by tribulation program for the development of a son of God.
  20. Name the stage of life in which Romans 5:12 becomes an issue that requires a choice.
  • List the choices God gives people at this stage.
  • Why might this stage of life be “scary?”
  • What method might some try in order to avoid their fear at this stage?
  • How might the parents of this person have contributed to their giving up holiness and the kingdom of God?

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