Next Steps

Man Code entries are designed for parents or adults seeking to mold young boys into strong Christian men. Previous entries can be found here.

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Romans 13:1

Son, I’ve got some bad news for you. Do you know that part of life where you don’t like others telling you what to do? Maybe it’s an older sibling who think he or she is an extra parent. It’s definitely your parents who tell you what to do all the time. Or maybe it’s a teacher or a coach who is always giving you instructions. If you’re a normal adolescent boy, then you’ve probably dreamt of the day when you can finally grow up, move out of the house, and never have to take orders again!

Well, that’s the bad news. The truth is, you’ll always be under authority. If you spend your entire life trying to run away from all authority and only doing whatever you want to do all the time, there’s a special place in society for people like that, it’s called prison. As much as you might not like taking orders from other people, you’re going to have to get used to it. The benefit you have right now is that the people in authority over you have your concerns in mind. Some day it won’t always be like that. When you finally leave the house and live on your own, your new authorities will be the bank that own your house, the government that wants their taxes and the boss at work that may or may not like you. And for your entire life, you’ll always be under the authority of God.

So, the key isn’t to try and get to a place where no one tells you what to do, because that place doesn’t exist. There’s a part of every young man that wants to rebel and be their own master, to not take orders from anyone. But that desire is not from God, it’s what the Bible calls the ‘flesh,’ the sinful part of you that needs to be defeated inside of you. The key is to learn how to live under authority now, while your authorities (parents, teachers, coaches) love you and have your best interests in mind.

As Romans 13:1 says every authority over you ultimately comes from God Himself, so when you rebel against your parents, you’re ultimately rebelling against God. And trust me, son, that won’t work out well for you in the end. I’m not saying that submitting to the authorities in your life will be easy or even enjoyable, but it’s necessary. It’s how the world has been established by God, and the sooner you can learn to properly and respectfully live under authority, the farther along in life you’ll go. If you want to talk to folks who never listened to authority and always did whatever they wanted, go talk to the men stuck in prison.

QUESTION: Who’s an authority in your life that you’ve been struggling to obey? What’s something you can do today to start living under authority?

For the Apostle Paul, he knew that every natural battle we face has a spiritual source behind it because he knew what his Scriptures (our Old Testament) taught about the reality of spiritual warfare. Satan was an angel created by God (Job 1:3) who is described as a cherub and the highest of all created beings (Ezekiel 28:14). Satan was not your garden variety angel, he held a very prominent position in God’s hierarchy, and with references to musical instruments made in Ezekiel 28 most scholars believe that Satan was in charge of the worship in heaven, a very prominent position indeed. Yet pride (Ezekiel 28:17) led him to lead an unsuccessful rebellion against God Almighty and the devil and his minions were cast out of heaven. Satan’s ultimate defeat has already been decided but time still remains on the clock because Jesus’ second coming has not yet happened. We’re now in the in between, battling against an enemy who knows his doom is sealed but isn’t going down without a fight. As the book of Revelation puts it,

“Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” Revelation 12:12

Those are the forces arrayed against us, the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms that Paul describes in Ephesians 6:12. Why does Satan attack us if his fight is against God? For the same reason divorced couples will use their children as pawns to hurt one another. The best way to hurt someone is to hurt someone they love. Humankind is the pinnacle of God’s creation (Psalm 8:5), His crown jewel of creation, being formed in His image (Genesis 1:27). God proved His love for us once and for all when He sent His son Jesus as a sacrifice to reconcile us to Himself. Knowing this, it makes perfect sense that Satan in his furious rage tries his best to destroy humankind with every weapon available to him. To hurt us is to hurt the heart of God. So we are caught in the crossfire of a war that has raged since the beginning of time. But as Paul writes in Ephesians 6:10-18, we are not left defenseless. But defending yourself against the attacks of the enemy will only be as successful as your ability to see those attacks coming. The first step to spiritual warfare is to see the spiritual behind the natural, to see the attacks of the enemy coming so you can successfully defend yourself and those you love.

Man Code entries are designed for parents or adults seeking to mold young boys into strong Christian men. Previous entries can be found here.

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12

Chances are son, you like video games. And why not? Video games are electronic pathways to paradise, something fun to do for a few hours each day. When this Man Code entry was written the game capturing a nation of teen boys was Fortnite. When you’re reading this it will probably be something else. But there’s a dangerous side to video games, one that as a young man in Christ you need to be fully aware of. If you play video games on a regular basis then you’ve come face-to-face with addiction. If your mom constantly gets on you for playing so much, if a majority of your friends are ones you play with online, if the first thing you think about when you get up and the last thing you think about when you go to bed is video games, then you know what it’s like to struggle with addiction.

You may be thinking, “So what? Video games are harmless.” Perhaps so (other than messing with your eyesight, encouraging isolation and depression, keeping you in your parents’ home too long as a young adult and many other side effects). Video games may seem harmless, but addiction isn’t. When Paul spoke to Christians living in a first-century city where addiction was everywhere, Paul gave them a truth to live by that young Christian men need to embrace today, 1 Corinthians 6:12. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Just because you can stay up past midnight every night playing video games, that doesn’t mean you should. By spending all that time trying to master a video game, you’ll find out that the video game has actually mastered you, controlling your thoughts, your time, your emotions, your sleep.

And once you fall into addiction, you’re going to discover that it’s very difficult to fall out of it. Today the addiction may be video games, but tomorrow it might be alcohol, pornography, money or drugs. Some of the worst mistakes people make in life are made because they’ve allowed their addictions to control them and destroy their lives. You’re not anywhere close to that, yet. You’re not murdering anyone, you’re not stealing, you’re not going to jail. But if you’re addicted to something, even something as seemingly innocent as video games, then you’re at the beginning of a road that will ultimately take you some place you don’t want to go.

So don’t let video games control you. Don’t allow yourself to be mastered by anyone or anything. Set time limits for your game use and stick to them. If you need help, ask your parents to help you set and enforce limits. One of the only ways to break free from addiction is to ask for help, so go ahead and start practicing now. Video games may seem like harmless fun and games, but addiction is no laughing matter. Don’t allow video games to control you.

Man Code entries are designed for parents or adults seeking to grow young boys into strong Christian men. Previous entries can be found here.

“Walk with the wise and become wise,
    for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20

You don’t have as much control over the direction of your life as you might think you do. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “I’m my own person, I can do whatever you want!” And you’re right, you can do whatever you want. But I know what you’ll end up doing: whatever your friends decide to do. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to have friends. We all need people to do life with. But your friends have an influence over you greater than you realize. Their language becomes your language, they way they dress becomes how you dress, the music they listen to becomes your music, their actions become your actions. Because your friends are such a strong influence in your life, you don’t have as much control over the direction of your life as you think you do. Your friends determine the direction of your life.

When King Solomon wrote to his son that if you walk with the wise you’ll become wise, he knew that if you surround yourself with smart people, you end up making smarter decisions. But if you are surrounded by fools, you’ll end up hurting yourself. No one intentionally goes out to hurt themselves, but when you’re with your friends, you want to be accepted by them. You want to be a part of their group. That’s natural. So, to be accepted, you’ll look like them, talk like them, dress like them, even act like them, all to be accepted. Your friends determine the direction of your life.

But you have the power to determine who your friends are. You have to make the choice about who you hang around with at school, who you play video games with or ride around with at night, who you want to be accepted by. That’s why your parents will sometimes freak out when they think you’re hanging around with the “bad crowd.” They’re not trying to make your life miserable. They’re concerned because they know you’re going to want to be accepted by those friends in the bad crowd, which will lead you to make bad decisions. A companion of fools really does suffer harm.

So, how do you know if you have good friends or bad friends? Look at how they talk about other people and treat other people when adults aren’t around. If they’re respectful, kind and helpful, then they’re good people. But if they’re mean, hurtful towards others, disrespectful towards adults, use bad language or other similar things, then you’re going to end up being the same way to try and be accepted by them. Finding new friends is never easy, but if you need better friends, it will always be worth it. Find friends who are awesome people, and you’ll become awesome yourself!

QUESTION: Have you ever done something to impress your friends that you wish you wouldn’t have done? Why did you do it? Are your current friends making wise choices or foolish choices? Are they good friends or bad friends?