Be a Christian: Trust Jesus Christ
The Bible is not just an ancient holy book. It contains the words that God intended mankind to know in order have a right relationship with God and in order to have true wisdom about the world. According to the Bible, man’s greatest need is to have his sins forgiven through repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ, on account of Christ’s nature as both God and man and his work of living a sinless life and dying on the cross to take away our sins.
An important and necessary part of faith in Christ is knowing and believing what he taught. This is especially important these days, as the church (that is, the total of all Christian churches considered as one assembly of people) contains a great deal of bad and even false teaching about Christianity. Scripture itself, both Old and New Testament, warns Christians to guard against false teachers, false teaching, and “false Christs.” “False Christs” does not mainly mean people who falsely claim to be Jesus, although such people do exist. Instead, it mainly means false descriptions of Christ, false ideas about Christ, such as the idea that he is not God, or that he did not teach the necessity of faith in him for the forgiveness of our sins.
Therefore a good man studies Christian doctrine (teaching) so that he can recognize and reject false teaching, and so that he can hold more tightly to the true faith in Christ that saves him. But how exactly can one recognize false teaching?
There is no quick answer to this question, because false teachers always make a case that at first sounds believable. But the basic answer is that false teaching can only be known by knowing true doctrine, and true doctrine holds the Bible, the Word of God, as the highest authority. Any teaching that contradicts the clear teaching of the Bible is to be rejected.
The problem, of course, is that just about every false teaching can apparently be supported by some Bible verses. This is why it is of vital importance that you come to understand the Bible as a system, and not just as a collection of isolated sayings. Understanding the system of biblical teaching helps you to recognize false interpretations of Scripture.
School is not enough
Some people think that if you learn just what school teaches you, then you’ll do OK in life. This is not true. What they teach in school is not enough.
There are several reasons for this. For one, becoming wise takes a lifetime. Even if you are the best possible student attending the best possible school and taking the best possible classes from the best possible teachers, you’ll not learn all you need to know in school. At best, you’ll learn how to learn. But learning continues all your life.
There is also the fact that school is designed to make people accept “conventional wisdom,” that is, what the average person believes. Schools don’t want to make you think deeply about the really important ideas, such as God, morality, the meaning of life, the forgiveness of sins, and so on. Because if you think about these ideas deeply enough, you may become discontented with conventional wisdom. In that case, you may not support the ideas that the leaders of the nation want you to believe. You might become what some would call a “troublemaker.”
In fact, conventional wisdom often teaches you to accept the liberal ideas that are ruining our nation and could ruin your life. You must not accept conventional wisdom except when it’s right, as it sometimes is.
And there is the fact that school is designed for the student of average ability. Even the special programs, such as GATE (“Gifted and Talented Education”) are not very advanced. If you have a special ability you will need to study more, on your own, in order to develop this special talent.
I know what you’re thinking: “School is already overloading me with work, and now you want me to study more? Come on!”
I’m just telling you the truth. Sometimes the truth hurts, but you need to know it. School is not enough.
And school does not have to be a heavy burden. It’s possible to learn how to study efficiently, so that you can get your schoolwork done faster while at the same time learning just as much as you did before. There is no simple and easy way to become a good learner, but you must, and you can, learn how to be a good learner. This is not the place to teach you how to learn, but the most important part of it is to be able to read well: To be able to concentrate on what you’re reading, to understand what’s being said (it’s easy to miss important information that you read, even when the words were designed to be as obvious as possible), to remember the information you read, and to read as quickly as possible but not so fast that you miss something important.
Don’t be a “teenager”
And that’s because the modern idea of the teenager is a serious twisting of what a young man between the ages of thirteen and nineteen really should be.
The teenager is said to be a different type of human being who is neither a child nor an adult. The teenager, as he is usually portrayed, is more powerful than a child but less responsible and less mature than an adult. He gets to enjoy much of the power of adulthood (an income, a car, a girlfriend, some independence from parents, and so on), but without many of the burdens of adulthood (being legally responsible for all his behavior, having to earn all his income, being expected to marry and start a family, and so on.)
In this way, a “teenager” is not someone between thirteen and nineteen years of age. A teenager is a young person who combines the power of an adult with the immaturity and irresponsibility of a child.
Of course, not all people between thirteen and nineteen years old behave like this. But many do, and people often encourage teenagers to act this way, usually without coming out and saying it.
Why would anyone want to encourage teenagers to be immature? Because immature people are easy to manipulate into doing what other people want. Advertisers and the companies they work for, for example, want people to want to buy products, and the immature person is easier than the mature person to manipulate into wanting the product. And if the immature person also has money and the freedom to use it as he wishes, then he will go out and buy the product. And there also is the fact that immature people are more easily misled into believing the lies of liberalism and into joining the liberal campaign to “change society” by rejecting God and the rules and standards He has established.
And being a “teenager” seems to be more enjoyable than being an adult. You get to avoid most of the responsibilities of adulthood while enjoying many of the privileges of adulthood. No wonder many teenagers deliberately extend their childhood into their twenties and even beyond.
These are some of the reasons why many people want teenagers to combine immaturity with power.
But it was not always like this. Up until roughly World War II, young people usually thought of themselves not as members of the tribe of “Teenagers,” but as members of their family, their church, their religion, their town, their nation and so on. The concept of “teenager” was created by psychologists in the middle of the Twentieth Century.
The great danger of thinking of yourself as a teenager is this: The teenager is not an adult. He is still a child. And therefore the world of teenagers can be a world that traps you in childhood at a time when you should be working hard on becoming an adult. Many teenagers see themselves as opposed to their parents and to the world of adults generally. This causes them to cut themselves off from the wisdom of the adult world that they, and all children, need very much in order to become good adults. Therefore you should not be a standard-brand “teenager.
Don’t be a Cynic
The modern world is a cynical world. And the more intelligent and knowledgeable you are, the greater your temptation to cynicism. But cynicism is a poison you must learn to reject.
Cynicism is the practice of badmouthing things in a sly way that does not come out and say that you hate or disrespect them. Whenever you put somebody or something down with a subtle wisecrack, whenever you say “Isn’t it wonderful!” in an ironic way that signals to others that you don’t really think it’s wonderful, whenever you roll your eyes for other people to know that you’re too cool to care for whatever it is that you’re rolling your eyes at, you’re being a cynic.
The kids who are regarded as the most “cool” often make a show of cynicism because pretending that you don’t care will make many people think that you’re strong. The cynic appears strong because he appears not to need anything. He insults things to show that he is superior to them, and that he does not need them. And therefore some people will think he is strong. Indeed, the original slang meaning of the word “cool” was to describe a person who did not react emotionally to things. He kept his feelings hidden in order to appear stronger than a normal person. He kept himself “cool.” From here it is only a short distance to issuing subtle put-downs to try to make yourself appear superior.
Among many children, cynicism has become a habit. In order to fit in with some children, you have to act cynical at least part of the time.
But cynicism is poison. As a child, you may have only been playing at it, and so no major harm may have been done. But if you keep this habit into adulthood it will drag you down because it is foolish to insult something which is good. You should love things which are good, because the good nourishes your mind, your spirit, your senses and even your body. And a habit of cynicism leads one to badmouth, that is, to hate, that which is good.
The habit of cynicism did not become popular by accident. It’s a basic feature of the modern world. The modern world banishes belief in God and the completely “modern” man is not allowed to believe in anything higher than himself. God, love, morality, beauty, and so on are seen as nothing. They are supposedly just things that mankind invented in order to make our existence a little less painful. And the sophisticated modern man thinks he’s too smart to fall for the illusion. He thinks he knows that it’s all just a big put-on.
And so he naturally becomes a cynic, that is, a man with a subtle hatred of everything that’s good. And his habit of cynicism makes it harder (sometimes impossible) for him to come to know the truth about God and so be saved.
Don’t spend most of your time in the world of children
As a child, your job is to become an adult. And you cannot become an adult by spending most of your time hanging around other children or being lost in your electronic entertainment. That’s what we mean by “the world of children.” If you want to grow up, you should spend as much time as you can in the adult world.
Yes, when you’re a child it’s more fun to live in the world of children. And if you really are a child, it’s OK to be in the world of children some of the time. But as you get older, you need to start seeking out adults, doing adult things, and thinking like an adult. That’s because you will spend most of your life as an adult.
Nowadays many dishonest and evil people would like you to remain a child for as long as possible. That’s because children don’t have the self-control that adults should have, and children are also are not wise about the dangers of the world. Sellers of products want you to want to buy their products without stopping to think about whether you really need them. Many of your peers want you to act just like them. Politicians want you to be easily misled by their campaign slogans and campaign speeches. Teachers of falsehoods want you to believe their lies. And so on.
Obviously, these people don’t have your best interests in mind. So you should be wary of doing what they want you to do. And that requires that you work on becoming an adult.
If you want to become a musician, you have to spend time with musicians and in the world of music. If you want to become a graphic designer, you have to spend time with graphic designers and in the world of graphic design. If you want to become a carpenter, you have to spend time with carpenters and in the world of carpentry. And if you want to become an adult, you have to spend time in the world of adults. Lots of time.
Don’t love your own opinion too much
In school they generally act as if your opinion is important. They constantly ask you “what do you think about it?”
This is (mostly) a mistake. If the question is asked just to get you thinking about something, then it’s a good question. You should think about things. But constantly being asked to give your opinion may start to make you think that your opinion is important to people other than yourself. If so, then asking the question is a mistake.
What you think about something is not important. What is real is important. Once you know what is real, you should change what you think so that it agrees with reality.
But the person who has gotten used to others constantly asking for his opinion may come to believe that his opinion is sacred, and always to be honored by other people, regardless of whether he actually knows anything. This person may become angry whenever someone tries to correct him, even if his opinion needs to be corrected. He may become unteachable, which will cause him to become lost in a world of lies.
Your opinion is not valuable unless you have learned about the topic being discussed. To become wise, you must understand that, being a child, you don’t know a lot about the world, and you will have to learn from those who are older and wiser than you. And, in fact, you will have to listen to people who are wiser than you no matter how old you are. To become wise, you have no choice but constantly to learn from other people.
Sometimes, though, your opinion does matter. You are not worthless, and, for example, the type of food or the type of music or the type of clothes that you prefer does have value. Also, the way to learn something is to start to have an opinion about it. But you must be willing to correct your opinion when you discover more information. Your opinion about important things should not just be what feels good to you. It should be what is true.
Don’t try to be popular…
…because the people you try to please will often not like you when you do the right thing. Instead, try to do the right thing even if it’s unpopular. That way, people will respect you.
On the other hand, don’t try to be unpopular either. You cannot know if you’re doing the right thing by looking at the reactions (good or bad) of other people. But bad ideas are very popular, and if your main goal in life is to have an easy time, then you’ll want other people to like you. And this will require you to believe (or at least act as if you believe) many bad ideas that are popular.
One obvious example of a bad idea that is popular is non-Christianity. Although many people like to think of themselves as being Christians, knowing and believing what Christ actually taught and trying to live in a way that honors Christ are often unpopular. The ideas that are most popular in the world are those that flatter a person: that God loves you no matter what you say or do, or that there is no God who will judge you one day, or that it is possible for you to save yourself from God’s anger or to gain blessings by what you do rather than by what Christ did, and so on. People have a natural desire to believe ideas that flatter them, rather than what is true.
Therefore, if you are to be a good man you must never make it your highest goal to be popular with other people. True, you must not offend others without having a good reason. To live a good life you must be able to get along with most of the people in your life. You must be able to interact with them without fights constantly breaking out. But you must never be afraid of opposing the majority of people, if that majority is wrong. If you give in to what you know is wrong your spirit will be harmed. You will feel weak and cowardly. You will lose your integrity.
Don’t be a conformist
A conformist is a person who wants to be like most other people. He wants to conform to the standards that most people accept as normal and good. He does not want to be different. To be a good man, as we have seen, you must not be a conformist.
On the other hand, you also must not be a nonconformist. A nonconformist is a person who wants to be different from other people. He makes it a point to be different. But you should neither want to be like others, nor want to be different from others. Both the conformist and the nonconformist are setting their goals by looking at other people. You should want to do what is right, regardless of whether others want it or not.
You should never think of yourself as wanting just to go along with what everybody else is thinking and doing, so that you will be popular. There are many bad ideas in the world that are very popular, and as a man you need to test the ideas you see around you. Every man will be called upon to exercise leadership sooner or later, and the time to begin preparing for that day is now.
It is especially important not to be a conformist these days. These days liberalism rules, and so almost all conformists go along with liberalism. But liberalism is a way of thinking based on the denial of God. It is a false system of belief. You should not conform to liberalism.
Don’t be “non-judgmental”
Nowadays, America’s authorities constantly praise diversity and tolerance, and they condemn those people whom they call “judgmental.” According to America’s authorities, you must be “non-judgmental.”
There are various reasons why they say this, but the main reasons are that the liberals don’t want you to think too clearly about the bad ideas they’re promoting, and they want to reduce the amount of conflict in society without dealing with its real causes.
America’s authorities, for example, usually want you to be non-judgmental of homosexuality. This means that they want you to believe that it’s good and that anybody who speaks out against it is bad. That’s what they really mean by being “non-judgmental:” They mean supporting the bad ideas of liberalism.
Even if they really meant that we should not judge things (meaning that we should put up with them), non-judgment is not a virtue. The good man should judge whether things are true or false, good or bad, beautiful or ugly. And he should reject the false, the bad and the ugly.
And there’s another reason for all this emphasis on nonjudgmentalism. Ever since Congress passed the Immigration Bill of 1965, America has greatly increased its immigration. Where America in 1970 was almost 90 percent white people, today the figure is down to 63 percent and dropping. America now has large numbers of non-European and non-Christian peoples. And when different cultures and religions mix, the result is conflict. Sure, people of different races, cultures or religions can sometimes be friendly toward one another. But in general, the greater the diversity, the greater the conflict.
But instead of acknowledging that too much diversity is bad, America’s leaders are increasing their demands that we become more tolerant and nonjudgmental. They don’t want America to be like it used to be, with most Americans being white and Christian. Our leaders mostly want an America that is divided into many tribes and religions, because their religion of liberalism tells them that this is the best sort of nation. Their religion tells them that diversity is always good. When they see the increasing conflict caused by too much diversity they don’t acknowledge that diversity causes trouble, because diversity is sacred to them. It’s holy to them. So they just increase their demands that we be more tolerant.
Therefore you should not follow our leaders when they demand tolerance and non-judgment, for they are demanding that we approve of foolishness. We should, of course, always treat other people with basic decency (unless they’re attacking us, in which case we may defend ourselves.) But we should not be fooled into thinking that non-judgment, tolerance and diversity are always good things. They often are not.
Since a man is a man, he should be manly. To be otherwise is to invite people to disrespect him.
The essence of masculinity is strength under control. It is strength that can be relied on to do the right thing. A masculine man also avoids showing female traits, that is, actions and habits that are characteristic of women. Even if a man does have masculine virtues, female manners make a man look weak, which invites disrespect.
But the cultivation of manliness is not easy. For one thing, self-improvement is always hard. Man (and woman) has a natural tendency not to do the right thing. Cultivating manliness is also hard these days because many of America’s authorities are afraid that masculine men will threaten liberalism. A masculine man, for example, does not pretend that homosexuality, or mass immigration by hostile foreigners, or laws that encourage divorce or abortion, are good things. He opposes that which he knows to be bad.
Being masculine begins when you avoid the mannerisms and habits that look feminine. These include showing excessive emotion, acting as if you’re worried about what others say, moving your body in a soft, female way, and so on. We cannot make a complete list of female mannerism to avoid, but everybody has an instinctive sense of what is male and what is female. You are a man, so act it.
It’s useful to identify the most important character traits of masculinity. We start with the most important of all: Be strong. As we said above, this does not refer mainly to physical strength, although physical strength is necessary in order to do what a man needs to do. But more important than physical strength is strength of the spirit.
By “spirit” we don’t necessarily mean something religious. We just mean non-physical strength: intellectual strength (the desire and the ability to know), moral strength (the desire and ability to do the right thing), religious strength (knowing God and honoring Him), psychological strength (the ability to manage your emotions and to maintain a positive attitude), volitional strength (the ability to want what you should want and not to want what you should not want), and so on.
The ancient wise men identified three other important masculine virtues besides strength: Courage, ability, and honor.
Courage means, not the absence of fear, but the ability to do the right thing despite your fear. There is only one way to develop courage: force yourself to do the right thing even though you are afraid. The masculine virtue of ability simply means that a masculine man masters at least one valuable skill and is also able to do well all of the things that ordinary life calls on us to do.
And then there is honor. This word is more difficult to define that the previous three, largely because the word is rarely used in this sense these days. We may speak of “honoring a commitment,” but it is rare to see the word “honor” used to denote a masculine virtue. So what does it mean?
“Honor” basically means that because of your virtues that others see, and the virtues you see in others, you respect one another. A masculine man respects those who have virtue and he expects to be respected by others for his virtues. He understands, of course, that both he and others have weaknesses and sins. He does not demand unconditional respect (respect no matter what) from others, nor does he extend it to others. He recognizes sins and weaknesses as things to be fought against, not things to be ignored, and certainly not things to be applauded. But he also looks for and shows respect for virtues in other people.
In short, honor is strength respecting strength.
Maintain your dignity
If you act, speak and dress with dignity, others will respect you. If you don’t have dignity, they won’t respect you.
It’s true that some people will seem to like you more if you are undignified. Perhaps they feel undignified and so they want friends who are like them. But most people will not like or respect you if you’re undignified.
“Dignity” means that you do not act immaturely, dress sloppily, speak with ugly language, and so on. If you act with dignity, you express, without saying it openly, that you are a person of value and that you value other people. You value them so much that you will not subject them to things that are ugly, shocking, foolish, or some such. And if you show others that you respect them, they will respect you, or at least they will respect you more than if you did not behave with dignity.
Don’t be fooled by the idea of “Progress”
Nowadays you constantly hear about how the latest inventions are making the world a better place. How we now do things better than our ancestors, or even our parents, did things back in their day. The official name of this idea is “Progress,” and it contains a trap that you need to avoid.
Here’s an example of the idea of Progress: Many people think that black-and-white movies and television shows are not as good as modern, color, hi-definition, graphically sophisticated videos. Modern movies and television are said to be better than the old movies which are (so they say), old-fashioned and less advanced.
So “Progress” is the idea that things are better now than they used to be. [We use the capitalized word Progress to denote this specific idea, that things are always getting better. Non-capitalized “progress” is any other use of the word.] Many people believe in Progress, which means that what we have now must be better than what they had back in the day, just because of this thing called Progress that somehow (so they think) makes everything better these days.
But consider this: One day, you and most of the things you think are really “cool” will be old-fashioned. One day, people will laugh at what we now think of as being the newest and the best stuff. And one day, you and I will be dead.
And if these future people will think that our smart phones, our computer graphics and our movies are hopelessly uncool and lame, will they be right? Or will they be missing something?
Of course they will be missing something. We know that what we have now is good, even if the future may improve things. Then again, the future may not be able to improve on some of what we have now. It’s possible that things might even get worse!
And just as the future person who thinks that we and our things are lame will be wrong, the person nowadays who thinks that the things of the past are lame because they are not as impressive as what we have now is also wrong. The people of the past had many good things, and we can respect them. We can even enjoy some of them today.
Contemporary movies, for example, have cooler computer graphics, more impressive action and louder music than the movies of old. But many of the movies of old have good things that today’s movies lack: more realistic stories, more interesting characters, better music, and better morality. Many of today’s movies glorify immorality, have repulsive characters, have boring or unrealistic dialog and plots, and so on.
Another thing: Our ancestors lived in the past, often long ago. Should we look down on them because they’re old? Consider that this nation was built by our ancestors. Their blood and sweat made our nation what it is today. Without them, we wouldn’t even exist. Shouldn’t we honor them for that?
Of course we should. The idea of Progress is seriously mistaken. We should enjoy what is good, even if it is “old,” and we should honor our ancestors even though they are old.
Don’t be fooled by the “Change the world” campaign
Many people, especially people who want to influence our behavior (such as advertisers and politicians) say that our highest goal should be to “change the world.” Nowadays it’s often taken for granted that “changing the world” is a noble goal. But the Bible—the supreme authority—does not say that we must change the world. Instead, it says that we must be faithful to God and the truths he has revealed to us.
In fact, the idea that we must “change the world” was created and popularized by enemies of Christianity. One of the changes they want is for people to ignore God and his laws for mankind and then try to create a worldwide society based on atheism, science, and tolerance. But atheism is false and science cannot tell us the answers to the most important questions, such as the meaning of human life or the nature of right and wrong. And tolerance is worthless as a guide to living because it just tells us to put up with everything, whereas a man needs to know what is true and what is false, and what is good and what is bad, if he is to know how to live. Tolerance has its value but it cannot be the supreme rule of life.
The goal of a properly masculine man must not be to “change the world,” for this is impossible. Instead, your goal in life should be to preserve and defend those things that are good, such as your family, your people and your religion of Christianity.
[To be continued]