The Sins of Youth Productive
of the Sorrows of Old Age
William Nicholson, 1862
"For You write bitter things against me, and make me inherit the iniquities of my youth!" Job 13:26
Youth is the seedtime of spiritual happiness, or spiritual woe; afterlife is the harvest time. Whatever a man may sow in his youth, he may reap in middle life, or old age — be they the fruits of righteousness, or the bitter effects of sin. What an awful spectacle is an old man, about to pass into eternity, made to "possess the iniquities of his youth!"
How different such a scene from that mentioned, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day!" 2 Timothy 4:7-8
It appears that Job felt the bitterness of youthful sins in advanced age. Notice:
I. The Sins of Youth.
The source of all sin is human depravity. The soul is fallen, and corrupt. "The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?" Jeremiah 17:9 . All are born with the seeds of sin lurking in their souls, and they do not long remain latent. Hence says the Psalmist, "The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies." Psalm 58:3. Education, parental authority, and pious example, may tend to restrain youthful transgression — but sin will break down every barrier. It requires more than human means to counteract it. Among the "iniquities of youth," perhaps the most prominent are:
disregard of parental authority,
forgetfulness of God,
refusal of instruction,
vain amusements, etc.
II. The Sins of Youth Are Highly Provoking to God.
All sin is hateful to him. "You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity!" Habakkuk 1:13.
1. They are committed against God's tender care towards them, when they are least able to help themselves. Childhood is a helpless state — youth too is a time of dependence; but the Providence of God has provided for the young, those who care for them, etc. etc.
2. They are an abuse of the most vigorous part of life. Then the body is most active, healthy, and strong — then the mind is clear, and gradually strengthening, and very pliable — then the talents can be better consecrated to the service of God. But all those rich advantages, are prostituted to the service of sin and Satan.
3. It is an awful waste of precious time — that time which should be employed in gaining knowledge, purity, joy, and Christian experience for the evil days and years, when by reason of human infirmity, and perhaps afflictive pain, they will have to say, "I have no pleasure in them." Ecclesiastes 12:1. An Epicure once said, "I will take care for today — for who knows whether tomorrow will ever arrive?" Sensuality stimulated him; but spiritual wisdom should guide the young.
4. They are contaminating in their influence. "One sinner destroys much good."
5. The sins of youth, if persisted in, will tend to confirm the person in the commission of greater sins. The tenderness of human passions gradually decreases. Warnings, etc., lose their influence — afflictions, judgments, death itself, at length will not affect nor deter from sin. Sin is of a most hardening nature; it petrifies the conscience until it moves not, as if seared with a hot iron, and the soul until it is past feeling. "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness!" Hebrews 3:13
III. The Sins of Youth Lay the Foundation for Bitter Remorse, and Sometimes for Severe Punishment.
It is the nature of sin to produce disappointment, sorrow, and distress, Jeremiah 2:19. To see the bitter effects of sin, see Psalm 38 and 51. The sins of youth are often the smart of age, both in respect of sorrow within, Jeremiah 31:18, 19, and suffering without, ch. 20:11. Time does not wear out the guilt of sin!
They often subject the sinner to judicial punishment in this life. The sins of youth affect:
1. The body. It is often wasted by disease which sin has produced. How often have blindness, lameness, etc. etc., been produced by sin which has led to quarrels, intemperance, etc.! In some cases we see the constitution destroyed, and in others a premature old age. The individual bears in his body the effects of the "iniquities of his youth."
2. The mind. This frequently suffers more than the body. "The spirit of a man may sustain his infirmities, but a wounded spirit who can bear?" That which affects the mind is:
A painful retrospect. Scenes of wickedness — language of profanity — actions of impurity — a wicked life, and its influence upon others.
Painful and harassing conviction: of infinite love abused, rejected; of having done despite to the Spirit of grace — and trodden under foot the Son of God.
Great loss . . .
of holy pleasures;
of solid joy;
Eternal life neglected for mere phantoms.
Failure to gain happiness when the principal seedtime, and the richest facilities for obtaining spiritual life are gone.
How seldom is an aged man brought to repentance! The sins of youth affect:
3. The future. Frequently the prospect is dark and dreadful; a "fearful looking for of judgment," etc. A prospect . . .
not of joy, but of pain;
not of rest, but of punishment;
not of light, but of darkness;
not of glory, but of perdition;
not of Heaven, but of Hell!
1. Let the young be convinced that they need saving and renewing grace.
2. Let those who now bear the iniquities of their youth, apply to the Almighty Savior.