Christian Parenting and Family Resources with Biblical Principles

Heading off to College? Overcome the Pillars of Peril

  • David Wheaton Author
  • Published Jun 16, 2005
Heading off to College? Overcome the Pillars of Peril

Have you ever noticed that at many universities and colleges the most prominent building on campus is characterized by several large pillars? Pillars have come to be universally recognized not just as a symbol for the U.S. Supreme Court building but as a symbol of higher education. These massive pillars represent strength, support, and longevity. For college students these pillars promise a better future through education, maturation, and preparation.

At a University of Instruction a student gains an education in various academic fields, grows in maturity from boy to man or from girl to woman, and gets prepared for a career and life as an adult. Fundamentally, these are the three Pillars of Promise that college offers.

Unfortunately, though, the collegiate Pillars of Promise are often perverted and replaced by something completely different. Instead of achieving the promise of a better future as a result of gaining an education, growing in maturation, and getting career preparation, students get distracted and sidetracked by three other pillars that also represent college life but result in a worse future. Choosing and succumbing to these pillars causes a University of Instruction to turn into a University of Destruction.

What are these pillars? Not the Pillars of Promise, they are the Pillars of Peril.

The Pillars of Peril are summed up in a very familiar triad: Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll. Every sinful temptation you will ever face in college falls into one of these three categories. Let's find out how.


The first Pillar of Peril is Sex. Sexual sin comes in many varieties -- premarital sex, lust, pornography (Internet, movies, magazines), oral sex, homosexuality, adultery, masturbation, strip clubs, sensual dancing and dress, lewd jokes, rape, orgies, fantasies, sexual harassment, incest, bigamy, bestiality, and sexual content in movies, commercials, and television. Did I miss any?

All of these are just different forms of sexual sin. They are perversions of God's design for sex.

If the Tempter can't get you with one of them, he'll try another.

Drugs and Alcohol

The second Pillar of Peril is Drugs and Alcohol. The use of drugs and alcohol causes the mind and spirit to be altered. And there are many different ways for this to be accomplished -- beer, wine, hard liquor, marijuana, heroin, cocaine, crack, pills, methamphetamine, ecstasy, pain or sleeping medications, GHB (a date rape drug), and even glue sniffing. Once again, there are many different options, but they all fall under the same category and do the same thing -- they alter your mental and spiritual state.

If the Tempter can't get you with this one, he'll try another.

Rock 'n' Roll

The third Pillar of Peril is "Rock 'n' Roll." Notice the quotation marks -- I'm not speaking musically here, but rather about what rock 'n' roll has historically represented -- rebellion against authority (especially God's) and rejection of the Bible. Whenever God's authority is rejected, even slightly, man and his own flawed reasoning reign -- this is what is called humanism. The third Pillar of Peril would more accurately be named humanism, which is the direct result of rebellion 'n' rejection of God and His Word.

This pillar has a broad reach because it encapsulates every type of thought and action that rebels against God and rejects the Bible. It could be one of the many godless, man-centered philosophies promoted by teachers at secular (non-religious) colleges such as post-modernism, hedonism, evolution, atheism, or nihilism. This is secular humanism.

Or it could be any of the many man-devised biblical errors that you will encounter at a liberal Christian college, such as: The Bible is not the basis for truth and has many inaccuracies and discrepancies; Jesus is not the sinless Son of God and is not the only way to eternal life in heaven; and all religions -- Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, New Age, Wicca, etc.-- are equal. This is religious humanism.

In short, the R 'n' R pillar is a battle for your mind, a battle for your worldview. It includes every temptation that says, "God may say one thing in the Bible, but He's not my authority, and I'm going to believe and do what I want." When you think of the third pillar, think of the inevitable result of rebellion and rejection of God and the Bible -- humanism.

These pillars of peril will surround you during your time at college, but this doesn't mean that all hope is lost. In the same way that He has "overcome the world," Christ calls and gives Christians the ability to be Overcomers. So my message for those entering or attending college can be boiled down to two things: a warning and wisdom.

Warning ...

The warning stems from the fact that college is an extremely dangerous time for all young people, Christians included. As if the transition from home life to campus life isn't difficult enough, the three Pillars of Peril stand poised to entrap and destroy countless souls. They destroy through temptations of the body (sex, drugs, alcohol) and temptations of the mind (secular humanism or religious humanism taught by the professors).

In the grand scheme of the universe, the battle you will face on campus represents the broader war between God and Satan: Satan has been condemned to spend eternity in hell, and in the meantime, he's trying to take as many souls down with him as possible. His motive certainly matches his nickname -- Destroyer.

I can't think of a more conducive environment that exists on earth for Satan to work his destruction. Young people are more vulnerable and impressionable than at any other time in their lives as they make their big transition to college. They are encouraged to "experiment" sexually, party hearty, and "open their minds" to the godless philosophies and errant theologies of man.

Satan has many ways to divert you from following "the way, the truth, and the life" -- Jesus Christ. His philosophy is "whatever works." And whatever tactic he uses, his main goal is always the same -- to lead you away from the one Way that will send you to heaven. And he doesn't care how long it takes.

Fortunately for him, there are many souls who follow willingly, often unknowingly, down his path. His devices feel, sound, and appear so attractive -- if they weren't, no one would take the bait! Most college students eagerly swallow his lures, not realizing the present, future, and eternal consequences. There truly is "a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Proverbs 14:12).

With willing subjects in a willing environment, college must seem like shooting fish in a barrel for him -- truly, Universities of Destruction.

Now, it would be nice (but naïve) to think the 50 percent of Christian students who say they have lost their faith in college will become followers of Christ later in life. My hunch is that most of them weren't genuine Christians in the first place and college only serves to lead them further astray.

The other 50 percent of Christian students who make it through college with their faith intact are Possessors -- possessors of a genuine faith and the indwelling Holy Spirit. They may fall for a time, but they always get back on track. Once a Possessor always a Possessor, with all the necessary resources to be an Overcomer.

Taking the "I'm only young once" approach or the "I'll get back with God later" philosophy or the "I'll learn by experience" route is truly playing with fire -- the fire in hell. Not only are the unavoidable consequences of sin bad enough, but not one of us knows the exact day of our earthly departure, when we will stand alone before God in judgment for our every thought, action, and motive. God is not fooled, is not mocked, and does not wink at "sowing your wild oats."

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. Galatians 6:7-8

The warning is loud and clear -- your soul is at stake in college.


Now I have a confession to make: Not one scrap of advice written here originated in my own mind. I plagiarized it all from another book -- the Bible.

In the Bible God provides more than enough wisdom for you to overcome Satan and his collegiate schemes. It is not the wisdom of the world propagated in college by professors that relies on limited human intelligence, but the wisdom of the Word that reflects the infinite, perfect, powerful, and holy mind of God!

The wisdom to overcome stems from trusting in the Bible as your final authority and source for truth, and then applying it practically to the trials and temptations you will face on campus.

As if the Word of God isn't enough, you also have the example of One who embodied and used the wisdom of the Word as He overcame His World of Destruction. Jesus Christ is your perfect example of an Overcomer.

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. --John 16:33

But there is one ultra-important prerequisite for victory in college: To apply the wisdom of the Word and be an Overcomer on campus, you must first possess the Spirit that made Jesus Christ an Overcomer, the exact same Spirit that gave Him victory over temptation to sin and victory over physical death on the cross.

Without the indwelling Holy Spirit, you are powerless to overcome in college. With the indwelling Holy Spirit, you have all the power you'll ever need to overcome as you obey His leading.

How do you become a possessor of a genuine faith in Jesus Christ, a possessor of the indwelling Holy Spirit? You agree with God that you are alienated from Him because of your sin. You ask His forgiveness and purpose to change your course. You believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He came to earth to die on the cross in your place for your sin. You commit to making Him the Master of your life.

In return God gives you forgiveness of your sins, eternal life with Him in heaven, and the Holy Spirit to be your guide, helper, and comforter along the way. He even increases that important inner couplet -- a love for Him and a fear of Him -- so that your desire to obey Him is greater than your susceptibility to offend Him.

Yes, once you are a Possessor, then you can be an Overcomer.

And once you commit yourself to being an Overcomer on campus, it's just a matter of raising your spiritual GPA by excelling at the fundamentals of your game plan -- interacting with God, your Peers, and your Authorities.

You successfully interact with God by spending time with Him every day through reading, studying, memorizing His Word, and praying. This renews your mind and helps you recognize and replace the brainwash of humanistic professors. This helps you recall and recite specific passages of Scripture when you are tempted to sin.

You successfully interact with your peers by discerning and choosing mutually beneficial friendships rather than ones that are detrimental to you spiritually and morally. This helps you avoid "unequally yoked" dating relationships that eventually compromise your faith.

You successfully interact with your authorities -- especially your parents and church or Christian campus group leaders -- by keeping in frequent contact with them and utilizing them for protection and direction while on campus. This points you toward God's will in your life and shields you from being on your own.

These are your resources for overcoming the Pillars of Peril. This is taking the wisdom of the Word and applying it practically to every situation you will face on campus.

And even more, the wisdom is also there to give you the right course of action when you fall. Possessors are occasionally overcome by sin, but they quickly get up (confess their sin), change course (repent), and continue running the race (persevere), determined once again to be an Overcomer.

Wisdom is also there to help you have a wonderful time in college yet to do so without sinning. For too many students life in college is defined by sin and a regression to immaturity. They have believed the lie that fun cannot be had without sin. Instead of going from boy to man and girl to woman, they go from boy or girl to fool.

Lastly, it's helpful to have godly wisdom as you make your decision on where to go to college. Matching up your spiritual GPA and your level of academic purpose to a Christian or secular college -- or even the home/work or military option -- takes wisdom that comes from the Word.

You have it all -- a warning about college and the wisdom to overcome. You have heard the truth -- not my truth, but God's truth.

So now, for most of you, you're on your way to college. What's it going to be -- a University of Instruction or your University of Destruction?

In Pilgrim's Progress, one of the greatest books ever written, a Christian walking on the road of life from the "City of Destruction" to the "Celestial City" said the following:

The hill, though high, I covet to ascend,

The difficulty will not me offend,

For I perceive the way to life lies here.

Come, pluck up heart, let's neither faint nor fear,

Better, though difficult, the right way to go,

Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe.

For those of you who resist or reject this message as you head off to college, my hope and prayer is that your end would not be "woe" but rather that this book would continually be that little voice urging you to get off the broad way that leads to destruction and onto the narrow way that leads to life.

On the other hand, for those of you who read and heed this message, you will surely conquer the "hill" of college and be able to triumphantly say, like the apostle Paul:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8

To which I can only add, Well done, Overcomer!

Adapted from: University of Destruction by David Wheaton; Copyright (c) 2005; ISBN 0764200534. Published by Bethany House Publishers. Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.

David Wheaton was one of the top professional tennis players in the world, winning the Grand Slam Cup as well as attaining a world ranking of #12 during his career. David currently hosts a radio show that offers a Christian worldview on current events, culture, and faith.