As a family consciously lives under the Lordship of Christ and Parents proclaim, explain and apply the gospel in their home, they will recognize that the problems which come from the flesh are the battlegrounds where fighting takes place and where retreating is not an option. Christian parents know that they are to put to death the deeds of the flesh in the power of the Spirit and as they raise their children they are aware that unless their children are converted, the flesh will rule their lives. Therefore, if we are going to speak about sin, temptations and addictions, and how it must be dealt with in the lives of our children, we must remember that definitive sanctification and progressive sanctification, the means by which God makes us like Him, begins with parents telling their children the gospel, who in response to hearing the gospel repent and believe.
Teaching our children about sin
The good news of Christ Jesus and Him crucified follows the bad news. The bad news is that before our conversion we are dead in sin. The reason for learning about sin and teaching our children is in order to show that only in Christ can you be free from its bondage. I have already addressed how the desires of the flesh lead us into committing sin. It happens when our desire to sin and our ability to sin is joined with an opportunity to sin. Therefore, we can reduce the number of actual sins being committed by removing the ability or the opportunity, but this doesn’t deal with the desire. However, Jesus did teach that if our eye causes us to sin we should cut it out. For when a person is being tempted they are dealing with more than one thought, feeling or even desire at the same time, therefore, its easier to avoid those things which are tempting than it is to fight the temptation itself.
When teaching our children about sin, parents must be convinced that sin as the bible teaches is foolishness. Therefore, as we explain sin to our children they will not be able to see the foolishness of their own sin if we just point out their sins. What we must do, is teach them about sin through the word of God and since the book of proverbs would have us learn lessons from others, there are plenty of people in scripture who committed sin, from which we can learn how to spot sin in our own lives. This will also help us to see the difference between the root of the behaviour from where that behaviour is presenting itself.
Wanting and wanting to be wanted
One lesson in particular that sons and daughters must learn is what happened between David and Bathsheba and why. When David saw Bathsheba, he inquired after her because he wanted her. Bathsheba was bathing at the city wall, not a place where you would wash if you didn’t want to be seen. We know that when Nathan approached David concerning his sin with a story about a man with one sheep (Uriah) and another with many (David), Nathan wasn’t referring to sheep but rather to women. David is a man who wants women and it just so happened that when he wanted Bathsheba, she wanted to be wanted. Boys often want and girls often want to be wanted and so the game of getting another’s attention begins. These will not be the only desires that our sons and daughters will have to contend with, but they do highlight the difference between sons and daughters and how their desires will present themselves.
Addictions are a problem of the flesh
Sometimes children like their parents will feel the full force of their desires but they will not always be aware of why these feeling can be so strong. Imagine taking your children out to the shops, they are simply with you as you do your shopping and they have no money in their pockets. They may desire certain things and they may ask for them, but it will be up to you whether or not they get what they want. Now imagine them with money in their pockets, for some reason they feel the pressure to spend for no other reason than the fact that they have a bit of money, and they don’t want to leave the shops until it’s spent. This is a great time for them to learn how to show their strength, to show that the money they have has no real power and we need to be there to encourage them in this fight. The reason why these type of battles must be fought and won is that next time it may not be money that’s causing the pressure and children need to learn how to fight these feelings.
Addictions are a problem of the flesh and as sin works in our lives to make us obey its passions, we have a fight on our hands. When children recognise that they are doing acts that they don’t want to do and saying words without knowing why. We can tell them that this is how sin is working in them and God is the only one who can separate us from the hold it has on us. Therefore, we can use this opportunity to direct the desires of our children to God and the saving power of the Gospel.
Sowing and Reaping
As we read the word of God, we begin to learn and repentance is how we demonstrate that we have understood that sin is an offence to God, but God also causes us to learn through the principle of sowing and reaping. As we seek to teach our children about temptation and sin, we do this so that they would not be deceived, for God is not mocked, what a man sows that also will he reap. We teach our children this because as I have said before when they sin its not just their problem, it’s our problem as well and therefore we must teach them and call them to repentance.
Consequences are a provision from the Lord to cause us to turn from our ways and to turn to Him in faith and repentance. When we incur the consequences from our actions we must not think that what has happened to us is independent from God dealing with us. Therefore, we learn in more ways than one how serious temptation is to deal with and the need for God in our lives to deal with our sin.
In the heat of the moment
Parents should aim to teach their children about sin and temptation in the heat of the moment. For children like parents can seem very level headed when learning these lessons in a bible study but learning how to apply them in the heat of the moment is what matters. Imagine a person choosing to go on a diet, they believe their future self to be able to not eat what they would normally, but in the moment of a good meal, they are no longer the person who has chosen to go on a diet. Like children with money in their pockets who act differently at the shops from when they don’t have money. These areas of temptation though small can nonetheless provide the training ground for how to fight temptation and addictions.