We can learn a lot from what God commands His people to stay away from, everything from fortune tellers to keeping our lives free from the love of money. Children will grow up in a world where the knowledge of good and evil is out in the open and they do not automatically have the necessary wisdom to deal the challenges this brings. Therefore, children will need protecting and training as they mature, so that they will be able to handle the difficulties and temptations which come from living in this world. The parents must also have the necessary wisdom to know that God’s wisdom is not an addendum, as if we can add the wisdom of God like a layer of paint over the top of everything else that children are exposed to. There are so many things that we are commanded to stay away from and many of these things are attached to particular people and so we can understand the command to stay away from the woman with seductive words, the false teacher and those who stumble children as a command that will protect us if obeyed.
If we take these two (fortune tellers and the love of money) as examples, we can see that the dangers are different, on the one hand, we have the command to stay away from fortune-tellers and therefore it is a command to stay away from a certain kind of people. Whereas, when we consider the command to keep our lives free from the love of money, we notice that we are not being commanded to keep our lives form money, but from loving money, meaning that the issue is not the money but my response to money, my ungodly attachment to money. The above is just one example of what it is to be discerning, to be trained in the word so that we can know the will of God and tell the difference between good and evil.
An addendum is something which has been added to the end of a book, speech or document. If we are to train children properly to live and work in this world, then our discipleship of them cannot be applied like a biblical addendum at the end of secular education and worldview. When sex education is taught in secular schools they do not begin with marriage and therefore what they teach is no longer within its proper context. Since marriage leads to the sexual act and the act in the grace of God is the means of procreation. To then teach on the importance of marriage after everything else has been taught, would make it sound like an addendum, something which we try an add. Discipleship like education must be approached in the same way the wise builder goes about his work. Everything is from the ground up with the foundation materials being laid first. Wisdom will enable us to see the dangers children are exposed to and when parents don’t they are ill-equipped to protect their children from the things they shouldn’t know or be encouraged to do.
When the discipleship of children is like an addendum to everything else they learn, they will not have the necessary foundation to stand firm in the world. God throughout history has always commanded his people to stay away from certain actions, practices and people. Adam and Eve lived in a world where they only had one thing to stay away from, one tree, from which they were not to eat and if they as people without sin could be tempted into disobeying God, then what preparation do we need to make for our children who live in a world with so many more things to stay away from and so many more temptations and the reality of indwelling sin to cause them to disobey God.
Turning away from God
It is impossible to turn away from God and maintain a firm commitment to the truth since Jesus said ‘ I am the way, and the truth and the life’. When a person turns away from God they are turning away from the truth and since Jesus is the truth, all those who haven’t turned to him are not led by the truth. It is possible for someone to convince themselves that they are turned towards God when their actions say something different and the reason why this is not recognized is because they have separated the person of God from His ways. Therefore, they can maintain a strong belief that they believe in God even when their ways are not consistent with the word of God, because the moment a person believes that they are whatever they believe they are, they have no need for an objective standard. Therefore it is impossible for this kind of person to maintain a firm commitment to the truth, to following Jesus.
God wants us to be filled with the knowledge of His will, He wants us to become mature so that we can discern the difference between good and evil. This is because the world is a dangerous place to live but this doesn’t mean that all the dangers will produce fear, some of them, perhaps many of them produce an appetite for the world. Therefore, not everything which appears to be good is good, but everything which is evil is evil. When the writer of Hebrews seeks to move the people he is writing to on to a greater depth of maturity, but he can’t because they need ‘milk not solid food’ and since solid food is the God-given diet for maturity, discernment and the ability to distinguish good from evil. They will not be able to do this and they should see how this will expose them to many dangers. Parents who are unskilled in the word will produce children who are unskilled, since they will not be able to distinguish good from evil, they will not be able to train their children to do the same, the foundation of which is repentance and dependence of God.
Struggle and discipline
We are taught, that we are not to regard the discipline of the Lord, nor are we to become weary with being reproved by Him, the Lord discipline those whom He loves. Maturity will cause us to see the difference between being disciplined by the Lord and our struggle with sin and since our struggle with sin could be a struggle with enjoying something we shouldn’t, something which we are commanded to stay away from, we would never be able to tell the difference. This is very different to being disciplined by the Lord who we belong to and who loves us. The level of maturity needed to welcome the removal of things we enjoy in order to be disciplined in our struggle against sin, will seem incorrect and unfair to a child who is unskilled in the word of God. This is because in most cases the measurement for deciding if something is good comes down to whether or not I enjoy it, what I believe and not the objective standard of God’s word.
Therefore, an important point must be repeated. It is impossible to turn away from God and maintain a firm commitment to the truth since Jesus said ‘ I am the way, and the truth and the life’.