Have you ever stopped to ponder that the person who is the most likely to be able to keep your child from going to Heaven is your child? We, as parents, can train, teach and model. Our churches can provide additional mentorship and training opportunities. Our children can attend the “best” schools and have the “best” friends and still not be faithful Christians as adults.
Why? Because ultimately the battle for our child’s soul is in our child’s heart between our child and Satan. Have we taught our children how real the spiritual war is and will be throughout their lives? Have we taught them how to fight off Satan and their body’s own selfish desires? Do they know Satan’s schemes and tricks to lure them into sin and unfaithfulness? Have we fully prepared our children for spiritual battle?
There are a lot of ways to prepare your child for the spiritual battles ahead. Here are some suggestions I have for you to try (in no particular order).
- Do not allow your children to say things like “He made me do it”, “It was her fault I did it”, “They were pressuring me to do it”, etc. All of these types of statements allow your child to believe he is not personally responsible for his own choices in life. It allows her to believe she won’t be held accountable for her actions, because someone else forced her to comply. Make sure your children thoroughly understand that any action they take was ultimately their choice – good or bad. With older children and teens, you can point to the stories of Christian martyrs who were willing to die rather than make a choice against God.
- Surround your children in scripture. Bible study, devotionals, scripture art around the house, speaking scripture to your children – any way you can impress God’s words on their hearts and in their minds is crucial. Look at the list of armor in the armor of God passage (Ephesians 6:11-17). Notice that several of the items either could be interpreted as scripture or point back to God’s Word. When faced with a choice, your child should immediately have God’s Words come to her mind. The quicker and more natural that process is, the more likely she will make a good choice.
- As your children mature and learn about war in school or Church, begin impressing upon them how very real the battle is between us and Satan. Encourage your child to read not only scripture passages that tell us how Satan works, but also books like The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. Although the account is fictional, many believe it is one of the best books for people to read to understand some of Satan’s tricks. Point out to your children how Satan tricked them into believing a lie when they disobey you. Help them process what they were thinking and how Satan encouraged them to believe that lie rather than what they had been told to do by God (obey your parents). Impress upon your child how it is important for him to be as vigilant against Satan as he would be in a physical battle with an enemy soldier.
- Teach your children the power of prayer. Prayer is our direct connection to God. Not only should your children learn to pray for help in avoiding temptation, but the very act of praying before making choices will remind them “whose they are”. Take time to teach them about the power of prayer in grace. Remind them how the Bible teaches that in spite of the grace we have received, we are not given a license to sin at will.
- Role play with your children various ways to avoid temptation. Help them practice common scenarios they may encounter. What are good things for them to say and/or do in those situations? How can they avoid temptations when other people continue to press them to sin? Practicing gives them a safe place to try out different ways to avoid temptation. When the situation actually arises, they may not have to think as hard to come up with the appropriate response that helps them fight off the temptation.
- Help your children understand that when they become a Christian, God gives them extra weapons to fight Satan. At baptism, Christians receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit serves several functions, not the least of which is helping convict our hearts. The Holy Spirit is there to remind us whose we are and what choices we should make. We still have the free choice to disobey God, but we get an extra nudge of reminder.
- Teach your children the difference between sins and mistakes. Help them understand that sins are actually a sign of rebellion against God. In a very real way, it is us telling God we are smarter than Him or that our personal desires are more important than what God has told us to do. In an army, rebellious soldiers are punished very severely. God also does not appreciate our rebellion against Him.
- Teach your children to think of their friends as their “team” in battle. Although your child wants to show God’s love to everyone, as well as serve and share his faith with them, he needs a special team on his side. This team is usually small and consists of a very few godly people who will help him recognize and defeat Satan when Satan attacks him. He should choose these closest friends as carefully as he would choose a special forces team in a real army.
- Boys will probably respond better to the army analogy than many girls will. Reframe the analogy for your daughter in ways that are meaningful for her. Perhaps it is a sports team or even a princess and her advisors (granted a stretch!). The important thing is for her to be able to relate to the idea that she needs to be prepared and aware.
There are probably hundreds of things you can do to help your children prepare for battle against Satan. It doesn’t matter as much which ones you choose (as long as the underlying principles are biblical) as it does that you do everything you can to prepare your children for battle. As Solomon taught in Proverbs, well thought out plans are essential for victory in battle (Proverbs 20:18). What are you doing to prepare your children for spiritual battles? I would love for you to share with us in a comment below.
Author: Thereasa Winnett is the founder of Teach One Reach One. She holds a BA in education from the College of William and Mary. She has served in all areas of ministry to children and teens for more than thirty years and regularly leads workshops for ministries and churches. She has conducted numerous workshops, including sessions at Points of Light’s National Conference on Volunteering and Service, the National Urban Ministry Conference, Pepperdine Bible Lectures, and Lipscomb’s Summer Celebration.