Just a few more thoughts on "sin nature" and children....
I was talking with my friend about this, and I kept going back to what
Paul was talking about when he said AFTER "What shall we say, then?
Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?"
What is the answer to sin and how to we transmit it to our kids? The Bible says:
"but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil
desire and enticed.Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to
sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death." James 1:
The problem is in WHAT WE WANT. We sin because we are going after
something we want. The key to changing our nature is to find a way to
CHANGE WHAT WE WANT. It is like what you do as a parent when you are
learning to control your own frustration and impatience, you have to
focus on how much you LOVE your child, and not how much you want them to
be less difficult. When your focus is on LOVE, it changes how you
respond. Human nature is essentially self-centered. The natural man
wants to find ways to make himself happy. It is not always natural to
want to help others or make them happy. That is the part of us that is
like God, but the other side of our nature is constantly at war with
The more we focus on God, getting to know him, loving him, the more HIS
desires become OUR desires. His goals become our goals. If we are
actively pursuing a relationship with God, it is very difficult for sin
to get any hold in our lives, because the only way sin can get in is if
we WANT something we shouldn't want. You have to have a desire for sin
before it can do anything to effect your behavior. If a man is so
deeply in love with his wife, he is not going to be thinking about
wanting another woman, not even in his heart... and where there is no
desire, there is no sin.
So how do we translate this to our kids? Well for one thing, it does no
good to tell a small child that having desires are wrong. They are not.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be happy. The problem is in how
you go about making yourself happy. So showing kids how to meet their
own needs in appropriate ways leads them AWAY from sin. Sin is just
trying to make yourself happy in inappropriate ways. Hitting your
brother because you can't have his toy is an effort to get the toy to
make yourself happy. Showing a child how to share, how to take turns,
how to ask nicely, and even how to be content with something else for
awhile are all ways to "turn off" sin. If they are getting their need
met, where is the desire to hit their brother going to come from?
Sometimes it is going to take TIME for them to learn, because of their
own immaturity. Teaching a child how to find better ways to get what
they want/need is not going to happen overnight, but if you are sowing
gentleness and patience into them by your own behavior, then it WILL
Using impatience, frustration and even anger to correct a child sows all
of those things into them and teaches them that the proper way to
respond to someone who does something you don't like is with
frustration, impatience and anger. You reap what you sow. If you have a
frustrated toddler, you want to give him the ANTIDOTE to anger, not
feed it with your own. The antidote to anger is patience and love.
"Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of
your mind". Changing the way you think about things changes who you are
and how you respond. So how you renew the mind of a toddler???
"Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you
are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and
when you are getting up." Deut. 6:7 Show them by HOW YOU LIVE YOUR
OWN LIFE how to respond to things in theirs. The best way to teach is
to be an example of what you are trying to teach. Love is attractive,
it garners respect and honor. When a child lives with an adult who is
consistently living the way God wants them to live, they EARN that
child's respect simply because of WHO THEY ARE.
We have gotten a backwards view of this from too many teachers who tried
to insist that children need to honor their parents FIRST, that parents
were to DEMAND honor from their children... instead of focusing on
BEING SOMEONE HONORABLE YOURSELF.
If you want your kids to turn away from sin, you have to give them
something valuable to substitute for the wrong things they want. If you
are angry and frustrated and miserable and stressed out... what is there
to want to imitate there? Who wants to be like that?
If you focus on your OWN relationship with God and dealing with your OWN
areas of sin in your life... you will automatically become a beacon in
that area. This is why God says "First get rid of the log in your own
eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your
friend's eye." Matt. 7:5 and "if one blind person guides another, they
will both fall into a ditch." Matt. 15:14
If you can't figure out how to deal with the sin in your own life, you
will never be able to help your children deal with theirs.
As a parent, the best way to deal with sin nature in our children is to
FIRST deal with the sin nature in ourselves. Then, as we master sin in
different areas of our lives, we can share what we have learned with our
children in a HUMBLE way. "if someone is caught in a sin, you who live
by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves,
or you also may be tempted"
If you see your child getting caught up in sin (the desire to get
something they shouldn't have or getting what they want/need the wrong
way) you should restore them (correct and steer them in the right
direction) GENTLY, always being aware that you are not above falling for
the same type of temptation yourself, and are really no "better" than
Demonstrate God's love and how to conquer the desire to sin in your own
life, stay humble, be patient. Sin doesn't stand a chance.