Guard Children from Evil Influences

Bringing Up Children in the Lord (cover)If parents are to be successful in raising their children in a wicked world, it is imperative that they guard their children from evil influences. Some are wary of doing this because they have an irrational fear of “sheltering” their kids. Often when parents talk about not wanting to “shelter” their kids, it is in the context of defending their decision to send their children to public schools (the place in which they will usually face the greatest amount of peer pressure). While there is nothing necessarily wrong with Christian parents sending their children to public schools, there is also nothing necessarily right with it either. Notice a couple of arguments that are often used to defend the decision to send children to public schools:

  • “How else can they let their light shine?” – Paul admonished the Philippians to be “lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15). Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). But it is important that we understand the context of these passages. Paul was not writing to schoolchildren, but to saints (Philippians 1:1). Jesus was not talking about 5-6 year old children showing a good example before their classmates. He was talking about those who would be His disciples and would influence others who could respond appropriately (by glorifying God). Children are not called to “let their light shine” because they are not Christians. If anything, the parents might be able to let their light shine to the teachers or parents of their children’s friends, as they see the parents’ good works (how they raise their children in the Lord). But we should not try to justify placing children in spiritually dangerous environments just so they can “let their light shine.”
  • “How else will they learn to deal with temptation?” – If children do not learn to deal with temptation by experience when they are young, how will they deal with it when they are older? Simple: parents teach them. Solomon said, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Do we believe this, or do we think a young child must learn how to deal with evil influences by experience? is is the whole thrust of the book of Proverbs – a parent teaching his son so he can avoid sin, rather than having to learn from personal experience (Proverbs 1:8; 2:1; 3:1; 4:10, 20; 5:1; 7:1, 24). For example, notice the warning about the adulteress: “Keep your way far from her and do not go near the door of her house” (Proverbs 5:8). Was this good advice or bad advice? By shielding his son from temptation, would his son be more susceptible to being tempted by the adulteress later? No; instead, the one who did not receive this warning walked by her house, gave in to her temptation, and was destroyed because of it (Proverbs 7:6-23). After observing this, the wise man said, “Now therefore, my sons, listen to me…” (Proverbs 7:24). e instruction given by the parents is meant to guide children in the right path so they do not need to make as many destructive mistakes on their own.

Again, there is nothing necessarily wrong with sending children to public schools, but parents need to be very careful. Paul wrote, “Do not be deceived, ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’” (1 Corinthians 15:33). These evil influences can come, not only from classmates, but also from teammates, neighborhood kids, and even certain family members. Parents are responsible to “bring [their children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). is task is too important to be jeopardized because the parents are afraid that they might be “sheltering” their kids.

The Scriptures plainly teach that children are easily influenced to follow the wrong path. Paul wrote, “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14). As he warned these brethren about being carried about by various false doctrines, he used the illustration of children to make his point. Why? It is because children are easily influenced to believe, think, and do any number of things. Paul told the church in Corinth, “Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature” (1 Corinthians 14:20). We are to be like children in the sense of innocence (cf. Matthew 18:1-4) but not in our thinking or understanding. Children must be taught so that they can develop a proper understanding of what is right. But while they are being taught, they are more susceptible to evil influences.

Parents certainly cannot shield their children from everything. But during their formative years while they are teaching them, parents must also do what they can to guard their children from evil influences.

The above post is an excerpt from the book, Bringing Up Children in the Lord. Follow the link to learn more about the book and purchase your copy today!