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!

Training Through Discipline

If parents are to bring up children in the Lord, they must instruct them in regard to the truth. However, instruction alone is not enough. Even setting the right example (which we noticed in the previous lesson) is not enough. Sometimes corrective discipline is necessary. The wise man said, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15).

Bringing Up Children in the Lord (cover)In order to understand how to administer discipline, we must understand what “the rod of discipline” is. Though this may not require that parents use a literal rod, they are to use something (a hand, a belt, etc.) that can inflict pain. It may result in the children “crying” (Proverbs 19:18, KJV) and produce “stripes that wound” (Proverbs 20:30). These passages do not justify child abuse, which would be sinful, but are meant to show that discipline should cause some pain for the child so as to reinforce the instruction given by the parents.

It is important that discipline is carried out in love, not in anger. Discipline that is rooted in anger and hatred results in abuse. Discipline that is rooted in love is the type of correction that is commended to us in Scripture. Notice what the Hebrew writer said as he compared earthly fathers with our heavenly Father: “For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:10-11). Discipline must be done for the long-term good of the child, not as a way for parents to vent their anger or blow off steam.

The goal of discipline must always be to direct the child in the way of truth. “Do not hold back discipline from the child, although you strike him with the rod, he will not die. You shall strike him with the rod and rescue his soul from Sheol” (Proverbs 23:13-14). Discipline must be administered in order to reinforce the instruction that is given.

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!

Role Models within the Church

Finally, parents must also be role models to their children in matters relating to the church.

Bringing Up Children in the Lord (cover)First, parents must show an example in making time to assemble. In emphasizing the importance of the assembly, the Hebrew writer said, “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25). Though some may be in the habit of forsaking the assembly, we must not. To forsake the assembly does not mean to simply be absent because one was prevented from assembling through sickness, travel, or something like that. To forsake the assembly is to be absent from the assembly because one has willfully placed other things ahead of his service to God and his commitment to the local church. Parents must teach by example that service to God comes first; therefore, the assembly takes precedence over ball games, choir concerts, and homework. is is all about teaching children priorities. Jesus said, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). It does little good for parents to tell their children to put spiritual things first if they are not showing by their example that spiritual things – like the assembly of the saints – are important.

Second, parents must show an example of being an active member in the local church. Paul described the local church as a self-edifying body. He wrote, “The whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:16). Notice he said that “each individual part” had a responsibility. Being active in the local church is not just for preachers, elders, deacons, Bible class teachers, and those who lead in worship – all Christians have things they can do to help the church carry out its work. In describing the church as a “body” with “many members” (1 Corinthians 12:12-31), Paul talked about the importance of every member by making a comparison to the human body. In our physical bodies, the foot cannot say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body” (1 Corinthians 12:15); nor could the eye say to the hand, “I have no need of you” (1 Corinthians 12:21). Every part is necessary; therefore, every member must be active. If parents fail to do what they can within the local church, then by their example they are teaching their children that some members are just not important. Parents ought to be active in the church, not only because God expects it, but because it teaches their children the importance of the local church.

Third, parents must show an example of adhering to the truth. Paul told Timothy, “Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13). God has given us a pattern to follow in His word. We must respect it and do what He expects us to do. Are we holding fast the pattern? Are we showing our children the importance of doing this? It has been said that the church is just one generation away from apostasy. is is certainly true. Notice what happened when an untaught generation came along after the deaths of Joshua and those who conquered the land of Canaan with the help of the Lord: “There arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel. Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals, and they forsook the Lord…thus they provoked the Lord to anger” (Judges 2:10-12). If children are not taught the difference between truth and error, right and wrong, the church of Christ and the churches of men, then when they grow up, they will often depart from the truth. Parents must teach children the importance of doing “all in the name of the Lord” (Colossians 3:17).

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!

Daily Notes & Observations: “Children are a Gift of the Lord” (Excerpt)

May 27

Children are a Gift of the Lord

Daily Notes & ObservationsListed among the gatekeepers was a man named Obed-edom. This man was blessed by the Lord because he kept the ark at his house for three months while David determined how to bring it to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:10-12). This passage explains how he was blessed.

Obed-edom had sons: Shemaiah the firstborn, Jehozabad the second, Joah the third, Sacar the fourth, Nethanel the fifth, Ammiel the sixth, Issachar the seventh and Peullethai the eighth; God had indeed blessed him” (1 Chronicles 26:4-5).

This passage does not speak of Obed-edom being blessed with riches, long life, or success in his endeavors. It is possible he might have received these things, but this passage does not mention any of them. Instead, his eight sons were given as proof that “God had indeed blessed him.

Many people in our society today view children as a burden rather than a blessing. They prefer the riches and success of the world and do not want kids (or too many kids) hindering their pursuits. It is easy for this mentality to influence Christians. But we must guard against a worldly mindset on this, just as we must on everything else (Romans 12:2).

Some will say that times are different now. In some ways they are. But one thing that has not changed and will not change is the fact that children are a blessing. We need to see them for what they are: a gift from God.

Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate” (Psalm 127:3-5).

Daily Notes & Observations contains 365 articles like the one above – one article per day that will take you through the Bible in a year. Be prepared to start your study on January 1st – order your copy today!