As our children are growing into adulthood, there have been things we’ve seen that we’ve not taught them. Serious spiritual things. This is the first part in a series on filling in the gaps as our children prepare to leave the nest, fully discipled and ready to live the surrendered life of faith.
Recognizing the gaps
Yes, we’ve followed the recommendations of “the books” to a large extent. Sometimes we’ve made up our own things and disagreed with “the books”. But there have still been gaps. And we are finding that these gaps are not just in our family. They are are in many godly homes. But these are things we didn’t think about. Kind of like teaching your children to not stick beans up their nose. Why in the world would we do that? It will only give them ideas they wouldn’t think about on their own.
What I’m finding is that the enemy is on the move. He is prowling around looking for any gaps he can take advantage of to try and destroy our children. He can’t take their salvation, but he CAN work in a way to steal and destroy. He wants to:
- steal their joy
- destroy their freedom
- destroy their familial and church relationships
- distort their understanding of the scriptures
- steal their simple grace-filled faith
Understanding the young adult spirit
I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake.
I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one.
I have written to you, children, because you know the Father.
I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning.
I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you,
and you have overcome the evil one. 1 John 2:12-14
There is a point in our faith that scripture calls the young man stage. While I don’t think it is completely a chronological age, for children raised in the faith, it generally is: the late teens and early to mid-twenties. This is the stage in their lives when they are looking the 3 P’s: purpose, passion and power. These are very important and a part of their growing autonomous relationship with the Lord. BUT they can also be used by the enemy to push our children to look in the wrong place for those who demonstrate these qualities.
When children are raised in the faith and give their hearts to Jesus at a young age, they haven’t had that dramatic conversion. They haven’t given up drugs or sex or all the other degenerate things that the church sometimes raises up in glory when someone shares their faith. Most of them have been good solid believers most of their lives. Many times they cannot even remember their lives prior to salvation. It’s been a slow and steady growth. But to them it seems not just undramatic, it seems boring! They are looking for that deep abiding power that they see in the scriptures that accompanies men and women of faith. They are looking to do spiritual battle!
The armor of God
Battles are best won when you realize you are fighting. And when you are prepared for both the defensive and the offensive. In American church Sunday School classes we teach:
- our teens about purity (teaching it frequently but not fully or completely)
- everyone the evils of evolution
- our young children all the stories about the heroes of the faith (but only the very basic few over and over again)
We are afraid to let our teens question and we teach the same pat Christian responses to things. We teach them Do’s and Don’t’s but we don’t really prepare them to think or how to search the scriptures and most definitely we don’t teach them how to apply the Word of God to their lives. Some churches are better than others, but the church is not supposed to be solely discipling our children. WE ARE.
We may even go further than this and really work hard to actually disciple our own children. I know Kevin and I have had that as our focus and goal. We allow them to question. We even question with them!
But are we teaching them what the armor of God truly is and how to use it? Let’s do a quick run through and look at how to use it. Each piece of armor corresponds to a way that Satan attacks. (the following insights on the armor of God are from my husband)
HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH
Because Satan is the deceiver, we need the belt of truth — we need to rely on the fact that God has given us the mind of Christ, and opens our mind to see the truth. We need to rely on His insight and discernment.
HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
Because Satan is the tempter, we need the breastplate of righteousness — we need to rely on the fact that God has not only forgiven our past sin, but also cleanse us and made us righteous inside.
HAVING SHOD YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE
We are to prepare our feet with the good news of peace. In the gospel, God has broken down the wall between us and Him, and between one another. The first is important because Satan is the accuser of the brethren, who seeks to condemn us. When we stand in the good news of peace with God, we can withstand that. The second is important because the enemy is the one who brings division. When we stand in the good news of our peace with one another, in the fact that God has broken down the wall between one believer and another, we can combat that.
TAKING UP THE HELMET OF SALVATION, THE SHIELD OF FAITH, AND THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT
Finally, there is the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit (the word of God). Paul explains what these are for: they help us withstand the doubt that Satan brings. Particularly, Paul has in mind here that Satan is our adversary, the one who brings adversity, with the goal of making us give up and stop trusting God.
(**Note that every piece of armor is based on what we have *already* been given in Christ; and yet to put on the armor means we need to actively choose to live by that armor. Note that we stand firm — this isn’t about attacking others, but about standing firm in our own walk with God.)
Let’s help our children understand the power that they DO have in their walks with God! He has given us weapons of spiritual warfare; we just need to learn and teach how to wield them in wisdom and discernment. My next post will be on children and cults. Watch for it next week.