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by Mark Driscoll
5 Parenting Opportunities When Our Kids Sin
Sinful behavior in our kids is not an opportunity to war against them, but an opportunity to proclaim the gospel. Here are five ways God can take what was meant for evil and use it for good.
We’ve all seen a thousand action-movie scenes that play out the same way: Two guys are locked in an intense battle. As the music drives toward the crescendo, the wrestling match nears a precipice. The good guy shows that he’s been establishing his victory all along. In a dramatic moment, he switches all his energy from fighting the other’s attack to leveraging it. The bad guy’s force becomes the very thing that flings him to his doom.
As parents, there are times when we feel like we’re in a similar wrestling match with our kids. The only problem is, we shouldn’t be—and we know it (Eph. 6:12). We must remember that the battle already took place. The attack Satan mounted to crush God is the very action God leveraged to seal Satan’s doom. As Christian parents, we have the great joy of a victory already secured at the cross.
We must remember that the battle already took place.
Sinful behavior in our kids is not an opportunity to war against them. It is an opportunity to proclaim the gospel. We get to rejoice that God can take what was meant for evil and use it for good (Gen. 50:20).
1. Sinful behavior reveals our child’s bondage to sin apart from Christ
The only Christians who think their children are innocent are brand-new parents too sleep-deprived to think straight. And they’re ignoring the Bible (see Ps. 51:5; Isa. 53:6; Rom. 3:23).
Our message to our children must never be “stop lying.” They can’t. It should instead be, “apart from the Holy Spirit changing your heart, you will continue lying for the rest of your life.”
As Christian parents, we have the great joy of a victory already secured at the cross.
2. Sinful behavior is an opportunity to confess our own sin and ask forgiveness
As Martin Luther said, all of a Christian’s life is one of repentance. Rather than lash out at our kids, we humble ourselves to see our own sin in the moment, and we confess it (James 5:16). “I raised my voice at you and that was wrong. I am sorry. Please forgive me.”
We do this out of reverence to Christ and to model our own submission to Christ to our children. Want to teach your children to confess and work toward reconciliation? Do it first.
3. Sinful behavior reveals that we both need Jesus
The moment of conflict allows us to turn from standing opposed to our child to standing alongside them, leading them to the only one who can save us. We can preach the gospel to our children. We can preach it to ourselves. We move away from conflict with the other to the grace of God in Christ (John 1:14–17).
Rather than lash out at our kids, we humble ourselves to see our own sin in the moment.
4. Sinful behavior reveals that all punishment is done
Despite the instincts of our flesh, our job is not to punish our children. Do we administer consequences? Yes. But it is unjust for the punishment to go both on Jesus and another (Rom. 8:1).
5. Sinful behavior is an opportunity to pray with our kids
As sin is confronted, we get to share the truths listed above. But the ultimate joy in all of this is that we get to lead them to the Truth himself. Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
What greater joy do we have as parents but to point our children to Christ?
The battle is won! May we praise God that he used Satan’s attack to turn and destroy Satan. And may we allow him to leverage the challenging moments of parenting for Jesus’ glory and our kids’ eternal joy.