As parents we want our kids to have a relationship with God and follow in His ways, but their hearts have to be open to receiving truth and desiring a relationship with God. This is why it is SO IMPORTANT that we cultivate the heart of our children to desire this from a young age. We have been discussing 5 Ways to Lead Your Children’s Hearts to Christ, and we talked about the first way: Keeping Distractions at Bay a few weeks ago. If you missed this post, you can go back and read it here before moving on. It has some great preventative measures to help keep our children from getting distracted from their relationship with God.
Today we will talk about the next two ways to reach our children’s hearts: Building an Awareness of Sin and Teaching Confession and Forgiveness. If you can apply these principles to dealing with your kids’ sin, they will be more likely to grow in their relationship with the Lord and walk in His ways.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
1. Define Sin
Nobody likes to talk about sin because it shows our flaws as humans. But sin is something we NEED to talk about for our children to understand how to deal with it. Here is a simple definition you can share with your children:
“Sin is anything we think, say, or do that does not please God.”
You can take that definition deeper by asking your children the following questions:
What are some things we think about that do not please God?
What are some things we say that do not please God?
What are some things we do that do not please God?
As they brainstorm ideas, feel free to add some of your own. Talk about the fact that Romans 3:23 says we all sin and fall short of God, and that none of us are immune to sin. Then remind them that we can be saved from our sin and walk in a new life because Jesus died to get rid of our sins. This will help them have a better awareness of sin and how to be set free from it.
“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” Proverbs 28:13
2. Explain why it’s so important to rid ourselves from sin and live for God.
If we don’t want our kids to fall into the trap of living by their sinful nature, we need to teach them WHY it’s so important to DEAL WITH OUR SIN and walk in RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Here are some reasons you can share with your kids:
-God tells us that when we sin, we put up a wall between us and God. We cannot grow in our relationship with God when we are deliberately sinning in a certain area of our lives. (Isaiah 59:1-2)
-God sees every time we sin. (Psalm 69:5)
-Sin also leads to many negative consequences that can harm us and lead us to feel guilt and shame. (Proverbs 28:13)
We can also explain all the benefits of living a righteous life. Here are a few to get you started.
-Living a righteous life will give us peace from God. (Philippians 4:8-9)
-Following God’s ways not only gives us a good reputation with others, but it pleases God. (Proverbs 3:3-4)
-God will bless us when we follow His ways. (Proverbs 3:33)
-Most importantly, God will be glorified by our righteous living, and people will be drawn to Him through our actions. (Matt 5:16)
Knowing there are consequences from sin and blessings from obedience will help motivate our children to deal with their sin and follow God’s ways.
But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 1 John 1:9 (NLT)
3. Teach Confession to God and Asking for Forgiveness
When our children do wrong, we can remind them that when we confess our sin (tell Jesus we are sorry for what we did), Jesus is faithful to forgive us from our sin and purify us, (or “clean our hearts” for younger children), to make them more like Him.
If this is new for your child, guide them through a prayer that can look something like this:
“Dear Jesus, I am sorry for pushing my sister. Please forgive me because you died for my sins. I will make things right by giving her a hug and telling her I am sorry. Thank you that you love me and forgive me and make my heart clean again. I love you Lord. Amen.”
This process is different for every child, but going through this reconciliation lays the foundation for God to not only clean their hearts and give them a new start, but ultimately lead them into a relationship with Him.
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them, then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23 (NIV)
4. Remind Them to Confess Their Sin to Those They Hurt and Ask for Forgiveness
Not only should our children confess their sins to God and ask for forgiveness, but often times, they should go through this process with those they hurt as well. It keeps them humble and restores the relationship with whomever they offended.
If this is new for your child, guide them through a prayer that can look something like this: “____________ , I am sorry for not listening to you when you asked me to do something. Will you forgive me? I will make things right by listening and obeying the next time you ask me to do something.”
If the person they are apologizing to is not ready to forgive, you can encourage your child that he/she did the right thing to apologize and encourage them to pray that God will soften the other person’s heart so they can forgive.
The more our kids learn to ask for forgiveness at an early age, the better equipped they will be to do this as they grow older with their spouses, children, co-workers, family, and friends. It’s an important life skill to have.
“Search my heart and know my thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me to the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)
5. Encourage Them to Search Their Hearts and Ask God to Make Them More Like Him
Showing our kids how to spend time with God is one of the most important things we can do for them. We can teach them that part of spending time with God is asking Him to show them any areas in their lives that they need to confess. Then once they come to mind, they can go through the confession/restoration process with God. (See number three above.) Finally, encourage them to ask God how they can walk in righteousness. Then ask God for help in doing whatever He has called them to, whether that’s being more respectful, kind to others, or helpful around the house, etc. When we teach them to go through this process in their quiet time with God, it will help them cultivate a relationship with God rather than just following a set of rules.
When our children learn what sin is, why it is so important to get rid of it, and how they can practically do so through a relationship with God, their heart will become more open to following God’s ways.
Let’s pray for our kids, that they can learn these principles and grow in their walk with Christ.
Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us our children. Help us to teach them how to get rid of sin in their lives so they can walk by Your Spirit and grow in their relationship with You. Amen
“For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit, you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” Romans 8:1