How can I teach my children to resist temptation?
As a father, you are the spiritual leader and protector of your family. Your own obedience to God is a key factor in protecting your sons and daughters from evil.
If you fail morally, you will give Satan access to those who are under your authority. To stand strong against the onslaught of the enemy, abide in Christ, keep God’s commandments, and resist the devil. (See John 15:5, Matthew 19:17, John 14:15, and James 4:7–10.) Memorize and meditate on the truths found in Romans 6–8 as a means to walk in the power of God’s Spirit.
Along with your own walk of integrity, use the following steps of action to teach your children how to resist temptation and choose holiness. (See I Peter 1:13–16 and Matthew 5:48.) Although you cannot always protect them from exposure to evil and temptation, you can equip them to respond to situations with wisdom, discernment, and God’s aid.
1. Consecrate each child to God.
By consecrating your children to God, you reaffirm God’s ownership of them. God created each of your children and entrusted them to you. He holds parents accountable to train their children in the ways of the Lord. (See Proverbs 22:6 and Ephesians 6:4.)
2. Teach your children to fear the Lord.
The fear of the Lord is the constant awareness that God is holy. As His children, we are to be holy, as our Father is holy. (See I Peter 1:13–16.) God is aware of everything you think, say, or do, and you will be punished or rewarded accordingly. (See Proverbs 5:21, 8:13, 9:10, 15:3, 16:6; Psalm 139:1–10; II Corinthians 5:10; and Jeremiah 16:17.) When children understand this concept, they will be challenged to do what is right when they are tempted to do evil.
3. Lead your children toward salvation.
Never take the salvation of your child for granted. As the Holy Spirit leads you, introduce your child to the plan of salvation and invite him to repent and be saved. (See Romans 10:9–13 and II Timothy 3:15.)
4. Challenge each child to dedicate his life to the Lord.
Dedication to God is an essential step that should follow your child’s decision to receive salvation through Christ. (See Romans 12:1.) Understanding this concept will be imperative as your child grows in maturity and makes decisions about devoting each area of his life to the Lord.
5. Train your child to recognize and resist Satan.
Explain what temptation is. (See James 1:13–15.) Teach your child how to resist the devil. (See Galatians 2:20, Ephesians 6:10–18, Proverbs 3:5–7, and II Corinthians 5:7.) Explain that if he resists Satan, the devil must flee from him. (See James 4:6–8.)
Teach him to avoid close friendships with evil people who can lead him away from righteousness. (See Proverbs 1:10–16.) Warn him to flee “youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (II Timothy 2:22).
Considering both what is appropriate for his age and his level of understanding, talk about temptations he will likely encounter and discuss how he can resist Satan in those areas. Develop an atmosphere of love and trust in your home, so that he can confidently approach you with questions or struggles that he is facing.
6. Teach your child the importance of staying under authority.
Rebellion is dangerous, because through it we withdraw from the protection and guidance of God-given authorities and expose ourselves to the direct onslaught of Satan’s attacks. (See I Samuel 15:23, I Peter 2:11–20, Ephesians 6:1–4, and Exodus 20:12.)
7. Teach your child how to cry out to God for help.
When faced with temptations and troubles, we can turn to God for wisdom and deliverance. “In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me” (Psalm 86:7). (See also Psalm 55:17, 116:1, and Exodus 2:23–25, 3:7–8.) Share from your own experiences of crying out for God’s deliverance from evil. These testimonies will foster the faith of your child.
8. Hold your child accountable for becoming mighty in Spirit.
Clarify your spiritual goals for your child, such as daily Bible reading, memorization of Scripture, meditation on Scripture, and maintaining a clear conscience. Establish a mutual commitment to regularly ask each other questions such as these:
- What did God teach you as you read the Bible this morning?
- As you went to sleep last night, what Scripture did you meditate on?
- How has God been teaching you to use Scripture to overcome temptations?
9. Teach your child the meaning of “standing alone.”
Every believer must learn when and how to stand alone against evil and for truth. Teach your child that when he resists evil or stands up for what is right, he is never really alone, because God is always with him. (See Deuteronomy 31:6, 8, and Hebrews 13:5.) Recognize that standing alone is a process of family interaction and growth, not a formula of behavior to be superimposed only on your children.
10. Pray a daily “hedge” around each child.
In the struggle against evil, we are dealing with spiritual powers. (See II Corinthians 10:3–4.) One powerful weapon available to every Christian father is the prayer of protection. Satan complained about the effectiveness of God’s hedge of protection around Job and his family: “Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side?” (Job 1:10).
- Ask God to bind and rebuke the power of Satan in the life of each family member. Be mighty in God’s strength to pull down Satan’s strongholds: “No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man …” (Mark 3:27).
- Pray in the name and through the blood of Jesus. “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13).
- Claim the Scripture that relates to the kind of protection that is needed. For example, to request protection from sin, declare Romans 6:14: “For sin shall not have dominion over you.” For protection from discouragement and fear, declare God’s promise in Hebrews 13:5: “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
Here is a sample prayer:
“Heavenly Father, I ask you in the name and through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ to bind and rebuke Satan and to put a hedge of protection around me and each one in my family, ‘being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you [us] will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ’ (Philippians 1:6). Amen.”
In the Book of Ephesians, fathers are exhorted to raise their sons and daughters “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Fathers, let us heed that exhortation and teach our children how to walk in obedience to God. As we all choose to obey the Lord and the authorities He places in our lives, He will bless us and protect us from evil. (See Ephesians 6:1–3 and Matthew 6:33.) May God give all of us grace to “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Ephesians 6:10).