When is the last time you heard someone in church mention Satan or Hell? If you are like most Christians, it may have been years. Gone are the days of the “fire and brimstone” sermon. I don’t recommend we go back to those days, but I do think we need to stop ignoring the fact Satan exists. More importantly, we need to teach our children about him and his ways.
“Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be Strong.” (NIV I Corinthians 16:13) Have you ever noticed there are quite a few verses in the Bible that tell us to be watchful or be on guard? Ever wondered of whom we were supposed to be watchful? I think there is a strong argument to be made that at least some of those verses are cautioning us to be watchful against Satan and his tricks.
There are some things about Satan your children are probably not hearing in church (if he is even mentioned at all). It is vitally important your children understand who Satan is and how he works. They can’t be watchful of something they don’t know exists. They also need to know his tricks, so they can guard the weak spots he will attack.
So what are some of the things you need to teach your kids about Satan?
- Satan is alive and active in the world today. Your kids need to understand Satan is not a myth or a character in a fairy tale. Satan is very real. They also need to know Satan is doing what he can to encourage evil in the world.
- Satan wants your children to reject God. Your kids need to thoroughly understand Satan is an enemy they are fighting. Satan doesn’t want their property. He wants them to reject God and live a selfish life full of sin.
- Satan has a bag of tricks at his disposal. You might want your older kids to read The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. It does a great job of pointing out some of Satan’s favorite tricks. On a basic level for very young children, you can explain Satan tries to convince them to sin and he also tries to convince them not to do the good things God wants us to do.
- Even though Satan is tricky, your children have 100% control over their actions. One of the biggest problems in society today is personal responsibility is a concept that is no longer embraced. Your children need to absolutely understand, although Satan is tricky, he does not make the final decision about what to do. Each of your children is entirely responsible for the choices they make. The idea of being “born” to sin is wrong. They may be born with a particular weak spot Satan can exploit (like addiction for example), but your child can still choose to protect that weak spot and not sin. Satan cannot force anyone to sin.
- Each child has different weak spots that will be vulnerable to Satan’s tricks. Does one of your children anger easily? The emotion is not a sin, but the actions that happen after the emotion can be sinful. Satan will know that child has a hot temper and will do everything he can to feed your child’s anger in hopes your child will eventually sin. Your (hypothetical) angry child should receive lots of coaching from you about how to be aware of this weak spot and work on it, so he/she is not as vulnerable to Satan’s attack. Each of your kids will have different weak spots and some weak spots all of your children may have. They all need to be addressed and a plan established for how to avoid Satan’s attacks on these areas.
- They need to ask for God’s help. Teach your children the power of prayer. If they have been baptized, teach them about how the Holy Spirit can help them avoid temptation. Satan can exhaust even the most spiritual person. We can’t successfully battle him for very long without God’s help. Your kids need to know they aren’t fighting the battle against Satan alone.
- Ultimately God wins. Revelation is a tough book to understand. The biggest lesson from it though is ultimately God wins and takes his people to Heaven. Satan will never be able to touch them in Heaven. Sometimes it seems there is so much evil in the world Satan must surely be winning the war of good v. evil. In reality, Satan is only winning a few battles. The winner of the war itself has never been in question. God will win and your kids need to be on the winning side.
Teaching your children to be watchful against Satan and his tricks, will make it easier for them to make godly choices. Satan will still win a battle or two against your children, but if you have trained them to be watchful he won’t win the war for their souls. That is what Christian parenting is ultimately about – preparing your children to win the war against Satan. Parents always say they just want their kids to be happy. Hopefully, Christian parents have an even more important goal – wanting their kids to spend eternity in Heaven.