Maybe it’s just me, but have you ever been hiking and been so engrossed by the beauty around you that you forget to watch where you are walking? Inevitably, I end up tripping over a tree root or stepping into a huge mud puddle! If I had been more watchful, I could have easily avoided the ensuing disaster.
The Christian life can be very similar. We can get so caught up in the surroundings of our daily lives, we forget to be watchful for Satan’s traps. All of a sudden, we realize we have fallen for one of his temptations and sinned. What’s even worse is that it was a temptation we would have easily avoided had we been more aware.
Your children need you to teach them to be watchful so they can more easily avoid Satan’s temptations to sin. In fact, the imagery in 1 Peter 5:8 is perfect…. “…be watchful. Your adversary, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” You wouldn’t want your kids to be eaten by a lion. You would teach them how to be watchful to avoid that very problem were it even a remote possibility. Why not teach them how to be watchful for Satan and avoid his traps?
Here are some things your children need to know to be watchful.
- Satan is real. Your children need to understand that Satan is real – not just a fairy tale or cartoon. You need to teach about Satan in age appropriate ways, but to be watchful your kids need to understand how real the potential danger to their souls is.
- Satan has a goal in mind. Satan isn’t just toying with people because he is bored. Remember why he got kicked out of Heaven? He wanted to be God. His goal is to grab every soul away from spending eternity in Heaven that he possibly can. If he can convince your kids to sin…. he may eventually convince them to reject God entirely – another step towards his goal.
- Satan sets traps of temptation to encourage people to sin. Satan doesn’t have to force people to sin. He knows that if he can provide just the right temptation, the person will choose to sin.
- Satan is not really all that “smart”. If we are watchful, the vast majority of Satan’s traps are easy to spot. He uses the same basic traps over and over – usually involving the same type of lies he told Eve in the Garden of Eden. While your kids need to be watchful, when they are, they will usually find those traps are easy to spot.
- Satan knows each person’s weak spots and times. One of your children may be more prone to sins of envy, while another is prone to sins born out of anger. One child may find it harder to resist temptation when tired, while another will be more susceptible when with friends. Your kids need to learn when they are weakest and to be especially watchful at those times.
- Strategies to use when they notice one of Satan’s traps. Since Satan tends to use the same tricks over and over, having practiced effective strategies can make it easier for them to avoid those temptations in the moment.
- Resiliency/problem solving skills – including repentance. Even the most watchful Christian will still fall into one of Satan’s traps from time to time and decide to sin. What happens next is critical. Teach your children to humble themselves and repent as soon as they realize they have sinned. Show them how to analyze the situation to see where they made their mistake and make changes so they are less likely to sin the next time they encounter that particular trap.
It is unlikely your church will be able to adequately prepare your children to be watchful, but you can. When you do, you will make it easier for them to avoid sinning.