Recognizing Satan

Recognizing Satan - Parenting Like Hannah
Photo by Mychal Stanley
Have you ever seen one of those sitcoms when the character is trying to make a moral decision? Often he will suddenly have two figures appear on his shoulders. One is angelic in appearance, with white clothing and often wings and a halo. The other looks like we are supposed to think the devil looks, with red clothing (and a cape for some strange reason), a long red forked tail, red pointed ears and a pitchfork with prongs.

Over the years I have given in to more temptations than I would care to admit. Unfortunately, I don’t recall ever seeing this man dressed in red when faced with my choice. Maybe if I had seen him, I would have made a wiser decision. Usually Satan has disguised himself in much more creative and appealing ways.

I assume if you are reading this, you are making real efforts to teach your child about God. How much do any of us teach our children about Satan? How can our children avoid evil if they don’t know what it looks like?

Satan is crafty and quite creative. I love the book The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. Mr. Lewis does a wonderful job of showing some of the ways Satan works under the guise of training a “younger” demon. The first time I read the book, it made me look at Satan in a different way. Not only could Satan tempt me to do something wrong, but he could also discourage me from doing what is right. He could disguise sins and make them so attractive that suddenly what is clearly wrong looks right to me. (After all doesn’t God just want me to be happy?)

Our society over the last twenty or thirty years has moved towards a policy of situational ethics. According to many, there are no real rights and wrongs. All decisions are made based on the information you have and what “feels” right or wrong to you at the time. I have always had an intellectual problem with that argument. How could right and wrong be so subjective, when God so clearly and emphatically states lying is an abomination to Him? What if everyone I am surrounded by is morally corrupt? Does that suddenly make murder or theft right?

I think the first thing we need to help our children understand is that God does have some real ideas of right and wrong. The Bible is not just a book of rules. It is a way to live a godly and fulfilling life. God knows in His wisdom that sins, such as lying, cause all sorts of problems for the sinner and his “victims”. I would love it if my daughter embraced the idea that doing what is right is not always the easiest way and it may make you quite miserable for awhile. Ultimately though, if she consistently makes good choices, her life will be not only more godly, but richer and more fulfilling.

A more difficult lesson to teach (and learn) is to recognize Satan as the discourager or procrastinator. Not doing what is wrong is only part of the formula. God also has many good things He wants us to do. Worship, acts of service and sharing the Gospel are all ways we need to participate in God’s Kingdom. Have you ever thought about the fact that it may have been Satan who encouraged someone to harshly criticize your efforts? Or encouraged you to stay up too late watching television so you are too tired to go to worship the next day?

Try to watch for not only where you see God working in your child’s life, but where you see Satan trying to lure him away from God. Tell your child what you see. Remind her that even though Satan may tempt us in a variety of ways, we still have free will. We can always choose to make the decisions God would want us to make. Satan can tempt us, but he cannot control our actions. The choice is always ours. Arming our children to do battle with Satan will help keep them on God’s path in the future. I would love to hear how you teach your children about Satan’s whiles. Send me your comments and suggestions below.

The link above is an affiliate link. If you purchase the book through this link, I will receive some compensation. It adds no cost to you and helps support this blog. I suggested this book though, because it is the best I have found for teaching older children and adults how Satan works.

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Thereasa Winnett

Thereasa Winnett is the founder of Teach One Reach One and blogger at Parenting Like Hannah. She holds a BA in education from the College of William and Mary. She has served in all areas of ministry to children and teens for more than thirty years and regularly leads workshops for ministries and churches. She has conducted numerous workshops, including sessions at Points of Light’s National Conference on Volunteering and Service, the National Urban Ministry Conference, Pepperdine Bible Lectures, and Lipscomb’s Summer Celebration. Thereasa lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband Greg, where she enjoys reading, knitting, traveling and cooking.

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