What your kids need to know about sin


Where did sin come from and why do I sin?

The biblical account of the fall is found in Genesis chapter 3. The understanding of the fall it’s causes and it’s far reaching effects are essential for parents and their children alike to full understand. It is understanding the nature and the cause of the fall that we are able to see the need for redemption and ultimately restoration. We do our kids a massive disservice when we minimize the nature of sin. It is only through a clear understanding of sin that we see ourselves as we truly are and are then able to see Christ as He is. John Newton the former slave ship captain later famous hymn writer who wrote Amazing Grace on his death bead said in such captivating forum “I don’t remember much but I do know that I am a great sinner but I have a great savior.”

That is what our kids need to understand when they ask about the origins of sin. The problem of sin is not new nor is it limited to our first parents. Sin is pervasive sin is destructive sin affects all of us. The goal of painting our sin in such dire terms is not to bring on despair actually the opposite. It is to bring us to a place of hopelessness in our sin only when we see the despair of sin can we truly appreciate the power of the gospel message of Hope.  Part of the problem with kids who grow up in christian homes is they hear the Good news of the gospel preached but they don’t fully appreciate it’s message. It’s not good news for them. It’s news that they perhaps can give to others some day. I am a 5th generation preachers kid I grew up hearing the good news. I grew up applied the truth of the bible to my life without fully grasping my daily need for grace. I didn’t see my sins as worthy to send me to hell they were “struggles” I had. People who didn’t come to church who did “real” sins needed the gospel. Which is very true but it wasn’t until I came to a further understanding of Resurrecting Grace. That I am a sinner I was born into sin and my heart is not good but is inclined towards sin. I find no matter how hard I find my heart wanders.

Hebrews tells us that sin came into the world through one man Adam and was completely defeated through one man Jesus. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians tells us this about ourselves.

“You were dead in your transgressions and sins, among which you once walked according to the course of this world,
according to the prince of the authority of the air the spirit working even
now in the sons of disobedience,
among whom we all once conducted ourselves in the cravings of our flesh,
doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind – we were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest”

Ephesians 2:1-3

Here is what is amazing about that passage of scripture. Paul says we were dead in our sins. Dead people can’t save themselves. Dead people can’t do anything. When God sent Jesus in the world to live a perfect life that we could never live he stepped towards us. Through the grace of his resurrection he gave us hope. No one can avoid sin anymore than they can avoid death. Our kids need to be good kids. We need to raise good citizens for society but we also need to help them see their need for a savior.

Dead men don’t tell –

Growing up in the Midwest you become very aware of both life and death. I remember the first time I saw a cow give birth and the first time I watched as a dog with rabies had to be put down. Both have a profound effect on you as a kid. Here is what is amazing – You realize at an earlier age that one day you will die. That’s the advantage country kids have over city kids. You are better in tune with the reality of life and death. City kids know that milk doesn’t come from brown cows and hamburgers don’t come from McDonalds.

What Paul was getting at in Ephesians is that we were dead in our sins. Paul takes the first 7 chapters of Romans and the first three verses of Ephesians 2 to point out that we are utterly hopeless. It is the realization of the hopelessness that sets up verse 4 in Ephesians “But God in his loving kindness” rescues us. Redeems us. In Romans 3:23 Paul tells us we have all sinned because he is building to Romans 8 which tells us of God’s unending love for us. That nothing can separate us from.

It is vital that our kids have an understanding from a young age that they are not “basically good” but “irreparably flawed” that we are incapable of self salvation. We need God’s Grace. This only happens by seeing ourselves as we truly are, great sinners and Christ as he truly is, a great savior.

A mirror not a window

What is vital to our understanding of our sinfulness is the word of God. We can feel that we are a good person but the Bible says otherwise. In James 1:23-25 James describes the word of God as a mirror …23For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.…

The word of God is powerful it has power as James says to show us what we need to do but it empowers us do what it says because it is about Christ who kept the law perfectly for us. It is important that we use the mirror to see our sinfulness and allow the gospel to transform us so we can reflect the Glory and love of God to a world the desperately needs both.

We are so easy on ourselves so often we look harshly at the sins of others while minimizing our own sins. We treat the word of God as a window in which we look into and look past to see so many others than need help forgetting that the word of God is first a mirror to convict us of our need for a savor. To drive this home for your kids write with a pencil something your have trouble with such as, selfishness, anger on a post it note. Have your kids look out a window from a  couple of feet away and see if they are able to read what’s on the post it note. Now have them stand the same distance from a mirror. Explain to your kids that the mirror is like the law who’s purpose is to reveal our sin and our utter helplessness. We desperately need a savior. The law is a means of God’s grace to us to wake us from a life of hypocritical law keeping.

Here is the good news in Ephesians 2:4-6 …4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,…

The good news is that we are saved by grace alone so none of us has anything to claim and only Christ on which to cling.

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