by Mark Broyles
Biblical Insights, July 2007
"And there arose another generation after them, who did not know the LORD, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel" (Judges 2:10). How could that happen? How could Satan get such a position of strength among God's people in such a short time? The nation of Israel failed to pass a legacy of faith onto the next generation.
Are we not in danger of the same thing happening today? Our enemy has mounted an all-out attack on the family and knows that if he can win that battle he will have the position of strength in the entire nation.
We as parents, and especially fathers, must recognize we are in a spiritual war for our families. Paul addresses this warfare and our readiness for it when he writes to the brethren in Ephesus, "Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil" (Ephesians 6:10). He also warns those in Corinth that Satan will take advantage of us if we are "ignorant of his schemes" (II Corinthians 2:11). He is using every tactic available to wage this war. We must be truly vigilant, always watching, fully armed with the defenses and weaponry provided by God.
A Full-Frontal Attack
He is attacking families, especially the children; head on - a full-frontal attack - an attack of power. Peter describes him as prowling about "like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (I Peter 5:8). He is seeking to destroy our children through their schools, entertainment, and ungodly friends.
A couple of Bible classes each week will not overcome the godless education to which our children are regularly exposed in our schools. More importantly, it is not the church's responsibility to spiritually train our children. The responsibility for our kids' spiritual education rests squarely upon the shoulders of the parents (Ephesians 6:4). If they are to learn the truth, it must start at home.
Regarding entertainment, it is difficult to imagine that there has ever been a nation at any time in history that is more entertained than are we. From TV to music to the Internet parents need to realize, as Satan knows so well, that the entertainment industry is much more than entertainment. They are all weapons in this spiritual war.
In May 2002, a national survey of teens by the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that 72% of 15-17 year-olds believe the sexual content of TV influences the behavior of kids their age "somewhat" (40%) or "a lot" (32%). Even the kids realize its power. With our enemy fully in control of much of this industry, we should not be surprised that so many young people are entertaining themselves to (spiritual) death.
Good friends are a blessing from God. We receive much encouragement and strength from good friends but parents must realize that not all your children's friends are good. Many of them come from families with very different goals than God has for Christians. We must also recognize the great amount of influence our children's friends will have on them (I Corinthians 15:33). If we allow them to choose the wrong friends, the result can be devastating. The writer of Proverbs says, "the companion of fools will be destroyed" (Proverbs 13:20) and warns against friendships with the wrong people, "lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul" (Proverbs 22:24-25).
But not all of Satan's attacks are direct. Remember he is cunning and devious even portraying himself as an angel of light (II Corinthians 11:14). He convinces us our relationship with God is fine. We have not denied Him but we may very well have dethroned Him. He does not hold the place of preeminence that He deserves. Our priorities get confused. We are not consumed with evil but we may very well be consumed with this world. Satan wields "weapons of mass distraction." We are losing many battles on the front of over-commitment. Families focus so much on entertainment that there is little if any time left for God. Your child does not need to play every sport, be a black belt in karate, play several musical instruments, and be a gymnast. These things may not be inherently bad but they are destructive when they leave us no time for God. We must make sure that God is the priority in our families and that our children know it.
We are also losing many battles on the front of materialism. We are leaving a destructive legacy with our children by saying-work long hours so you can have much money and buy many things. How can we feel we are denying self to follow God if we spend all our effort on making sure that we don't have to do without anything? God's Word is full of warnings about the inability for material things to provide true satisfaction and even the dangers that are inherent in the pursuit of money. His kingdom must be first (Matthew 6:33) and again our children must be raised in homes where this is evident.
And while our enemy has us focused on the selfish pursuit of all that this world has to offer, our children are left to spiritually raise themselves. If it is not "within man to direct his own steps, how likely are our children to be able to navigate through this spiritual warfare on their own? How can we possibly expect to see anything other than another generation that does not know God? So what can we do?
After arming ourselves, where should we start this battle? The same place Christians should start every battle - On Our Knees! (Ephesians 6:18). We must believe that God cares, that He is waiting for us to come to Him, and that prayer is powerful (Matthew 7:7; 21:22; James 5:16).
Don't just pray that God bless your family-get specific. Ask him to encourage you to be spiritually strong and morally pure. Ask God to surround you and your children with godly friends and to help them make godly choices. Pray that all entertainment choices would encourage spiritual growth. Pray that He help you learn to say no to over commitment-no to material things that hinder your service to Him. No great battle is won without prayer.
Use God's Word
Challenge your whole family to think biblically. Help them to establish their faith and to learn to use the Word to discern what is right. This takes time! We must continually be using every opportunity to teach (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). We must talk constantly of God and His ways. We must "abide" in His Word. We need to impress God's words upon their heart and upon their soul (Deuteronomy 11:18).
Monitor and Restrict
We must know who they are with and what they are doing. We cannot properly evaluate their choices unless we know what their choices are. Their privacy cannot take priority over their spiritual welfare. Parents need to listen to the music their children listen to, meet their friends and know what their home environment is, screen the movies and TV they watch, and know where they are surfing on the Internet. This will allow us the opportunity to talk about their choices and explain how they can choose properly. We need to do as Job did and make a covenant with our eyes (Job 31:1) and teach our children to do the same. We need to restrict their access to the destructive forms of entertainment (get an Internet filter!) and friends. They need our guidance. We must fight to win.