By Damien Nash, Crosswalk.com
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
My parents trained me up in the way, and as a follower of the way myself, I learned at a very early age about the seriousness and the importance of the spiritual world. You see, I am a preacher's kid. And I credit both my late father (who was a pastor) and my mother for teaching my two brothers and I about the realities of the unseen world and spiritual warfare.
Their training and teaching was a foundation that grounded me in the church for most of my life, and equipped me as a young adult prayer team leader where I experienced a great deal of spiritual warfare. I would like to share some of the wisdom I have learned throughout my life experiences that may benefit parent wanting to train up their children in the way.
Teaching your children these lessons and practical tools will equip them as the reckon with and eventually face spiritual warfare.
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1. The Devil and His Demons Are Real
We must be honest with our children and teach them that the devil and his demons are in fact a reality. Oftentimes by avoiding difficult subjects, we may think we are protecting them, but we are actually handicapping their spiritual muscles. This will have a negative affect on them when the real world problems confront them. If we don’t know who we battle against, how can we successfully defeat the enemy or arm ourselves appropriately?
Paul teaches us in Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Another translation says “spiritual wickedness in high places.”
As a culture, we tend to spend an inordinate amount of effort and time trying to pull off our holiday traditions for the imagination of our kids. You know, like with the easter egg bunny, Santa Claus, and even his Elves. I’m not knocking anyone for that. But we oftentimes neglect teaching our kids about the very real spiritual realm and the unseen world around them.
Darkness is intertwined in many facets of our culture and the enemy uses subtle ways to slowly trap people’s affections. We must watch what we let our kids dabble with in the worlds of games and entertainment. It’s important to do our research instead of unknowingly allowing the devil easy access to our family’s minds through media and other avenues.
This vigilance is not about being overly spiritual or trying to suck all the “fun” out of kids’ childhood. This is about the practice of choosing what is good for your household over what is twisted, and modeling faith and affection for the things of God, rather than entertaining what is evil.
This will often mean talking with your kids about what your family will and will not watch, and why. We must protect and teach children that there is a real enemy who is waging war against us, regardless of age. The Bible has multiple stories children were possessed by demons. These forces are real and they don’t play fair.
By no means is this a way to scare your children and invite fear into their lives. As we will learn later, we are on Team Jesus and we have victory in Him. Remember that God has not given us a spirit of fear. However, we are doing a disservice to our own homes and to the Kingdom of God if we don’t tell them the truth and teach them about the enemy's plan. As a parent you must take responsibility as a gatekeeper for their lives. It’s imperative that you clearly draw the line against the enemy and say, “... but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
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2. The Devil and His Demons Have Power
Yes, your opponent has power and is not afraid to use it. So how did the devil get his power anyways? Well, let’s go back to Genesis 1:28 where God just made man in His image, and said something interesting. “God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Do you see? God gave mankind dominion to rule over all animals, even those that move or slither on the ground. However, in Genesis 3:1-7 we see that the crafty serpent, which moves on the ground, convinces the woman and man to eat of the fruit that God told them not to eat, handing over their dominion on Earth to Satan. So what did this mean? Humans originally had authority over Satan, but because of their sin and unbelief they turned that authority and power over to him on earth—his new kingdom to rule for a short time. Satan uses that authority and has created an army with his minions to kill, steal, and destroy every human from living the life God has intended us to live.
The Satan’s helpers are called demons or unclean spirits and they do have some level of strength. Because of Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden, it allowed these beings to have a level of juristic authority, a right or “legal permission” to operate on the Earth. When we disobey God’s covenantal laws, we agree to allow Satan and his demons to have legal access into our lives. This is why it is so important to raise our child up in the way to respect and obey God’s laws, believe in Jesus and to repent from our disobedience whenever we fall short of those laws.
In Chester & Betsy Kylstra’s book, Biblical Healing and Deliverance, they give four major ways we have given legal access to the devil and his demons in our lives from the beginning of time. Here are the four major ways. If you are interested in learning more, check out their book and materials. It is encouraging and edifying for the whole family.
- Unforgiveness: We have to learn the importance of forgiving others and letting them go. If we don’t forgive, God will not forgive us (Matthew 6:14-15).
- Sins of the father and resulting curses: This is what the Bible calls generational curses.
- Ungodly beliefs: These are the lies the devil implants in our souls to get us to doubt God’s faithfulness and even His existence. When we believe a lie, we give the enemy power.
- Soul or spirit hurt: Hurting people hurt people. And if we don’t confront these traumas and seek healing, we will allow the enemy access in our lives, and the cycle of hurt will continue.
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3. Jesus Has All Power and Authority
In Jesus’ name! Do you know how much power and authority is in that one phrase? When Jesus was about to leave the disciples, He gave his last speech. We find this in Matthew 28:18 right before the famous Great Commission. It reads, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, all power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (KJV). Not some, not most, but all.
After Jesus rose from the dead, He conquered everything. That means, sin, death, hell, the devil, and the grave. Now that’s good news for the sons of God.
We have to be very clear about this. We can’t use God’s weapons against the enemy if we are not God’s children. And the only way to join the family of God, Jesus says, is through Him in John 14:6. Again, that’s good news. Sadly, we see in Acts 19:11-17 what happens when you try to use the name of Jesus against the enemy without a true relationship. This story of the seven sons of Sceva teaches us a very valuable lesson that God desires relationship over our religious practices.
So, the only power the enemy has over us who believe in Jesus Christ is the power we give the devil. So you can let your children know that if they have given their life to Jesus then they are on Team Jesus. They don’t have to be afraid because they have already won! The enemy may try to attack them, but he will not succeed.
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4. What Weapons Do We Have to Fight the Enemy?
God has given us many weapons to use as we fight against the enemy.
Scripture is a powerful weapon. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God...” Jesus was the Word and used the words of God in the desert to silence the enemy's attempts to tempt Him. It’s important to teach our kids not to just use their words but use His Words especially when the enemy has infiltrated their minds. (Phillip Hunter’s book, The Promise Principle is a wonderful resource to help you and your kids memorize Scripture.) We were raised to memorize Scripture in Sunday school and I have especially returned to this practice this year. Psalm 119:11 says, “Thy word I have hidden in my heart that I may not sin against thee.” Teaching your kids the importance of hiding God’s word in their hearts is vital, not only to resist sin, but to equip themselves to fight the enemy’s attacks.
2. The Name of Jesus
Jesus’ name is a powerful weapon. Have you or your child ever suffered from bad dreams? This could be the works of the enemy. When your children experience scary or oppressive dreams, teach them to call on Jesus’ name. His name is the only name that has power to rebuke the enemy, cripple the works of the devil and drive fear into the enemy’s camp. Your kids will learn just how powerful is His name is, and come to know him more and more as their friend and protector.
Whenever your kids are going through difficult times, whether sad, sick, scared, or worried, you can teach them to pray to Jesus. Jesus hears our prayers, including the prayers of our kids. You can teach them to pray God’s word as well. Cultivating a lifestyle and a heart for prayer in your children is not only a great defensive tactic but an offensive tactic. It is a tool that will benefit them through every stage of their lives, whether good times or bad. You can even teach them the Lord’s Prayer, found in Matthew 6:9-13.
4. The Holy Spirit
Lastly, the Holy Spirit is a powerful weapon. Mark 16:17 teaches us that the prerequisite to counter demonic influences is simply being a believer. However, in Acts 1:8 when the start of the church began, we see that the Holy Spirit came upon the members in the upper room and they received power. This power gives us a supernatural advantage over demonic force in spiritual warfare.
Now, in the original language, the word “power” had a similar meaning as dynamite. If you teach your children that the Holy Spirit is not just for Bible characters but for us today, we all will live a more exciting Christian life in tandem with God’s power.
Sometimes, we may believe kids are too young to receive the Holy Spirit or have a relationship with Him. That is what the enemy wants you to think. Joel 2:28 says that God will pour out His spirit on all flesh, not just flesh that is 18 years and older. Now, if your kids have accepted Jesus Christ, they can invite the Holy Spirit in their life. You can help cultivate that relationship with the Holy Spirit and create an atmosphere where they can be sensitive to Him.
The Holy Spirit has both fruit and gifts that He would love for us to take advantage of as the family of God. One gift I have experienced that has helped me in spiritual warfare is found in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11. This gift is known as “discerning of spirits” or “distinguishing between spirits.” When the Holy Spirit comes upon us we have access to all His gifts and fruits; however there are certain times when a specific gift is needed in that moment. This gift, discerning of spirits, along with the word of knowledge is beneficial when are trying to prayerfully assess whether a situation, a place, or person is influenced by the enemy. You and your kids can kindly ask the Holy Spirit to reveal His gifts and fruit daily. This is the beauty of a relationship with the Holy Spirit.
God’s Children Are Never Alone in the Fight
There are so many weapons God has given us such as praise, worship, speaking in the spirit, the blood of Christ etc. God has not left us defenseless against the enemy. I hope that this has given you a good foundation on starting to teach your children about the realities of the unseen world and spiritual warfare. It is never too early to start training your kids. I absolutely love what Psalm 127:4-5 says, “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate” (ESV). If God is looking at our children as arrows (weapons) to defeat the enemy, don’t you think we should teach and train them how to fight in the spirit? I think so as well.
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