As parents we want to convey to our children the essential doctrines of Christianity. We must let them know that all men are hopelessly lost and at war with God until the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ covers their sin and produces in them repentance and faith. But we cannot stop there. We must teach them that if there are no works to demonstrate their faith, theirs is a dead faith. (James 2:14–26)
A great summary of what it means to live the Christian life is contained in Psalm 15.
Lord, who may abide in your tabernacle?
Who may dwell in your holy hill?
He who walks uprightly,
And works righteousness,
And speaks the truth in his heart;
He who does not backbite with his tongue,
Nor does evil to his neighbor,
Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend;
In whose eyes a vile person is despised,
But he honors those who fear the Lord;
He who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
He who does not put out his money at usury,
Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved. (NKJV)
This is a perfect Scripture passage for a child to memorize. It is short so the task is not too daunting, and the content can be the subject of many useful conversations. What’s more, when your children transgress (and they will transgress), using this psalm to help them understand how they violated God’s law-word can lead to true repentance.
Too many parents get hung-up on whether or not their children are saved. A better emphasis is on equipping children to think Biblically so they can deal with temptations as they arise, and seek the Lord’s forgiveness in a knowledgeable and meaningful way when they fall into temptation. Anything less encourages hypocrisy and shallowness.
For those who have been born and raised in a Christian family, it is easy to go on “automatic pilot,” learning to say the right words, without being required to live those words out faithfully in their day-to-day lives. One of the most important aspects of teaching children is to convey the truth to them that their actions reveal what is truly in their hearts. Parents should require that disobedience, defiance, and rebellion are corrected, and then examined in light of God’s Word. Children must demonstrate that they comprehend how their behavior violated God’s law and that they understand the scriptural penalties for their actions. Not only will this help restore them into fellowship with their parents, but it will be the basis by which they acquire a worldview that is thoroughly Biblical.
Our greatest desire for our children should be that they walk uprightly, and are never moved from the path of obedience to God and His Word.