Our children are in a spiritual battle and it’s our responsibility as their parents to give them all the tools they need to stand victorious against Satan and his insidious attacks. The Bible tells us that the enemy, “prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” From the moment our children take their first breath, Satan has his eye on them. He’s already begun his attack because he’s absolutely terrified of who they’ll become, should they follow, wholeheartedly, the call God has placed on their lives.
Satan’s first line of attack is to keep our children separated from God.
The Bible makes it clear: mankind is either for Christ or against Him (Matthew 12:30). We are either controlled by the Holy Spirit or dominated by our sinful nature (Rom. 8:5-8). Apart from Christ, our children will never become the glorious, powerful, and courageous men and women Christ created them to be. This is why Satan is working so hard to keep our children from Him, because he knows apart from Christ, they are utterly powerless.
But greater is He who is in us, their parents, than he who is in the world, and we never have to parent alone. Speaking of God, Isaiah 40:11 says, “He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those who have young” (NIV).
Parenting with Christ means having complete and unhindered access to the perfect wisdom of the Creator, the very one who fashioned our children’s hearts and set their life plan into motion. He knows who they’ll be twenty years from now and everything they’ll encounter along the way. He also knows what can derail, defeat, and distract them. More than that, He knows their enemy’s every move and how to combat it.
Our children are born into a war zone, but they don’t have to be casualties. Not if we, their attending soldiers, keep our eyes on our commanding officer (2 Timothy 2:4) and follow His battle plan.
Our first line of defense is prayer.
Parents, bathe your children in prayer. Pray for their spiritual protection, that they develop a hunger for the things of God and His word, and hearts softened to receive Him. Once they do, the Bible says they’ll have the power of the risen Lord residing within.
That’s incomprehensible power. That kind of power changes a child and sets them up for victory. But that doesn’t mean the spiritual battle is over. In fact, after salvation, the war intensifies, because Satan’s fear escalates. Therefore, he turns to plan B.
Satan’s second line of attack is to squelch the flickering light emerging within them.
He does this by tearing at their very hearts, chipping away at their confidence and self-worth so they’ll live as victims rather than victors.
According to Ryan Jantz, Student Ministries Pastor at Lifesprings Church in Omaha and founder of BreakFreeYouthMinisty.com, Satan accomplishes this in two ways. “[Satan] uses external sources such a parents, peers, culture, and media to belittle and abuse [children] into feeling unworthy and unloved. Second, he uses their own minds against them when they allow negative thinking like, ‘I’m not good enough’ beautiful enough, smart enough, or whatever.”
In Jantz’s experience working with youth, these self-deprecating thoughts can lead to depression, suicidal thoughts, cutting, and anger. But our children were made for peace and joy!
The solution: uplifting and affirming our children.
Our words have the power to uplift or destroy, to empower or defeat. This is why Paul urges us in Ephesians 4:29 to “not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (NIV).
This doesn’t mean we never admonish or correct but rather that our words mirror the heart of God and the truth in Scripture. It means we’re intentional in what we say, always pointing our children to Christ and His plan for them. We openly, firmly, yet lovingly reject those things that threaten to pull them from God while reaffirming the things that draw them to Him.
We can only do this if we have a deep knowledge and understanding of God’s truth and will. Therefore, we must be diligent about our prayer life and Scripture reading.
Satan’s third line of attack is to distract and entice.
He did it in the Garden of Eden, and all of humanity suffered the consequences (Genesis 3). Surrounded by everything good while living, unhindered, in God’s presence, Adam and Eve turned their hearts away from the incredible blessings God had provided and obsessed over the one thing they couldn’t have—the very thing that would destroy them.
Satan’s tactics haven’t changed. Throughout our child’s day, he whispers relentlessly to them, “You want… You need… You deserve…” He assaults them while they’re on the playground, surfing the Internet, or flipping through television channels. He exposes them to darkness their young and spiritually immature minds and hearts are ill-equipped to handle.
This is why God has placed us in their lives to be their defenders.
“Parents need to be a gatekeeper for what their children take in.” Jantz says. “Preview apps and set boundaries and filters on all computers, tablets, and phones in the house. Know what’s in a movie before you let your child see it.” Then, be prepared to discuss it with them afterwards. Teach them how to view the world and their experiences from a biblical perspective, and be open with them about the dangers.
When our daughter was young, I feared talk of “spiritual warfare” would overly frighten her, but according to Jantz, this is unlikely due to the “other world” material they’re already exposed to. “Students watch things like Harry Potter, the Avengers, and Star Wars all day, and therefore being honest about spiritual warfare isn’t just necessary, it makes all the sense in the world,” he says. “They get it; they just need help in understanding how important and intimate this battle really is.”
Jantz urges parents to do all they can to help their children tune in to and stand strong against this battle over their mind, heart, and emotions by grounding them in the gospel, the truth in Scripture, and by teaching them how to control their thought life. But most importantly, we must make sure they understand that they are on the winning team. Satan is already defeated—he has no power over them except what they allow. More than that, their victorious Savior who conquered Satan and all the powers of darkness when He died for us on the cross has, through His death and resurrection, given our children everything they need to live unconquerable, powerful, world-changing lives. God has assigned us, their parents, with the task of teaching and showing them how to do just that.
Our children were created for greatness. God has a unique plan for each one of them, a plan that will leave an eternal imprint on our world. Satan knows this, and it terrifies him, so he is doing all he can to destroy, defeat, distract, and discourage our kids in order to keep them becoming who God designed them to be. As Gary Barkalow puts it, “We are the only ones in the spiritual realm who underestimate the power of our lives.”
Not anymore because now we know. So let’s step to forefront and turn our children from casualties into warriors.
Jennifer Slattery, author of Breaking Free and other titles, writes fiction for New Hope Publishers, devotions for the Internet Cafe’, and edits for Firefly, a southern fiction imprint with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. When not writing, editing, or reading, you’ll likely find her and her husband of 20-plus years at one of Omaha’s independently owned coffeehouses.
Publication date: March 8, 2016