Today, the story is emerging about the dramatic rescue of three girls who men held captive for over ten years. When I think of these girls, I cannot imagine how they endured the last decade of their lives. The home of their torment looked quaint and peaceful on the outside. The neighborhood is in a state of shock that their neighbors held young women against their will behind the closed doors.
As I consider the evil of this episode in American life, my thoughts consider the blight of evil in the lives of children. Just as everything appeared innocent and peaceful on the outside, our children appear innocent and unharmed in many ways. Yet, Satan holds millions of our children captive to the subtleness of sin. First, the child tells a lie that appears harmless, blaming someone else for their own sin, or disobeying parents. One small sin leads to another and another until our children become caught by satan’s traps.
As the saying goes, “Sin will take you further than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”
One observant neighbor’s response set the course for these three lovely girls rescue and freedom. Likewise, the churches response to our children can rescue them from the snares of the devil. We recommend three steps to assist a child to freedom from sin:
First, share with the child in language he can understand the wonderful plan of salvation. We recommend that you use words and terminology with the family unit in mind. Avoid abstract terms; i.e., into your heart, saved from sin, and confession. Instead, speak of, becoming a child of God, saved from the punishment of sin, and telling on yourself to God. Children understand the context of a family and can easily understand what it means to belong to God’s forever family.Here is a sample Gospel Presentation using terminology a child can understand.
Second, help a child understand the three natural aspects of sin:
First scripture teaches of the punishment of sin, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), Jesus took this punishment once and for all when He died upon the cross. Many sincere Christians teach that Jesus “takes away our sin.” Some children assume that when they pray for salvation they will ‘stop doing bad things.’ We must explain that Jesus saves us from the punishment of sin. Unfortunately, children will continue to face temptation to sin and will fall many times as they learn to resist satan.
Next, (before and after salvation) a child will experience the guilt of sin. A child will experience guilt anytime they choose their way over God’s way. When we are children the guilt is new and fresh. If the guilt is not properly dealt with children will learn to ignore the Holy Spirit’s conviction and cover their sin. Often, if a child does not learn how to confess their sin (or tell on themselves to God), their spirit becomes ‘seared’ (this is like turning the volume down on a walkie-talkie); this can lead to substance abuse, or other traps of the devil later in life. 1 John 1:9 teaches of the importance of admitting our sins to God for forgiveness and cleansing of the conscience/spirit.
Children must also understand the consequences of sin. A child might believe that a prayer of salvation will free them from any consequences to sin. We must teach children the principle, “Whatever you sow, you will reap” (Galatians 6:7) but give the child the assurance of God’s divine presence in their lives through the good times and the bad. In Hebrews 13:5b God promises to “never leave or forsake” His children. Yes, a child may suffer the consequences to their or someone else’s sin or actions but God is with His child to help and deliver him (Hebrews 13:6, 1 Corinthians 10:13, James 1:12-17, Romans 8:28).
These three natural aspects of sin reveal themselves in the Old Testament through the different purposes for the offerings depicted in Leviticus 1-7.
Our job as believers is to first, rescue the children from the bondage of sin. Once we rescue the child, we need to disciple them in God’s Word, help them understand the three parts of sin, and teach them how to walk in victory. When a child is free from the bondage of sin, we want them to remain in freedom!” “If the Son shall set you free, you are free indeed” (John 8:36).
Today, these girls no longer live with their captors but we know they carry scars from the past decade. They will need love, counsel, family, and friends to help them heal from the trauma they experienced. Our little children need the love and discipleship of the family of God to help them heal from any wounds satan afflicts on them and to help these little ones grow strong in the Lord. “…It is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish” (Matthew 18:14).