I did not want to face the reality that the enemy had infiltrated my home and was after the hearts and minds of my children. I didn’t have the energy to fight a spiritual battle. I didn’t know how to equip and empower my kids to stand. I believed that if I lived according to the Word, kept my kids in church, and lived out biblical principles in the home, then all would be well… until it wasn’t.
There is a real enemy who is “prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Unfortunately, he is seeking to devour a whole generation… our sons and daughters!
God has not left us without hope. He gives us instruction on how to stand and train our children to stand against an unseen enemy. Our battle is not against flesh and blood and we have to learn how to fight a spiritual battle so we can equip our kids to do the same. Our children are created to WIN at spiritual warfare, and as parents and educators we can “train up our children in the way they should go” (Proverbs 22:6).
Paul gives us step by step instruction in Ephesians 6 that can lead us and our children into victory over “rulers, authorities and the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil” (Ephesians 6:12).
We are given the following instructions for victory:
1. Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.
We must display to our children what it means to be “strong in the Lord.” Ultimately it means we lean on Him and not our own understanding. Strength in God often looks like weakness to man. To equip and empower our children to find their strength in God, we must be willing to become dependant on Him.
2. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes… Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
We must note that Paul tells us two times (it’s worth repeating) to put on the full armor. We are told empathetically that the day of evil will come. We can’t bury our head in the sand and hope if we lead a good life, give our children opportunities in life, go to church, etc., that the day of evil will pass us by. We are told time and time again by Paul that we are to stand; there is no “tapping out” or sitting on the sidelines in this battle. We are engaged in a battle and our children are there with us. So we must learn how to stand in dependence on Christ in our full armor.
3. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist…
In biblical times, the belt served as a sort of anchor, securing a soldier’s armor in place.
To prepare our children for battle, they must be secure in truth. The truth of God’s love and affection, the truth of who He is, and the truth of who they are in Christ. As parents it is our responsibility to speak truth, read truth, gird them up in truth so that they can stand secure.
4. With the breastplate of righteousness in place…
The breastplate was worn on the front, to protect a soldier’s vital organs as he faced his enemy.
Our children are continually confronted with a culture that is violently opposed to biblical principles. Bullies, broken families, detachment from friends, and more, are shredding the hearts of our children. To protect these tender internal organs, we must help our children understand where their righteousness comes from. We must help them be secure in God’s tender mercy and His decree over their lives as “Beloved.”
5. Your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
Without proper footwear, soldiers would be lost. Good sandals enabled the soldier to walk across any type of terrain without fear. Oftentimes the sandals would have iron nails protruding underneath for greater traction and to help them “dig their heals in” and not be pushed back.
Peace is a powerful weapon. Jesus is the Prince of Peace and He came to bring a peace that looks different from how the world defines peace. His peace enables us to climb the mountains and run in the valleys. Introducing our children to the Prince of Peace is another vital element in developing their spiritual warfare muscles.
6. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
The shield mentioned in this passage refers to a small hand-held shield used in combat. We are commissioned by the Captain of the Lord of Hosts to take up our shield, to exercise our faith and give our children opportunities to grow their own faith. Our faith is not faith unless it is being practiced, lived out and used. God gives us opportunities daily to take up that shield and deflect the enemy’s darts. As parents, we can give our children opportunities to grow their faith. We can encourage them to turn to the Father for the things they desire; we can walk hand in hand with them into the throne of grace and ask with them and allow the Good Father to lead them.
7. Take the helmet of salvation…
The enemy often starts his attack in the mind. I have found that many children are tormented by lies of low self-worth. The only protective covering we can offer to our children is to introduce them to the saving grace of Jesus Christ. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Our children do not have to live under the torrential onslaught of condemnation. We can help them stand by leading them to Jesus.
8. The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
A warrior would quickly fall to the enemy if he didn’t have a weapon. It’s not enough just to have armor.
Our children will (and are) quickly falling to the enemy. Perhaps we could learn from the great Teacher Himself: Jesus yielded this sword when the enemy confronted him in the desert. We have access to the same weapon Jesus did and we can train our children to yield this powerful doubled edged sword. It is their only line of defense.
9. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
We must equip our children to know the voice of the Father. He is the Good Shepherd, the Strong Tower, and so much more. Prayer is listening as well as sharing, it’s a two-way conversation and in order for our children to stand against the schemes of the enemy, they must know the voice of the One who sees all and knows all and depend on His voice to lead them.
We are not left without hope, but developing strong spiritual muscles in our children takes time. It takes a willingness on the part of the parents to lead the way and develop their own spiritual muscles.
We can turn the tide of our sons and daughters being swept away in a sea of confusion and chaos; we can teach them and lead them to “stand firm.” We have been given the instruction manual to help our children win in spiritual warfare.