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Teaching Children Life Principles

By Dr. Don Dunlap
Pastoral Counselor
Family devotion time is a prime opportunity to invest life-changing principles in our children.

Family Counseling Ministries -

In the 11th article of a 20-part series on family devotions, Dr. Dunlap discusses five important life-principles that parents should seek to invest in their children’s lives: the principles of Sin, Flesh, Forgiveness, Discernment and Responsibility. He emphasizes the fact that the best way for our children to recognize error and deception is to be fully acquainted with God’s Truth.

When parents set aside a regular meeting time for family devotions they have a prime opportunity to invest life-changing principles in their children’s lives. We continue our discussion of several important truths that parents should strive to teach their children during family worship time.

Children must understand that Satan wants to devour Christians—to destroy their testimonies.

The Flesh Principle is the fourth principle and it states that we ought to remove any objects of temptation from our lives, so that the flesh will be easier to control. This is called fleeing temptation.

Children should understand the fact that they cannot flirt with sin. Parents must teach their sons and daughters that Satan is no gentleman. He is a liar, who, after getting his toe in the doorway of a particular sin in our lives, flings the door wide open at the first opportunity.

We read this warning in Romans 13:14,

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

Sons and daughters are never too young to begin learning about the sovereignty of God in their lives.

Principle #5 is the Forgiveness Principle. Parents should teach children to forgive any offenses that others commit against them. It is important to acquaint children with the truth of God’s sovereignty—the fact that God takes those things that others intend for evil and uses them for good in our lives when we love and obey Him. Children must understand how to apply the command in Ephesians 4:32,

And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Parents should teach children to quickly repent of any grudge that they may have against someone who has hurt them. It is vital to explain that when we allow a root of bitterness to spring up in our hearts, we harm ourselves and we defile the lives of other people as well.

The best way to recognize error is to know the Truth.

The sixth principle is called the Discernment Principle. This is the ability to separate truth from error. As our children exercise this skill, they will become increasingly adept at recognizing deception when they encounter it throughout their lives. We read in Philippians 1:9,

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment.

The Responsibility Principle is principle #7. A child must learn and do what both God and other people expect from him or her. Parents should challenge children to fulfill their responsibilities cheerfully and diligently. They should be aware that God requires them to assume full responsibility for their every thought, word and deed. They must realize that God also holds them responsible for past sins and expects them to repent, if necessary, and to make appropriate restitution. The writer of Acts 24:16 instructs us,

So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.

Children must understand that God commands His children to “add to their faith, a clear conscience.”

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