Training Children to Flee From Sin

“But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.”  1 Timothy 6:11

In 1 Timothy 6, Paul is talking about fleeing from a love of money, but he also addresses other “sins” in the section.  Throughout the Bible, it is abundantly clear that we are to FLEE from sin.  The word flee means to “run away.”  It doesn’t mean “think about it,” “discuss it,” “analyze it,” etc.  It means we are to RUN AWAY FROM SIN.  

Other homeschoolers often ask for practical ideas on how to “raise children.”  I’ve had this on my mind and wanted to share some thoughts about this from our family.  

When our children were little, we taught them that if they saw something “bad” – such as a woman in a bikini (“almost naked!,” we would say) – they were to cover their eyes or at least look the other direction.  This was originally a habit we developed while out in public as our boys (in particular) were exposed to women who weren’t “covered up.”  We told our children that it was our job to protect them while they were young and one of the ways we protected them was to protect their young hearts. Although a seven-year-old would likely not feel any temptation toward a scantily clad woman, the seventeen-year-old likely would. Even at a very young age, we figured it was better to instill in them values and create habits that reminded them that they needed to FLEE FROM SIN.

We don’t have cable in our home, but we can rent movies.  We were watching a popular movie the other day – at the recommendation of a friend – and after three or four MINUTES, Chris and I just decided it was NOT something we could watch.  The main character lied to her mother about 40 seconds into the movie, there was much name-calling, the daughter complained about doing a chore, and so on… all within a few minutes.  Even though we all wanted to watch the movie, sometimes covering your eyes or muting a section of bad language isn’t enough.  After all, we are told to FLEE from sin, even when we really don’t want to.

If your children are still young, train them to cover their eyes immediately if you say to do so.  As they grow older, explain to them the reasons you do this.  Hopefully one day you’ll come to the point where they do this automatically and you will no longer need to remind them. 

There is much sin in the world.  As parents, find practical ways to teach your children to flee from it. Even as they mature, you can continue to do this.  If your daughter says her friends were talking about another girl at co-op, she needs to learn to excuse herself from the discussion – or even find a different group of friends if necessary.  Explain the concept of “gossip” and share Bible verses that talk about it. 

Train your children to be selective about the movies they watch or the books they read.  We’ve had to return several books to the library that we didn’t finish reading because it turned out that they did not reflect our values. 

Establish an open line of communication with your children and make sure they feel comfortable coming to you if they have questions about sin.  Especially in today’s world, despite our most diligent parenting, our children are still going to be exposed to bad things.  It’s my experience with homeschooled kids that sometimes they don’t know what these things are because they have been sheltered.  This is a good thing that their exposure occurs at a much later age than most kids, but once they are exposed to certain words, phrases, etc., discuss these things with them and make sure they understand (from a Biblical point of view) what these things are and why they are sinful (if they are … obviously they will also learn things as they mature that aren’t bad, but they simply haven’t been exposed to yet). 

Now I’m sure someone out there is going to say, “But gee, if kids aren’t exposed to the ‘real world,’ how are they ever going to learn to function in it???”

You could use that same argument against homeschooling and force all children into government-run schools where all children are taught the ways of the world, but you guys know that unless you’re living in a CAVE in the middle of nowhere, you still have exposure to the world.  It’s impossible not to.  Children will still have exposure to the world and to be quite honest, that’s not even the issue.  The Bible is very clear about what our goals should be.  Even though others might want our children to be exposed to the “world,” the Bible says we are to flee from worldliness and seek a relationship with God. 

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”  1 John 2:15

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2

Finally, our greatest example is that of our Savior and Lord.  He lived IN this world, but he was not OF it.  He walked among the people, worked, preached, ate, rested.  I’m sure he also played games, had pleasure, and enjoyed the beauty of creation.  He was tempted by Satan, but he resisted sin and thus was an unblemished sacrifice for us all. 

Fortunately, our loving God knows that we’re sinful, but we can be forgiven!  Through his mercy and grace, we are redeemed.  Our children are also sinful.  They will one day come to the point where they answer for their sins, but as parents, we can give them the best possible start in life by training them to FLEE FROM SIN and instead, seek righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.

Sonya Haskins, author of Homeschooling for the Rest of Us (Bethany House Publishers, January 2010)


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