Ultimately, the task is to instill the wisdom of Psalm 34:14 into a child's heart: "Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it" (KJV). But how can this be done?

Christian Parenting

The temptation to do evil is not solely faced by adults. Indeed, the lure toward sin begins in childhood. Children, then, must be encouraged to do right and equipped to face and overcome temptation through the power of the Holy Spirit. As Connie Neal has explained, your responsibility as a parent is to "prepare your kids to go into their culture without disobeying God."


Ultimately, the task is to instill the wisdom of Psalm 34:14 into a child's heart: "Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it" (KJV). But how can this be done?


As you begin to expose your child to the teachings of God's Word regarding evil, and as you strive to raise him or her in the ways of the Lord, begin by nurturing an understanding of what evil is. Try using photos or pictures of "bad" situations--perhaps someone stealing, two children fighting, or a student cheating in school. Ask your child to describe what is going on and what feelings or impressions arise.


To offer a balance, include some photos or pictures of children doing "good" things, such as sharing, helping, and befriending. Contrast the good actions of these images with the evil actions of the others.


Select one of the images to discuss in detail. If, for instance, you choose an image that shows a child stealing, ask when your son or daughter faces the temptation to steal. Work together to describe potential situations, then discuss ways your child can escape.  Teach your child ways to step out of bad situations, even getting help as needed. Talk about resource people that your child can turn to--yourself, a pastor, a relative, or a counselor. Emphasize that your child is not alone; there is a network of support available and ready to help.


As you progress through the images, you will likely encounter some that will leave your child feeling uncertain about what to do. When that happens, reassure him or her that God provides wisdom and strength to those who ask, enabling them to handle these types of situations. Teach what it means to turn to God for help; describe how to pray.


You should also reinforce that your child has a role to play; stepping away from a bad situation is often the best way to overcome it. Rather than remaining where the temptation is more powerful, change settings or companions, thus removing the opportunity and/or pressure to give in to impulses to do evil. Taking such an action would be in keeping with the biblical mandate to "depart from evil."


Ultimately, the best way to overcome evil is to prayerfully replace the temptation with something else. Rather than solely teaching your child to resist evil, teach him or her to depart from evil and find something good instead. The longer a person fights against temptation, the longer the temptation has power and authority in that person's life. When the person's focus is redirected toward more righteous, God-pleasing pursuits, though, the temptation is left powerless. Teach your child the art of redirecting focus, while acknowledging that it is only possible through the grace and power of the Holy Spirit. In so doing, your child will be fulfilling the entire verse, departing from evil while simultaneously seeking and pursuing peace.