What to do When Your Child is in Sin? A Controversial Approach


Robbie keeps returning to the same misbehavior over and over as a child. Without any discipline, he learns that he can get out of whatever he does wrong without any consequence. As he becomes a teenager, he begins to delve into sinful habits of stealing. At every turn, he will steal from his friends, then he graduates to small stores, and then finally, he goes bigger as he breaks into homes taking large items. He finds that he’s successful until one day; he steals from the wrong home. The cops swarm his house, handcuff him and take him in. His parents are horrified. Instead of facing the consequences, they look for a way out for Robbie; they hire a lawyer who gets Robbie off the hook. His parents figure, “It’s his first offense. Surely he won’t do it again.” But with no real consequence Robbie learns he can continue to return his sin and never pay the cost for it. His parents pacify him, excuse his behavior. The horror of him sitting in jail was too much for his mother. She couldn’t bear it, so she and her husband did all they could to avoid this very important lesson in life,  discipline is good for it produces holiness in us.

If parents make light of the consequences of their children’s sin, they are also making light of the grace of God that can save them.

One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is to let them suffer the consequences of their actions. What our kids discover in this discipline is dryness, desolation and waterless places. This may seem horrible to a parent, but the reality is it’s a good place for our kids to be when they are trapped in sin. For it is in these places our children will find humility and true repentance. It’s here that God can reach down and pull them out of their pit. He can take them from this posture of brokenness and give them a new life with a new purpose.

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As parents we may think that pulling our children out of their consequences is doing the right thing by them, but the truth of the matter is this: every time we rescue our kids out of their consequence we hinder them from coming to Jesus. Without realizing it, we teach them to depend on themselves and not on God and His truth. We teach them that their humanness is enough. And sadly, they find themselves in deeper pits as a result. When we enable them, we actually dig their pit for them.

God, Himself, disciplines those whom He loves. He doesn’t do this to harm us, He does this to help us. Hebrews 12:6-13 tells us, “For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child. As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children…God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.”

God disciplines because He loves us. As parents we must discipline our children because we love them. Our discipline protects them from worse dangers; it teaches them to look up not within. Most parents want what is best for their kids, but some don’t realize that giving them the best requires some hard decisions. It’s not easy to let our kids suffer or to choose not to rescue them from their consequences. When we just look at the temporary we are not developing their future. We must look ahead for our kids for they surely are not doing so while they are in their state of sin.

As parents we can find our next steps in Hebrews 12:12-13, “So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.”

These two verses are very much to the parent when dealing with a child that’s continually in sin. The Lord is calling you to do three things while your child suffers their consequences:

1.) Take a new grip. In other words, we must take a new approach to our child.We must discipline them or allow them to go through the hard time of paying for their mistakes; but while doing this, we love them. We give them hope by showing them the fruit that can come from this difficult time of suffering. We ask them the question, “What have you learned from this?” If they have learned nothing, we tell them what they could learn.

2.) Strengthen your weak knees. When we think we cannot bear to see our child suffer the consequences, we find our strength in the Lord. We draw upon His purpose for our child. As David says in Psalm 63:2, “Gaze on God in the sanctuary and see His strength and His glory.” This requires a great deal of prayer on our part. We must pray for our resolve to be in His plan, and pray for our child’s heart to come to a place of humility and repentance. And if our child doesn’t know Christ as their Savior, then we must pray for their hearts to be drawn to the Lord for it. Brokenness is the best place to discover our need for Jesus. Let us not rob this experience from our child by rescuing them from their penalty.

3.) Mark out a straight path for your feet. When we decide that we are going to do what is best for our child then we will strengthen the weak and the lame in our child. We will actually help them become strong enough go through the suffering and help them see a new path to follow when the time of sentencing is over.

Loving our children in the way they need our love is not always easy. It’s hard, but if we love them the way God loves us, we have the potential to see great fruit in them. One of my main goals as a mom was to raise children who loved and honored God and who were blessings to the society they lived among. To accomplish this, I needed the Lord to direct my paths and I needed some tough skin to make the hard decisions in my kid’s lives. I learned to not become weary with doing what is right; I believed that in the end I would produce a harvest of glory if I didn’t give up!

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