The following article was written for our monthly PSP newsletter. With permission from our principal, we are sharing this with you; praying you are as blessed by the heart of his message as we were. Enjoy!
Have you ever had one of those days where everything seems to go ballistic? You know the kind… the kids are constantly fighting, everything you say is taken in the worst possible way, getting the basics done, even those things they normally like doing, is like pulling teeth, and then the other stuff starts: the car won’t start, family and friends alike seem to be deliberately seeking to annoy you, dinner burns, the dishwasher overflows all over the kitchen… you know the day – the day from Hell! We all have had them, and for the record, there are more to come.
It is actually very easy on a day like that, provided you take even a moment to step back and look at it altogether, to realize that the battle is on. For some reason, there are the general trials and struggles of daily living, and then there are those days when, for whatever reason, you have been ambushed by a nefarious enemy who knows how to push your buttons, and seemingly has pushed every last one of them. It’s called spiritual warfare. The Bible is not silent on this issue (thankfully), and gives us great encouragement as we receive our marching orders.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
~ Ephesian 6:11-13
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”
~ II Corinthians 10:4-5
These passages remind us that our weaponry and armor is from God, that our adversary is spiritual in nature, that our enemy is cunning, and that we can be victorious. While we are able to recognize the warfare that we engage in as such, our children, at least initially, are not. It is our duty, as good soldiers, to train the next generation of soldiers for war.
“There is no neutrality in spiritual warfare. Either one is an active combatant or an unwitting pawn.”
In Matthew 12:30 Jesus told His disciples, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.” He quite clearly stated that everyone is either in one camp or the other. While outright combat is pretty easy to recognize (most people recognize getting punched in the face as an attack), there are a few things that fall into the warfare category that we would do well to consider, and prayerfully train our children properly regarding such tactics: not only how to recognize them, but also how to avoid using them on others.
Assassins: These are people that come into our lives, either long-term (family, coworkers, etc.) or for short period of time. They differ from those obvious fires that approach with guns blazing to storm our fortress in that their attacks are subtle. Their weapon of choice is usually poison, either coming with false doctrine and robbing us of the joy that our relationship with God should bring, or poisoning our hearts with discontent, gossip, slander of others, or the introduction of compromise. We should realize that this type of agent is not necessarily a deliberate assassin. It is quite possible that they can be a friend, who genuinely loves us, and does not realize that the enemy is using them to drive a dagger straight to our hearts. Teaching our children to analyze the influence that others have on them is difficult because it requires a great deal of self-evaluation along the way. Nevertheless, assassins abound, both intentional and clueless varieties.
Friendly Fire: These are the wounds we receive from our own side. In this category would be sibling rivalry (when all parties involved are believers), comments said without thinking that wound our hearts, and the myriad actions prompted by our own carnality and not-yet-dead sinful natures. Even on our worst days, we don’t wake up devising ways to hurt our family and friends (that would make us an assassin), but a believer can still accidentally discharge a loaded spiritual gun. In those times when we do so, we are usually aghast when we realize what has happened.
It is not always comfortable to ask ourselves the question, “Whose tool am I being used as right now?” but that is exactly how we must teach ourselves (and then our children) to think if we are going to avoid injuring our own backup in the fight. If we are not actively trying to promote peace and unity, it becomes very easy to become an agent of division.
Another point to consider is that this type of attack is rendered completely ineffective if we practice what we are taught in Scripture regarding forgiveness, praying for one another, and loving confrontation when necessary. Parental discipline may still be required for little Johnny when he gives in to the flesh, but siblings can choose to forgive rather than hold a grudge and seek an opportune moment to return the favor with a well-placed volley of return fire.
Double Agents: “Whose side are you on anyway?” This category is for those so given in to their own carnality that it is not easy to tell where they stand. They say they love God and want to serve Him, but their behavior swings back and forth to such a degree that it becomes easy to question their motives and feelings. They differ from those engaged in friendly fire in that there is less remorse, or even none, when confronted with their own deeds. Are they saved but really carnal, or worldly and presenting a facade (perhaps they have even deceived themselves)?
In any event, we don’t want to leave that question in the minds of others regarding our own conduct, nor do we wish for our children to be used as tools in the hand of our adversary. Teaching them the importance of self-evaluation, through the lens of God’s Word, is an important part of their own combat training as we bring them through boot camp in preparation for deployment wherever their Commanding Officer may send them.
It is our hope as parents, teachers, and solders in the army of the Lord Jesus Christ to raise up a generation of champions for the Kingdom of God. To effectively do so, we need to teach our children to not only recognize the tactic, tools, and wiles of the enemy, but also to avoid becoming his unwitting pawn against their own fellow soldiers. “Who am I a tool in the hand of right now?” is a question we all need to learn to ask ourselves more often.
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