Our series, “Train Up A Child”, has taken us through many of the principles of Christian parenting. And our last study was a consideration of habit formation. How habits are formed. And we used as example, one of the most prevalent and most powerful habits, and that is the habit of self-abuse, or masturbation. This particular presentation, entitled “A Way Of Escape”, is a vital sequel to that one that we just completed, “Caught in the Cords”. Brothers and sisters, habits can have a tyrannical, very oppressive, control over our lives. But there is power available to break the bonds, and to set us free. There IS “a way of escape”. And that we must consider. Not only for own sake, if we are in bondage to any habit patterns, but especially for the sake of our children. That we might help them break free, if they are in bondage. Lets ask the Lord to guide our minds in a special way tonight, shall we kneel?
My Father in Heaven, boldly I come into Your presence, because of Jesus Christ, because of the cleansing that His blood affords, and the righteousness, His righteousness that clothes us. We thank You that we are accepted in the Beloved, and we come again, before we open Your Word to ask for Your Spirit, to guide our minds, to quicken our spiritual faculties, that are so terribly damaged by sin. Give us supernatural power Father, to know the truth, to the point of freedom. We’re not content with just an intellectual accent TO truth. We want to EXPERIENCE the truth. The truth as it is in Jesus. We want to know it in the fullness of its power. Not only in our own lives, but we want to know it to the fullness of its power that we might help our children come to know it in the same manner. Oh Father I thank you that there is a way of escape from the tyranny of sin, self, and Satan. And I pray that You would help us to SEE it, to WALK in it, and to LEAD our children with us. This is our prayer in Jesus’ name. AMEN.
1 Cor 10:13, an excellent Scripture text to memorize. One that I would highly recommend that you learn yourself, if you do not know it already. And teach your children, just as soon as they can memorize scripture. 1 Cor 10:13, and it is from this text that we take our title “The way of escape”. “No temptation”, I like the all conclusiveness of that expression. “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to resist it.” “The way of escape”.
Masturbation, as well as many other habit patterns, can by tyrannical, in their controlling power of young lives. But brothers and sisters, fellow parents, there is a “way of escape”. How can we help our children to know this? What are we to do for them, if we discover that they have been “caught in the cords”, of this or really any other habit pattern?
I read from CG 458, and this is particularly in reference to the habit pattern of masturbation, “You may inquire, How can we remedy the evils which already exist? How shall we begin the work? If you lack wisdom, go to God; He has promised to give liberally. Pray much, and fervently, for divine aid. One rule cannot be followed in every case. The exercise of sanctified judgment is now needful. Be not hasty and agitated and approach your children with censure. Such a course would only cause rebellion in them. You should feel deeply over any wrong course you have taken, which may have opened a door for Satan to lead your children by his temptations. If you have not instructed them in regard to the violation of the laws of health, blame rests upon you. You have neglected important duty, which result may be seen in the wrong practices of your children.”
If we discover that our children are “caught in the cords” of masturbation, what should we do? #1 – Pray for wisdom, #2 – Develop, by sanctified judgment a method best suited for that particular child. Not one rule works for all. #3 – Be calm, controlled, and patient, manifesting an earnest desire to help rather than scold. #4 – Confess your own negligence to God and to your child. For if indeed the child has been “caught in the cords”, it’s because we have done SOMETHING to let him down, or failed to do something. #5 – Seek to redeem the situation through instruction and diligence. Loving personal attention to your child, until you are assured that he has found, AND TAKEN, “the way of escape”.
The first step in working with our children, is to seek to lead them to genuine repentance. Before we can ever experience true reformation, it must be proceeded by repentance. Repentance precedes reformation. Reading from CG 459 “With self-possession and feelings of the deepest sympathy and pity, you should approach your erring children and faithfully present to them the sure work of ruin upon their constitutions if they continue the course they have begun–that as they debilitate the physical and mental, so also the moral must feel the decay, and they are sinning, not only against themselves, but against God….. If you can so impress your children that they will exercise that repentance which is acceptable to God, that godly sorrow which worketh repentance unto salvation, NOT TO BE REPENTED OF, the work will be thorough, the reform certain.”
Oh parents, how important it is, that the reform certain. But before the reform can be certain, the repentance has to be genuine. It has to be a sorrow for sin, because it has been against Whom? Not only against self, the blood-bought self, but against God. There is a false repentance that needs to be repented of. And that is the sorrow for the consequence, not the cause, and the pain that it has caused God. We must help our children into a genuine repentance experience, by helping them to see that they have hurt God, by hurting themselves through their transgression.
After repentance, we must seek to lead them to a re-birth experience. We must help them, no matter how young they are. Know that they need to ask Jesus to give them a new heart. Complete with new motives, new tastes, and new tendencies. 6BC 1101 “The old nature, born of blood and the will of the flesh, cannot inherit the kingdom of God. The old ways, the hereditary tendencies, the former habits, must be given up; for GRACE IS NOT INHERITED. The new birth consists in having new motives, new tastes, new tendencies. Those who are begotten unto a new life by the Holy Spirit, have become partakers of the divine nature, and in all their habits and practices they will give evidence of their relationship to Christ.” “in all their” what? “their habits”, “they will give evidence”.
If we are to help our children out of a wrong habit pattern, we must help them come to experience re-birth. For only then can they begin to establish new habit patterns, on the basis of “new motives, new tastes,” and “new tendencies”. And especially on the basis of the supernatural indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. After re-birth however, after we have led our children, to ask sincerely that Jesus give them a new heart, we need to warn them that that does not mean that their troubles are all over. In fact that means that they now alone, have the power and the capacity to begin to fight.
Gal 5:16, help them understand this, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not” Have? “the lust of the flesh.” Is that what it says? “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not FULFILL the lust of the flesh.” Help the child recognize that now though they have new desires, new tendencies, new tastes, and Jesus’ power to fulfill them, they will still be aware of those old tendencies and old desires and old tastes. Because though they are no longer under the control of the sinful nature, that sinful nature still REMAINS. Though it doesn’t REIGN any longer, it still what? It still remains. Though it doesn’t PRESIDE, it still RESIDES. And we must warn them that they will have to constantly deal with these lusts. They will still HAVE them, even as born again Christians, but THEY NO LONGER HAVE TO FULFILL THEM. They can refuse to submit to them.
2 Cor 5:17 “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature [creation]: old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new.” After quoting that text, Ellen White goes on to comment in — AA 476 “But because this experience (conversion) is his, the Christian is not therefore to fold his hands, content with that which had been accomplished FOR him. He who has determined to enter the spiritual kingdom will find that all the powers and passions of unregenerate nature, backed by the forces of the kingdom of darkness, ARE ARRAYED AGAINST HIM. EACH DAY he must renew his consecration, EACH DAY do battle with evil. Old habits, hereditary tendencies to wrong, will strive for the mastery, and against these he is to be EVER on guard, striving in CHRIST’S STRENGTH for victory.” Oh how important to help our children recognize this.
When they are born again, when they receive a new heart. That does not mean that they no longer have that old nature. And that does not mean that they will no longer be plagued with its desires. But that does mean that they now have supernatural power to refuse to INDULGE those desires. It will be a fight dear child. It will be a struggle. But Jesus can bring you off MORE than conqueror. Trust Him, keep looking to Him. What is it that will “strive for the mastery”? Did you note that? “Old habits and hereditary tendencies”. And brothers and sisters, the intensity of the struggle that lies before our children, after true repentance, and re-birth. The intensity of the struggle is directly determined by the strength of the old habits and the inherited tendencies.
The stronger the habits before re-birth, the stronger the inherited tendencies that we have passed on, the more difficult the struggle. That’s why many of us have a very marked difference in our struggle in our Christian experience. Some have been very advantaged by the possible inheritance, and by careful training. Parents who have protected them from getting into wrong habit patterns. At the point of conversion, they are tremendously advantaged. Others are tremendously disadvantaged because of poor inheritance and because of carelessness on the part of the parents. They’ve been allowed to develop habit patterns that have been terribly powerful. And after conversion they are going to have a MUCH greater struggle. But assure them, NO MATTER HOW POWERFUL the habit patterns, NO MATTER HOW STRONG the inherited tendencies, there is NO cultivated or inherited tendencies to evil, that Gods grace cannot enable them to overcome. None whatsoever. “HIS GRACE IS SUFFICIENT” (2 COR 12:9)
Let them know however, that without Jesus’ constantly helping them in this struggle, constantly helping them, they will not be able to keep the old man under, off the throne, of their lives. Try to be as graphic as possible, let them see a picture of their mind with the throne, the control center. Let them picture Jesus coming and sitting there and pushing that ‘old man’ off. And tell them that He’ll stay there as long as they keep choosing Him to. But tell them, warn them that that ‘old man’ is going to constantly try to sneak up and get on the throne again, and it’s going to be hard to “keep the body under”, as Paul says (1 Cor 9:27). But with Jesus’ help, they can do it. Without Jesus’ help they can’t. John 15:5 “without Me you can do NOTHING.” But with Him, we can do “ALL things”, we can be “more than conquerors”. (Rom 8:37)
2T 409 “The only safety for the youth in this age of pollution is to make God their trust. WITHOUT divine help they will be UNABLE to control human passions and appetites. In Christ is the very help needed, but how few will come to Him for that help. Said Jesus when upon the earth: “Ye will NOT come to Me, that ye might have life. (John 5:40) IN CHRIST ALL CAN CONQUER. Oh I love that statement. “IN CHRIST ALL CAN CONQUER”. “You can say with the apostle: ‘ Nay, in all things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.’ (Rom 8:37) Again: “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.” (1Cor 9:27)
Help them understand that when they have asked Jesus to come into their lives, they have the privilege of counting themselves “a new creation” (2 Cor 5:17). They have the privilege of reckoning themselves dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God, in Christ Jesus.” (Rom 6:11). Put in as simple terms as possible the concept of Romans 6, verse 12. Rom 6:12, here’s our throne again, and the throne room. “Therefore do not let sin REIGH in your mortal body, that you should OBEY it in its lusts.” Ask them, when is it that sin reigns? When it is obeyed in its lusts. When we say YES to its wrong desires. Then its reigning. You mustn’t let it reign. It will REMAIN and it will try to get you to obey its desires, but you don’t have to obey. You can refuse to obey. “Therefore do not let sin reign”.
On what basis can we keep sin from reigning? Point out to them, the beautiful truth, that when they accept Jesus Christ, they have the privilege of counting themselves “dead to sin, but alive unto God in Him”, that’s verse 11 (Rom 6). “Reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God IN Christ Jesus.” “IN CHRIST JESUS”. And help them recognize that since they are dead to sin, and alive to God in Christ Jesus, since the ‘old man’ is dead, and now they are a “new creation” (2 Cor 5:17) they need to change their way of living, ENTIRELY. They are NEW PEOPLE. And that includes changing the way they feed their mind. There has to be a marked change in their mental dietary. They need to make sure that they don’t feed the ‘old man’ anymore. After all he’s dead. Does it make sense to feed a DEAD man? No it doesn’t. But we do need to be careful to feed the “new man”. Emphasize the importance of not looking at all of those kinds of things that made them want to practice their habit. And sit down with them and try to discover, in very practical terms, what those are. And then challenge themselves not to feed themselves that. Tell them Jesus wants their hearts and their eyes, to be obsessed by His love and His loveliness.
Prov 23:26, is a beautiful text in this regard. Prov 23:26 “My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe My ways”. When we have given our heart to Jesus, He wants our eyes too. And why is it so important for Him to have our eyes too? Because it is in “beholding that we are changed” (2 Cor 3:18). Help them and challenge them to see the fallacy of what is often said, ‘ there is nothing wrong with looking’. Nothing wrong with looking. Help them to understand that there is everything wrong with looking. Because in looking we are beholding, and we are determining our thought patterns. And “as a man thinketh in his heart”, what? “so is he” (Prov 23:7). “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he”.
Job 31 is a good example for them to be challenged to follow. Job 31:1 “I have made a covenant with my eyes”, “I have made a COVENANT with my EYES”, Why then should I look upon a young woman?” Now in the margin of the NKJ, that “look upon” is more accurately transcribed, “look intently or gaze”. And what’s implied here is a sensual lingering upon. “I have made a covenant with my eyes, why then should I LOOK upon a young woman?” Help them recognize that there is more than one way to look upon a young woman. Now I am speaking particularly if it’s a male child involved with a habit of masturbation, but the principle applies of course with the girls too. And by the way, we didn’t mention that I don’t think, but girls are almost as frequently involved in this habit pattern as boys are. Help them to see that there is more than one way to look upon a woman. It can be done actually in the flesh in reality. However it can be done on television too can’t it. And in the movies, and in the magazines, and in the newspaper ads, and in the catalogs, and on the billboards. Help them recognize that they need to make a covenant with their eyes. Because what they look upon, the Devil will use as sensory stimulus to stir up those wrong tendencies, inherited and cultivated. And it will be extremely difficult for them to resist those desires, if they allow them to be stirred up by what they look at.
Help them to see why it is so important to make a covenant with their eyes. Verse 7 (of Job 31) brings that out very clearly, “If my step has turned from the way, or my heart walked after my eyes.” Do you see why ‘there’s nothing wrong with looking’ is sheer fallacy? What is the psychological principle? “Our heart walks after our” what? “our eyes”. That’s simply the way we’re made, psychologically. What we look upon is what captivates our thought life. “And as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he”. (Prov 23:7) You look lustfully and you make yourself lustful, in your thought processes. Verse 9 “If my heart has been enticed by a woman”, verse 11, “for that would be wickedness; yes it would be iniquity worthy of judgment.”
Help them perhaps at this point to consider Jesus’ words in Matt 5:28-29 “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in” where? “in his heart”. “In his heart”. And then what does He go on to say? “And if your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell”. Challenge them to make this decision with David. Psalm 101:3 “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes.” “I will set” what? “nothing wicked before my eyes.” Verse 4 “A perverse heart shall depart from me, I will not know wickedness.”
Do you see the cause/effect relationship there? In beholding we are changed, because what we behold programs how we think, and “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” (Prov 23:7) If we determine to “set nothing wicked before our eyes”, what will happen? “A perverse heart shall depart from us”. “I will not know wickedness”. That only stands to reason by this psychological principle. Challenge them, on the basis of this understanding, to determine as in Psalm 119:37, to “turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way.” They must ask Jesus to help them do that, because they don’t have the strength in themselves to do so. “Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way”.
Not only their “eyes” are involved here, but “all” the avenues of their soul. ALL the senses, in other words, must be carefully guarded, against sensual sensory input, that the Devil will constantly try to stimulate them with, into indulging old habit patterns. 3T 507 “All should guard the senses, lest Satan gain victory over them, for these are the avenues to the soul”. Sit down with them and try to consider how they should “guard the avenues to their souls”. What they should refuse to allow to come in. Is it what they’re reading? Is it perhaps the magazines they’re looking at? Is television involved? And I would suggest that if they’re watching television it most definitely is involved. What about the music they’re listening to? They’re ears are involved to, that’s an avenue of the soul. Does that need to be changed, their listening habits.
2T 410 “Avoid reading and seeing things that will suggest impure thoughts.” Challenge them to do so, to “avoid reading and seeing things that will suggest impure thoughts”. Help them understand how important it is to control the imagination as well. Because it is here that Satan throws up carnal images, and gets the temptation process going. By which we are “drawn away and enticed” into old habit patterns. CG 465 “The imagination must be POSITIVELY and PERSISTENTLY controlled if the passions and affections are made subject to reason, conscience, and character…” If they are to be “made subject to reason, conscience, and character”, what must happen? “The imagination must be positively and persistently controlled”.
I read on CG 465 “Unless you restrain your thoughts, your reading, and your words, your imagination will become hopelessly diseased. Read your Bible attentively, prayerfully, and be guided by its teachings. This is your safety.” “Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11) Challenge them, not only to CLOSE the avenues of their soul to those things that sensual input that Satan seeks to use to stir up their ‘old man’. Challenge them as well to open the avenues of their souls to Whom? To Jesus Christ. To His Word, and to fill their minds with spiritual food. “Starve the carnal man, but feed the spiritual man”.
Emphasize as well the importance of “bringing the thoughts into captivity to the obedience of Christ”. 2 Cor 10:5, a vitally important concept for gaining victory over temptation. Brothers and sisters, we must help our children recognize that victory over temptation, or defeat is gained, NOT at the level of BEHAVIOR, but at the level of what? T-H-O-U-G-H-T-S. That is SO IMPORTANT to help them recognize. If they are going to get victory over temptation it must be done so up here in the private recesses of their minds. 2 Cor 10:5, what does it say? “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”. That is the KEY to consistent victory over temptation. “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”.
ML 269 (a morning watch book) “thoughts and feelings indulged, prepare the way for acts and deeds of the same kind”. Do you see where we lose in our battle against temptation? Is it out here at the level of behavior, the deeds and the acts? No. It’s here at the level of our thought life. “thoughts and feelings indulged prepare the way for acts and deeds of the same kind”. If they are going to get the victory over the HABIT patterns, they’ve got to get the victory over the THOUGHT patterns. They’ve got to learn to “bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”. Challenge them to that.
Why is it, that the “thoughts and feelings indulged prepare the way for acts and deeds of the same kind”? Because ALL of our “acts and deeds” find their origin in the mind. But the important thing to recognize is that when we carry them out, the very process of so doing, RE-INFORCES the thoughts that initiated them. And this is how habit patterns are developed. We THINK it, we DO it. We think it all the more, because we’ve done it, we do it all the more, because we think it all the more, and you see what happens? We get into vicious cycles, called habits.
Reading from MH 491. “Even the thoughts are not to be allowed to run riot. They must be restrained, brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. Let them be placed upon holy things.” That’s how we bring them into captivity. “Then, through the grace of Christ, they will be pure and true. We need a constant sense of the ennobling power of pure thoughts. THE ONLY SECURITY FOR ANY SOUL IS RIGHT THINKING.” I want to repeat that. “The only security for ANY soul is” what? “RIGHT THINKING. ‘As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he’. Prov 23:7. The power of self-restraint strengthens by exercise. That which at first seems difficult, by constant repetition grows easy.” Praise God for that assurance. “until right thoughts and actions become HABITUAL”. “RIGHT THOUGHTS AND ACTIONS BECOME HABITUAL”. “If we will we may turn away from all that is cheap and inferior, and rise to a high standard; we may be respected by men and beloved by God.”
Help them recognize that if they bring their “thoughts into captivity to the obedience of Christ”, if they “think on holy things”, they can not only overcome the old habit patterns, but they can make NEW ones. Warn them that it will be difficult at first, but as they continue to plead with Jesus for the power to do it, He will enable them to. And every time they manage to get the victory, it’ll be a little easier to get it next time. Challenge them with that. Help them recognize though, that just as in the garden, it’s harder to grow good things than bad. Does it take the sweat of your brow to grow weeds? No. But it surely does take the sweat of your brow to grow good plants. And so it is in the little gardens of their minds. Help them to understand these things, using as tangible and as understandable illustrations as possible. I know we’re rushing through many principles here, but let the Holy Spirit bring these principles into very lucid and understandable illustrations that you can communicate to your children.
Parents, it is so important as well if we are to help our children out of habit patterns, to help them understand the right place of the WILL. I cannot over-emphasize this. We must help them understand the right place of the will. And we must help them see that it is by the will that they can repulse or refuse to indulge those old desires, and it’s by their will that they can choose to train their mind, their thoughts upon Jesus.
ED 289 “Every child should understand the true force of the will. He should be led to see how great is the responsibility involved in this gift. The WILL is the governing power in the nature of man, the power of decision, or choice. Every human being possessed of reason has power to choose the right. In EVERY EXPERIENCE OF LIFE, God’s word to us is, ‘Choose you this day whom ye will serve’ Joshua 24:15. Everyone may place his will on the side of the will of God, may choose to obey Him, and by thus linking himself with divine agencies, HE MAY STAND WHERE NOTHING CAN FORCE HIM TO DO EVIL.” Oh that’s a thrilling thought, and I submit that if we present it rightly, we can thrill our children’s hearts with that possibility. They can stand, when they give their will to God, “where NOTHING can force them to do evil”. Challenge them to do that.
Reading on (ED 289) “In every youth, every child, lies the power, by the help of God, to form a character of integrity and to live a life of usefulness.” The place of the will, so vital that our children understand. R&H Oct 9, 1894 “The FIRST step in the path of obedience is to surrender the will to God.” What is the “first step”? “to surrender the will to God”. We have the will, He ALONE has the power. It’s only when we surrender our will to Him, that He can give us, WILL-POWER.
MH 130 “Apart from divine power, NO genuine reform can be effected. Human barriers against natural and cultivated tendencies are but as the sandbank against the torrent.” Now there’s an illustration that they can understand. “Human barriers against natural and cultivated tendencies are but as the sandbank against the torrent. Not until the life of Christ becomes a vitalizing power in our lives can we resist the temptations that assail us from within and from without.” We have the will, but when it is not given to Christ, it’s POWERLESS to “resist the temptations that assail us from within and from without”. It’s only as we give that will to Jesus Christ, that it has power.
Build on that illustration. “Human barriers…….are but as the sandbank against the torrent.” My children and I like to go down to the shore at Lake Michigan, we don’t live that far. And they love to play in the sandcastles that I like to build for them and I remember one particular time, I built them a particularly impressive sandcastle. No ordinary sandcastle. But a breeze was coming up or a boat was going by, I forget just what the cause was, but the waves were coming in, and I immediately knew that we were in trouble. Because of course to build a sandcastle you’ve got to get right next to the water, that’s the only place that the sand will pack. And what did daddy do? To try to save the sandcastle, I got out there and I built “the sandbank against the torrent”. Great big thick sandbank, got my knees all rubbed red and raw, trying to do it as quickly as possible. And I stood back and thinking that I had succeeded in saving the castle. Had I? I forgot to count the waves, but it wasn’t very many. The first one took a very significant bite out of my barrier, the next one, and in short order you couldn’t even tell that I had a sandcastle there, or a barrier there. It started to eat away at the sandcastle, much to my little boys dismay.
“Human barriers against natural and cultivated tendencies are but as the sandbank against the torrent.” But does it end there? “Not until the life of Christ becomes a vitalizing power in our lives can we resist the temptations that assail us from within and from without”. Let’s go back to the beach. What if daddy had a vitalizing power called cement. What happens when you mix cement and sand together? What do you get? Concrete. That’s what they make those jetties out of. That’s what the massive waves come in and pound upon and are broken into a million droplets. Concrete. Help them to see that all they have is sand, but if they will give their sand to Jesus, He’ll give them His cement and they’ll have concrete. They’ll have concrete. And they can resist those temptations that come flooding in, pouring in upon them, they CAN, with Jesus’ help.
Help them to recognize just how the will is involved, as well. James 1, Oh I wish we had more time. James 1, turn with me there, here is a marvelous insight into the temptation process. Verse 14 “each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and” what? “and enticed”. Drawn away and enticed by HIS OWN LUST. Ok. Verse 15 “Then, when desire has conceived” or when lust has conceived, “it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” We must help our children to understand the temptation process. Is it a sin to be tempted? No it is not. When does temptation become sin. Is it a sin when we are being drawn away and enticed by our own lusts? No, that’s temptation. When does it turn into sin though? When lust has conceived. And what is the spiritual equivalent to conception in this analogy? What is the spiritual equivalent to conception? It is THE CONSENT OF THE WILL. The MOMENT the will says YES to those lusts, temptation ceases to be temptation and it is now SIN.
Is this not what Jesus says? You say if you commit adultery, if you actually carry it out, give birth to that deed, you’re guilty, “but I say to you that whoever LOOKS at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart”. (Matt 5:28). If your will has said yes, to those temptations, you have done it in the eyes of God, who looks upon the heart, and is not deceived by external behavior. Help our children recognize that. If they are to gain the victory, they must do so at the thought level by a spirit energized will that refuses to consent to the desires. That’s victory. That’s victory.
I read from ST Dec 18, 1893 “It is not in the power of Satan to force anyone to sin. Sin is the sinner’s individual act. Before sin exists in the heart” Listen. “Before sin exists” WHERE? “in the heart, the consent of the will must be given, and as soon as it is given, sin is triumphant, and hell rejoices.” As soon as it’s done? No. “As soon as the consent of the will is given”, as soon as it is conceived, “sin is triumphant, and hell rejoices.” Reading on, “But there is no excuse for sin, either great or little. Christ has been provided as the tempted one’s refuge.” And what is His promise? “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man, but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Cor 10:13). And He provides that way of escape by spiritually energizing our will, when and if we have given it to Him. That’s “the way of escape”. Put these in terms that your child can understand. And you will equip him, brothers and sisters, fellow parents, with the power of the Gospel, which is unto salvation.
5T 177 “An impure thought TOLERATED, an unholy desire CHERISHED, and the soul is CONTAMINATED, its integrity compromised. ‘Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.’ (James 1:15) If we would not commit sin, we must shun its very beginnings. Every emotion and desire must be held in subjection to reason and conscience. EVERY unholy thought must be INSTANTLY REPELLED.” How? Instantly. Oh that’s so important. Warn your child against toying with, and contemplating temptation. If they turn it over and mull it over in their minds, they are invariably going to yield. But if the first moment they’re aware that they’re being drawn away and enticed, they repel it, in Christ’s strength, it will not be a problem for them. “His grace is sufficient”, and it “is made perfect in weakness”. (2 Cor 12:9).
COL 333, here’s one they can memorize, here’s one that we can memorize too. “As the will of man” I love this, oh this thrills my soul. “As the WILL of man co-operates with the WILL of God, it becomes OMNIPOTENT. Whatever is to be done at HIS command, may be accomplished in HIS strength. ALL HIS BIDDINGS ARE ENABLINGS.” Can you say amen to that? That should just thrill your soul brothers and sisters, “though without Him, we can do nothing, with Him we can do all things”. All the things that He asks us to do, with His enabling grace we can do. “All His biddings are enablings”. “AS THE WILL OF MAN CO-OPERATES WITH THE WILL OF GOD, IT BECOMES OMNIPOTENT”. When we give Him our sand, and we get His cement, we’ve got CONCRETE. If we give Him our will, He’ll give us His power and it is OMNIPOTENT power. Limitless. Limitless.
Help them realize that God is always with them as well. This is another important concept for them to grasp. That they are always in His presence, and that He knows, not only everything that they do, but everything that they think. He looks upon the heart. Heb 4:13 “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” Challenge them with the fact that they are always in the presence of God, and He is always looking upon them.
CG 454 “Would you, in the presence of your father, perform an impure action? No, indeed. But you do this in the presence of your heavenly Father, who is so much more exalted, so holy, so pure. Yes; you corrupt your own body in the presence of the pure, sinless angels and in the presence of Christ; and you continue to do this irrespective of conscience…..Remember, a record is made of all your acts. You must meet again the most secret things of your life…” If we can help them recognize that there is nothing that they can do that God doesn’t know fully, that they are ALWAYS in His presence, and His eye is always upon them, I submit that it will challenge them as little else can do to walk in the way of the Lord, and to overcome temptation.
ED 255 “As a shield from temptation and as inspiration to purity and truth, NO OTHER INFLUENCE can equal the sense of God’s presence.” Give them that ultimately powerful influence. What is it? “As a shield from temptation and as inspiration to purity and truth, NO OTHER INFLUENCE can equal the sense of God’s presence.” Maybe help them consider how that’s been done through scripture and the experience of men like Joseph for instance. Help them know, encourage them that at first, though it’s hard, with Jesus’ help, they can make new habit patterns, that will become more and more natural to them.
MH 491 “The power of self-restraint strengthens by exercise. That which at first seems difficult, by constant repetition grows easy, until right thoughts and actions become habitual.” There’s nothing that succeeds like success as well. YI June 26, 1902 “every resistance of temptation makes resistance more easy. Every denial of self makes self-denial easier. Every victory gained prepares the way for a fresh victory”. Help them get a few victories by close supervision. Let them experience the joy and thrill of conquering themselves, with Jesus’ help, and you have put them on the way to gaining consistent victory.
There are some very practical measures as well, parents. Particularly in this area of masturbation, but these principles apply to other areas as well. Dietary. Oh parents, help your children by watching very closely their diet. Avoid anything that is stimulating, for there is a direct relationship between the stomach and the brain. And that which irritates the stomach, irritates the brain. Avoid meat and avoid eggs. If you have children with the habit of masturbation, especially avoid eggs. Meat and eggs ought to be off the dietary anyway, for other reasons.
Secondly, keep them busy, another practical measure, keep them busy, keep them occupied, “idle hands are, the devils workshop”. I read from 2T 349 “Idleness leads to the indulgence of corrupt habits. Industry does not weary and exhaust one-fifth part as much as the pernicious habit of self-abuse. If simple, well-regulated labor exhausts your children, be assured, parents, there is something, aside from their labor, which is enervating their systems and producing a sense of constant weariness. Give your children physical labor, which will call into exercise the nerves and muscles. The weariness attending such labor will lessen their inclination to indulge in vicious habits. Idleness is a curse. It produces licentious habits.” Keep them busy, keep them physically active.
Practical measure #3, Clothing. Watch their clothing. Have it neat, have it clean, and have it non-irritating, and non-binding. You can read that in CG 461, 462. Another measure, Personal hygiene. Frequent bathing. This is particularly helpful in improving the circulation and soothing the nerves and keeping the child from his tendency to indulge self. Again, CG 461. Another practical measure parents, is judiciously guard their association. Watch over them, challenge them to make Jesus their BEST friend, and their CONSTANT companion. And assure them that as they follow Him, He will lead them through “the way of escape”. They may be “caught in the cords,” but if they follow Jesus, they will not only escape their habits patterns, but they will be able to follow Him through the gates into THE City. And though they may suffer, though it may be a struggle, assure them that the effort “is not worthy to be compared with the glory” that they are to experience as they follow Jesus. Shall we bow our heads?
Father God, forgive us for any negligence on our parts as parents, that might have caused our children to be “caught up” in vicious wrong habit patterns. Give us now the special grace to help them out of those habit patterns. Help us to apply these principles to our own lives, to experience them personally, that we might share them meaningfully with our children. And that we might help them find “the way of escape”. Lead us that we might lead our children, out of bondage to sin, and into the glorious freedom of obedience. This is our prayer in Jesus’ name. AMEN.