Prepare Your Children to Battle Temptation (Proverbs 6:20-21)
My son, keep your father's commandment, and forsake not your mother's teaching. ²¹Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. —Proverbs 6:20-21
When our girls were little, we found it helpful to take time to provide positive instruction through fun interactions. You may be familiar with the game “Red Light, Green Light.” We called it “Stop & Go.” I lined up the girls against a wall, and when I said “Go!” they would walk to me as fast as they could – without running, of course – until I said, “Stop!” If a child failed to listen and didn’t stop when told, she would have to return to the wall. While we had fun, the point of the game was to train them to listen and obey immediately.
Much of Proverbs is about Solomon preparing his sons to pursue wisdom so that they may walk on the path that leads to life. One important aspect of wisdom is being prepared beforehand so that our children and we may be ready to battle temptation in faith. That’s exactly what’s happening in Proverbs 6:20-35. Specifically, Solomon is preparing his sons to war against the temptation of adultery before they face it. The way Solomon prepares his sons teaches us how to prepare our children to battle temptation, regardless of the sin.
The Content of Positive Preparatory Instruction
In verse 20, we learn that Solomon had previously prepared his sons to fight temptation with God’s Word. The content is referred to as “your father’s commandment” and “your mother’s teaching.” But what Solomon taught his sons was God’s Word. The purpose of Proverbs is “to know wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:2) so that you may walk on the path that leads to life. As we prepare our children to face temptation, we must root them in the knowledge of God from His Word. When Jesus faced Satan in the wilderness, He cited passages from Deuteronomy that He had previously memorized (Matthew 4:1-11). While we are to put on the whole armor of God in preparation to wrestle against the devil and his schemes, the one offensive weapon in our arsenal is Scripture. It is the “sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17).
The Manner of Positive Preparatory Instruction
There is no singular way to provide positive preparatory instruction from God’s Word. In Proverbs 6:20-21, Solomon uses an appeal to prior instruction. He pleads with his sons to “keep” the commandments (positively appeal) and not “forsake” their mother’s teaching (negative appeal). To drive the point home, Solomon provides a poignant picture in verse 21 – “Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck.” The heart represents the center of our thinking, out of which our actions flow. How does one “bind” Scripture on the heart? Scripture memory.
Putting it All Together
Solomon powerfully pictures the role Scripture memory plays in the fight of faith against sin and temptation. As parents, we are to prepare our children to battle sin and temptation by helping them hide God’s Word in their hearts. As they grow, we are to remind them, even appealing to them to remember what we’ve taught them. They are to carry around God’s Word (memorized) like a necklace so that they may recall what we’ve taught them and endure in faith when temptation comes.
When our second daughter was about four years old, we were on a family outing when we saw her running toward a parking lot. At that exact moment, a car was speeding toward her. I was too far from her to catch her, so I yelled, “STOP!” By God’s grace, the little training we did in our “Stop & Go” game paid off. She heard my voice and obeyed. It saved her life.
As we think about our children and all the temptations they will face in this world, remember, helping them memorize Scripture now will prepare them to fight temptation and sin later. May God use it to save their lives.
What are some (fun) ways to prepare your children to listen to your voice and obey immediately?
What are you presently doing to help your children memorize Scripture? What can you be doing?
Ask God to give you the endurance to be faithful, diligent, and consistent in preparing your children to battle against sin and temptation.
Juan Sanchez (Ph.D., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) serves as senior pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church. He is the author of numerous books, his most recent being The Leadership Formula: Develop the Next Generation of Leaders in the Church. Juan has been married to Jeanine since 1990, and they have five adult daughters.