As parents, we educate our children to ensure that, once on their own, they can provide for themselves and prosper. But there is more to this life than choosing the right school, finding the right job, or climbing the corporate ladder. Whether or not we want to admit it, we are surrounded by spiritual battles, both inward and outward. We must prepare our sons for battle as we prepare them for every other aspect of life. Here are six ways to equip your son to fight spiritual battles.
1. Help him understand scripture.
I’ve always told my sons that while memorizing scripture is important, understanding scripture is even more important. Your son must understand that Ephesians 6:13-18 is not just a story they learned as children while dressing up in a plastic suit of armor. The Lord instructed us to “Take up the whole armor of God that we may be able to withstand in the evil day.”
If your son was serving his country and fighting in battle, he would be dressed accordingly. He would be garbed in camo and carry a firearm. Don’t send your son out into the world to fight spiritual battles without the proper attire. Your son should understand what it means to fasten on the belt of truth, to put on the breastplate of righteousness, to walk in the readiness given by the gospel of peace. He should carry the shield of faith, which can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one. He must take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
2. Let your son know he is covered in prayer.
Ephesians 6 tells us to put on the full armor of God, but the instructions end with these words, “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.”
1 Thess. 5:17 tells us to pray without ceasing. Remind your son to pray in all circumstances, that you will pray for him and with him and that Hebrews 7:25 reminds us all that “Jesus always lives to make intercession for us.” Is there any better encouragement for your son than in knowing Jesus himself prays for him?
3. Remind your son that he can learn from history.
George Washington knew he lacked experience in his new role as the general of the Continental Army, so he bought every military science and history book he could find and self-taught himself in the art of warfare. This is a great example for our sons to follow. Encourage your son to read books or watch documentaries on the men and women who have valiantly fought and won the spiritual battles that shaped the world we live in today. Learning from others will not only give your son encouragement, but it will also teach him character traits, Godly attributes, and battle tactics.
4. Instill in him the proper motivation.
Your son should be grounded in proper doctrine and should have a thorough knowledge of the gospel and of scripture. Your son should learn all he can from what history and experience can teach us, but he will not successfully fight spiritual battles if he is not in awe of the One he fights for. Your son must have a genuine love for Jesus. When your son has awestruck wonder, delight and gratitude for Jesus’ perfect work on his behalf, fighting spirituals battles will take on a whole new meaning with intensity and purpose.
5. Teach him to recognize his own weaknesses.
The enemy attacks us in ways that seem tailored to our unique weaknesses. In order to combat these attacks, we must recognize our weaknesses and deal with them before the battle ever begins. One way to help your son identify his personal weaknesses is to study the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:2-11) and the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). If your son can read through these verses and identify, for example, that he has a heart of hostility and not one of a peacemaker, he can safely guess where his spiritual attacks will come from. Spiritual battles are not exclusively targeted to our weaknesses, but enemies do target their opponent’s vulnerabilities.
Unfortunately, your son isn’t just fighting attacks from the enemy. Galatians 5:17 tells us that we are also at war with ourselves, “for the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit.” Your son must learn to recognize his own sinful desires and the temptations he is drawn to. He must learn to avoid the temptations that distract and destroy and surrender them to the Lord.
6. Remind him that he is not alone in his battles.
Not all of us have fought such spiritual battles that books were written on our behalf, but our battles are no less important. Your son needs you to be authentic and vulnerable, willing to share your personal battles - battles you have won and lost. Being emotionally and spiritually connected to your son doesn’t mean you have to share every gruesome detail of your struggles, but sharing your weaknesses and personal battles will create an atmosphere of trust and honesty. No child wants to confess their weakness to their ever strong, “perfect” parent. But when your son (at any age) sees you for what you are - an imperfect sinner fighting your own spiritual battles, he will be more comfortable confiding in you about his own. Proverbs 27:17 tells us, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”
You should know from experience that the spiritual battles we face are often beyond our ability to fight alone. Thankfully, we have been given Jesus, a high priest who understands our weaknesses, the gift of the Holy Spirit who intercedes for us and the local church to help encourage and hold us accountable. But we have also been given the gift of parents. Be the gift your son needs you to be and equip him to fight the spiritual battles that are sure to come.
Beth Ann Baus is a wife and homeschooling mom of two boys. She is a writer and blogger who pulls from her own experiences of abuse, anxiety, depression and Tourettic OCD. Beth is an advocate for women struggling with sexual sin and strives to encourage young wives and mothers by pointing them to the grace offered only by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. You can read more about her at www.bethannbaus.com.
Publication date: May 13, 2016