I’m told the best way to spot a fake dollar bill is by studying a real dollar bill. Counterfeit money in circulation is a big deal. It produces mistrust, causes great loss, and, if not checked, would result in a complete collapse of our financial system. Lies in circulation about God’s word are just as destructive. As parents, we are all too familiar with the lies our children are prone to believe about themselves. When they miss a goal, fail a test, or aren’t included in a group text, Satan begins to spin lies about their worth and purpose.
We need to help our children learn how to decipher truth from lies. In order to protect our children against the danger of lies, we must be dedicated to studying the truth of God’s Word and encourage our children to do likewise. Like with money, the better they know God’s Word, the better they will be able to spot any lies that contradict it.
When our children feel the weight of the world’s lies, we want to validate their very real feelings while also pointing them to what is true. Parents can help their children discern lies from truth by showing them what God’s Word says about who they image and what their purpose is.
Most every lie we believe stems from (1) whom we image and (2) what our purpose is. The world tells the lie that we should aspire to look like whatever we put our eyes and ambitions on. “Just be you! Unless ‘you’ is not who you want to be, then claim to be whomever you want.” The world also tells us that we should do whatever we want because we deserve whatever we want. But Scripture tells us the truth about our image and purpose: we are created in the very image of God and he gives us a royal responsibility.
The Truth About Our Image
On the sixth day of the creation narrative, God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…” (Gen 1:26). God had already formed the heavens and earth, the moon and the stars, and every living creature that moves. For his grand finale of creation, God created man in his own image to reflect God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to the rest of the world.
God made our children in his likeness! Easy to say, harder to remember if they are mid-eye roll or tantrum. It’s difficult for our children to believe when they feel “worthless” or “ugly.” Our head and heart, though physically separate, are very much connected. What we feed into our mind will affect our heart, and ultimately, our actions.
Our heart can lead us to love, joy, peace, and patience, or to selfishness, resentment, anger. It is so important to have truth alone form our hearts and minds. Proverbs 3:1 says, “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments.” The remainder of the chapter calls us to direct our mind and heart towards the Lord; to remind ourselves of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness, to trust in the Lord, to not be wise in our own eyes, to turn away from evil, and to honor the Lord.
Scripture tells us that God’s truth will be life for our soul. With his truth as our guide, we can walk securely without stumbling. As parents, we first must invite our children into a relationship with God so they can experience God’s love and begin to love him in return. We can then encourage them to pursue God with their mind and heart and to practice inclining their ears to the truth of what God says about them.
The Truth About Our Purpose
The second part of Genesis 1:26 goes on to say, “… so that they may rule over all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
We were created in the image of God and have been given the responsibility to manage creation: to reflect God’s attributes and care for the earth. I’m not talking about king-of-the-mountain type of rule or even achieving a new level of social status. Rather, God created us to rule as a direct reflection of his character. God’s Word says that he has crowned us with glory and has given us dominion over the things he created with his own hands. He has put all things under our feet (Ps. 8:5-6).
Even so, our children can still believe the lies about their true purpose. They will feel more like a loser than an image bearer. They will feel lost and purposeless. When these lies are easy to believe, we can encourage our children by bringing light to the enemy’s tactics of deception.
Same Old Trick
Satan continues today what he started in the garden so long ago: breeding mistrust between man and God by challenging God’s words and character. Satan asks, Does God really care about you? Is God withholding something good from you? Did God really say…? Author Tyler Staton says it this way, “The Genesis conflict is threefold: (1) You have a spiritual enemy; (2) the weapon of that enemy is deception; and (3) the effect of that deception is paralysis.”
Paralysis. Feeling like you don’t have a way out. But that’s a lie too. We do have a way out. Through his death and resurrection, Jesus made a way to bridge the gap that the serpent’s deception created. Jesus took our sin and shame on himself. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, he declares us righteous in God’s sight.
As parents, we can only do so much. But that’s how God created us- as limited beings. We can’t help our children out of every hole, but God can.
When Satan asked Adam and Eve the question, “did God really say you shall not eat from any tree?” they turned to themselves and not to God for truth. They allowed their emotions and their desire to be like God lead them to pursue what they felt they deserved. They allowed the twisting of truth to influence their decision.
When Satan lies to us or our children, we are invited into direct communication with God in prayer. We have his Word to teach us so that we may be complete, equipped for every good work.
So, when the lies comes from an enemy, from a friend, from social media, or from movies or music, and that lie is SO hard to not believe, we should ask God the same question that was asked in the garden, “Did God really say…?”.
To the child who comes home crying about the whispers and pointing: No, it doesn’t feel good, but God made you in his image, and you are incredibly valuable.
To the child who messed up…again: God said that you are worth more than what you do or don’t do. You can go to God with your sorrow and disappointment, and he will listen with compassion and love.
To the child absorbed with wearing the right thing or having the newest ____: God said he made you for an amazing purpose that will eclipses anything we store up for ourselves.
When we hear lies that we want to believe, we should simply ask God to remind us of what he says is true.
Follow Up Questions
1. What have you believed about yourself that is not in line with what God said about you? What is the truth?
2. When is it easiest to listen and perhaps believe the lies around you? (Tired, distracted, misplaced focus…)? What could you change/add/subtract to be able to listen to truth better?
3. How can you specifically encourage others to listen to truth over lies?
Parents, interested in more gospel-centered parenting resources? Check out the Rooted Parent Podcast, hosted by Anna Meade Harris and Cameron Cole