A Christian mom asked me an awesome question recently.
What do you say to your kid when they ask you,” What if the devil makes me do bad things?”
Why is this a great question? One, it shows that children are always thinking, always reasoning. Two, it is easily answered with Scripture. Three, it’s simply a more child-like version of a common question Christians get from atheists/skeptics: Why does God allow evil in the world?
Children are probably the best training ground for the woman apologist. You want to engage atheists and skeptics? Start talking with kids first, as they are relentless and will ask you questions that will challenge your understanding of Scripture. Kids are always thinking, and are great examples for us to follow. They really do ask the best questions, even when the questions make us feel uncomfortable.
The best part is that we have that training ground readily accessible to us – because they are sleeping in our homes and eating our food.
Does the Devil Make Us Do Bad Stuff?
In order to answer the tough questions that come to us, whether it is from our children or another source, we need to know what Scripture says. Then we can answer them honestly, but at a level that they can understand.
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death James 1: 13-15
We are tempted to sin (do something bad) because we are enticed by our own desires. We are not the only ones. It is a common ailment, known as the Human Condition.
Eve in the Garden of Eden
When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Genesis 3:6
King David when he looked upon Bathsheba
David sent messengers and took her, and when she came to him, he lay with her; and when she had purified herself from her uncleanness, she returned to her house 2 Samuel 11:4
These desires, deep down within us, are the cause of when we choose to do what is not right. Even though our spirit agrees with God about what is right and what is good, our human nature does not.
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. Romans 7:18-20
But, we have a remedy!
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Galatians 5: 16-18
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Galatians 5: 22-25
And When We Mess Up, We Will Have Forgiveness
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness 1 John 1:9
Of course we have to decide exactly what language is appropriate for our child. We need to tell them these things in terms that they can understand.
What to Say to Your Kid
Taking all of the above into consideration, here is my suggestion on how to present the Truth of God’s Word, in a way that your child can understand.
The devil cannot make you bad things. When you do bad things, it is because you wanted to do the bad things, because you are a person and to people it feels good to do bad things.
But Jesus doesn’t want you to do bad things. He loves you even more than I love you, and He knows that doing bad things isn’t good for you. It’s not what is best for you. He wants you to choose to do good things. Things that show other people love, kindness, gentleness. He wants you to have self-control, which means choosing to not do bad things.
But the good news is that when you do bad things, you can tell Him that you did something bad and ask Him to forgive you – and He will, because He is perfect and He loves you perfectly.
The formula is pretty simple when answering tough questions. Tell them the truth. Not our human truth, but God’s Truth, the ultimate Truth. Then follow it up with the message of God’s immense, unending love for them. The love that will never turn them away, no matter what they do.
What are some of the toughest questions people have asked you? How did you respond? Do you have questions that you’re not sure of the answer to? Share you stories and tips in the comments, and I’d be happy to answer any questions in a future article!
In Love & Learning,
Carrie Anderson writes to help Christian women learn how to love God with their minds – so that they will be the fierce defenders of His Truth that He created them to be. She writes at Woman Apologist and is a regular contributor at Tribos Christian Apologetics. Follow her at Twitter: @WomanApologist.