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But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.–Matthew 9:13

The title pretty much says it all. In my previous post on pornography (child’s private showing), my very own mother called me out in a very gracious way that I did not highlight the importance of calling your child to repentance. So, that is what this post is about.

Why Repentance
Why do we need to call our children to repentance? I think first and foremost, we must see the main issue is the heart. When I sin, the issue is my own sinful desire (James 1:5). The same is true with your child. With the teens I work with, when they sin the main issue is the heart.
What about ____________ (fill in the blank)
What about pornography? What about lying? What about…Yes, those are sins that should be addressed. For this section, since this was a follow up to porn, I will use that as the example. When your child seeks pornography, when does the sin take place? Before or after he/she clicks on the web link? Based on James 1, I believe it takes place before.
If the sin takes place before the url is clicked, then just addressing pornography would only solve half the issue. The issue is not pornography. The issue is the sin in your child’s heart. Pornography is not what sends anyone to hell. The reason anyone goes to hell is sin! I ask you, parent, to address the sin. Pornography is just a symptom of the main issue, not the issue. The main issue is sin and we must address the issue (idolatry).
Am I saying pornography is not sinful? No, I am not saying that. Those who perform porn and those who watch porn are both sinful. But let’s get back to calling your child to repent.
Calling Your Teen To Repent

It may be hard because you are not perfect. You can use your imperfections to relate to him/her. Or if you once struggled with this (if you as a parent are struggling with pornography, I would suggest talking to a pastor or biblical counselor to help you beat it), you can use your experience help them kill this sin.
The reason the call to repentance is important is because it is about God’s glory. It is not about you. It is not about me. Our reputation is not what this is about. This is about God’s glory. Seeking sin defames God. If someone continues in sin and does not repent, he or she is not a Christian (1 John 2:4-6).
Point To Jesus
When you call your child to repent of their sin, do not forget to point them to Jesus. Repentance means turning away from their sin to something else. That something else is Jesus. I want you to remember, people struggle with sin and it can take a while to break this habit. This is not to excuse sin, but a person can fall into sin, repent, yet struggle day in and day out.
1 John 2:1-3 tells us that when we do sin, Jesus is our advocate. This means he is ready to forgive and still loves us despite our failure. Show your child this verse.
Romans 8:1 says he/she is not condemned by God if they are a Christian.
1 John 1:9 tells us that God is ready to forgive.
These may be some helpful verses to use when calling your child to repent.
  • How are you addressing your child’s heart?
  • How are you pointing your child to Jesus?
  • Is there any additional information that would be helpful for me to provide in calling your child/teen to repent?

-Justin Davito
Additional Resources:
Shepherding Your Child’s Heart–Great book for as low as $1.99. This book deals more with younger children but is a great resource for addressing the heart of your child! Highly Recommended!
Age of Opportunity–This has been highly recommended to me over and over again. This book is for parents to help equip them to continue to raise teens in the Lord and not focus on behavior modification but on the root issue.

Justin is a husband, father, and a writer. He is passionate about equipping parents, glorifying Jesus, and helping the local church. Justin currently resides in Michigan with his wife and two daughters.

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