If you want to help your children in their fight for sexual purity you will want to help them work on developing a self-sacrificial lifestyle from a very young age.
Paul begins talking about sexual purity in Ephesians 5:3 with a word of contrast. “But.”
He’s contrasting what he is saying here with what he has said immediately before.
And what was he talking about in verses 1 and 2?
He was talking about living a life of self-sacrificial love.
A life of self-sacrificial love is the opposite of a life centered on sexual immorality and sin. You might say a life of self-sacrificial love is the put on. Sexual immorality, filthy talk, greed is the put off. And so if you struggle with sexual sins, realize that sexual sins tend to be the fruit of a self-centered lifestyle. Sexual sins tend to flow out of a root and the root is a self-centered lifestyle.
In a sense a struggle with sexual temptation is like a warning sign. As someone is struggling with say, lustful thoughts, that should be like a ding, ding, ding, ding, where they say, “What’s going on in my heart?” and what they’ll probably see going on in their heart is that their are becoming more and more self-centered.
Or, another way to put it I suppose, is they are worshiping themselves.
This is part of what makes sexual sin so serious. This is what is at the heart of it, ultimately. As you can see by the way Paul puts it, in verse 5.
Covetousness is idolatry.
And what is idolatry?
It’s worshiping someone other than God.
And usually that someone other is yourself. At the root of sexual sin is self-worship and so your children need to know, what’s happening when they are tempted with this overwhelming desire for more, more, more, when they feel like they have to sin against God to get what they want that’s really because they want to be on the throne of the universe.
I mean, what is masturbation?
Masturbation is total self-centeredness, self-worship.
It’s taking this good gift that God has given and making it all about me and my pleasure and that is really what all what sexual sin does.
It turns you in on yourself.
So I sometimes say to someone who is wanting to overcome sexual sin, and who is telling me, “I don’t know where to start,” here’s where you can start: pursue a life of self-sacrificial love. Put off the worship of self, and put on the worship of God, and practically takes steps towards that, by looking out for the needs of others, above your own.
I mean, I am just talking practically.
When you’re struggling with these thoughts, here’s what you can do, recognize the temptation to worship yourself, and start looking around for someone who you can serve. If someone is struggling with these thoughts towards others, that’s like warning sign, ding, ding, ding, and they can fight against that sexual temptation through sacrificial service.
The more self-centered you are, the more you’ll struggle with sexual temptation.
And I really believe that, which means as a parent, I want to be helping my children from like, a very young age, fight against this deep-rooted tendency to act as if everything in the world existed first and foremost for them and obviously for them to really live that out they have to be saved and changed but, certainly one of the most important things you can be doing in the meantime is giving them a consistent example of what it looks like to put God and others first and helping them developing outward looking habits which will make obedience easier in the future.
Obviously, when it comes to raising your children, grace is the strongest of all principles. J.C. Ryle once said, grace can do anything. Then after that, nature is a very strong principle as well. There’s stuff that is deep in us, that is very hard to change. And then, besides nature and grace, though, and this is the point, there’s hardly anything more powerful than education, parental training, in other words.
If our children, are not yet saved, we don’t just sit back and say, well, let them be selfish, no we seek to help them, develop habits of looking out for the needs of others, and those habits, when empowered by grace, are going to help them later turn from sexual temptation.