I don’t remember when homeschooling became known as the “cure-all” for children gone astray, but I do know the idea of making rules to keep ourselves on the straight and narrow is as old as the church itself.

The Apostle Paul wrote an entire book on the subject. Well, actually, it was a letter. One to the Galatian church, but obviously meant for us as well.

He started the letter by pointing out that the glory should be God’s “forever and ever” (Galatians 1:5). And Paul spends the rest of the book basically saying: man cannot become “co-saviors” along with Christ by keeping the law.

In fact, if we “rebuild” the law (with rules on clothing, education, denominations, etc.) we will only prove ourselves to be transgressors (Galatians 2:18).

There is no formula to keep your family from sin.

 

Do we truly understand what Paul is saying here?

Going back to the law will only leave us as sinners.

It takes away the entire hope of the gospel. It means that Jesus died for nothing (Galatians 2:21).

In Christ’s death on the cross, we are offered something completely different than this. He does not offer us a new law. He offers us a new heart. And we are set free from the law of sin and death. Oh, glory.

Here, however, is where the confusion starts, because our freedom is not to be used as an opportunity for the flesh, but as an opportunity to serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13).

Yet, when the Holy Spirit convicts me of something–say, for instance, I realize I am watching movies more and more and am filling my life with things that are ungodly, so I choose to stop watching movies altogether–and it works, my sinful nature is destroyed and I grow closer to God… the natural response is to think “this is what everyone should do!”

But here we return to law. We chain ourselves back up.

And worse than that, as my friend, Devin, once said, “If we make a rule that you cannot ever break an external thing—we will never know what is going on internally.”

Well, we won’t know until it all blows up. We won’t know until light filters into the dark places. And it always will. So then we are left with the crumbled pieces of a destroyed life… again. Because, when we rebuild the law, we will only find that we are left as sinners.

In fact, as scary as this sounds: when we add to the gospel of Jesus, we, ourselves, become anti-christs.

Do we realize that this is where “Christian” cults come from? They may not have been rooted in evil, but when they add to the gospel, they become anti Jesus. And instead of growing in love and good deeds, they grow in hidden sin and darkness.

We need new hearts.

In Ezekiel 18 God tells the Israelite people (and us!) this same thing. First He explains that we are each responsible for our own sin. There are no victims here. We all answer for our own actions. Then He tells us to “get a new heart and a new spirit.” And He even tells us how: through repentance.

Repentance does not mean creating new laws.

Repentance means turning and living a new life. 

My job is not to look around at the outside of other people and determine if they are Believers or not. My job is to look inside myself and determine if I have a heart of stone or a living, beating heart of flesh. Am I made alive in Christ? Or am I still dead and rotting in sin?

And here is where it gets the hardest: I am still responsible for what I allow in my home. As the wife, the mother, I am the “keeper” of my home and I do have personal convictions. I do not feel that God wants my home filled with violence, so for our family that means not allowing the majority of video games. I believe that God would have me live modestly, so I don’t buy a lot of toys for my children, nor wear excessive jewelry (and while my daughter may wear rings or necklaces, I request that she choose one or two, not ten), nor dress, act, or speak in a way that is flamboyant or flashy.

But they are convictions of my changed heart–not my salvation, nor my children’s salvation.

In fact, if I do them all but my heart is dead, I am without hope.

I want my children to follow God. I pray, daily, that they will give their lives to Him. But there is no formula to guarantee it.

My daughter may grow up and dress, talk, and live completely different than the way she was raised. She may have none of the lifestyle convictions that I do. But it doesn’t matter. All that matters is her heart.

And friend? All that matters is your heart.

It doesn’t matter if you wear a purity ring and believe in courtship and save your first kiss for your wedding day. It doesn’t matter if you don’t drink alcohol and never cheat on your tests at school. It doesn’t matter if you pay your taxes on time and always drive under the speed limit.  It doesn’t matter.

Not if your heart is still stone. Not if you think those things will make you good. Not if you think those things prove you’re a Christian. Not if you think everyone who doesn’t do those things is wrong. Not if you are trusting in those things to give you a good and happy life.

There are two kingdoms in this world. And some think they are following the true King, but they are just stumbling around, still slaves to sin, with painted signs on their chests that say, “I serve the King!” And they tell others to come get a sign and they will be on the King’s side too. But that is just foolishness. Because the evidence that you are the King’s warrior is not in an outward sign–the evidence of belonging to the King is that you are no longer chained to sin.

13 Comments

  1. Bethany Davis says:

    Hi Natasha,

    This is Bethany Davis here. I really enjoyed reading this post about there being no formula for keeping your family from sin. There is someone very close to me, a friend who is a Mom, who did everything she could to keep her children under God’s protection. This Mom home schooled her kids, all 4 of them, two of them Kindergarten on up, the oldest two she home schooled, from 7th grade and 1st grade on. My friend and her husband enrolled her family in a wonderful home school program that is very conservative for about 15 years. About 15 years go, one of their sons went through a very rebellious time for a few years. The Mom was torn apart over it all. The Mom thought it was something she did, that what she did wasn’t enough. My friend felt she was guaranteed that if she did everything right, that none of her children would go astray. The youngest child of that family, a girl, cried while watching her brother pack his stuff, walk out the door, load up his Jeep, and drive away. It was a tough several years for the family. They were slammed all over their town where they live. People shunned them, whispered rude comments behind their backs, snubbed them, etc. Fast forward 12 years later, and the son of this family who rebelled, has come back to the Lord. He may not be totally where he should be, but neither am I.

    This family whom I’m talking about is my family. The son who rebelled is my brother. The Mom who grieved over her wayward son, is my Mom. The girl crying in the doorway watching her brother drive out of the driveway, was me. My brother moved out in a fit of rage during that time and we did not see him for 7 weeks.

    I believe that home schooling is the best way. However, some people are cut out for it, and some aren’t. It’s just that simple.

    Thank you for sharing this post, Natasha. I know it will help countless people.
    In Christ,
    Bethany

    1. Bethany– thank you for sharing your story! Sometimes personal stories are the very best illustrations for life. We are called to raise up our children in the way they should go, but in the end, every child makes their own decisions. It’s so important to, as Paul says in Galatians, “stay in step with the Spirit”. And even when things look the worst, we have to remember that God writes the last chapter.

      I love that your story includes the redemption. I pray that your brother, you, and the rest of your family, continue to taste God’s redemptive power in your lives for years to come!

    2. Thank you for sharing this real life story with us, Bethany! It hits close to home for me and encourages me. It also gives me hope.

  2. Thank you so much for this Natasha. This topic is something I have been wrestling with and it was encouraging to read your thoughts. So thank you!!

    1. “My job is not to look around at the outside of other people and determine if they are Believers or not. My job is to look inside myself and determine if I have a heart of stone or a living, beating heart of flesh. Am I made alive in Christ? Or am I still dead and rotting in sin?”

      Amen, Natasha. Amen.

      For the first time in my life, at age 40, I now wake daily with an excitement and desire for God to truly make me “a new creation.” I can’t do it. But He can and will. xoxo.

  3. Natasha,
    I agree with most of what you have written here. I certainly don’t believe that homeschooling is a “cure-all” for having successful, Christian children who will never go astray. (After all, there are many who homeschool who aren’t even Christians!)
    However, the Bible does say this: Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
    Yes, it is a heart issue. Outward signs are often very indicative of the condition of the heart. If your child grows up and lives completely different than the way she was raised (i.e. disregarding Biblical truths and purposefully choosing to ignore those Truths and live in sin without repentance), then that seems to be a major heart issue.
    Obvious outward signs could be the way a person talks, their transparency or lack thereof, how they treat their parents (respect, obedience?), how they take correction and so forth.

    I don’t know about you but in the past few years, I’ve seen many examples where the Devil attacked the Firstborn child in the family and little by little, led that “child” astray and replaced those truths with lies. It’s very heart-breaking to watch that unfold before your very eyes. And I believe there is a reason why Satan is purposefully going after firstborns. This spiritual warfare is real in our society. The only cure is Jesus, recognizing the sin and FULL repentance. We must be willing to be humbled! We must be willing to listen to others when they recognize sin within us. No, there are no formulas or cure-alls. But there is the Holy Word of God and His Truths to live by. 🙂
    We must have soft hearts that are willing to listen to Truth and take daily correction and humbling before God.

    http://www.titusinstitute.com/spiritualwarfare/attack.php

    1. Samantha,

      I completely agree that we are called to train up our children. The heart of this article isn’t to dispute that at all. As it says in Proverbs, and other places in Scripture, God encourages parents to take the teaching of their children seriously. In saying that something isn’t a “cure all” I certainly did not mean that it isn’t good. In fact, I feel that it is completely necessary for me to homeschool my daughter, for many reasons, and I would be remiss in sending her to any school, public or private. That is what I am required to do as a parent following God– but it isn’t a law for Believers, and it won’t, of course, guarantee that she will choose Christ.

      What I was trying to communicate is that if my daughter chooses to not homeschool her own children, to watch movies, to play video games, or wearing a dozen necklaces at a time, etc…etc… none of those choices have any bearing on her salvation. It is the state of her heart that matters. And as you said, we must have soft hearts that are willing to take correction and be humble. Which is exactly what God is referring to in Ezekiel 18.

      The terrible truth is that we can raise our children to do everything outward correctly and still have hearts of stone. And not just with our children, but with other people we meet– if they “look good” we tend to ignore warning signs that something is amiss. We need to be careful not to put more emphasis on the outward than the hearts.

      I am with you on this attack on the firstborn children! Heart-breaking is definitely the term for it. I love how you worded your response: “There are no formulas or cure-alls, but there is the Holy Word of God and His Truths to live by.” Amen and amen and amen.

      1. Natasha,
        Thank you for clarifying; I think we are definitely on the same page now! 🙂
        I agree with you that those outward things you mentioned are not things that have any bearing on her salvation.
        And I also agree that there are many who “look good” and how easy it is to think that everything is fine and nothing is amiss because they look good. I’ve seen that sort of thing happen first hand actually and it is heart breaking to ‘wake up’ and realize that something is indeed very wrong with someone when you never saw it coming. All we can do sometimes is pray hard and hope that blinders will be removed and Truth will prevail in their lives.

        Thanks again for the reply!

  4. Anne M White says:

    Natasha, we do have a law- the “law of liberty”- governs a renewed mind , motivates a “new heart”- by the Spirit and the Word of God. How imperative that this generation comprehend the Word, the Person of Jesus Christ, and His words- and escape from the thing you spoke about-We need repentance- not only a turning away from the “world”, but a change of mind- agreeing and submitting to the Spirit of Christ within us. It has been said that “this generation hears with its eyes and thinks with its feelings”. Wouldn’t you agree that our current society is a prisoner?

    1. Anne, we do truly need changed hearts and minds. It is the promise He offers, and it will, of course, affect our actions. I agree that our current society has a major issue– but it is the same issue that has plagued mankind since the garden: sin. The change begins in our own hearts. In fact, that is the only place it can begin. I love the story of King Josiah from 2 Kings. An entire generation that is on the brink of destruction is spared because one man humbled himself before God and repented. Let us all be Josiahs in our world today.

  5. Thank you for being courageous and sharing such great Gospel-truth, Natasha.

  6. Elisabeth says:

    Amen. Thank you so much for sharing brave and beautiful words of truth and life. God bless.

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