Repentance is the First Step in Fighting for the Next Generation

It is easy to look at the barrage of attacks from the culture and see their affect on our young people. However, we can't place the blame on the world. The reality is hard to take: we've contributed to this problem. God has charged us with the responsibility of passing on our faith to the next generation and we are failing. 

When God gave the Israelites his law through Moses, he gave them the command to pass them down to their children.

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. – Deuteronomy 6:6-9

He decreed statutes for Jacob
    and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
    to teach their children,
so the next generation would know them,
    even the children yet to be born,
    and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God
    and would not forget his deeds
    but would keep his commands. – Psalm 78:5-7

Again, when Israel crossed over the Jordan River into the Promised Land, we see God tell the Israelites through Joshua to setup a memorial of twelve stones from the river. It was to be a reminder of what God did for Israel and they were to share this with the next generation.

So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” – Joshua 4:4-7

Sadly, we read in Judges that the Israelites failed to follow these commands and the next generation grew up and turned away from the Lord.

After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. They forsook the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. – Judges 2:10-12

Statistics show that two-thirds of the next generation will leave the Church by the time they are adults. As Christians, we must all humble ourselves and see that, like the Israelites, we have sinned and have failed to pass down God’s Word to our children.

If we read the Deuteronomy verses again, we see that God commands the Israelites to pass down his laws by talking about them constantly, living them out, and making them always present in their life.

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. – Deuteronomy 6:6-9

We have been called to do the same thing for our children, to share God’s Word with them constantly, to live it out every day, and to make it the centerpiece of our lives. We must stop here and evaluate how we are doing.

  • Have we given our kids free range to the influence of technology, cell phones, video games and TV out of convenience? 
  • Have we bought the lie that happiness and satisfaction are found in the things the world offers rather than God? Have we modeled this lifestyle to our kids?
  • Have we passed off the responsibility to train them up in their faith to pastors, teachers, and schools?
  • Do our children see our love for God’s Word? Do we talk about it often? Do we open it up daily? Do we search its pages for guidance and wisdom? Do we read the Bible with them? Do we spend time talking to them about it?
  • Do they see us in prayer often? Do our children hear us pray for them? Do we pray with them?
  • Do they see us trying to live out God’s Word faithfully? Do they see us fleeing temptation and fighting against sin? Do they see us unaffected by money, fame or possessions? Do our kids see us living for others rather than ourselves? Do they see us valuing and caring for the people the world has deemed worthless? Do they see us using our time and treasures to serve others?

We must all confess that we have failed in obeying God and the results are now evident in the large exodus of young people from the Christian Church in America. The good news is God is loving and compassionate, ready to forgive if we repent and to lift us up.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. – 2 Chronicles 7:14

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. – James 4:10

God doesn't need us to be parents that have never made mistakes. All he needs is people who are willing to humble themselves and admit their mistakes and their desperate need for Jesus. When we have hearts that are willing to make changes and start following God's design for our lives, he is more than capable of doing the rest. 

Repentance is turning around and going away from those sins.

First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds. – Acts 26:20

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. – Hebrews 10:26-31

Find confidence that you are forgiven through Jesus! Now, let's start down a new path!